Clues, Self-Awareness, Love

Love – that which we all seek. Even if we’ve convinced ourself that love is namby pamby weakness, we all seek love. We all want to be acknowledged, we all want to belong, we all want to contribute, and we all want to be our true selves. All of this is love. The ever-present quiet hunger for this inside is love – knocking at our psyche ever softly.

Love is present in our every interaction, with every body and every thing. Even if that interaction is occuring in anger, hate, the ugliest of fights. Fear screams helplessly in those interactions, but love is present — silently. Most importantly, love is present in our interaction with ourself.

If love is present everywhere, every moment, in every interaction – how come we sense a big huge absence of love, rather than it’s presence? Thing is, love is also a skill. Love is a way of seeing. If we are unable to sense that ever-present love, it means we are not seeing skillfully.

So how do we see skillfully? The most important tool to use for that is awareness. Especially, self-awareness.

The second important tool is two fold: courage and kindness. The courage to see and acknowledge what is unpleasant, with kindness – especially within ourself. The courage to be with that unpleasant feeling – with awareness. The same goes for what is pleasant within us. The courage and kindness to acknowledge what is pleasant within us, make it our own as an asset – despite the simultaneous presence of unpleasant feelings.

The third important tool are all the little helpers we might get from the external world. All the help that we get from the external world are tiny clues. They are crucial. Yet, they are little. The exalted avataar, the mighty guru, the book that was a life-changing guide, the friend who believes in us, the innocent face of a child holding out a flower at our most vulnerable moment, the grimace of dissapproval from the one whose approval matters so much to us – all of that and everything in-between are crucial helpers — but little in comparison to the importance of awareness and self-awareness.

This is the third article in the series on astrology – how it helped me to understand my personality and present role in the world better, and how you might use it too to understand yourself better. However, just like all other tools from the external world, this too is only a tiny helper, a set of clues. To use it well, we have to be aware of our inner voice, and accept or reject the clues in these articles as per the guidance of our inner voice. In every moment of conflict we have to keep the guidance of our inner voice as the final authority. We have to learn to differentiate between the quiet steadyness of our inner voice, and the stubborn childish impulse to be right or cloy for external support.

To really connect with the power of astrology, knowing your Sun Sign is not enough. Our Sun Sign is a clue to our basic identity and life’s purpose in this present avataar, but it might not give sufficient clues as to how we may fulfill that purpose. Our basic identity does not exist in isolation. It exists in this world, it interacts with others, and via those interactions, it fulfills its life purpose. The positions of other planets at the time of birth gives clues to the assets and challenges we have on our path to fulfilling our purpose.

Yet, most of us only know our date of birth (and place of birth) and have not bothered drawing up a chart for ourself.

That is the way it was for me for several years. I got interested in astrology at an early age. I tried studying it from a teacher. That was a failed attempt. He was interested in Sanskrit texts. He didn’t really want to share this science with me. I too got caught up in other activities of life. Once in a while I read horoscopes for my Sun Sign at astrologyzone.com. They didn’t really help personally, but I learnt bits and pieces about the subject. For example, I learned the positive way of processing the impact of Saturn, the impact of eclipses and how to process them positively, the perceptory impact of retrograde planets. More rarely, I revisited The 12 Mysteries of Love by Linda Goodman and re-read it in patches – simply because it was good to read. It reaffirmed my faith in an inherent wisdom in the grand scheme of things.

Then, one day, somewhere around the age of 41, I sensed an important but subtle something turning within. Once again I felt the need for guidance to figure out what was happening to me. I turned to The 12 Mysteries of Love, looking for clues. My Sun Sign is Scorpio. A lot of what I read, resonated with me. Yet, one thing in the text was surely not me — the desire for revenge. I felt there was more to me than just being Scorpio. That is when I found out the importance of the Moon Sign and the Ascendant. I asked my mother for my time of birth, and found out my Moon Sign and Ascendant using some online tool (determining the position of planets in the sky as per a particular time and place is just arithmetic with correct data, hence computers can do it easily). The revealing power of astrology opened up for me one step further. A long-felt conflict seemed reflected in what I found.

We are interested in love, harmony, fulfillment — not zodiac signs and planets. Astrology provides a good compact framework of the psyche, on its search for love. Before we go into the first real gateway of astrology — of calculating our birth chart (with or without the time of birth), and discussing what it tells us — look at these two summaries below. I have removed the names of the zodiac signs, so that you may focus on the framework of the psyche on its search for love. The first is from Astrology for Yourself by Douglas Bloch and Demetra George. The second is from The 12 Mysteries of Love by Linda Goodman. Both very different from each other, hence more powerful together.

Each line conveys so much. Worthy of reflection. For example, the principle and power of Discrimination: when applied in a hurry results in criticism, or ourself or others. When we let it percolate within, not in a hurry to arrive at conclusions, it takes brings clarity.

What are we to take away from these summaries? Nothing in particular. Just go through it with attention, and let it seep in. That is an important and alternate way to receive – to just let things seep in without actively trying to learn, do, acquire. It hones our intuitive thinking – crucial for using astrology skillfully. It hones our ability to be more self-aware.

In the next post we will go beyond the Sun Sign, beyond our identity, towards our mind and how we are seen by others in our world. To prepare for that, try to find out your time of birth.

Previous articles in this series
1: It Works
2: The 12 Mysteries of Love

The 12 Mysteries of Love

This is the story of a birthing. A story of Self-actualization. Coming into our own. And what does coming into our own mean? Accepting our own glory. Experiencing that we are lovable, as we are. Independent of the world and interdependent with the world. An acceptance and experiencing that fills us with an easy fulfillment.

I read this “story”, called “The 12 Mysteries of Love”, when I was a child (teenager). It is in the introductory pages of Linda Goodman’s book Love Signs. The main book seemed kind-of chick-lit to me, but that is because of where my interests lie. But these pages, The 12 Mysteries of Love, and the table preceding it, convinced me right at that early age that there is deep wisdom in astrology. A conviction that I have turned to again and again through life, and each time the wisdom has revealed itself further to me, like a flower opening up.

While coming into our own means accepting our own glory, this write-up, The 12 Mysteries of Love, is not about our personal stories. It is the story of how a birthing takes place, how evolution takes place. Day-and-night, day-and-night, contraction-expansion, contraction-expansion, again and again, like a woman in labor, culminating in the knowing that “Love is All” and that I Am that Love. Here the “I” is not our limited identity definitions. It is like the universe itself is coming into the knowing. As Eckhart Tolle says, consciousness becoming conscious of itself. It is the knowing – aham brahmaasmee.

Linda Goodman presents The 12 Mysteries of Love as the evolution of the soul. We can consider this as the inner psychology of a human soul, a culture, a country, or the universe itself. That is the beauty of astrology – it acknowledges the relevance of the individual while going towards the universal. It is the same picture reflected again and again in different-sized mirrors.

Each of the 12 zodiac signs Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer etc. are mapped alternatively to day and night, day and night, or masculine feminine masculine feminine – i.e. outward looking, inward looking, outward looking, inward looking, and so on. Personality-wise we can look at day as extrovert, night as introvert. So Aries is a day sign, Taurus a night sign, Gemini a day sign, Cancer a night sign and so on. And evolution is depicted as an alternating journey between day and night. The signs are also mapped in order, to the elements fire, earth, air, water. What does it feel like to be fire, earth, air or water? It helps tremendously just to feel this within ourself, on the path to knowing ourself better. But I am jumping ahead.

Right now I invite you to read The 12 Mysteries of Love. It is exquisite. At the end of reading the whole thing one feels a soaring, expansive gratitude – like one feels at the end of a good book, or an exquisite music recital. Yet it will leave one wanting for more. 😊

Since this is not your personal story, try not to read this as “I am evolved till here”, or “I am evolved more or less than this person in my life”, as per your Sun Sign. That is not what this is saying. Evolution occurs in concentric circles and on a circle there isn’t a starting point or an ending point. No point on a circle is lesser-than or greater-than any other point. However, there may be parts that resonate with you, maybe your Sun Sign, maybe some other signs. Notice that with a child-like curiosity.

Also, pay special attention to the tabular summary in the beginning – 24 clues to 12 mysteries. Come again to it after you’ve read the whole thing. That summary deserves an article of its own. So until next time, ciao! And now I present to you – The 12 Mysteries of Love.

It Works

“We might go to war with Pakistan,” my brother said at home one day.

It was October 2016.

My brother, an expert in analysing and forecasting market data (currency and other financial values), could see that the Rupee will weaken. Not just slightly, but a lot. He was sure of it. He told his customers that the Rupee will weaken.

*

The traditional way of analyzing market movements is called Fundamental Analysis. Another way of analyzing market movements, and estimating future value of stocks and currencies, is relatively newer (though now quite old too). It is called Technical Analysis.

Fundamental Analysis considers how a company is behaving (Is it making profits? Is there demand for that service? What is the situation in the country and the world? etc.). Technical Analysis does not bother about the company, the world or the market. It simply plots historical data on graphs and then “reads” the chart in certain ways to estimate the future movement of the data. To those who do not know anything about the field, it may well seem like looking into a crystal ball. But data moves in certain patterns. Technical Analysis reads those patterns.

My brother has been in the business of offering market forecasting services to companies, for years — using Technical Analysis. For years he has had to educate his clients and prospectives of what his team does, what is Technical Analysis. They rarely understand. Nevertheless they purchase his forecasting service. After all, his forecasts have a track record of 72% reliability.

*

India had performed “surgical strikes” on Pakistan a little while back, but it did not go to war with Pakistan. But the Rupee did weaken. Also, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced demonetization on 9 November 2016. It threw the country into a tizzy. Did the Rupee weaken because Modi announced demonetization? I don’t know. However, the point is that the Rupee did weaken, like my brother’s reading of the data charts had said so.

“We don’t know how, but it works. That is the thing about Technical Analysis,” experts in the field of Financial Technical Analysis say.

That is what Homeopathic doctors also say, and astrologers also say, “We don’t know how, but it works.”

*

Astrology has helped me tremendously, to understand myself better. Thus, I am able to honor myself, and “be myself” better.

I have never gone to any astrologer with queries like, “When will I get married? Is this guy compatible with me? When will I get a job? Where should I apply?” and stuff like that. I have always made sure that my choices and decisions be my own. However, I have turned to astrology to try and understand myself, i.e. understand my personality.

For example, recently a friend said, “What do people want? Either money or fame.”

I wondered, “What do I want? I know it is neither money, nor fame, but what do I want?” This question has puzzled me for years, and recently astrology helped me put a few more pieces in place. Its been like a long-term jigsaw puzzle, spanning over years – astrology and me – or rather, just me 😊 .

The crisis that we are collectively facing generates so many uncertainties in all our lives. We are all trying to live it and process it as best as we can. But crisis times are birthing times. Something new will emerge from this crisis, this is for sure. In that, if we are able to understand ourself better, we will be able to tune into that-new-whatever better. Then, that-new-whatever (and the-current-whatever) will seem beautiful to us. We ourselves will be more beautiful to ourself.

I find this field so fascinating that I might write more about my journey with astrology, how I have used it, and how you might too. However, if you want to get started right away (and that would be great, because you are important to you, not my articles) the book “You Were Born For This” by Chani Nicholas is an excellent place to go to. The book gives a link which generates your chart for you, based on the date, time, and location of your birth. That part is simply arithmetic with astronomical data. Then it teaches you to read your chart yourself in a very easy non-technical-as-far-as-possible manner. Apart from being easy to understand, the writing style is a pleasure too.

People approach astrology with a defeatist and fearful attitude. That is so sad and ineffective. None of the planets or anything in the universe is out to get you. You are not doomed, and need not pacify any Shani mahaaraaj by doing this that or the other thing. However we are an integral part of the universe and things seem to be like a fractal – the same thing reflected over and over again. One doesn’t have to use astrology. One can live a perfectly fulfilling and successful life, both worldly and spiritually, without astrology. However, it is a tool available to us, to understand our personality, and it works.

The Power of Sound and Harmony

Before COVID struck, it was the last in-person meet of Saahityikee. Saahityikee is a women-only literature group in Kolkata. In that meeting, members were, in turn, coming to the dias and reading out what they’d written.

Then a lady came, and she sang. I distinctly felt the air in the room change. The air became cleaner. This is not merely an mental-emotional impact I am talking about. The air physically became cleaner. I know because I have experienced that kind of transformation before.

Way back when I was living in Charlotte USA, a friend had come to my apartment. The apartment was somewhat musty. Vacuuming the carpets was overdue. When he experienced the somewhat-unclean mustiness of the apartment, he visited again with an oxygen machine. He plugged the machine into the wall electricity socket. As it ran, it pumped sucked in air, transformed it, and pumped oxygen back out into the air. The air in the apartment became cleaner. That is the way the air became cleaner when that lady sang at Sahityikee.

That is the most potent, beautiful impact of sound I have experienced till now. That is the power harmony has. It can clean air.

A REPLACEMENT FOR THE SWIMMING POOL

Talk about first world problems in third world countries. A significant “loss” for me during this COVID time was that I was unable to go swimming.

Swimming is important to me. I feel “at home” in the water. It is direct experiential evidence to me that we evolved from the oceans. When I swim more, I can feel my muscles heat up. However being in water, I can feel it simultaneously cool too. This enables me to move more. Also, just floating in water is like floating in a pool of love. Just being. Essentially it is a way of cooling inflammation. Physical, emotional, mental, social inflammation.

When I am faced with challenges, I become very silent. It is a way of preserving energy, and letting the internal process do its thing. This is not a chosen strategy. This is how I have been manufactured. However, being too intensely “locked” in silence is unhealthy. Then my inner intelligence pushes me to break that silence, while still being tuned into the internal thing. Normally that breaking naturally happens in the form of art (drawing, painting). This year, it broke in the form of singing – but not quite so naturally. I was ridden with doubt initially.

I am not a singer, i.e. I do not naturally break into song. In fact part of my intense internal processing via silence includes not even listening to music. Sometimes for years at a stretch. Again, not a deliberate choice. It’s the way it happens. This year, the inner impulse told me to seek out a singing teacher – and the same intelligence that created the inner impulse arranged for online classes with a very understanding teacher in Durgapur (what is distance to the internet?). I realize that it is the intelligence-from-beyond’s gift to me to cool inflammation. A replacement of the swimming pool. It is also a way to connecting with the less-material more-formless, which is an exquisite experience.

This is a new journey I have embarked upon – connecting to the formless via singing. I hope I will write to you more about it, because its all too fascinating. Not just singing, but all the innumerable different ways of experiencing the dance of energy. Right now, food and tummy are getting impatient to meet each other, so this is it for now. Ciao!

AI / ML for Peace, Beauty and Joy?

I like technology. I like doing something with technology. AI and ML (Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning) seem to have pushed aside just about everything else in the technology world. I tried many a times to immerse my fingers in some AI / ML project. Each time I came away wondering. One reason is the headache of messing with elaborate technical stuff. The other reason is a philosophical conundrum which stands before me every time I start doing something with AI / ML.

AI / ML learns from past data points. It learns from the attributes fed into the black box. It teaches itself to emulate the past learning samples given to it. And the objective is categorization (racism as a child rightly said 🙂 ). This is the way conventional human psychology works too. However, despite the tendency of human psychology to work in this manner, an intelligence from beyond does manage to penetrate the human psyche at times. That intelligence from beyond gives the message of integration and oneness. It tells us that all attributes are too superficial.

How can I use AI / ML to honor integration, oneness, and the message that ultimately all attributes are too superficial? I want to design a project and objective that honors that, while engaging myself in the childlike activity of doing something with the hot thing of today’s world (AI / ML). The other issue is data. This integration and oneness would emerge if one threw enough data, and enough disparate data at it, and the objective not be categorization but integration. But if the “correct answer” is always only the one same answer then do we need any AI / ML in the first place?

Maybe I should create a project where the objective is not categorization but peace, beauty, joy. A system where whatever data point you throw at it, the learned system shows the user how that data point = peace, beauty, joy.

There’s A Creature on My Bookshelf

I came out of my bedroom and discovered there is a new clock on the book shelf. As I sat across it on the sofa, looking at it with no particular concentration or focus, happy and content with my morning time with myself, I realized — that is not an object, it is a creature. With its second hand moving around, (and its minutes and hours too, which was not visibly moving, but I know it moves), suddenly it looked like a small pet to me. The seconds hand like a wagging tail, the slow-moving minutes and hours hands sleeping like a python, and the clock itself like a small bunny rabbit or something. And I sensed the intelligence, that gave it form and birth. The intelligence by which it is an integral part of the universe.

It’s all alive. Everything around us. Individually and collectively. A single breathing combined organism, of which we too are a integral part.

They Came Flying From Far Away

It’s because of this doll-like thingy that she is holding and listening intently to — that’s why I chose this jigsaw puzzle that I’m doing these days.

No, it’s not about romanticizing depression. It’s about that tiny voice of light and guidance that comes and speaks to you from out of nowhere, within the deepest darkness.

(article continued below the image)

“They came flying from far away, now I’m under their spell
I love hearing the stories that they tell
They’ve seen places beyond my land and they’ve found new horizons
They speak strangely but I understand

As all good friends we talk all night, and we fly wing to wing
I have questions and they know everything”

(from the ABBA song “Eagle”, which is so very much my song)

They: Angels
(Angels are the thoughts of God ~ Marianne Williamson)

They: Who tell you, “You are valuable and beautiful irrespective of how things may seem to be.”

They: Who tell you, “You are lovable because you exist” (Louise Hay)

This is a huge sentence. Imbibe the depth and matter-of-fact truth of what it says. Read it slowly —

You are lovable because you exist.

You do not have to become a particular way to become lovable. You already are lovable. Irrespective of your thoughts, actions, and state.

You exist. That alone makes you lovable. Because every tiny iota of this universe is lovable and worth going into raptures over.

They: Who tell you, “I don’t get depressed about depression. Depression is a biological response, and the body’s mechanism for processing stress” (Vinod Tewary). They say, “you are pure”, when you unburden yourself about your problems and feelings about yourself. There by they free you, without minimizing or negating what you are experiencing.

And little by little, that tiny voice of light and guidance becomes a part of you. It always was in the first place. That is why what it said resonated with you, you listened to it intently and made the message your own.

And soon you are not scared to look at the darkness and barnacles of the remaining picture. You sit beside the morning window, and fresh morning air, and put the pieces together by sun light. The sun of our solar system, and the sun of our being.

The larger picture becomes more and more beautiful. You take breaks from putting the pieces together, simply to look at it in rapture.

When the picture is done, you spread your black wings
(as in the superb psychological movie The Black Swan), and acknowledge your darkness as a beautiful part of yourself.

Then, with the power of your mind, and the sun that shines on it, you soar
“Like an eagle that rides on the breeze”

The power of decision is my own

Tell me the LAL story.

This is a true story of a lady who founded an organisation to help people with psychological matters. You Yourself told me about her one day.

“There is an air pocket in your brain. It can go and block transmission any time. We don’t know how long you will live,” she was told.

That was the end of the matter.

She, her family members, went to a man for help. The kind of man who had acquired the reputation of being a go-to man when there were no other options left. At the time when this lady and her family members reached him, he was flying a kite.

They told their problem and asked for help.

He gave the lady the kite string and asked her to fly the kite.

She lost her cool.

“I’m talking of life and death here and you’re asking me to fly a kite? I don’t know how to fly a kite.”

“You don’t need to know how to fly a kite. Commit to flying the kite and you can fly the kite. It’s just a question of commitment. Commit to living and you shall live.”

What the man said, impacted the lady deeply. She lived.

The internal transformation she went through impacted her family members first, then she founded an organisation to share what she had discovered within.

Eventually, after several years, she did land up in the ICU. It was the air pocket that had acted up. She was writing a book at that time. Even in the ICU, she decided she will finish the book. So she did finish writing the book. Only then, she died.

Why have you been wanting to share this story?

It is this coronavirus thing going on. Obviously death must’ve crossed people’s minds. I see this as pralay in slow motion – a great time to become more aware of what we hold within. And that thing You said, “And no one dies without his own consent,”* rings true in me.

For me, how I came back to live in Kolkata with the family members is the most telling evidence that corroborates what You say — the power of decision is my own.

How did you come back to live in Kolkata with the family?

It’s a somewhat long story.

OK fine. You can tell me tomorrow. I’m glad you came for a walk.

I am too. Thanks for letting me go for today.

I never bind you.

I know.

You came because you wanted to, you wrote because you wanted to.

I know. And You know I am scared to write what is within me.

“No one dies without his own consent,”* is huge stuff. Who am I to write about such stuff.

It is huge if you consider it huge. Else, it is merely interesting – like physics, quantum computers, data visualization, coronavirus data… No difference whatsoever.

Yes.

Conversation (and discovery behind the mind)

So what did you discover behind the mind?

Myself.

It is thanks to Mummy and a tremendous conversation I had with her yesterday evening. But then who is Mummy and who am I? There is no place where Asha Murarka ends and Vani Murarka begins.

There is one place in our conversation yesterday (life happens in the synapses, in conversations) where she pointed to her third eye and then to mine meaning this communication is happening from here to here. That was so powerful.

What did Mummy say?

She said, “Use your mind.”

All this while I have been thinking that You have to use my mind. I tried aligning the scattered mind into a laser beam, but didn’t succeed. So I gave that responsibility to You too – conversion of the mind into a laser beam to be then wielded by You as You deem fit. But what Mummy told me yesterday, “I must use my mind,” puts me in the active role in my life. This clearly shows how passively I was approaching life till now. This ties so well with what You had said the other day –

“Accept your rightful place as co-creator of the Universe.” *

So behind the mind I discovered myself. The entity that must use the mind.

But I should also mention awareness here. When I discovered the very potent power and subtle existence of awareness, I used to think I am awareness. But that is not so.

Awareness is also a tool, a power given to me, to be used. So behind the mind there is awareness and behind awareness, there is me. Right now this is how it looks to me —

One might think awareness is a capability of the mind, but I would like to make a distinction. Awareness is far more subtle, far more powerful than the mind. Also, there is a non-doing in awareness, whereas the mind is all action (often frenzied, monkey-like)

Well so I have herewith used my mind and that is how I have walked this morning walk. This pen that Dhruv helped me buy is also much better.

And what was that Mummy said about maintaining a distance?

Oh that was utterly fantastic. It is the aliveness of the synapse. It is tomaaree mukh loibo cheene. It is snehaatirek se bachein. It is something that deserves a walk of its own.

In all of this, do I get any credit?

Listen, You know, I know, You came to me in the form of Mummy and said what I was ready to hear. Need that be said?

I like hearing it. Give credit where its due.

Talking of giving credit, I am really grateful for this direct interaction with this layer of Mummy, beyond her role as mother, caretaker of my physical well being.

OK enough. I don’t want to walk anymore. Over and out.