Restoring Our Connections with the World


Credentials are excuses for dismissing the thoughts and ideas of those who have none. By extension, those who have credentials dictate “accepted” knowledge. Thus, the more we narrow our criteria for credible credentials, the more information is dismissed without consideration. More pointedly, it is the institution(s) which give “credentials” that control “accepted” knowledge.

Further, the type of credentials one has, and how the “credentials” were obtained, is often of negligible consequence to the concerned population [e. g. Honorary Degrees; and the assumed credentials of men-in-power; and those who are “in the money,” and thus are said to be “influential” as a result.] Rare examples exist where “credentials” are granted to those who are highly influential to a specific or general population, such as persons of spiritual ascension; or one who has accumulated recognition for spiritual or social or political achievement (often posthumously).

An unapologetic critique of this condition is necessary for civilization to advance in profound ways that assumes the attrition of knowledge to be inclusive of the population as a whole.

Is the concept of human rights non-ideological?

Al Jazeera Opinion:13 Aug 2014 16:05

by: Cimi Skywalker

The faith of the individual has no bearing on Human Rights per se.

The texts, and teachings otherwise, of religious faiths have been corrupted through the centuries. Furthermore, most religious faiths have used, both in the oral tradition, and by extension, in the scribed manuscripts, both metaphor and allegory, to explain, through lengthy discourse, the meaning of the teaching(s). It is commonplace to get a sense that the underlying teachings of many, many, religious faiths have a common thread running deep within, and very likely have common ancient origins.

Furthermore, many modern renditions of manuscripts from various religions have been corrupted by the contemporary political regime(s). But; none-the-less, through the careful yet subtle understanding of the metaphor and allegory, it is possible to peel back the layers and layers of corruption, and then eventually, also, peel back the layers and layers of meaning, which may very well be fundamental principles of: an individual’s sovereignty; humility in serving others; respect and understanding in our regard for others; and the realization that a cultural memory serves to bind the actions of our ancestors, ourselves, and our prodigy into a cyclic hegemony that requires great discipline and acknowledgement of our fundamentally mechanical nature of response-reaction-formation The root of the ancient tenants may be simply “to know thyself.”

In summation: Human Rights mean we are free to do anything and everything in the interest of safeguarding our own life, so long as what we choose to do does not interfere in another person doing the same. Such a very simple tenant can not be understood or literated in so many words; for we have, through our cultural memory, lost the ability to have any meaningful level of empathy toward other individuals; and thus are unable to comprehend our own violations of other’s freedoms. At first glance, one may believe that unavoidable contradictions may occur in the above stated tenant; but such a notion is merely the symptoms of our lost empathy; and is the reason why the original teaching took so many lengthy discourses to be understood.

No man is an island – by John Donne

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.

— John Donne

Q. I cannot understand how impressions can be food?

Taking in impressions means that a certain energy comes in with them. All energy that you receive is food. The food you eat is coarse material, air is finer, impressions are the finest and the most important food. Man cannot live a single moment without impressions. Even when he is unconscious there are impressions.

— P. D. Ouspensky

Q. What is the purpose of man’s existence?

A. Man and even mankind does not exist separately, but as a part of the whole organic life. The earth needs organic life as a whole — men, animals, plants. The Ray of Creation is a growing branch, and this communication is necessary in order that the branch may grow further. Everything is connected, nothing is separate, and smaller things, if they exist, serve something bigger. Organic life serves planetary purposes, it does not exist for itself. An individual man is a highly specialized cell in it, but on that scale an individual cell does not exist — it is too small. Our ordinary points of view are very naive and homeocentric; everything turns round man. But man is a very insignificant thing, part of a very big machine. Organic life is a particular cosmic unit and man is a unit in this big mass of organic life. He has the possibility of further development, but this development depends on man’s own effort and understanding. It enters into the cosmic purpose that a certain number of men should develop, but not all, for that would contradict another cosmic purpose. Evidently mankind must be on earth and must lead this life and suffer. But a certain number of men can escape, this also enters into the cosmic purpose.

So individually we are not important for the universe at all. We cannot speak even about humanity in relation to the universe — we can only speak about organic life. As I said, we are part of organic life, and organic life plays a certain part in the solar system, but it is a very big thing compared with us. We are used to thinking of ourselves individually, but very soon we lose this illusion. It is useful to think about different scales; take a think on a wrong scale and you lose your way.

— P. D. Ouspensky

The Power of Emptiness – by Elijah Crow

The “void” or “ psychological emptiness” is a strange phenomenon,
It appears spontaneously, in the pause between two thoughts,
As the old thought ends its course and disappears,
Its end is the gate, natural silence ensues.

Insist in being with it, as much as you can,
The mind is completely silent, we are attentive – a clear consciousness,
All meanings, boundaries disappear – us and the Infinite are “One”;
Practically, we have a new mind – always fresh.

Being in the pause – I become infinite!
It separates two worlds. I leave the limited world
And enter Boundlessness, through total melting;
The whole being is calm – a constant sparkle.

There is no time, no space – just everlasting Eternity;
I move in direct contact with life, in a permanent present.
I am Pure Energy, without motivations,
The simplicity of existence integrates us completely.

We really encounter Life only through this “now”,
Free from the old, we are able to embrace the new.
All this beauty vanishes, when another thought appears,
It comes from the knowing mind – an old recording.

Let it play its game, do not oppose any resistance,
Encounter it as it is, without any purpose,
It will certainly disappear, and “emptiness” ensues again,
Another opportunity to encounter it practically.

We find the real meaning of Life through this “void”,
It is a boundary line between the two worlds:
On the one side the limited, where the “ego” is the master.
On the other, the Infinite, where Love is the master.

Emptiness also separates Light from the darkness,
The permanent chaos through struggle, contradictions and conflicts,
From the harmonious being, equilibrium and joy;
The whole egocentrism perishes, by encountering the void.

Peace, divine order becomes our nature
It changes our way of being, without effort or will,
Only through this psychological void, we become honest and humane,
The Purity of the Energy – makes titans out of pigmies .

Let this “psychological emptiness” be your guide,
In everything you encounter on your spiritual path.
If it is not the starting point, we easily get deceived,
Only through emptiness – we become Love!

Serving is Different From Helping and Fixing – by Rachel Naomi Remen

–by Rachel Naomi Remen (Mar 18, 2013)

In recent years the question how can I help? has become meaningful to many people. But perhaps there is a deeper question we might consider. Perhaps the real question is not how can I help? but how can I serve?
Serving is different from helping. Helping is based on inequality; it is not a relationship between equals. When you help you use your own strength to help those of lesser strength. If I’m attentive to what’s going on inside of me when I’m helping, I find that I’m always helping someone who’s not as strong as I am, who is needier than I am. People feel this inequality. When we help we may inadvertently take away from people more than we could ever give them; we may diminish their self-esteem, their sense of worth, integrity and wholeness. When I help I am very aware of my own strength. But we don’t serve with our strength, we serve with ourselves. We draw from all of our experiences. Our limitations serve, our wounds serve, even our darkness can serve. The wholeness in us serves the wholeness in others and the wholeness in life. The wholeness in you is the same as the wholeness in me. Service is a relationship between equals.
Helping incurs debt. When you help someone they owe you one. But serving, like healing, is mutual. There is no debt. I am as served as the person I am serving. When I help I have a feeling of satisfaction. When I serve I have a feeling of gratitude. These are very different things.
Serving is also different from fixing. When I fix a person I perceive them as broken, and their brokenness requires me to act. When I fix I do not see the wholeness in the other person or trust the integrity of the life in them. When I serve I see and trust that wholeness. It is what I am responding to and collaborating with.
There is distance between ourselves and whatever or whomever we are fixing. Fixing is a form of judgment. All judgment creates distance, a disconnection, an experience of difference. In fixing there is an inequality of expertise that can easily become a moral distance. We cannot serve at a distance. We can only serve that to which we are profoundly connected, that which we are willing to touch. This is Mother Teresa’s basic message. We serve life not because it is broken but because it is holy.
Rachel Naomi Remen, adapted from a transcript in the Noetic Sciences Review

Beyond the Conflict of Inner Forces (Cherokee Story)  (Feb 04, 2013)

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life:

“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.”It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf will win?”

You might heard the story ends like this: The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

In the Cherokee world, however, the story ends this way:

The old Cherokee simply replied, “If you feed them right, they both win.” and the story goes on:

“You see, if I only choose to feed the white wolf, the black one will be hiding around every corner waiting for me to become distracted or weak and jump to get the attention he craves. He will always be angry and always fighting the white wolf. But if I acknowledge him, he is happy and the white wolf is happy and we all win. For the black wolf has many qualities – tenacity, courage, fearlessness, strong-willed and great strategic thinking – that I have need of at times and that the white wolf lacks. But the white wolf has compassion, caring, strength and the ability to recognize what is in the best interest of all.

“You see, son, the white wolf needs the black wolf at his side. To feed only one would starve the other and they will become uncontrollable. To feed and care for both means they will serve you well and do nothing that is not a part of something greater, something good, something of life. Feed them both and there will be no more internal struggle for your attention. And when there is no battle inside, you can listen to the voices of deeper knowing that will guide you in choosing what is right in every circumstance. Peace, my son, is the Cherokee mission in life. A man or a woman who has peace inside has everything. A man or a woman who is pulled apart by the war inside him or her has nothing.

“How you choose to interact with the opposing forces within you will determine your life. Starve one or the other or guide them both.”

–Cherokee Story

The riddle of the Unicorn – by NS Rajaram

The riddle of the Unicorn

Sunday, 09 February 2014 | NS Rajan | in Agenda

While modern scholars have been arguing over the source and nature of the Indus Valley civilisation, whether it was Vedic or non-Vedic, NS Rajaram says that the Harappans were very much Vedic and their script was the mother of all Indian scripts

A hundred years ago, it was widely believed that there was no civilisation in India before 1500 BC. History books claimed that a tribe of people called the Aryans, originally from Europe, invaded India at that date bringing with them both the Vedas and the Sanskrit language. The basis for this, it was claimed, was the similarity of the European languages with Sanskrit. The date of 1500 BC was based on the then current Biblical belief that the world was created on October 23, 4004 BC. This is the now infamous Aryan invasion theory still found in many textbooks.

This received a severe jolt in the 1920s when the British and Indian archaeologists discovered a vast and advanced civilisation in Punjab and Sindh. It was found to be more than a thousand years older than the supposed arrival of the Aryans in India. This is now famous as the Indus Valley or the Harappan civilisation. In the face of the contradiction it presented to the Aryan invasion theory, the proper thing for scholars would have been to go back and re-examine their theory. But they did not. Instead they argued that the Harappan remains belonged to a pre-Vedic Dravidian civilisation that was destroyed by the Aryan invaders.

This implies that great cities like Harappa and Mohenjodaro, both nearly 5,000 years old, were built by the Tamil-speaking people from the south. This makes about as much sense as claiming that the great south Indian temples of Madurai and Rameshwaram were built by Sikhs from Punjab. This absurd view enjoys support in some circles, especially among the Dravidian parties and the LTTE. They have even sponsored ‘scholars’ like Asko Parpola of Finland to give it a veneer of respectability. One could laugh it off except that this ‘Dravidian theory’, like the Aryan invasion theory, has been a major obstacle to a scientific study of ancient India. It reverses the chronology by placing Harappans before the Vedas and treating the two as culturally and linguistically unrelated. As a result, the writing found on the Indus seals and other artifacts has been declared undecipherable, without setting any criteria that would make any reading acceptable. One inflexible rule is the language and culture of the Harappans cannot be related to Sanskrit.

As we shall see, this dogma is false. And in an unexpected way, an enigmatic figure known as the Indus Unicorn allows us to break this deadlock and allows us also to read the writing found on the Indus seals. While the amount of information contained in these writings is small, the script itself is a major source for understanding the evolution of writing in India.

Mahabharata and Unicorn

While modern scholars — colonial and post-colonial — have been arguing over the source and nature of the Indus civilisation, whether it was Vedic or non-Vedic, few noticed that Indus seals and their icons were described by the compilers of the Mahabharata 2,500 years ago. The Mahabharata war took place around 3,000 BC. But the compilation of the Mahabharata, as we now have it, was a long drawn affair that was completed around 500 BC. During the later phases of the compilation, a good deal of philosophic and didactic material was added on to the epic, especially in the Shanti Parva, which is the longest of the 18 books making up the epic.

The Shanti Parva contributes nothing to the Mahabharata story; it is a summary of dharma to be followed in various situations. What is remarkable is it describes several Indus seals including those with the most common icon, the mythical creature known to scholars as eka-shringa or the unicorn. Further, the Mahabharata tells us that this unicorn represents the form assumed by Krishna as Vishnu when he rescued the world from deluge. This is the famous Varaha Avatar of Vishnu.

This was brought to light by the brilliant Vedic scholar, my late colleague and co-author Natwar Jha (1938-2006). It allowed Jha to approach the problem of reading the Indus writing by ignoring modern myths like the Aryan invasion and the Aryan-Dravidian divide. But there was more: The same Mahabharata passage also hints that the writings on the seals contain words taken from the famous glossary of Vedic words called the Nighantu, compiled by ancient sage Yaska. It credits Yaska with the recovery of knowledge that was adho-nastam  or ‘lost in the depths’. These means Yaska had recovered these seals 3,000 years before archaeologists did in the 1920s.

Yaska is one of the most celebrated of the later Vedic figures: He is the compiler of a commentary known as the Nirukta which is still in use. What is remarkable in all this is that ancient authors of the Mahabharata as well as Yaska who lived thousands of years ago had no inkling of any Aryan invasion, let alone of any Aryan-Dravidian divide, even though they were familiar with the Harappan civilisation. This is further evidence that the Aryan myth and Harappans as Dravidians are entirely modern concoctions with no basis in history.

This discovery gives a clear historical and linguistic context for the study of the Indus writing. Going back to Yaska’s time and earlier, people of the area were part of the Vedic civilisation. This means the languages they spoke and wrote must have been related to Sanskrit, just as today’s languages like Hindi, Bengali, Telugu and others are. This solves half the problem of reading Indus writing — the identity of the language. It was Sanskritic; our readings suggest that they contain a high percentage of Sanskrit words just like Indian languages today.

Mother of Indian scripts

It is important to be clear about the Indus writing and its historical context. The seals come from a civilisation that at its height covered an area exceeding a million sq km and a period spanning a thousand years. Considering we have only around 4,000 samples of writing averaging less than five characters in length, the quantum of information contained in them must be meagre. Once the initial novelty wears off, the writings are found to be highly repetitious with simple invocations like aahave (I invoke), names like Agni, Indra, Ishvara and so on. All told the corpus of writing amounts to not more than 2,000 words that can easily be fitted on to five pages or less. And this for a civilisation occupying a million sq km for a thousand years.

This is confirmed by the readings using the only methodology we have available, proposed by the late Natwar Jha and I. There is not a single complete sentence in the whole body with any narrative. What we find instead are isolated words and phrases drawn from the voluminous literature from the period — Vedic commentaries, names of Vedic characters like Sudas, Atri, Paila and epic heroes like Rama and Krishna. All these we already know from other sources. Their value as a historical source may be appreciated by comparing them to the postage stamps of a country like India or the United States. They relate to history but are hardly historical records.

This means that the writing on the Indus seals tell us nothing about ancient India that we cannot learn from other more extensive sources like the Vedas, Puranas and epics. The value of Indus writing lies in the fact that it tells us how writing evolved in India. All Indian scripts except imported ones like Persian and English (Roman) derive from the Brahmi script used in Ashoka’s inscriptions. We found that Ashokan Brahmi itself is based on the Indus script. In fact, many writings on the seals can be read as Brahmi.

A point to note is that Indus scribes did not use a single ‘script’ but a collection of writing methods, used in a more or less ad-hoc manner at various times for various purposes over a period of not less than a thousand years. Unlike the edicts of Ashoka which are extensive texts that have a focused theme and a programme of propagating his version of ‘dhamma’ (dharma or proper conduct), Indus messages are brief statements of one or two words that contain little meaningful information. They belong to history of writing more than history proper. It is their structure that is important, not the content.

Actually, it is the icons in their relationship to the literature — the Vedas, the Upanishads and the epics and the Puranas — that shed light on the era. These leave no doubt at all that Harappans continued evolve from the Vedic. They should be seen as belonging to the Vedantic period that saw the creation of the Upanishads and the Sutras. We find their imprint in the iconography as well as the writing. (Also in the mathematics of the ancient world from India to Babylon to Egypt and then Greece, but that is not germane here.)

When we come to Indus writing, what really held back its reading was the dogmatic position that Harappans were non-Vedic and possibly even Dravidian who did not know Sanskrit. This, of course, was the result of the Aryan invasion myth which they called ‘theory’. If only scholars had examined Indus writing with an open mind and compared it to the other ancient script known as Brahmi used in Ashoka’s inscriptions, they would have seen that Ashokan Brahmi borrows heavily from the Indus writing. The example given presents Ashoka’s Lumbini inscription written in the original Brahmi alongside the Indus. The two are almost indistinguishable except to the rained eye.

Thus, there is nothing mysterious about the Indus writing, though it is still technically demanding because it is both primitive and complex. There is no single decipherment key as with Brahmi or Linear B (Greek), but most of them can be read as a primitive form of Brahmi mixed with older signs (not discussed here). What held back its reading was not so much this technical difficulty but the blind attachment by prominent scholars to the Aryan invasion dogma. Or as the ancient sage Yaska put it, “It is not the fault of the pillar if the blind man fails to see it.”

The writer is a scientist and historian. The article is based on his work done jointly with the late Natwar Jha in their book,

The Deciphered Indus Script