Travel adventure – going overseas without wallet

This is a travel adventure of going overseas without one’s wallet and still coming out whole.

A few days ago, in December 2017, I traveled from Delhi to Seoul in South Korea. I was an invited speaker on Data Analytics at an international conference. I got dropped me off at the Delhi International airport, went through the immigration and security counters, and sat down near the flight’s departure gate. A little bored, I look around and saw my favorite snack counter close to my gate. I walked over to the store and found my favorite snacks. When I tried to pay for it, I discovered that I did not have my wallet with me. I rummaged through my pockets and then my bags but could not find it. I became a little worried that I had lost or dropped it somewhere.

A sweet and beautiful young Indian lady, from Los Angeles, was shopping in the same snack store. She heard me saying to the shopkeeper that I had lost my wallet, and was very sympathetic. She asked me how much money I needed. I said that at the very least I needed $15 for a one-way ride to the hotel in Seoul. With great effort, she managed to scrounge $15 cash from the various pockets inside her handbag. Very cheerfully she gave the money to me. God bless her. I took her phone number and will try to return the money, even though she said not to bother.

I then frantically tried to reach out to my parents in Delhi by phone. They looked around and quickly found my wallet on my bed. I was a little relieved. I realized that I was trying to remove some of the unneeded cards and cash from the wallet, and in the process I forgot to pick up the wallet. I had checked that I had the passport before I left, but did not check the wallet. My father, a retired UN diplomat, was worried how I will manage without the wallet. But I told him it will be an adventure. We both laughed, and he was relieved.  Now the correct story was that I had ‘forgotten my wallet at home’. I texted my daughter in the US to be ready to wire me money in Seoul just in case. I also texted a friend who was coming to the same conference that I may need his help.

In the plane, I tried to meditate and keep calm. I lost all fear, and became determined to find someone who would be willing to help. I was a little concerned about the currency conversion process at the airport that I may fall just a little short of the Korean currency needed to get to the airport. I looked around for who could help.

A young Korean man sitting right behind my seat. I asked him if he could convert for me $15 worth of Korean currency to pay for one-way bus ride from the airport to the city. He talked nicely with me but found it ‘unusual’ how one forgets one’s wallet at home. He said he will think about it. I also asked the Korean flight attendants for help. They said that none of them had any Korean currency, and could not help.

I wanted to ask another Indian person. I had seen an Indian family with little kids in the departure lounge right behind me. I looked for them in the plane. I saw a family sitting close to my seat. It was a different young man. He looked pretty blissful sitting there with eyes kinda closed. I approached him. He said he lived in Seattle, and had worked with Microsoft till very recently. I told him about my situation. He agreed to lend me $15. But then he said his wallet was in his bag up in the storage, and he will give me later. I came back to him with a copy of my Big Data book which had some brief description of me as an author. Finally, when we landed in Seoul, he gave me $15.

Now I was confident that I will be able to make the trip without any hassle. I had enough money to reach the city. I had friends at the conference. Hotel bill was prepaid. I did not need any additional money, as I did not need to buy anything. I had carried some home-made vegetarian food from home. I returned to Delhi from the conference safely two days later. I contacted them both my benefactors so I can return the monies. I can’t thank them enough.

I believe there are no ‘accidents’. It all happens for a reason. We don’t know how many dots get connected for some event to happen. Somehow I developed the confidence to manage an international trip without carrying my wallet. Anything is possible!!

Lessons: check your documents and wallet before you leave for a trip. Do good to others, so nature will provide support back. Both the US-based Indians whom I approached, helped; that warms my heart!!

 

 

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Experiencing the Vedic City

We today completed 3 months living in our new Vastu house in Vedic City. Here is one anecdotal report on the benefit.

A friend of my daughter’s visited us in Vedic City, Iowa, to join in the celebration of my daughter’s graduation from college last weekend. She spent two days and nights here. We discussed about how this place is special. When she returned back to her home in Dallas, she sent a message that she was ready to learn Transcendental Meditation.

  1. She said that she observed that during her visit, people communicated very differently than in her home town. They hugged differently, and shook hands differently. The experience made her feel that the niceness must be because of the environment, i.e. because all the people here are meditators.
  2. I had also had a brief conversation in which I impressed upon her the knowledge of Consciousness, that beneath all our differences, at the transcendental level we are all one. That we have infinite power of creativity and invincibility within us. And how that is the way to survive and thrive creatively in a world of robots and drones.
  3. This friend had stayed with us in our Vastu house, so my daughter feels that also must have made a difference in shifting her consciousness. This same friend had earlier felt that TM will be incompatible with her faith, and that they were overselling the practice.

Our university offers a free ‘visitors weekend‘ program to help people experience this place for themselves. Once one has experienced the total peace of the environment here, one wants to be associated with it. Of course, this place is not for everyone, its effect depends upon one’s own desires and predisposition.

International Yoga Day 2017

I think that International Yoga Day is a laudable initiative to bring emphasis and attention on Yoga.  I wrote about it last year too, calling it the Independence Day of the Human Spirit.

Yoga is ‘cessation of the activities of the mind’, as defined by Patanjali in the first phrase of Yoga Sutra. Yoga has 8 limbs.  Asanas is one of them. Meditation is another.  Asanas prepare the body and mind for meditation.  All good meditation centers avoid televisions and aggravating foods that would interfere with the practice of inner peace and quiet.

I have met Swami Ramdev. His vision is almost unfathomable. Have visited Yog Gram too. I want to go to Coimbatore to see Satguru’s center; have heard great things about it. Have met Sri Sri RaviShankar a few times and learned his technique too. At our own campus (set up by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi) in Fairfield Iowa, everyone meditates daily for long periods for the dual purpose of self-development and world peace. I  have also been to many Vipassana centers and done their 10-day courses.  Every guru has a different meditation technique. They say there are 108 ways to transcend!

No guru is without detractors who would call their followers as a cult, sometimes somewhat justifiably. Ramdev made yoga popular. He propped up Narendra Modi in his bid to become Prime Minister of India. And he is giving foreign companies a run for their money. He has completely upended marketing practices. He is a big part of India rejuvenation.  … despite all his faults.

 

What am I? Pure Existence!

What am I?

This is a better question than ‘Who am I’. Many wise people suggest asking ‘who am I’ as a way to deflate ego, develop humility, and become more agreeable with others. However, the most reasonable answer to this question is a bunch of roles. Like being a human being, citizen, father, son, worker, etc. But then the suggested answer would be that I am a soul!

The question ‘what am I’ is a more direct way of knowing oneself or perceiving oneself. The correct answer would be ‘pure existence’. i.e.  I am pure existence, which is an awareness of existing, or just pure Being, in no particular framework of any kind. I am pure Consciousness, which is conscious of itself. I may have many names and roles and assets and talents and feelings and whatever else. But I in itself is just pure existence, or awareness or Consciousness.

Who are we - two levels

Meditation helps me become aware of my being pure awareness. Everything else falls away like scales from eyes. Nothing matters.  What am I? Same as What is You! Same as What is everything else. We are all the same … overall Awareness, the Consciousness.

The right question goes a long way!

Transformation of America

America is finally coming to grips with its diversity. For the last 50 years America has become much more diverse. The Immigration Act of 1965 opened America’s doors to immigrants from all countries in the world. Now there are immigrants from India, China Ethiopia, and many other countries that are not Caucasians or Christians. They have developed deep roots in this country, and have succeeded by dint of their talent and hard work. The image of white Christian America is ending. The replacement image is much polyglot and inclusive.
Image result for first big data president
This demographic trend has proved threatening to the white Christians who kinda owned this country for the last couple of hundred years. This sense of unease turned into anger with the election of Barack Obama, the son of one such Kenyan immigrant student, to the presidency of the country.That was a transformative moment for America and a scary moment for the status quo.  Donald  Trump was among those who stoked that fear and anger by questioning the legitimacy of the President by absurdly refusing to accept that denying that Obama was even a US born person. That made this angry or uneasy demographic segment beholden to Trump. This demographic segment constitutes the solid one-issue base of voters that has given Trump  38-40% poll numbers for the last one year. This base is now losing its last fight in this 2016 election. However, Donald Trump will not fade away after this election. He will remain relevant for as long as this base continues to be angry, and till it accepts the transformation of America.
Big Data and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are coming fast. They are coming  in the form of Robots and Deep Learning machines etc. Elon Musk has even called AI the existential crisis for humanity. Steven Hawking has wondered what would happen it the AI developed a will of its own, a will that is at odds with the will of humanity. Those will be interesting times. They will be as challenging to all of us, as the current times are challenging to those who ruled the roost in America till a few decades ago.

Clash and convergence of paradigms

There are multiple paradigms of knowledge of reality. How can everyone be right?

The answer is that there is a dilemma in the waking state of consciousness. One can continue discussing from different points of view and be correct in some vital way, without being able to refute the other points of view. Only when one transcends the waking state that some unified realities become available and acceptable. From the transcendent level of consciousness one can experience the connectedness of the entire universe. Eventually one can potentially experience the Vedantic non-dual reality of ‘tat tvam asi’, or ‘Aham Brahmasmi’. From the waking state of consciousness these look like absurd words. Even reading the Vedas from a waking state of consciousness is meaningless, and brings no power. Vedas have to be experienced from a state of transcendental consciousness. After all the Vedas were cognized by the seers from that state of consciousness.

Another question often asked if body is hardware, and mind is software, what is soul?

The answer is: the soul would be like the natural laws of electromagnetism and computation and information theory. There are three fundamental gods: Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Lord Shiva represents form, or space, and thus the body. Lord Vishnu represents energy, or function, and thus the mind. Lord Brahma represents logic, the knowledge that binds form and function in the service of a purpose. This trinity together make up the entire universe. Consciousness is that which is aware of itself. Thus it is the knower, the known, and the process of knowing (the subject, object, and the verb, all in one). Thus the soul is the knower, the mind would be the process of knowing, and the body will be the known.

 

Feel whole, feel blissful

Feel whole, feel blissful

Freedom of choice is key to joy and bliss. Loss of wholeness is the primary affliction. Choices made from a lack of wholeness can be wrong, leading to pain and suffering. However, that pain leads to self-correction in choice-making, bringing back towards balance and wholeness. One should return to the whole Self, and operate from there, i.e. “Yogastha Kuru Karmani.” (Bhagvad Gita, 2:40). One should be making fulfilling choices. These choices are all recorded at the level of consciousness. One can even overcome past karma by being wider and broader, and more wholesome.

Even the most evolved and enlightened person can occasionally ‘fall’ into specificity, and lose the wholeness. The feeling of ‘I am’ is that destructive specificity. Balance must be re-established at every moment. It is good to be energetic, powerful and growing. But it is good only when one maintains contact with wholeness. When that wholeness is lost, then that person becomes like a cancer cell. Healthy communication between human cells can inspire the development of healthier bodies, and healthier societies.

One should maintain a correct perspective for the experience of any objective reality. The perception and joy can be vastly different depending upon one’s state of consciousness. What we call ‘real’ is the three-fold dynamic interaction of the properties of the observer, the observed, and the process of observation. If the observer changes himself, there will be a different outcome in terms of experience. Even the experience of seeing a simple thing, such as an apple, in front of us can evoke a different structure of experience depending upon one’s state of consciousness. New connections in the nervous system and new patterns of consciousness emerge from new experiences, and they transform us.

Knowledge from the other fields can lead to progress in one’s field, and in one’s quality of choice-making. Nature’s intelligence is distributed across what we called ‘disciplines’. It is all one, and therefore applicable to all the fields, to some extent or the other. Instead of studying just one discipline, one should study the laws of nature, and operate from that level of wholeness. The Vedas embody that wholeness of knowledge, which can also be found in the body and mind.

The general principles of wholeness-based choice-making are applicable at any level and time. What is true at the individual level can also be true for the development of consciousness of countries and societies. Balanced development will lead to the evolution of societies in the right direction, towards greater happiness and prosperity.  It can take decades or even centuries for society to evolve to perfection. Ram Raj is the culmination of the evolution of societies into a perfect system of governance.