poem

Prince of darkness

In a late hour, looking through a gothic window of the castle old

At a winter night, he heard an echo from the distant past

Dancing in the empty halls with a howling wind, merciless and cold

And saw a long way he had made back here… alone.

 

Surrounded by trembling shadows, in a fever of midnight gloom

He crossed the chamber, lit by dim torchlight, and sat on a silent throne

Unwilling any longer to constrain, he let the memories to fill forsaken room,

The room, that like himself had seen so many hopes, – long since gone

 

In defiance of old wounds, he recalled the day he was betrayed,

The day his tender heart was pierced by the arrow of disdain

And how then to endure, he allowed the weaker version of himself to fade,

Stepping on the path to the unknown – to find the source of devastating pain

 

How with valour he descended to the dark, where ancient demons dwell,

Fear, anger, pride – old enemies of his lurked in the labyrinth of mind,

How one by one he challenged them and drove them back to hell;

At last, the frailty he despised so much was forever left behind

 

A hard-fought victory that awakened him from a long and weary dream

By the will of fate was no one to be shared with, but silence of the night;

Alone, but not lonely anymore he looked at where he had been,

The verge of pristine darkness, beyond which he found light…

 

 

Artyom Shalamov       [January 2016]

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Prayer of Mars to the Sun

 

 

 

Long ago, when we first beheld you in the brilliance of day

Now-forgotten mystery was revealed and vows were made,

Led by your guiding light, we have wandered in the Milky Way;

However hard the path may be, I follow you and I am not afraid

 

Darkness flees and the illusion falls when full of glory you rise and shine

And emanate the light of knowledge over the sphere of grief and loss

Where tired gentle souls seek to transcend the wheel of time,

The dark ocean of existence them you help to cross

 

Your arcane glow mystics aspire within themselves to find,

Your ardent flame – eternal light, of which comprised my soul,

Destroys the ignorance and illuminates the restless mind

In order to reveal the truth, which rests in hearts of all

 

Among the stars and planets you are the King, and I am your knight

You are the source of life and of all living beings you are a friend,

Whatever lies ahead, prepared for your sacred cause I am to fight

And in my heart your pure light I shall keep until the end.

 

Artyom Shalamov       [April 2016]

A few thoughts on how to deal with the past

  • Most of the times, we do not realize how much time we spend reflecting on the past. This is an innate part of our nature that allows us to grow and evolve as individuals, learning from our mistakes and success. However, there is a flip side of that process, which, if not kept in check can very much affect our lives in a negative way.

    It is good to be able to retrieve whatever information you need from the past and move on, knowing that at any moment you can “come back.” But often, many of us find ourselves lingering there for much longer than it is needed for a variety of reasons. Most common of which, perhaps, include fault-finding (in self or others) and regret (why I did this, why I said that and so on). It is possible even to be stuck in the past, and I’ve actually experienced that myself, when it may seem as if you are going in circles. Certainly some people are more prone to it than the others due to differences in the ways of thinking, emotions, and so forth.

    It can easily drain a lot of your energy over the course of time, the energy that could have been otherwise spent much more efficiently. The truth is that there is no simple way of dealing with it, as it requires self-inquiry and a great deal of willpower to leave the past where it is. However, it might be easier to deal with this problem of “retrograde” thinking if you conceive and accept certain ideas. First of all, we can’t change the past whatsoever, or… can we? Second is that we live only in the present moment, which is constantly involved in the process of being transformed into the past, which leads us to the possibility of transforming the past, but only through our actions in the present ! Meaning – our actions in the present create our past, our karma.

    That idea brings us to a very important point. We are all influenced by our past actions (our karma) whether it is good or not very much so and people tend to think that they can’t change it, but it appears that we can! We just need to live in the present moment, remembering the past, so that we can learn from it, but not linger in it for too long, and create the reality of the present (and through the present that of the past) that we want. In such manner, our past karma will gradually exhaust itself and we shall begin to see the reality we’ve created. In that sense, you can create your destiny.

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https://www.slantnews.com/story/2016-02-20-success-begins-where-your-fear-ends

Here’s Why The Force Awakens Won’t Stand Up To Its Predecessors

 

I think there is a big chance that The Force Awakens will mostly fail. What I mean by that is it will fail to preserve and develop the spirit of the Star Wars saga. It may well be a good blockbuster movie (we expect a lot from a movie featuring “Star Wars” in its name, don’t we?), but most likely it will not measure up to the standards set by previous episodes. There are several reasons why I think so.

First of all, the plot raises the most concerns. We know that George Lucas worked on the plot since 2011, but Disney, which bought Lucasfilm, later rejected it and chose something else. From what we know already it is clear that the plot is set after the ending of the VI Episode and the Republic is at war with a new powerful evil enemy. We know for sure that there is also a dark side user, wielding a ridiculous looking light saber. Now this raises many questions to Disney. In the last episode the Emperor, who was perhaps the most powerful sith lord of all time, was destroyed along with his most powerful weapon, Death Star. It was a clear and decisive victory for the Republic. And now it turns out it was not. We see hordes of tie fighters, we see a villain (or rather villains) donning masks, and rebels, who are supposed to be rulers of the galaxy, who should have abandoned their rebel status.

There were two ways to continue the Star Wars saga: the first is to jump back to the times of the Old Republic (I would personally prefer this) where many worthy stories lie (just think of Revan or Darth Bane being made into a movie), and the second is to continue where it ended, after episode VI. Disney chose the second option, though I think the first one would be ideal. In doing so, Disney made a mistake, making it look like the ending of the VI episode was insignificant; now they’re trying to step in the same river twice.

Secondly, from what we’ve seen in teasers for the movie, not only is the atmosphere of the original trilogy lost, but so is that of the later trilogy as well. Now it looks like a Disney movie. Because Disney is not the same as Lucasfilm, it’s just that simple. It does well in its own niche, shooting movies like Pirates of the Caribbean or cartoons. But Star Wars is a completely different story. Over the years it has transformed into a huge mass phenomenon, almost a cult. So yes, money rules the world again; 4.06 billion dollars is the price for which the hopes of Star Wars fans were sold along with Lucasfilm.

Thirdly, I don’t like the cast in general. Disney decided to make the most from the presence of actors from the original trilogy, this much is understandable. But as much as I liked Harrison Ford’s Han Solo or Carrie Fisher’s Leia when I first saw A New Hope more than twenty years ago, the fact that time takes its toll can not be ignored. One of the reasons episodes one, two and three succeeded was the great choice of actors, who were all new, but all of them had charisma and talent and looked very authentic in the Star Wars universe. But I don’t like the new actors inThe Force Awakens whatsoever, as they lack charisma needed for a film of Star Wars‘ caliber. I’m afraid that mix of charismatic older actors and dull younger actors will be the last nail in the coffin for The Force Awakens.

So far the only factor that I consider in favor of the seventh episode is that the music for the film was composed by John Williams, but I doubt that this will be enough for overall success.

han610

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https://www.slantnews.com/story/2015-12-07-star-wars-the-force-awakens-will-be-a-fail-of-the-year

 

Does free will exist ?

This question has been a subject of numerous philosophical, scientific and religious studies, yet it still raises many arguments as to whether we are free when it comes to determining our own actions. And if we are not, then what makes our actions predetermined ? Likewise, if we do have free will, what is the source of it, or, in other words, if the free will is a consequence, then what is the cause ?

Free will-deniers support the determinist theory, according to which any action of human-beings (as well as other known living beings) is a product of chemical reactions and electromagnetic impulses that occur in their brains. That theory practically views a human as a bio-machine, whose behavior is completely pre-programmed by the nature. Supporters of this theory mainly substantiate it by the results of neuroscientific experiments, such as the experiment conducted by Benjamin Lebet, which, basically, measured brain activity of volunteers in the process of decision making (something as simple as moving a wrist). The results showed that decision awareness and the action of moving a wrist itself are always preceded by the brain activity (he called it the readiness potential) by a several hundreds milliseconds.

And, thus, scientists, who advocate that free will does not exist, usually use the results of this experiment to show that they are absolutely right. However, Benjamin Lebet himself didn’t deem his experiment as a proof of the absence of free-will. On the contrary, he saw the results as a confirmation of the existence of free-will, since volunteers despite incoming brain impulses were able to suppress the urge to act after becoming aware of it. Lebet said that “Human subjects became aware of intention to act 350-400 ms after RP (readiness potential) starts, but 200 ms. before the motor act. The volitional process is therefore initiated unconsciously. But the conscious function could still control the outcome; it can veto the act… The role of conscious free will would be, then, not to initiate a voluntary act, but rather to control whether the act takes place.”

I would, however, argue about the letter part of the statement because this experiment, like many others similar scientific experiments, measured human behavior only on a quite primitive level. Therefore, its results can not be extrapolated to the decision-making process in complex life situations, which would demand performance of many logical operations, as well as compliance with moral categories. In other words, free will includes, but not limited to, the ability to consciously refrain from an act, initiated by the brain impulse.

If we are to come to the right conclusion eventually, it would be a vain attempt to try to comprehend such category as free will by mere scientific experiment. Therefore, we must seek philosophical explanation of this phenomenon rather than merely material one. After all, in a general sense, science is supposed to serve only as a tool for confirmation or refutation of philosophical concepts.

If we assume that will is a power to act, and liberty is a state, in which we are not compelled to act in a certain way, neither we are restrained in our actions, then is it actually possible to have free will ? In fact it is possible, but the capacity to be free is different for every individual. Here I agree with a French philosopher Voltaire, who wrote in his “Dictionnaire philosophique” (1764) that “The word «liberty», «free-will»,” is therefore an abstract word, a general word, like beauty, goodness, justice. These terms do not state that all men are always beautiful, good and just; similarly, they are not always free.”

In that case human’s own actions serve as a criteria that defines the capacity for freedom. On a more esoteric level it means that when one’s actions do not violate the laws of the Universe, that capacity naturally increases. However, more often than not ignorance and other vices lead to wrong actions, hence preventing the growth of free will. Another citation of Voltaire from “Dictionnaire philosophique” agrees with that statement: “In what sense then must one utter the phrase-” Man is free “? in the same sense that one utters the words, health, strength, happiness. Man is not always strong, always healthy, always happy. A great passion, a great obstacle, deprive him of his liberty, his power of action.”

Therefore the amount of free will that a person has at a given moment depends on the nature of his/her previous actions, and the amount of freedom a person will have in the future is defined according to the present actions of that person.

Music For A Cold Autumn Night

  • Sometimes it’s easy to fall prey to late autumn depression during its short days and cold long nights. But it also can be a good time to focus on yourself, your inner world, and to become more meditative. Just as trees shed their leaves, you can shed whatever is burdening you by going on your inner journey, and who knows what treasure you might find there. One of the things that can help you in that is music that was created specifically to help us achieve inner peace. Here are the five albums that you may find helpful on your internal quest.
  • 1. Band: Carbon Based LifeformsAlbum: twentythree [2011]This is an ambient album produced by the masters of the genre from Sweden. It comprises a light airy, yet at times very deep, atmosphere. The overall feeling ranges from cosmic, mysterious contemplation (Arecibo, VLA) and melancholy (held together by gravity) to the light atmosphere of “Kensington gardens”, with other tracks somewhere in between. Great music for daydreaming, abstract thinking and going within yourself. All tracks do exceptionally good in conveying the feeling of the album, but my personal favorite track is “Terpene”.

    2. Band: Mystical Sun

    Album: Primordial atmospheres [1994]

    Primordial Atmospheres from the now far distant mid 90’s is one of those albums I keep returning to over and over again. If I were to choose one word to describe this album, It would be “other-worldly”. Every track has unique sounds that will echo in your subconscious mind and combine to create soothing an imaginary world, where you can stay to heal yourself. It is very good for meditation (especially the long track, Journey to Samadhi) or just relaxation and daydreaming. My personal favorite track here is “Akasha

    3. Band: Between Interval

    Album: Autumn Continent [2006]

    Starting from the first track Autumn Continent slowly submerges you in the atmosphere of fading, as if you have seen numerous cycles of life and death to become transcendental and just contemplate everything in silence. Most tracks have little or no beats to focus on creating ethereal atmosphere, in which beautiful soundscapes emerge from the depths of your mind. Although it may seem at times that some tracks sound somewhat gloomy, in fact they are not. Every track, as well as the whole album, carries a light of hope within itself. I’d personally pick out “Early Life Remainings” and “This Dominion” as my favorite tracks.

    4. Band: Biosphere

    Album: Substrata [1997]

    One of the hallmarks of electronic music of all time (at least in my opinion) that has been reissued more than a dozen times is very good to listen in autumn. It is hard to describe this album, because it is very experimental and abstract by nature. It’s like a journey to the unknown, which can transform you. “Sphere of no-form” is a very transcendental track, which I do not expect everyone to understand; “hyperborea” and “silene” are two other tracks that hold special place in my memory.

    5. Band: Adrian Von Ziegler

    Album: Vagabond (song: Autumn Forest) [2013]

    For those who aren’t very much into abstract music and are more of romantic nature, this song written by a talented Swiss composer should be perfect. It is quite emotional and has a distinct medieval flavor. What I like about it the most, is the way the sound flows, never becoming repetitive, and how different instruments complement each other, creating a warm and harmonious river amid cold and gloomy autumn.

  • https://www.slantnews.com/story/2015-11-02-autumn-music-for-mind-and-a-heart

What Your Music Taste Says About Your Intellect

The influence of music on human emotions has long been known, but it appears that the relationship between a human mind and sound (and music particularly) is much more complex and interesting. The human mind, which is really what we think, how we process the information coming from the outside world and use it, very much depends on the emotional state. In fact the two are so much intertwined that it is reasonable to consider them as a whole.

There are different ways of improving mental health, but all of them affect human brain in one way or another. Some – by chemical reactions (antidepressant drugs), others – by stimulating certain parts of the brain using electromagnetic impulses, transferred through electrodes connected to a human body. Music is also often used in treating different mental conditions by positively affecting emotional state of patients. Physically music is nothing but a sequence of waves emanating in time and space at frequencies that our ear can perceive. However, music therapy looks much more safe compared to other methods, since chemical drugs always have some negative side effects, and the influence of electromagnetic stimulation hasn’t been studied well enough to firmly conclude that it is absolutely safe.

So, how it works exactly ? A human brain produces electric impulses at certain frequencies (brain waves). And a particular frequency is associated with one kind of activity or another. Here is a diagram, showing this process.

Thus, sounds we hear create sort of response in our brain, particularly in the auditory cortex and we are able to discern pitch, tonality, rhythm, melody etc. Music therefore affects our brain waves. However, different kinds of music do so in a different manner. Fast-paced music with a lot of beats, expressing passion is likely to stimulate beta brain waves, whereas more harmonious sounds and deep sounds invoke alpha or even theta waves. Those of you, who are familiar with musical genres such as ambient are more likely to understand what I mean by harmonious sounds. But those who are not, can imagine some classical music or can go and listen the masters of that genre, like Steve Roach or Pete Namlook.

Here is where it gets deeper. Sound affects not only the mind but also the intellect. The intellect is a higher consciousness (and therefore is superior to the mind), which allows us to form concepts, ideas, to have morals and think abstractly. Music affects the intellect in a very subtle way, due to the fact that music is a product of intellect itself, because it is born as a concept or abstract idea, and then developed into a concrete piece of art. Therefore, since the intellect is the source of music, they are interconnected, directly influencing each other. On a physical level it can be explained by the fact that the auditory cortex has connections to the frontal lobe of the brain, just behind the forehead, where much of our capabilities for abstraction, anticipation, and inference sit. It has also been proved that children who attend school classes show an increase in IQ, compared to children who attend other art classes or none at all.

 Another theoretical explanation of the phenomenon I found in the ancient text of Vedic culture – “Vishnu Purana”, where it is said that the sound is a rudiment of space, which in turn is a product of intellect (book 1, chapter 2).

However, the degree to which the intellect can be affected by the music depends on the strength of the intellect. Another side of this fact is that a person’s level of intellect can be judged, by implication, according to what type of music he/she prefers. And here the preference is directly influenced by the capacity to perceive, understand and enjoy certain type of music. For example, my friend, who knows my music tastes very well and tried listen to the kind of music I usually listen, told me that he can’t focus on it and it somewhat slips from his memory. I think we are safe to assume that everyone has an affinity with a certain type of music. Of course it can change in the course of time, depending on age, level of education, life experience and many other factors, since the intellect develops as well.

Sound can heal people, but it can also cause panic or even death at certain frequencies. The power of sound is immense, since it is one of the essential characteristics of the Universe, and, perhaps, we’ve just begun to understand the significance of sound and its influence on human beings.

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https://www.slantnews.com/story/2015-10-29-what-your-music-tastes-say-about-your-intellect

 

 

Spirituality and science, time to get to know each other ?

Thousands of years of struggling to survive, of conquering new territories and exploring new lands have shaped the way of thinking of a modern-day human being, who is constantly looking for resources of any kind, which can help him to feel more safe and comfortable in this world. Human beings have got used to relying on what is tangible, like things that can be eaten or used to construct a shelter or weapons. But there is another side, and that is we’ve been contemplating within ourselves for as long as we exist, trying to understand who we truly are and what is the purpose of our existence. Thus the duality of external expansion, necessitated by the fact of our physical existence, on the one hand, and the internal quest for comprehension of universal truth, on the other, has always been present. And that is reflected in the concept of scientific West and spiritual East nowadays, since the West has achieved much in understanding of material nature in the last 200 years, but the East for centuries has been more focused on spirituality. But is there really a contradiction of some sort between science and spirituality ? Is one of them more reliable than the other or more beneficial for the humanity ? Let’s try to find out.

Science.

Application of scientific methods, which involves logical operations such as analysis and synthesis, as well as research and experiments, allowed us to push the boundaries of our existence greatly. Now we are exploring the data from all over the Universe and able to observe quantum particles. We have computers and all kinds of powerful machines. But what about us, human beings ?

It looks like all those achievements that serve as a testament to the power of our intellect, haven’t helped us much in our internal quest. But even on material plane modern science faced a lot of difficulties. In certain cases, such as of a very popular now theory of dark matter (and dark energy), it seems to be a blind alley. In spite of the ability to observe very small particles, many of their properties haven’t been fully understood yet. Scientists still unable to find truly reasonable explanation of particle’s behavior in double-slit experiment, which seems to show that we can affect material existence simply by observing it. We understand what gravity is, but we still do not have comprehension of how it works essentially. Quantum entanglement remains a mystery. After all, as for today, we don’t even have a good theory of how the Universe came into existence (unless you consider the theory of big bang out of nowhere a good one of course).

When it comes to the understanding of human mind and even human body (try to remember all those incurable diseases) things don’t get much better. Despite countless experiments with human brain and consciousness we still don’t have clear understanding of how it actually works. For instance, why do we dream when we sleep, why human beings sometimes behave in an irrational manner (like in a case of suicide, for example), what is the role of subconscious mind, how can we define love and its effect on our existence… Those are just a few questions out of many, that are so important and for which we don’t have clear and consistent answers yet, despite the existence of so many scientific theories around them.

However, certain results have been already achieved in sciences related to human mind. As an example, it is very interesting to look at a recent research on a state of human brain during different kinds of activities, including sleep, relaxation and meditation. In a nutshell, it revealed that a brain during the state of meditation produces different kind of brain waves compared to those produced during the state of sleep or simple relaxation. So called Theta waves were very prominent during meditation, and are said to originate presumably in the frontal parts of the brain. They are different from alpha and delta waves which occur during simple relaxation and sleep respectively. And it also was noticed that theta waves can exist simultaneously with beta waves, which occur when we are fully awake and in normal alert consciousness.

As exciting as it is, this experiment still leaves many questions unanswered. What is the meaning of theta waves ? Why do they positively affect human body and mind ? It’s as if we looked at a process, but would still be missing the principles governing it. In that regard the phrase once said by Max Planck comes into my mind: “Science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature. And that is because, in the last analysis, we ourselves are a part of the mystery that we are trying to solve.”

Spirituality.

For many people spirituality is a vague idea. It is a common belief that in contrast with science spirituality lacks structure, organization, rational approach and that this is something intangible. I think this is a big misconception. Whereas science has been actively developing approximately for the last 4 centuries, the beginning of spiritual pursuit of mankind dates back at least few thousand years, meaning that a significant progress is likely to have been achieved.

You can imagine how in fact well organized, consistent and rational spiritual legacy of humanity is by looking, for instance, at the Vedic culture of India, which includes a collection of hundreds of ancient treatises on different aspects of life, such as birth, physical body, mind, action, structure, death, universe, cause and consequence.

Knowledge is the basis of spirituality, and that includes knowledge of the self and the world as a whole. It appears that what modern science is trying to do now – to understand how everything works, humankind was doing long before. Up until recently scientific vision implied that everything can be measured and understood within the limits of gross matter; that is what I’d call the period of scientific arrogance, which didn’t last long fortunately. Now science is becoming more open-minded, which is a good sign; and we can see that theories such as string theory, and dark energy theory appear as a result of experiencing something that can not be measured by known means so far.

But spirituality is not merely a collection of knowledge of course, but a path. A path beyond the limits of our four-dimensional perception. In fact there are many paths which lead to self-realization, and each of them is a system in itself. Yoga (or astanga-yoga) system is one of them, and it involves much concentration of the mind and sublimation of sensual desires. Among others are logical system (Nyaya), which focuses on using various logical methods to eventually free the mind from the illusions of this world; Vedanta philosophy, which relies on ancient sutras and puranas (treatises), describing in details the nature of this world and Supreme Spirit; Sankhya philosophy, concentrating on exposing the difference between a matter and eternal consciousness.

There is another branch of ancient Vedic philosophy, which I think is very interesting on account of its similarity with a general approach of modern science. It is called Vaisheshika and originated presumably around 2nd century BC. The essence of this philosophy lies in the belief that everything in this universe is comprised of atoms, which are eternal, and knowledge and liberation are possible only after achieving complete understanding of the world. The only two means to knowledge accepted by that school of philosophy, founded by Kanada Kashyapa, are perception and inference. Sounds very much like modern science to me. And it is amazing, considering the fact it dates back more than 2 thousand years.

Science of spirituality.

So, are science and spirituality actually absolutely different ? Or are they just two sides of one holistic process of understanding this world, including ourselves ? Both concepts rely on knowledge as a basis of uncovering mysteries of the Universe. And though they are situated at the different poles of the whole process, eventually they are destined to meet at the equator. Maybe the time for that has come.

And if so, can scientific methods be applied to spiritual pursuit, for instance ? In fact not only they can but have to be applied, because being scientific means being rational and relying on facts, as our mind perceives them. Let’s say you try to meditate. In this case you’d constantly analyze the data that comes from within as to how do you feel before and after a meditation, does that help your mind or physical body in some way, what can you do in order to improve the length of meditation or the quality of it and so on. Being scientific means that not only you are reasonable enough, but also that you are curious, willing to explore inner, as well as the outer world, and open-minded just enough to accept it as it is, and to change existing concepts if necessary.

But, perhaps, what’s even more important is that the principles of spirituality can be applied to scientific concepts. In fact nothing except unnecessary prejudices can hamper that process. In any case science is supposed to be unbiased and seek answers wherever is possible, and spirituality is all-encompassing anyway.

Here is an example of such synthesis of two universal approaches. There is a concept of 3 modes (gunas as they are called usually) of nature – tamas guna (which can be best described as ignorance), rajas guna (associated with passion and activity) and sattva (benevolence). This is a very old concept, whose age possibly is the same as the age of great Vedas themselves. They are extremely important, since, basically, they are one of the principles that constituted the creation of this Universe, in which everything is based on those 3 modes (gunas). For instance, when you are awake and fully conscious, sattva guna is prominent, when you are dreaming, rajas (passion) guna is predominant and when you are in a deep sleep, like during anesthesia, tamas (ignorance) guna takes over. It can be applied practically to anything; people’s behavior is always under the influence of one of these gunas (but usually a mixture of two or all three). It may sound just like some trait of character, but in fact it is a complex and deep principle. You’ll understand it better in a moment.

American physician and neuroscientist Paul D. MacLean in 1960s formulated a theory (which was propounded at length later in 1990 in his book) according to which the human brain consists of 3 brains (the concept is called “triune brain”), namely, protoreptilian brain, paleomammalian brain and neomammalian brain. MacLean considered it as the reflection of the vertebrate brain evolution process. Protoreptilian brain is said to be very similar to the anatomy of the brain of the lizards (hence the name) in terms of functioning of autonomous nervous system. Paleomammalian brain goes one step higher and involves behavioral and psychological layers (including all kinds of social emotions), which can be observed in behavior of all mammals. At last neomammalian brain is something that only human beings developed to a significant degree and it allows reasoning, logical thinking and conceptual thinking to exist. The theory has been supported by a significant number of scientists.

And it turns out that this “triune brain” theory and the concept of 3 modes (gunas) of Nature perfectly correlate with each other, the fact that was first noticed by Sam Geppi, the founder of American Academy of Vedic Art and Science. For example, protoreptilian brain operates exclusively in tamas guna, the purpose of which is to keep your body functional and it does it very well, since you don’t even need to control, for instance, you heart beat, temperature and blood pressure, since all those functions are taken care of by this primal part of the brain. So, basically, it ignores everything and focuses on preserving the physical body. Rajas (passion and action) guna has to do with the paleomammalian brain, since our actions are almost always directly or indirectly related to the social environment in which we exist. Sattva guna and neomammalian brain is where the main distinction between human beings and animals lies, since only highly evolved species are able to think abstractly and  form concepts, which give meaning to our lives and inspire our existence. So, both the concept of the modes of material nature described in Vedas and the 20th century “triune brain” theory reflect the same foundational principle.

Examples such as this show that in fact science and spirituality are not different in essence and can work together to help us understand this Universe and ourselves better. From this point of view they complement each other perfectly.  After all, both spirituality and science rely on the mind as the main instrument of knowledge; and the mind creates a reality both within and outside ourselves, which means that our inner world and the external reality that we create or alter are perfectly interconnected. But how we use it, for good or bad, depends entirely on ourselves.

Origin of planets and astrology

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I believe it is very important to clarify the nature of astrology, as many of even those who practice it do not understand what astrology is, how it works and affects us all. And in order to do so we need to advert to the texts, written by those who laid the foundation of this science, because they have given us all the information we need.

In the first chapter (slokas 20 and 21-24) of Brihat Parashara Hora it is said that “Lord Vishnu, coupled with Śrī Shakti, rules over the three worlds. Coupled with Bhoo Shakti, He is Brahma causing the Universe. Coupled with Neel Shakti, He is Shiva, destroying the Universe. The Lord is in all beings and the entire Universe is in Him.

And then in chapter 2 (slokas 3-4) it is said that “The unborn Lord has many incarnations. He has incarnated, as the 9 (Nava) Grahas to bestow on the living beings the results due to their Karmas.”

The importance of the information given in these sentences is invaluable. First of all Sage Parashara (who himself descended from the Sage Bhrigu, who is believed to be the son of Brahma) tells us that not only God created the entire Universe, but it is also situated within him entirely and at the same time he is situated in all beings, that inhabit this Universe in the form of Supersoul.

And then Parashara tells us that the God has incarnated as 9 Grahas (planets), namely: Sun, Moon, Mars, Venus, Jupiter, Mercury, Saturn, Rahu and Ketu. And the purpose of those incarnations is to bestow on the living beings the results according to their Karmas. From this we can infer that the planets in our solar system have a very specific function and they are not just some giant rocks floating on their orbits, but are divine entities, that directly affect our lives.

There are two types of beings: the ones with more Paramatma and the ones with more Jivatma in them. “The beings with more Paramatmāńś are called divine beings. The beings with more Jivatmāńś are (mortal) beings.” (BPHS, ch. 2, slokas 5-13). The latter are mortals. It is said that “The Jivatma portions from the Grahas take births, as human beings and live their lives according to their Karmas and again merge in the Grahas.” So, not only planets affect us, but they also create us and their energy, that constitutes us in this world returns back to them after our death.

We also know that “The high degree of Paramatmāńś from the Grahas, viz. Sūrya etc. did incarnate, as Ram, Krishn etc. After completing the mission, the Paramatmāńśas (of the respective) Grahas again merge (in the respective) Grahas”. The Sun incarnated as Lord Rama, and the Moon as Lord Krishna. Thus, the great incarnations of Lord Vishnu in this world transpired also through grahas. However such incarnations are different from those of ordinary human beings in many ways. Further, Parashara informs us that “at the time of Great Destruction the Grahas as well merge in Lord Vishnu.” So, all creation emanates from Lord Vishnu and merges into him when the time of this Universe is over.

By knowing this we can better understand what is Universe and what is our place in it. Thus step by step we will come out of the darkness of ignorance, which has fallen upon us in this age of Kali Yuga.

Beginning of the World War II from astrological point of view

I’ve come across a very interesting information recently and would like to share my thoughts with you. I’m talking about the beginning of the second World War, the most bloody conflict in the known history of humankind in relation to the position of stars and planets. I believe it can serve as a great example of planetary influence on our lives.

Surely there must have been some extraordinary planetary combinations when it all started on September 1st 1939. And yes there were such combinations. First of all let’s look on Saturn, Jupiter and the nodes of the Moon (Rahu and Ketu), as nothing big can happen without influence of those giants (yes, nodes are actually invisible, but nothing can match the level of their influence on human lives, as they are karmic shadow planets).

The most important combination that caused the beginning of the WW2 was the position of Saturn in the sign of Aries, the sign in which Saturn feels most uncomfortable (the sign of his debilitation). The major things that Saturn signifies are boundaries in our lives, structure and order. And what is Aries ? Aries is the first zodiac sign, royal and fiery, ruled by Mars. Whereas Scorpio, ruled by Mars is more about inner wars and conflicts, Aries signifies external conquest, be it pioneering, exploration of the unknown or a war if a need be. Here Saturn loses his power to set boundaries, provide structure and limit that which is needed to be limited in our lives. But there is much more.

Saturn is in close conjunction (about 1 degree) with south node of the Moon, Ketu. Rahu and Ketu had a lot of power during that time, as they were transiting nakshatras (ancient constellations in Vedic astrology) belonging to them: Rahu was in Swati and Ketu in Ashwini nakshatra. So, “weak” Saturn conjoined “strong” Ketu. Actually combination of the nodes and Saturn is considered among the most malefic influences in any sign and house, but with debilitated Saturn such close conjunction is extremely significant. Under this influence, humanity and particularly those who defined the policy of the nations at that period of time lost the ability to discern what is right and what is wrong, boundaries on the level of collective subconscious became rather blurred. And if it wasn’t enough, Uranus energized this combination, being also in Aries sign (wherever 3 outer planets exert their influence, they energize those signs and houses to a great extent[1]).

Jupiter, another giant of our system was transiting the sign of Pisces at the beginning of WW2. Here I want to mention that Jupiter is the only planet capable of pacifying malefic planets to a great extent when it casts its aspect on them, or conjoins them. This wasn’t the case on Sept. 1st 1939 though. And Jupiter was in the nakshatra of Uttara Bhadrapada, ruled by Saturn, who was in quite miserable position at that time, which couldn’t leave Jupiter unaffected. In other words, the great benefic planet, Jupiter, could not save the day unfortunately.

 

Furthermore, the Sun was very powerful at that time, being at the middle of Leo sign. When the Sun is in Leo, it’s like a King is sitting on his throne. So the ambitions related to power and rulership were amplified at that time significantly. The Sun was aspected by Mars with its 8th aspect, showing that such ambitions were likely to have militaristic shade.

And Mars, the ruler of the Aries, had just entered the sign of Capricorn, where he is exalted, denoting a rise of determination and willpower. But here is an important thing to keep in mind, a planet’s behavior is very much dependant not only on the sign it is in, but also on the conditions of the lord of that sign. So, Saturn (as the lord of Capricorn) was very weak at the time under consideration, thus depriving Mars of strength considerably also. But the most important thing is that Mars and Saturn were in a very close relationship, because not only they aspected each other with their 4th and 10th aspects respectively, but were positioned in each other signs. When two planets exchange signs, they form very close relationship. However Mars and Saturn are inimical towards each other, which exacerbates the situation further, with Saturn being affected much more, due to its debilitation and conjunction with Ketu. Mars was in the nakshatra, ruled by Sun, emphasizing themes of ambitions and leadership even further.

 

Mercury, the planet of intelligence was transiting the sign of Cancer, which denotes that logic and reasonable approach could be overwhelmed by emotions at that time, because Mercury doesn’t like to be in that sign and sees the Moon as his enemy, which can be easily understood, as emotions more often than not twist our mind and intellect so we are unable to make a weighted decision. Direct aspect of Mars made the chances that those emotions were likely to be related to anger quite high.

The last, but not the least thing to mention speaking of planetary influence is that both giants – Jupiter and Saturn were in retrograde motion at the time under consideration, meaning they were moving backwards as it appears when observed from the Earth. In astrology the retrogression phenomena is given much importance, though no consensus about its exact meaning has been reached so far. Though we can certainly say that planets in retrogression influence us even more for good or bad, amplifying and twisting the effects of a sign and house they are posited in.

 

Now you might have a question – could this disaster have been avoided or prevented somehow, if such powerful influence existed in heavens ? Well, that’s a difficult one to answer. In my opinion we must take time when it happened into consideration. Because you should keep in mind that we are still living in Kali yuga, which commenced few thousand years ago. This is the worst (if we apply that dualistic terminology of good and bad) of the 4 ages, namely Satya, Treta, Dvapara and Kali. It is called iron age sometimes. Moral and righteous principles are at their low in this Kali yuga. Humanity as a whole is sleeping and unconscious, which makes wars and other disasters a common occurrence. In this context, I believe it was very hard if not impossible to avoid this war, and perhaps in some sense it was predestined. But now we must learn from mistakes of the past and awake and help others to awake until it’s too late; otherwise we may witness a third world war.

 

 

 

[1] Point of view held by astrologer Ernst Wilhelm