Musings for a responsible society

Amidst the dark and grey shades increasingly engulfing, invading and piercing deeper and deeper, let me try to enjoy the little smiles, genuine greens, and the gentle breeze. Oh! Creator! If you don't exist, my vain!
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Tell Me, What Should I Eat?

Most of us face this dilemma.
What should I eat?
Let me take you through a tasty journey
Please refer to the links (click words given in green and blue) for forming your own opinion
I admit a little exaggeration!
(by 'those' people)

Tell me, what should I eat?

Thought that I am an incurable non-vegetarian.

Then I realized it is a bit dangerous road to tread on .

That was when they told me to cut down on Red Meat.

They said red meat is high in saturated fat and contains high levels of dietary cholesterol.

They suggested white meat instead.

Therefore I turned to white meat.

They pounced on me and told that cooked chicken contains Heterocyclic Amines, Salmonella, Campylobacter etc.

They said, you can have sea food. It is the safest.

Thus I started relishing coastal dishes.

I became a fishitarian.

No, they said. You can’t eat all types of seafood.
You should avoid prawns, sardines etc.

They have high purine content and can raise the uric acid levels.

So I limited myself to a few.
Then came a warning.
Fish contains ammonia and other preservatives and that are harmful…..

They told me to stop fish and have only egg.

So I became an eggitarian.

I started having omelette, bullseye, egg roast, egg ‘burji’ etc.

Then they said, you shall not eat the yolk. It contains dangerously high levels of cholesterol

But you can eat the white, it is full of protein and helps weight loss

I started having curries with egg white.

That was the time they told that even white is not that bright.

They declared. Only vegetarianism is best for human body.

Though sad, I started with what all I liked in vegetarian dishes.

I liked potato, they said No. It will increase the risk of type II diabetes.

I started tapioca, one of the staple diets of my State.

They said cyanogens in the tapioca might be injurious to pancreatic cells

I liked rice for years. They said no rice please.

It will turn to sugar and will make you fat.

No wheat, no maida. All contain carbohydrates.

Maida is bad. Even whole wheat contains Phytic acid.

I was asked to have only ‘Greens’, nothing else.

I searched for what I liked among Greens.

I always liked ladies finger.

They said don’t go after such pretty stuff.

I bought cabbage, they said it is garbage.

Then I tried broccoli and cauliflower. They said it may contain worms

Then I settled for tomato. But they said, avoid tomato. Latest study indicates even small quantities may cause kidney stones.

I tried other vegetables. Peas, Carrot, Beet Root, Turnip, Cucumber, various Gourds, Bringal etc.

They said all these are bad as they contain lot of harmful pesticides

They said all colours are bad whether it is red, yellow or white except green.

They told me to go for only green leafy vegetables.

So I decided to be faithful and became a grass-eater.

I started having kheera soup , drumstick leaves ‘poriyal’ , kheera sambar,
Then came a shock.

They said kheera, we get from vendors are grown in very unhygienic conditions and are harmful for health.

That was a long sermon.

They told me to stop the greens!

They said it is better to have a diet full of fresh vegetables and raw fruits.

But they said, don’t have grapes. They contain pesticides.
In fact, they told me not to consume ‘Dangerous Dozen’ fruits:

They are Nectarines, Celery, Pears, Peaches, Apples, Cherries, Strawberries, Imported Grapes, Spinach, Potatoes, Bell Peppers, and Red Raspberries. They all contain large quantities of pesticides.

They said: Don’t have bananas and mangoes. They are full of sugar. They will make you fat!

Papaya. Not all varities are good.

Only the small ones!! I don’t have any clue why?

So, I decided.

It is better not to eat anything. Better to drink!

They said one or two pegs, not more than thrice a week.

They said, a little alcohol is good for heart

Before I started, they said alcohol is deadly, but one can have beer, it is barley.

I started relishing my beer. It was very refreshing.

It didn’t last too long.

They said beer is more dangerous than Brandy, whiskey and Rum. It will reduce the amount of  enzyme that breaks down triglycerides and spurs the liver to make more triglycerides…

But one can have Wine

Then they corrected. Not white wine. Only red wine.

Before I started knowing various brands of Red Wine, came another warning.

All ‘hard’ drinks are to be avoided.

So I went for ‘soft’ drinks.

I picked Pepsi and Coca-Cola.

They said No. They are very harmful

I sipped fanta and mirinda

They said No. They are to be avoided

Stopped all aerated drinks.

I went for packaged juice. Orange, Apple etc
Then they told me it contains preservatives (though not mentioned)

They told me to drink natural ones.

I thought better to have tender coconut water whenever I feel like to have a soft drink

They told me to restrict myself. It contains sodium and that may raise blood pressure

They advised me to drink milk
Then came the new study by them.

Milk is not good for health (not breast milk!). Milk is not for humans but for calves.

One can have curd or buttermilk.

But I couldn’t continue with milky stuff for long..

They told me.

Take just plain water…Yes, plenty of plain water. But not from the tap, and not from the well.

Only mineral water (ie, packaged drinking water).

I ordered cans and cans of mineral water… It tasted great. At last I found something safe.

Then they e-mailed me a new study report.

It said bottled water contains pesticides and contaminating organisms

Oh What should I do?

I can’t eat! I can’t drink!!

I should just breathe thin air.

They said, breathe as much you can….

But only for some more time…

They say.

Within a few years

I need to put a mask

Also need to buy the air if I need to breathe

It will not be available in the open market.

For that I need to book an oxygen connection.

Oxygen cylinder will be delivered at my door step by the licensee.

But I need not worry.

Government will subsidize its price.

Till international oxygen pool prices are stable…

Once that becomes unstable…

Better that I am unstable..

So that I will be unresponsive




I should not blame.

I too am responsible for this.


Even when I am stable.

I am unresponsive.

Am I too late?

Are we too late??

To change our lifestyle!
To save mother earth!!

To save ourselves!!

Please tell me, what  you think!  
{Copyright: (Article&Images) Sibichen K Mathew}

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A Day with Dalai Lama

“Concept of war is outdated; only dialogue can solve the problems”

                                                                                                   (His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama)

January 30th is the International day of Peace. The day also marks the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, who was a champion of peace. What better way to spend this day than with a Nobel Laureate. I could make it to the lecture by Dalai Lama on 30th January 2011 at Bangalore on the topic ‘ Finding Happiness in Troubled Times’. Here are some interesting highlights of his talk.

Dalai Lama: As I see him

Dalai Lama is a spiritual leader not only for the people of Tibet but also for many millions around the globe. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. His Philosophy is not only Buddhist but also Gandhian. In his Nobel acceptance speech, he said: ‘I accept it as a tribute to the man who founded the modern tradition of non-violent action for change - Mahatma Gandhi- whose life taught and inspired me.’ Dalai Lama is a man of unlimited strength who faces life and its complexity with a smile. His lectures are simple, humorous, and intellectually enriching.

Following are some of the words of Dalai Lama noted by me during the lecture.

He started his lecture with the emphasis on the need to experience calmness within oneself. He explained how meditation can bring in calmness and peace within oneself. Such calmness will definitely result in compassion towards others.

He loves India

I am fascinated by the rich cultural heritage of India. Two great doctrines of India: Ahimsa (Non-violence) and Religious tolerance are to be emulated by the entire world. This is a country where all religions happily coexist. I am a messenger of Indian tradition.

About India-Tibet relationship

We, Tibetans are chelsa (disciples) of the Guru (teacher), that is India. Not just chela , but a reliable chela

About Tibet

We are not against any country. We love peaceful coexistence. Our demand is the protection of Tibetan culture and heritage.

About the passion for materialism

These days, many are after dollars. Including the Tibetans. People chant ‘’ every day. I am not saying money is not important. But it should not rule the mind.

About Indian traditions and customs

India has a unique cultural heritage. But India also continues some wrong remnants such as caste system, custom of dowry etc. Such customs must change. We should preserve that part of the culture which brings in peace and cohesion. Other outdated customs should change.

Qn. You said attachments are bad and relationships are good. Is there any apparent contradiction in this?

Ans. No contradiction. Attachments that emanates from a biased feeling are bad. Biased feelings in attachments bring in hatred. One should detach the biased feelings. It is necessary to develop attachments that are unbiased. (Means, attachment towards something/some person should not constitute or result in hatred towards other things/ other persons). One should not be self-centred in the relationships. Attachment should not be towards one individual in exclusion of others. Attachment should be people-oriented.

About Desire

All desires are not bad. There are positive desires and negative desires. Desire is an important element in one’s life. One should cultivate that type of desire which is positive.

About Anger

I get angry occasionally. But it vanishes in no time. Anger can be positive. You can be angry for a worthy cause. For the sake of compassion. For the sake of Justice. And for unbiased and selfless relationships.

Qn. ‘How can we be compassionate to people around when they are wicked and doing harm?’

Ans. We cannot become neutral or indifferent to such harm and wickedness. One has to be proactive. As per the precepts of Buddhism, it is wrong to keep quiet when you have the ability to stop harm.

About War

War is an outdated concept. This is the century for dialogue. There is no problem which can’t be solved through dialogue.

About Prayer

For several centuries people prayed. In the last several decades, people found the technology as something more powerful and adored technology as it brought in several comforts. It transformed life. But technology also brought destruction. It brought violence. Science and technology brought fear and distress among people. Slowly people realized the need for morality. They wanted a science that is not in conflict with moral values.

China deliberately destroyed religious faith. Recent studies indicate that there are more than 300 million people following Buddha dharma in China now. There is drastic increase in the people who are religious and spiritual. This is because of the realization of importance of moral values.

I was in Hiroshima recently. There were many Nobel laureates and Corporate heads with me in the gathering. I informed them that world peace will not come through prayer. Peace is possible only through collective action. At the individual level prayer is good. It is constructive. But at the community or social level, there should be clear action.

When I visited Bihar, a few people from that State told me that Bihar has progressed because of the prayer of the people and the blessings of Buddha. But I said, had that been the case Bihar should have progressed much earlier, as Buddha was always there for several centuries. It is not just prayer that is important, but continuous action to achieve the goals.

Many religious people indulge in too much prayer and worship. But less action. One should emulate some of the Christian institutions. They involve deeply and sincerely in the areas of providing health and education to the people of all faiths. Other religious organizations are now slowly following the Christian approach in social service.

Qn. What is the method of acquiring peace in everyday life, irrespective of one’s religious faith?

All missionary traditions give different approaches. Mother Teresa drew strength from her faith in Christ and Christianity to serve the poorest of the poor. Likewise, people draw strength from their religions. Concept of one truth and one religion is relevant. If a five star hotel is serving same menu every day, from breakfast to dinner, then there is no variety. No customer will go there. Similarly, religious diversity has several benefits. All religions carry message of love and compassion. One can perceive or mediate on the image of his God, when he is unhappy or irritated. That can bring in love and compassion.

You can be attached to one religion. But it should be an unbiased attachment. That means, you shall not be biased against other religions. There should be mutual tolerance. I strongly feel that there should be training in secularism in the curriculum in educational institutions. Once the Indian leader Mr L K Advani told me that, one of the reasons for the success of democracy in India is its rich tradition of respecting the views of others and other cultures.

About affection

We all come from our mothers. Mother is an epitome of affection. We are products of that affection. Therefore, our entire life, till our death, should be full of affection towards others. First, we should have affection towards others. Then only we can expect affection from others.

Qn: ‘You said one should be intelligently selfish. What does it mean?’

Ans: I would like to give a simple example from my experience. When I am stuck in airports due to flight delay, I used to observe that many co-passengers get irritated and angry. In such situations, I keep myself aloof, without joining in angry crowd. I take time off to meditate in a quiet corner. My action at that time does not help anybody. It does not contribute for the improvement of the predicament at that time. But it can benefit me personally. When I mediate alone, I gain immense strength for myself. To become more patient and calm. Here I am being intelligently selfish. Thus there are occasions where one has to find a space for oneself to prepare for a peaceful and calm mind. This is what I mean by being ‘intelligently selfish’.

About Next Life

Once I asked a Catholic priest why Christianity does not believe in prior life or next life. His answer was revealing. He said, this very life of mine is created by God directly. Why I worry about past or future? My focus is to lead a worthy life now.

I feel that if you take your faith really serious, irrespective of your religion, you can really get powerful.

I met a catholic monk during one of my visits to a distant country. I came to know that he spent about five years alone in a mountain meditating. I asked him what type of meditation was it. He said, I was on a meditation of compassion.

Even if one does not believe in any religion, still one can be compassionate and find meanings in life.

My unanswered question:

Due to paucity of time my following question went unanswered.

Whether the art of meditation (or the ability to meditate) is genetic or it can be acquired? Whether some are born with the skills of concentration and capacity to be calm? And some others are tuned to live with perennial worries?’

Your views on the above question are welcome!

The lecture was organised by the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (, and Choe Khor Sum Ling, Tibetan Buddhist Meditation &camp; Study Group ( The event was sponsored by Ms Tara Melwani (Singapore). The event coordinator was Mr S BS Surendran. I am thankful to my friends Mr Ranjan and his brother Mr Surendran for inviting me to the lecture. Photo courtesy: Ajit Kumar, Bangalore and

(I apologize for the transcription errors if any while keying in, as I was trying hard to keep pace with the flow of wisdom)
Feedback..and Comments on the above article

Dear Sibichen,

Thanks for sending me the link to your blog. I thoroughly enjoyed the post about your chance to listen to the Dalai Lama. Teachers like him are rare. By their very presence they can kindle something within others and awaken them to their hidden potential. I and my wife had the great good fortune of meeting him one on one for about 20 minutes in February 2007 at Mc Leodaganj. His divine presence was hovering intensely all over the place. At his headquarters, we were seated in an ante-room and were awaiting our chance to be with him. It took an hour for the meeting to finally take place. But, his vibrations were so overwhelming that even while we were waiting we were moved to tears. They flowed most uninhibitedly for the whole of that one hour. It was a mysterious inner cleansing. We both felt that a lot of accumulated emotional debri was washed away from our personalities through those tears.

Of course, meeting Dalai Lama was equally powerful. He seemed to know everything about us even as we told him about our spiritual practices. Finally he began to speak. He spoke about the similarities between Hinduism and Buddhism; about the greatness of India as a harbour of synthesis. Finally, his mesage to us was about compassion. He said, "You both are on the path of meditation. This is the path of knowledge. However, knowledge can sometimes make you a bit dry or insensitive. But you must preserve sweetness in your practices and juice of love in your life. For this, you inculcate compassion. Practise compassion. Meditate on compassion." Dalai Lama is the living embodiment of compassion. So, in today's world, who else could be better placed than he to give this message. His words shall always remain etched in our hearts.

In March 2008 I had the chance to hear him speak to a congregation at Delhi. This was a time when there was an ongoing harsh crackdown by the Chinese on the Tibetans in Lhasa. In response a question, Dalai Lama said that while he prayed for the safety and well being of the Tibetans he was also concerned about the Chinese soldiers, who were likely to invite harsh retribution for the atrocities they were likely to commit out sheer ignorance and lack of understanding. This was a wonderful window into practising of compassion.

Regarding your unanswered question, I would like to say that meditation is everybody's birthright, no matter how much of a worrier he may be. We, even the so called worrier, knows how to meditate. This what am going to tell you. Meditation is essentially an act of inner focus whereby the mind is stilled. In meditation, the awareness is directed inwards. As a result the inner-Self is known. However, in our day to day life, the awreness is continually flowing outwards through the senses and the mind. So we are familiar with outer focus. We also know that there is great power in outer focus. Whatever we give our focus to, we know it more and more. Therefore, to succeed in life we meditate upon things and situation that are outside of us and we can know their intricacies. The senses and the mind seek to ingatiate themselves and enjoy sense objects, never getting satisfied fully.

Yet, towards the end of each day, there comes a time when the senses do not want anything any more and turn within. This is time whe we hit the bed, let the body be, pull the covers up and close our eyes. Soon the senses stop functioning and the awareness of the outer world is lost completely. For some time we may experience the contents of the sub-conscious mind and see what we call dreams. When we come back to the waking state the dreams seem unreal but while we watch them they have the same impact on us as if they are real. Remember a time when you saw a bad dream (a nighmare) and suddenly came awake to find out that the body was shivering, the heart was pounding in the chest and sweat drops were all over the body.

We even travel beyond the dream state in our sleep. This is a time when the mind switches itself off and goes off to sleep. We may call it the deep sleep state. In it there is no awareness. We like to experience something or the other and be in control. But, in deep sleep there is no awareness and there is no control. We do not even know if we exist or not. Yet, there is someone within us, who does not sleep. He keeps the breath flowing and the blood flowing. He watches our dreams for us and reminds us of these dreams when we wake up. He also knows when to wake us up. In deep sleep we are close to this being (the Self). But we don 't know him because we are not aware.

Deep sleep is a state where the mind is stilled (in sleep). This is also the state in which the mind and body get perfect rest and rejuvenation. Those who cannot sleep well cannot enjoy good health and lose everything else in this world.

Most of us know how to naturally go within every evening when we retire for sleep. Therefore it should be possible for each one of us to go within. The catch is that it should not be a state of sleep, where there is unawareness. If we go within with awareness we can discover great joy, power, energy, creativity etc. within ourselves. Our handicaps begin to disappear and new qualities begin to flower.

This is possible by stilling the mind without becoming asleep. Depending upon his preferences, one can choose to do this in many ways - devotional service to the Lord, prayers, service to fellow beings, knowledge (mastering and contemplating the scriptures), contemplating the question - Who Am I?, breath control, through listening to music, singing / chanting etc. etc.

The problem arises from what people think about "meditation". They have read that meditation means complete mastery over the mind whereby the mind has become totally still. So, they try to still the mind through some technique. But it does not become still. So, they think meditation is not happening and this is not for them.

Such people forget that when the mind becomes still, this is the "goal", where the state of "samadhi" (complete inner absorption) has been raeched. However, meditation is also the path (the journey) to reach that goal. Unless one sets out on the path (of meditation), one will not reach the goal (of meditation).

Mulla Nasruddin wanted to swim. But he won't enter the pool. He would say, "I shall enter the pool only when I have learnt to swim." With this kind of expectation, how could he ever learn to swim? The same thing applies to meditation.

It is a long journey. But it is about cleansing one's body and mind. We have taken so long to cluuter the mind with so many preconceived notions, ideas etc. It will take time to declutter it. But, a beginning has to be made somewhere.

Love and love alone,

B P Gaur


Thanks for an excellent message.

Nice way to start a fresh week.


Anil Kulkarni


My dear Sibi,

Thank you very much. It made interesting reading. Best Regards.

K P Karunakaran

Many thanks

Indeed thought provoking/pragmtic advice

Best wishes


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excellent home work. I felt like being at the venue the way it is put in, in above paragarphs. Thank you Sir. My answer to your question is " it is by self involvement and commitment" not otherwise.

Bhavani Associates



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