How To Reduce the Risk Of Getting Scammed and Owned Via Email

November 22, 2017 by stas | No Comments | Filed in Security

My article “How To Reduce the Risk Of Getting Scammed and Owned Online” educates you about a variety of attacks you may encounter while browsing the Internet, how to recognize those and as a result avoid being compromised. I recommend you read it first, if you haven’t already done so, as it will help you to understand the main types of attacks and what the perpetrators gain from each, and how do these affect you and those electronically connected to you (friends, family and co-workers).

I wrote this dedicated article for attacks performed via email, since email is the main source of online scam. It is so, because, it’s easy to spoof a sender identity and as a result an email in your Inbox is often considered more trustworthy, than a random website you may visit.

Having my email address listed on my websites since 1999, it has probably made into all possible spammer and scammer databases, and I receive hundreds and at times thousands of unwanted emails daily.  As a result of this I have a great collection of bad email I can study and share the insights from that study with you. The examples I use in this article all come from spam email I have received in the last few days. Luckily, my fine-tuned spam filters catch 99.5% of that undesired email, so only 1-2 of those make it to my Inbox daily.

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How To Reduce the Risk Of Getting Scammed and Owned Online

November 17, 2017 by stas | No Comments | Filed in Security

Social engineering and con artists have been around probably since the first humans invented some form of communication and perhaps even earlier. There were few con artists back then and which lead to few victims of their deeds. The Internet age ushered global village which lead to scalability the con artists of yore couldn’t have imagined in their dreams.

While the con artists simply want to get some of what you have using their ingenuity and relying on your gullibility, there is a whole new type of exploits that lead to perpetrators owning your computer or mobile device, and then profiting from using it without taking anything directly from you. They use your device to mine bitcoins, facilitate denial of service attacks on vital online services, rent out access to your computer to anybody willing to pay, and much more. They also perform identity theft, where they use the gathered personal information to scam others, using your personality to trick your friends into further scams, suggesting to them to purchase things as if it were your recommendation, infecting their devices with viruses, influencing political votes, etc.

And while new scams and ingenious social engineering schemes get created every second, and nobody is really fully immune (I almost got scammed just recently), there are a few “low hanging fruit”-type of scams that you really should know about and which you can easily detect and avoid.

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How To Use Facebook Productively Without Letting It Consume Your Life

November 15, 2017 by stas | 1 Comment | Filed in Productivity

Let’s agree on one thing – Facebook’s goal is a single one – to make money.

How does it make money? Through selling advertisement.

How does it sell advertisement? By making you spend as much time as possible on the Facebook land. Even if you don’t click on any advertisement – they still make money from the brand exposure kind of ads, where advertisers pay for their brand to flash in front of your mind again and again, until it gets programmed into your subconscious, and that when you next go to buy something you unconsciously will choose the brand you were programmed to choose. And you’re also more likely to buy something you don’t need in first place.

Facebook making a killing in profits is not a problem – we live in a capitalistic world so it’s the norm.

The brainwashing is not the problem – they have been doing it long before Facebook.

The real problem is the side effect of Facebook’s design to make money — most Facebook users waste a lot of their life and invite too much unnecessary stress into already very stressful life.

And even bigger problem is that all that distraction prevents you from having those few precious moments of being with yourself, when you can grow the most and be in your heart. When there is an inner disquiet it’s so easy to seek out something that will take your mind and heart away into some dream land. And online with non-stop stimulation and notifications of promised stimulation you’re being unplugged from your inner being and by making sure you’re constantly plugged into that dream world.

The easiest solution is not to use Facebook at all. The good old email is still going strong. The problem is that most of the world is on Facebook so if you want to communicate with people they prefer Facebook chat over email. Secondary, most events are now announced and arranged through Facebook so if you want to participate in group gatherings of any kind, unfortunately it’s almost impossible to accomplish without using Facebook. For quite some time I contemplated of dumping Facebook altogether, but then I realized that I can be smart about it and use it to my advantage and not let it take advantage of me.

Some people left Facebook in favor of another platform, but it too is there in the business of making money and who do you think they are going to copy as far as their features go? Don’t think twice — the leading platform Facebook. And they will do it more poorly since they don’t have as deep pockets as Facebook.

So what to do?

In this article I’m going to share tips on how you can continue using Facebook (and other similar platforms) without it sucking all of free time out of your life and replacing it with more stress than you already have from other sources. Read the rest of this entry »

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Mind Expanding Books and Movies on Time Travel and Parallel Universes

October 2, 2017 by stas | No Comments | Filed in Inspirational

Besides being very engaging for those of us who like to stretch and expand our minds, contemplating concepts of time and space is a very powerful spiritual practice as it’s being taught by a Tantric text, called Vijnana Bhairava Tantra. Linear time and fixed locality are the limitations that keep us from accessing the God’s superpowers of omnitemporality and omnipresence. I guess parallel universes aren’t exactly a direct match to omnipresence, but it explores an aspect of it.

A lot of the modern physics discoveries are about non-linearity of time, and the possibility of existence of parallel universes (multiverse). Finally the science is starting to catch up with the science fiction.

Parallel Universes

The concept of parallel universes is rather simple. Take yourself exactly as you are at this moment. Now imagine that there is another universe where you’re slightly taller, and another, where you’re even taller, and so on. Another universe where you are slightly shorter, and in another, even more so. Now take each of your body parts, the health of your organs, your smarts, etc., and create a new universe where everything else is the same except that one is slightly different. You have just visualized a pretty big number of universes in your mind.

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Do Souls Get Swapped During a Near-Death Experience?

October 2, 2017 by stas | No Comments | Filed in Metaphysical, Transformational

In this article I will share an interesting observation I have made with regards to Near-Death Experiences. This is just a hypothesis. YMMV.

I first encountered the phenomenon of Near-Death Experiences (NDE) some years back. Having read several books on the topic, I found it striking that most people, who went through the experience and lived to tell the story, came back completely transformed. Upon return they usually found themselves significantly more loving, cheerful and being able to instantly let go of whatever in the past bothered them for long periods of time. Many were cured from whatever physical ailments they had. I’d dare say that most came back enlightened to a degree.

The given explanation was that they experienced the afterworld, learned that their soul is immortal, thus got freed from the fears of their body’s mortality and in the process got liberated. Having studied high states of consciousness, enlightenment and related topics, I knew that for most people it takes years, decades and lifetimes to achieve a steady high state of consciousness. Many people have experienced very high states of consciousness through entheogens, Holotropic Breathwork, spiritual emergency and advanced yogic practices. While it’s clear that some impact was made on their daily life, it again normally takes many years to bring to a deep transformation, since person’s ego is not very easily modified and it takes time. In my yoga studies I was taught that it takes 6 hours to 3 days (!) of being in samadhi (state of enlightenment) for it to become integrated. Yet with NDEs the transformation seems to happen almost instantaneously.

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Finding Meaning in Life through the Game of Life

July 2, 2017 by stas | 2 Comments | Filed in Spiritual

From the first days of humanity man sought something bigger than himself to define the meaning of his life. Thus various types of religion have emerged and served man for thousands of years. These days materialism is the main religion and most people find meaning in a race for a bigger house, fancier car, latest high-tech gadget and it’s all good. When, however, something happens to them and the materialism momentarily doesn’t shine its seductive rays, for example due to a death of dear person, or their illness, or perhaps when they acquired enough of material goods and ask themselves whether there is more to life than shiny objects, finding meaning becomes a very powerful need in their life.

The Hindu Story of Creation

In Hinduism there is a very powerful creation story. It’s been said, that there was a being, named Shiva, that was omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent. And who, despite the infinite power, had a very unsatisfactory existence, because he couldn’t appreciate all that power, since there were no problems to apply this power to or a way to reflect on his own capacity. Being omniscient, he found a solution. Just like a child playing in a sandbox and pretending to be a firefighter, an astronaut or a knight, and once bored with the current pretense, moving to a new game of pretending to be someone else, Shiva decided to pretend that he is limited in its powers and thus have an interesting game of experiencing things. So he contracted into a very limited being that could only do a few simple things. But that quickly became boring just the same and therefore being almighty, he created an infinite number of universes, populated with an infinite number of completely unique beings, all having a different level of his power, interacting with each other in an infinite number of ways. And that infinite number of beings in infinite number of universes were all part of Shiva. Now that was something and Shiva set himself up for an infinite future of infinite number of experiences, as creatures large and small, all being a contracted  Shiva, went about their lives, with all the drama, comedy, horror, joy, excitement, and many other characteristics of the qualities of life. Basically this world is an entertainment sandbox of Shiva, who experiences it all and who chose to not make any rules or ever interfere, because any rules would turn an unlimited experience into a limited one and it’ll bring his wise plot to an end.

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Engineer Your Way Out of Suffering with Sacred Contract Method

June 27, 2017 by stas | No Comments | Filed in Metaphysical, Transformational

While I have been on a spiritual path for more than a decade, and have been balancing the path of an engineer and a healer, I’m still a big skeptic and don’t easily get sucked into woo-woo techniques and methods. So whether you believe in spiritual way or not, read on, because if you do what I did, the amount of suffering in your life will be reduced dramatically and it’ll happen very quickly. And the way is so simple. The more I experiment with different methods for having a better life, the more I find that if a method is not simple and can’t be learned in minutes, it’s not an efficient method. This is because Truth is simple, and therefore methods that lead to Truth can’t be, but simple.

Some 10 years ago I stumbled upon an audio recording of a seminar by Caroline Myss, where she discussed her book called “Sacred Contracts“. A big section of the book deals with spiritual archetypes, which I don’t really care too much for, but the gem was in her discussing the following theory, which requires that for the next few paragraphs you suppose that reincarnations are possible and that you live more than one life.  If you already believe in reincarnations — then all is good, if you don’t — please indulge me by suspending your disbelief for a few minutes and just suppose that it’s possible while you read the next few paragraphs.

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My Amazing 4-year Tantra Yoga Study Experience in Thailand

May 30, 2017 by stas | No Comments | Filed in Inspirational, Sexual, Spiritual, Transformational

Tantrik Yogi at Banaras 1958

This is my story of studying Tantra Yoga during 2009-2012 at Agama Yoga on Koh Phangan, Thailand. I wrote it to inspire others to explore the subject of authentic Tantra in a full immersion environment, which makes a huge difference to the impact it creates on the life of the practitioner, as compared to doing same back home on “low fire”. At the end of this article I share tips for those who dare to take a similar path.

From Sex to Spirituality

Until age 35 I was suffering from premature ejaculation. In year 2008 I decided that I can’t continue living my life with that handicap and resolved to overcome it. After a quick research the term Tantra popped up, which promised to fix any sexual problems and make the processes of sex into a divine experience. I said: “Amazing! And thank you!” and embarked on taking any and all workshops and trainings that had anything to do with Tantra.

My first training, happened to be a Tantra massage, which was mind-opening from one angle, as far as working on sexuality in a group, yet it was very unsatisfying in the theory and practical matters that were taught there.

Luckily, my second attempt was of a totally different caliber and it put me on the path of transforming my whole being, which started with my sexuality, and  later opened me to the divine in all aspects of my life. I stumbled on a training offered by Swami Vivekananda Saraswati in Vancouver, BC, where he was invited to be a guest teacher at a local yoga TTC.

Over the years of studying with Swami, I talked to many of his students.  Some resonated and comprehended his teachings and the mindset better than the others. For me his teachings were very easy to absorb, integrate and accept. Perhaps this is because both he and I are Electrical Engineers by education. Jumping ahead, his system offered zero solutions of working with emotions, other than transforming them into energy and sending them to your higher self, but otherwise completely bypassing the human aspect of emotions. At that time it was just what I needed and what I was open to. Only recently I felt the need to go back and dig into the raw emotions and feelings and not use a spiritual bypass to reduce suffering (which works oh so well if you know what to do!). The beautiful thing was that Swami has always been very authentic about his offerings. He always said:

“I teach you what I know and my mindset is the mindset that I live, and some of you may or may not resonate with some or all of my teachings and my ways of being with you. And you’re very welcome to go and find other teachers that work better for you.”

There are quite a few cults out there, this isn’t one, because it failed the most important rule of cults, where the head of the group does everything to make you stay.

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Experiencing Oneness Robert Silverberg-style

May 25, 2017 by stas | No Comments | Filed in Spiritual

Both authentic Tantra and Neo-Tantra include practices that ask the practitioner to experience oneness with your lover, those around you, your village, your city, your country, the whole planet and the whole universe.

Vijnana Bhairava Tantra, which Osho called “the Book of Secrets”, includes several such techniques. In particular Dharana 081 (Sloka 104) presents a very advanced type of meditation, which calls for a state of mind that realizes “I’m everywhere”. It’s not an easy state to put one’s mind in, but sometimes a helpful support can be found. I am always on the lookout for such expressions that just appear one day in front of me and I tremendously rejoice in finding these, as they help me to practice this incredibly blissful state.

It happened when I was listening to Robert Silverberg’s “The World Inside“, which is a fascinating masterpiece of science fiction. While listening to the last segment of chapter 3 of that book, I have experienced a proximity of this state, attuning myself to the vibration masterful depicted by the author. The following excerpt is about one of the main characters, Dillon, who is trying a unique multiplexes drug and as a result experiencing oneness with 881,000 people, which is the population of one building some time in the future. This particular book explores a model of taking 1 million people, putting them all into one “box” and modeling how they might go about it. And here is the relevant excerpt:

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How and Where to Study Shaiva Tantra

May 19, 2017 by stas | 3 Comments | Filed in Spiritual

At times, when I talk to people and share my passion of authentic Tantra, while waving my hands and getting goosebumps all over my body, my collocutors often get interested to learn more and ask me for suggestions on how could they also learn this very unknown in the West, very amazing life-transforming science. This article is for all of you, who may have heard about Tantra, and would like to educate yourself a bit, in order to give yourself this simple and powerful gift, hiding in plain sight.

It’s very likely that you encountered the term “Tantra” in the context of Tantric Sex, and if that’s what you’re after, please see my article: How Tantric Is Tantric Sex?, where you will learn the differences between traditional Tantra and Western Tantra (Neo-Tantra). In the current article I will discuss teachers and teachings, related specifically to the authentic Tantra, some of which may integrate Neo-Tantra (Tantric Sex) as well.

Kashmir Shavism and Shaiva Tantra

There existed multiple branches of Tantra over the last 15+ centuries. Since 2008 I have been studying a particular branch, that’s is the most known and studied nowadays in the West and that’s of Kashmir Shaivism, which is a sub-branch of Shaiva Tantra, coming from the masters who lived in Kashmir, India. It’s one of the most known in the West because we had Swami Lakshmanjoo, the last of the masters in the Kashmir Shaivism lineage, share his knowledge with a group of Western disciples, who kept the flame alive after his passing in 1981. I traveled to his Ashrams in Shrinagar, Kashmir and New Delhi * and sadly the local disciples of his don’t really practice the full range of Swami’s teachings, but primarily meet to sing bhajans, and do an occasional conference. It’s the Western disciples, who received the direct transmission from Swami during 70s and 80s and couldn’t help but to continue transmitting the light to the rest of us, who missed that opportunity. I’m very grateful to those few persons who made the preservation of this knowledge their life’s purpose.

footnote *: I had an amazing spiritual experience spending a very brief time at Swami Lakshmanjoo’s Ashram in New Delhi, but I will share that story with you in another article.

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