Who are we: A perennial question

Who are we?

That is a perennial question asked by all philosophers and seekers of life. The question can be best answered at two different levels.

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At one level we are all Pure Being, the unbounded absolute infinite Consciousness that pervades the universe. At another level, we are all discrete and unique beings, differentiated by mind, body, ability, DNA, ethnicity, and so on.

  • At the first level we are pure unbounded existence while the second level we are doing and thinking machines or entities clothed in our physical bodily existence.
  • At the first level we see ourselves as living in bliss consciousness, while at the second level we seek happiness in exchanges of mental and physical products with other entities.
  • At the first level we are eternal spirit – unborn and undying. At the second level we are born and then we die. At this level, we can become afraid of death. So we worry about many things, become greedy, and save resources to better guard against death.
  • To live at the first level, we transcend our mind and senses using any of many techniques such as meditation. Living at the second level seems simple and easy, as we can access our mind and body through the use of our ordinary senses and supporting instruments.
  • At the second level we are all separate and each defined individually by our ego- consciousness, while at the first level we are all one together as nature and defined by our eco-consciousness.

This is a primary distinction in life. Ignorance of this basic piece of knowledge of who we are is a source of many challenges in living life properly. How we see ourselves depends upon our state of consciousness. From an ego consciousness, we appear to be this body and mind and others, just as others too have their own body and mind, and we interact with them to exchange materials ideas and so on. However, we all have a higher self. Not knowing it is the first and biggest fallacy. There are techniques to learn about the higher self just as there are techniques to learn the bodily and mental self. Our trained and disciplined mind is the biggest instruments for learning about the higher self. What we pay attention to grows in our consciousness.

However, this distinction may be of little interest to the poor who do not get even two pieces of bread every day. Meeting their basic physical needs becomes their primary challenge in life, and they do not have the time or energy to transcend. Similarly, this knowledge may be of little interest to the super rich for whom material abundance and physical pleasures have become intoxicating, and who do not believe in the transcendent. This knowledge is perhaps most useful for the middle-of-the-roader , the seeker of a blissful life, free from pain and miseries.  If interested, one can learn more at tm.org.

Indigestion: The Source of Maladies

Indigestion: The Source of Maladies

Undigested food in the body putrefies and leads to many ailments. Eating is easy and pleasurable. However, digesting all the ingested food is a task. Indigestion is the inability to reduce and assimilate all that food into the body. Ayurveda calls undigested food as ama. It is a toxin. Ama shows up on the tongue in the morning as a white coating. Removing ama with a tongue-cleaner is like removing ama (american medical association) from one’s life. i.e. detoxifying, and mitigating the possibility of disease and medical intervention.

Walt Whitman in his newly-found series on articles in 1860 on Men’s Health in the now-defunct newspaper ‘New York Atlas’ talks essentially about avoiding indigestion. Discussing “The great American evil: indigestion,” Whitman says, “It is doubtless here that four-fifths of the weaknesses, breakings-down, and premature deaths, of Americans begin.” Overeating, To combat this great evil, Whitman recommends eating “simple and hearty food, and no condiments” and avoiding “solid and liquid stimulants, artificial tastes, condiments” that have unfortunately become an integral part of the standard American diet.

(image source: stomachbloating.net)

Undigested food can also lead to increase in body weight. An effective way to lose weight is to eat early in the evening, as there is no undigested food in the stomach at the time of sleep.

Undigested information is the source of stress, confusion, and many mental maladies. Collecting facts and information is fun and pleasurable. However, analyzing and integrating all that information in one’s mind is quite a challenge. Mind needs deep rest, as in meditation, to rise above the din of random sets of information, to let the useless information float away and evaporate from the mind, and let one’s consciousness develop and expand blissfully with a greater integrated awareness of the Self and the world.

 

Ayurveda – a cellular view

‘The cost of good health is the cost of good food’ – Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
For good health, please consider this image as a guiding metaphor; from my limited but growing appreciation of AyurVeda (literally meaning Knowledge of Life).

How many cells are there in the human body? …
It is 100 TRILLION!!
Is every cell alive?
YES.   Each cell has its own happy individual existence, and a life cycle. Each cell dances to its own tune, while also lovingly cooperating with all others in the body. All that a cell needs is some nutrients, oxygen, and removal of waste.
Now consider a flotilla of a few thousand boats going together on the ocean in a smooth way. There would be a certain degree of coordination, and every boat would move along nicely according to its capability. Now comes a particular disturbance or imbalance in that flotilla.  Suppose it is caused by a perceived or real attack from outside, on one side of the flotilla. The defense system is engaged.  The boats regroup and are re-purposed to deal with that event. Some drown, some gain power, etc. New configurations are created. The boats gaining power could be for the good of the flotilla, or it could be cancerous for the flotilla as a whole.
Now consider 100 TRILLION such partially autonomous, or interdependent, boats (cells) moving along. Who can coordinate such a flotilla (body). There could be many internal and external systemic sources of disturbances or imbalances. Each imbalance could be of a particular type. Too fast, call it VATA imbalance. Too angry and intense, call it PITTA imbalance. Too slow or sticky, call it KAPHA imbalance.
Thus Ayurveda looks for the dosha (literally means imperfection, fault, or imbalance) in the body as a whole. And then it brings the body back to balance, by some new generally helpful and herbs and practices. It does not heal the body by shocking the system, i.e. not by sudden chemical attacks or invasive surgeries. Those shocks have their own after-effects … such as the flotilla will have to reorganize if a certain collection of boats are removed enmasse from the flotilla.
In the absence of proper supplies and services, the cells will fight with each other for nutrition and cleanliness. Chaos and inflammation ensue. External help (allopathic medicines) only exacerbates the imbalance by correcting the problem of some cells of the body, and creating problems for the rest of the cells of the body.
Therefore, on a daily basis, we should give the cells good supplies of food and air, and take away the byproducts and toxins. That is all the cells/body want and need. When imbalances do arise, Ayurveda looks for root cause, and slowly brings the body back to harmonious and blissful flow through smooth and gentle intervention.
Yoga and meditation suitably support the practice of AyurVeda.

Power of Visuals

Just a few days ago, I started a morning walk group in our town of Fairfield. The weather is getting warmer and nicer, and the days are getting longer.

First day I walked alone. I took a selfie picture in the orange morning sun glow on the trail. That picture came out looking very interesting and blissful. I shared it with many friends on WhatsApp.

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This picture was pretty motivating to others.  One called me the Martian Red Man. Another thought I looked like a Hollywood actor. Many people liked it.

Next morning one person joined me on the walk. Both of us convinced another one to join the next day. All three had so much fun laughing and discussing many things, that yet another one joined the next day. And the next day the most unexpected person joined and became the fifth member. Again next day, another person joined and became the sixth member to join.

This is the power of pictures to jump-start a group. We hope the group will continue to grow!

Moksha: Download my new book

My new book, ‘Moksha: Liberation through Transcendence‘ was published on April 13th, my birthday.

For your benefit, here is the url and description of the book from its Amazon site:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01E88QUB2/

Moksha is total liberation, from everything. This short experiential book flows from my own journey towards moksha, and is meant for seekers everywhere. A person in Moksha experiences total bliss. The experience is so special that we cannot miss the experience. Moksha is achieved by a deep desire, and the right way to transcend the world of mind and body. Moksha cannot be achieved by using the intellect alone. Vedic Technologies like Meditation, Sidddhis, and Yagyas can help transcend the sensory surface reality and realize our unbounded invincible creative Self, and progress on the path to Moksha.

Transcendental Meditation™ technique from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi is a Vedic mantra-based meditation technique. Hundreds of published research studies show that regular practice of TM, and advanced techniques, helps with the reduction in stress and anxiety, increase in brain integration and creativity, improvement in cardiac health, and reduction in negativity in society.

Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Moksha and Enlightenment
Chapter 2: Vedas and Vedic Technologies
Chapter 3: Personal Development through Transcendence

Enjoy!

Check out my other bestselling book  Data Analytics Made Accessible

On Running a Marathon

I ran a marathon race 10 years ago in Austin, TX. My motivation was simply to become a more outdoors person. An athlete friend suggested we run a marathon, and so we did.

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It was an exhilarating 6-month journey. I signed up for the Austin Distance Challenge, a series of seven increasingly longer races (5k, 5M, 10K, 10M, half-marathon, 20M) culminating in the marathon (26.2miles). I selected the best local marathon coaching company, and got a fantastic coach. Over this period, I made new running friends, became a more outdoors person, improved my health and stamina, and accumulated medals and running shirts, among other things. And, of course, successfully finished the marathon. I also learned a couple of lessons.

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  1. A good marathon is a completed marathon. I took longer than most people to complete the race, but I finished it successfully. I got my medal and jacket and kudos. Out coach told us that 98% of those who show up at the starting line, end up reaching the finish line. That was a great comfort, and a strong motivator to get up early in the morning, be excited about it, and get to the starting line. I had running buddies from my coaching group also running the race. We had physically traversed the race’s course the previous day using the coach’s script to ensure the mind does not get bored or anxious. Also, the 6 months of preparation … with long runs (or competitive races) every weekend, and a 2-hour exercise drill every Wednesday, gave us stamina and confidence. We had also been careful to stay free of running injuries to be ready for the marathon. That brings up my second lesson.

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  1. Keep it fun and injury-free. When we are preparing for the marathon, we are stretching the body to great extremes. It becomes easy to overdo and injure oneself. Many people injure their IT-band (the side of the leg from hip to the foot), knees, muscles pulls, and so on. So, run at your natural pace, with just a little bit of stretch, and make that your target pace. Do not chase the other younger and more athletic guys, the seasoned runners. Running at a natural pace uses your red-colored short-fiber leg muscles. These muscles keep up an efficient supply of oxygen and disposition of toxins (lactic acid) to keep themselves fresh and energized. Running from those muscles makes you will feel you can run all day. Do not try to sprint during long runs or the marathon … especially during those seductive downhill stretches. Sprinting utilizes the white long-fiber muscles of the thighs. These super-flexible muscles give you superb speed, but not much range. You will very soon hit a ‘wall’ when your legs freeze, and will have to abandon the marathon right there.

P.S. There were some minor lessons. Such as about investing in the right running shoes, that are one size bigger than normal to allow your feet some wiggle room. And to stay hydrated and keep the energy level high with yummy quick-release high-energy snacks bars/gels.  And of course, always listen to the coach, so you can escape a lot of grief down the road!

International Yoga Day as the Independence day of the human spirit

The celebration of the International Yoga Day is akin to being the Independence Day for the human spirit.

The word Yoga means ‘union’, with the transcendent infinite Spirit. A Yogi means one who has had direct perception of the transcendent. For example, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was one such person. The celebration of Yoga day empowers people in 193 countries to freely and legitimately practice transcendence, and achieve liberation and bliss. Yoga is more than just the physical postures, which are needed to get the physique flexible enough for the energy to flow freely in the body. If yoga were just physical steps, circus performers would be called yogi. Yoga is simple and yet profound. There are many resources for the practice of yoga. The united nations (Unesco) page on the International yoga day is idayofyoga.org

This day should also be called the International world health day. Yoga is preventive medicine. It helps avert danger before it come: ‘Heyam dukham anagatam’. In contract, the modern western medicine is a disease management system. Yoga is about wholeness, about union with the infinite powerful source, and thus about health at every level. The legitimacy of yoga begins to free up humanity and healthcare from the clutches of industrial medicine. In particular, yoga frees people from the clutches of pharmaceutical companies who fund medical research and control the corporate media. World Health Organization (WHO) is likely to declare Yoga as being good for health. That would also free up the practice of yoga from the tyranny of the clinical test system, which is loaded in favor of big corporations and lobbyists. It is absurd to do clinical trials for Yoga to prove general improvement health at all levels.

The International Yoga day is also the launch of an effective antidote to capitalism. There is no force bigger than yoga to take on the relentless march of unbridled capitalism, which is corrosive to the human spirit. When was the last time 193 countries voted unanimously to make such a powerful declaration as the International Yoga Day, and practice it in large numbers. Yoga gives people free and effective techniques to provide complete control over their own body and mind. Yoga liberates people from the dictates of the western capitalist medical system which forces us to spend an inordinate amount of time and money in pursuing the medical system.

It is also the Father’s Day today. Enjoy with your family and friends.

It is also the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year. It is also a pleasant summer day. So enjoy some time outdoors with nature, and practice yoga!

Acupuncture Treatment for Ulcerative Colitis

Can-Acupuncture-Treat-UCAcupuncture Treatment for Ulcerative Colitis

Many people suffer from auto-immune diseases. Ulcerative Colitis (UC) is one such auto-immune disease. It is characterized mostly by an inflammation of the colon leading to constant bleeding from the rear end. Medical science calls it as part of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). There is no definitive cause assigned to it. There is no cure for the disease. Medicines like Mesalamine are designed mostly to contain the disease, i.e. to avoid its flaring up. I was able to obtain great success for myself in this disease with Acupuncture form of therapy. This piece below is to share my story with a wider audience so they can have a path to hope and success.

I first suffered from UC more than a dozen years ago. I was going through a particularly job-related stressful period in my life. I ignored the problem, till I could clearly see blood in my stool. I went to the emergency room and had colonoscopy done. I was prescribed steroids (Prednisone), which stopped the bleeding within a few days. I was also prescribed a Mesalazine formulation designed for long-term maintenance. I am against taking medicines for life. I immediately sought the help of Meditation, and went for a 10-day Vipassana course. I felt much relieved and happy, and in a few months, I let go of the maintenance medicine.

About 5 years after the first occurrence, I had another flare-up of the condition of UC. There was another job-related stress and some kind of a sinking feeling. After colonoscopy, the usual steroid and Mesalazine regiment was prescribed. However, this time the medicines were ineffective and the bleeding continued. My Gastro-Enterologist (GE) doctor now wanted to prescribe an immuno-suppresive medicine which worked on a different mechanism. After noticing its side effects including a form of cancer, I decided to obtain second opinion. Then I also consulted a tertiary GE specialist at a teaching hospital who had spent his life studying just UC. He also told me that there is no definite cause for this. He recommended that I should continue to take the maintenance regimen, as that is the best bet. I did another course of Vipassana meditation, which gave much relief but still did not completely stop the bleeding.

A chance encounter with an Acupuncturist set me on a different course. He said that they have no problem in curing UC. I was intrigued. I found a nice acupuncturist nearby and consulted her. She spent a whole hour listening to my symptoms in great detail. She also said that I will be cured soon. I was impressed. With two weeks of acupuncture treatment, with some herbs, my bleeding completely stopped. I repeat: bleeding completely stopped with acupuncture in 10 days, when it won’t stop for the previous six months. This looks like magic but it is completely true. I continued to do maintenance sessions with the acupuncturist at reduced frequencies, finally just once a month. My body and mind felt healthier. After an year I was completely cured.

A couple of years later, we relocated to another city for work. Again, because of job-related stress, UC reared its head. After colonoscopy I was prescribed the usual regimen of medicine, which did not help in stopping the bleeding. I lost a lot of weight. I called my previous acupuncturist and planned to fly out to her for treatment. However, she completely assured me that if I found a good acupuncturist in my new city, I will be able to get the same benefit. I followed her advice and selected an acupuncturist in my new city. He also said that the chances of success were excellent. Once again, with just two weeks of acupuncture treatment and herbs, my bleeding completely stopped. That was magic, repeated again.

I wanted to understand how this thing works. I was told that a good place to start was ‘The Web that has not Weaver’. It is a good book, but it is difficult to understand their language beyond the introductory chapters. They speak in terms of Chi and meridians. The reader can read this book on their own.

It has been several years since my last UC flare-up. Even now, I go to acupuncturist if my body begins to feel even a little bit uneasy. And I feel instantly better. Others are free to try.

I believe that the permanent solution lies within ourselves. We should be mentally strong and positive. There is nothing that we cannot do if we put our minds to it. We should prepare for the worst and hope for the best in every situation. We should lower our expectations. Being alive is great. We should be grateful for our life and everything else we have. We should take the time to thank all the beings that make your life livable and enjoyable. Our family, friends, customers, employers, suppliers, colleagues, restaurants, snow-removers, pets, and everyone else.

Auto-immune disease means that the body turns on itself. i.e. our body’s defense mechanisms like Adrenal glands get into overgear to protect against some imagined or real enemy. We exhaust ourselves in some time, run on fumes for a while, and then we get into a downward spiral from which it becomes difficult to escape. The best preventive method is to not feel negative at all in the first place. Try to be positive, always. Try to see something good in everything. Once negative feeling arises, it will have its effect on us. We can try to deny or suppress it, but it will come out some time or the other, in some way or the other.

We should try to see the world as sunny. There are many people who have lost their limbs or vision, but have not given up their dreams. Keep dreaming of a great future ahead. Then keep working towards it. Once life has a lofty purpose, then everything else, gain or loss, seems small and insignificant. Nothing bothers us and our bodies anymore. We can be as happy as we want to be.

2014: A Transformational Year

2014 was a transformational year for me. With my first book published (business intelligence and data mining), this new blog (anilmah.com), new travel (South Africa), a new talk (personal development through transcendence), and more, it was a productive year for me. The next year will surely bring its own joys!

Book: I wrote a well-received book on business intelligence and data mining. It was launched as an ebook on Amazon in May. It has consistently sold a couple of copies every day. At the end of the 2014, it was published by Business Expert Press (BEP), a NY-based publisher, in both print and e-book edition. (See the page on My Book).

Blog: This blog started in May of the year. There are quite a few posts on it. The topics range from travel to information technology to enlightenment to Vedas to good old Leadership, and more . My first post was a travelogue of my amazing trip to Kumbh Mela last year, and it was a big hit with the readers. My recent post on leadership lessons from organizing community events brought me more followers than all others previous posts combined. I continue to post from lived experiences.

Travels: I also had two major international travels this year, to South Africa and to India. The main purpose of the South African trip in June was to teach a course as part of an Executive MBA program. However, it also included visits to Gandhian monuments in Johannesburg and Durban. It also included sightseeing including the gorgeous city of Cape Town. (see my blog post on SA visit). The main purpose of my trip to India In November-December was to deliver a talk on personal development through transcendence at a conference in IIT Roorkee. After that I went to Yog gram for a week-long naturopathic detoxing retreat, and to Rajasthan to see my extended family (See my posts on the visits to Yog Gram and Pushkar).

Talks: I have delivered a talk on ‘Personal Development through Transcendental Meditation’ four times during the year 2014, three times in the US and once in India. Each time the talk was very well received. I essentially talk about how Transcendence is an orthogonal dimension to Intellect. For intellectually smart people, transcendence can open up new infinite avenues for creativity and fulfillment. I also share about how transcending using TM and TM-Sidhis over the last 2 years helped release my inner stresses and set me up for writing creatively from the heart and getting a great reception.

In addition, I led our South Asia community at our university into celebrations for six major festivals. Three of the celebrations included large bonfires. (See my blog posts on bonfires, and on leadership lessons from holding these events).

I am sure 2015 will bring its own joys!

Visit to Yog Gram in India

Visit to Yog Gram in India

My wife and I spent a wonderful week at the naturopathic institution called Yog Gram near Haridwar in India, last month. This piece describes the nature of our nice and beneficial experience there.

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Yog Gram, or Yoga Village, was set up just 6-7 years ago by Patanjali Yogpeeth, which in turn is owned and managed by the famous yoga guru Swami Ramdev. Yog Gram is a residential retreat place. It has nice air-conditioned cottages for people to stay for rest, recuperation and detoxing. The minimum stay requirement is one week, and the maximum stay allowed is about two months. Accommodation has to be reserved well in advance, as usually there is a waiting line for getting the chance to get there. The cost of stay is reasonable. It costs only a couple of thousand rupees (about US$40-50) per day for a couple to stay in an air-conditioned cottage. This automatically includes the cost of the ayurvedic food, the naturopathic treatments, doctor examinations, and more.

The first thing that unmistakably hits the visitor to this place, is the abundance of flowers. The place is full of fresh flowers of all colors, sizes and shapes. On both sides of every pathway there are fragrant fresh flowers. This abundance of flowers is painstakingly maintained by 30 full-time resident gardeners. Just being in the midst of such beautiful flowers was uplifting for my soul. I called it floral therapy. In addition, the air quality is amazingly clean by Indian standards. The reason is that this place is next to a forest, the Rajaji national park, and far from the nearest city of Haridwar. Another natural benefit is that it  is in the land of the Holy Seers, so the vibrations are still there. Between the flowers, the pure air and the vibes, the place is like heaven.

When you check in, the doctors in residence examine every health-seeker, and then prescribe the meal patterns as well as the naturopathic treatment for the morning and the evening.

The daily routine is reasonably packed with activity. People wake up at 4:30 am and go to sleep at 9:30 pm everyday. In the morning typically there are cleansing treatments like enema, and sutra-neti and eye-wash etc. There is a 2-hour morning session in the Yoga Hall, which includes yoga practice, and group counseling. After a light customized breakfast, one goes for naturopathic treatments as prescribed. After lunch there is some time for rest. Then again there are healthy juice drinks followed by a mud-pack treatment. Then there are more naturopathic treatments in the afternoon. After a light fruit juice, there is the evening yoga session and group counseling. Then there is customized dinner, after which the health-seekers (as every visitor is called) retire for the day.

The food is custom-prepared for everyone. We were given something to eat or drink 7-8 times during each day. There are 76 different types of naturopathic treatments to select from, in consultation with the doctor. Among the treatments are many kinds of massages (head, back, full-body, etc), and baths (hot-cold, full-back, steam, sauna, etc), and wraps (for the calfs, or the abdomen etc) to name just a few.

We enjoyed and benefited from our stay at Yog Gram. It is a very nice place overall, and a very good value for money. With some minor changes, this place has the potential to become a world-class facility. Currently almost all of the visitors are Indians. The place does not yet offer the privacy of treatment that the western visitors are used to. However, the cost is a small fraction of the cost for a similar naturopathic treatment in the US. So given the value-for-money, soon foreign visitors might make a beeline for the place.