The Health Q
International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) 1715 6165 | Library & Archives Canada Entry
Editorial: Lessons from Pain; Live Your Life
Happiness- The Main Quest of Mankind;
This month’s recipe ‘Black Gram Sprouts- Protein Power House’; Do Antidepressants Really Cure?;
Summer Treat: How to Enjoy it Without Bloating Up?
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Lessons from Pain [Editorial]
by Parmjit Singh
Recently, one of my first cousins residing in India died in an accident leaving behind his young wife and two kids. During this tragic moment, I noticed that our historically estranged families, showed some sign of reconciliation—a shared kinship in grief and tragedy. My parents practically stayed with my uncles throughout this crisis—a sobering development under sad circumstances.
By the quirk of human nature, families, especially extended families, usually fall prey to domestic politics. Even the most loving and nurturing relationships such as familial love can turn sour on the alter of mindless politicking.
What makes it notable is that this story is not very isolated and exclusive to one extended family. The examples of this kind may be found in your own families or neighbors. It is commonplace, woefully common.
It is worth asking why humans are so thoughtless that it has to be something tragic happening in families before they can bury their shallow differences and embrace each other. Perhaps the answer lies in the manner we think and come to look at life. Buddha said that life is suffering. But he did not mean that life as such is suffering. What he meant was that we make it so by our delusional thinking and by attaching importance to wrong-headed notions about life and relationships.
As life loves harmony, it keeps on presenting us the occasions, sometimes through tragic events, as a wake-up call to mend our ways. But why we have to wait for something bad to happen to mend a broken relationship? Why should we waste a whole life smarting under hurts when we can rise above the circumstances to embrace our loved ones?
Death can make a claim anytime; it is great leveler and does not distinguish between kings and paupers. Each one of us has to pass on sooner or later. The reality of death should not frighten us. What should scare us are the numbers of days lost in anger, hatred and alienation.
They are irretrievable—and much worse than death.
Live Your Life
While life is yours, live joyously;
None can escape Death’s searching eye:
When once this frame of ours they burn,
How shall it e’er again return?
—The Charvaka, Brhaspati-Sutra
The way to use life is to do nothing through acting,
The way to use life is to do everything through being.
— Lao Tzu
On the whole we should regard money as mother’s milk: it nourishes us and it nourishes others. That should be our attitude towards money.
It is not just a blank coupon that we have in our wallet. Each dollar contains a lot of past; many people worked for that particular one dollar, one cent. They worked so hard, with their sweat and tears. So it’s like mother’s milk. But at the same time, mother’s milk can be given away and we can produce more mother’s milk. So I wouldn’t hang on to it too tightly.
—C. T. Rinpoche
In Chop Wood Carry Water by Rick Fields et al.
Happiness [Part I]
The Main Quest of Mankind
By His Holiness Swami Sivananda
The one ceaseless quest in which man is engaged is happiness. He thinks, speaks, moves, works, eats, drinks, procreates,—in short, lives—in the hope of finding happiness. No one wants to suffer. It is the desire to escape suffering that drives a baby to its mother’s lap; it is the same desire that draws urchins together and makes them play with their dolls and revel in sweetmeats; it is this desire to find joy that goads a youth on to the pleasure-centers of woman, food, intoxicating drinks, gambling, play; it is this quest of happiness that drives man to seek wealth, power, name and fame, and material comforts; this desire impels him to invent newer and newer contrivances to add to his creature comforts, and weapons to add to his glory, power and wealth.
Alas! Happiness eludes his grasp!
What does he get, instead? Every type of sense-enjoyment has hidden beneath the velvety cover, a ferocious tigress! Lust eats away his vitals. Intoxicating drinks bring on nervousness. Artificial ways of living give him any number of diseases. Desires haunt his dreams. Ambitions cloud his intelligence. Wealth brings with it restlessness. Family means worry! The senses to whom he looked for happiness enslave him and under their crushing weight man cries aloud: “Where is happiness?”
Even if he is saved from these, even if fortune smiles at him, the inevitable old age creeps in. The pleasure-centers which sustained him during his youth and manhood haunt him now. Crestfallen, he wails: “Where is happiness?”
Ah! Thou, the Great Leveller—Death! No one has escaped thy clutches. The king on his throne, the poet in his study, the painter in his studio, the vile immoral man in the arms of his beloved, the glutton at the table, the gambler at the den, the merrymaker at the club—thy mantle falls equally on all. Every day millions of human beings leave their mortal coil on this planet; yet the few that remain imagine that they will never die—madness cannot go farther. Name, fame, friends, relations, wealth, power, position— nothing follows the man beyond his last breath. His hands feel not, his eyes look not, his ears hear not, his tongue tastes not, his nose smells not the objects which were dear to his heart just few moments ago. Where is happiness?
Wealth breeds dacoits. Name and fame create enemies. Power and ambitions result in wars and riots. Selfishness brings on famines and internal revolts. Where, then, is happiness?
That question has remained unanswered!
Bhuma Alone is Bliss
True happiness can be had only in the Bhuma, the Infinite. There is no pleasure in the finite. Infinite is immortal, eternal. Finite is perishable, transitory. That happiness which will be perennial, of which we cannot be deprived, which will not lead us to, or give room for a tinge of misery—in other words, Bliss Absolute— that is true happiness! That is the happiness worth longing for. That is Bhuma.
That state in which one sees no other, one hears no other, one feels no other, one thinks of no other, etc.,—that is Bhuma! Unity or Oneness is Bhuma. Diversity is finite.
Atman is Everywhere
One who has had this transcendental experience, sees the Atman and Atman alone everywhere, within him and without him, too. The Atman is all-pervading homogeneous essence. The entire universe is one mass of consciousness. All beings, the entire humanity, plant-life, animal-kingdom and even what is commonly known as inanimate objects have their root in consciousness. That is the Atman. Bhuma is the direct subjective experience of this infinite. Bliss, true eternal infinite happiness can be had only in this perception of unity.
I am Fearless
One who sees his own Atman in all beings and all beings in his own Atman becomes fearless. He is not deluded by the objects of the senses. Sorrow melts away before his sunny gaze of bliss. He is not afraid of anything, nor is any one afraid of him. Bliss fills his very being. And, this bliss is infectious—every one who comes into contact with him is injected with this bliss. Not only has he no enemies in the universe, but even avowed foes give up their enmity in his presence! He is not particularly attached to any object or being. His heart flows out to one and all—animate and inanimate. He perceives unity in diversity.
Time and space bow before him and withdraw. He lives in the One Great Present. There is neither a past nor a future for him. There is neither a ‘here’ nor a ‘there’. Before his inner eye is laid out the grand panorama of the three periods of time—a Cosmic Vision. He sees nothing but pure Consciousness.
In the crying babe, playing boy, fiery youth, puzzled man, and in the disillusioned old man—he perceives the same Atman. The apparent change does not belong to the Atman. Nay, even death is not the end.
It is but another apparent change. Life continues beyond. Man sleeps with one encasement and wakes up after a short while with another encasement. Death has lost its dread for him. He has achieved the impossible. He has eluded the grasp of Death itself!
I am Bliss
He has acquired the knowledge of the Atman. He has negated the false notion that happiness comes out of sense-objects; the wrong identification of the Unborn Atman with the body and mind vanishes.
To be concluded in September Issue
With arrangement with The Divine Life Society, Rishikesh, India.
Black Gram Sprouts [Healthy Eating]
Protein Power House
by Manjit Handa, PhD
1 cup black gram
1 table spoon olive oil
I tea spoon cumin seeds
1/2 tea spoon turmeric powder
1/2 tea spoon black pepper
2 spring onions, diced
1 tomato, diced
Salt, as per taste
For sprouting, soak the one cup black gram in sufficient water overnight. Next morning, drain and loosely tie them (so that there is space to sprout) in a muslin cloth and hang in an airy space. Keep sprinkling water on the cloth just when you see it has dried out completely. Usually by the third day, the sprouts would have appeared. When the desired sprouting has taken place, you are ready to enjoy it. Heat olive oil in a pan and add cumin seeds and the spring onion. When the onion is tender, add turmeric, salt, tomato, black pepper and the sprouts and mix thoroughly. Cover and cook for 5-7 minutes. Use it as a side dish or salad for lunch or dinner. [HQ]
Do Antidepressants Really Cure?
by Parmjit Singh, PhD
“Many patients are led to believe, by their physicians and by advertising, that antidepressant drugs will act on the biological cause of their depressed state by rectifying a “chemical imbalance””, writes Joanna Moncrieff and David Cohen in a recent issue of PLOS Medicine.
You can find the echoes of this assertion if you know someone stricken with depression. One of our friends were aggressively insistent that her depression was caused by chemical imbalance in her brain, that she needs to correct the serotonin level before she starts feeling any better again. This normally held view may not be true.
“On the contrary, Moncrieff and Cohen go on to say, “our analysis indicates that there are no specific antidepressant drugs, that most of the short-term effects of antidepressants are shared by many other drugs, and that long-term drug treatment with antidepressants or any other drugs has not been shown to lead to long-term elevation of mood.”
Instead, these authors maintain, the antidepressants cause abnormal brain states which might be masking or temporarily diluting the feeling of depression. This may be the reason why people taking anti-depression medication tends to become emotionally blunt and less empathetic over the period of time. [HQ]
How to Enjoy it Without Bloating Up?
by Bhupinder Singh
If you are planning a long drive or going on camping trip this summer, the following tips might help you enjoy the experience even more.
Pack healthy food: In order to enjoy the trip, vacation or even a drive, it is important to eat healthy food. Eating wrong kind of food might end up throwing up a spanner in the whole fun. Prepare your food in advance and use healthy fillings such low-fat cheese, moong beans sprouts, peanut butter (if you’re not allergic to it), chicken, tuna with low-fat mayonnaise and fresh, crunchy salad veggies. Opt for whole wheat/multigrain pita or bread. If you feel like snacking, reach for fruits rather than cookies or other fast foods. You can pack a -cut fruit in a container to take it with you. It saves money also.
Keep it simple: When planning your trip, do not get bogged down in too many details. Enjoy the road, side scenery rather than rushing to reach the destination. Keep your awareness alive during this process. Strive to make your trip pleasant by keeping it simple rather than getting stressed out on minor details. It should not become another stressful activity.
Drink a lot: To keep your metabolism in good shape drink a lot of fluids. Avoiding too much coffee and tea might you help you stay hydrated. Drinking pure water is not only refreshing but it also prevents you from overloading your body with unneeded sugar through sports-drinks or juices.
Make it a pilgrimage: Let your vacations/trip help you in your spiritual journey. Use this opportunity to spend some quality time with yourself. Sit alone or go for walks alone in safe places. Face your fear of being alone by giving yourself a chance. [HQ]