To aspire to a brighter future is the
birthright of all humans. To a degree,
we all participate in future-making
as we go about our daily
lives. Yet, the long term
transformative aspects
of our aspiration still
largely elude us. This
book is dedicated to gathering
a long-term view of life, through birth,
competitive maturity, economic success, social service, spirituality
and ultimately death. Even in death, we will see that the essence
of what we are at our core lives on and, driven in the right
direction, becomes part of the masterful intelligence within this

The ability to transform our dreams into reality is primarily what
sets humans apart from our biological cousins. In doing so it gives
us a toehold onto a much higher level of existence.  This is the
ability of our human minds to grasp the emerging reality, and to
create an intimate mental model of how it plays out. The mind has
to imagine, before the hands can create.

Some have called it The Secret, but in fact aspiring people have
been using this mental mechanism for ages to bring about an
attractive reality. Yet, the Law of Attraction, which could be a
potent engine for moving us to a new reality, remains
underutilized...  What’s missing in this vehicle is a steering
mechanism that would allow us to navigate the transitions that life
throws at us. Once we get this energy harnessed, our next level
of human existence would begin to verge on Divinity!

The time has now come to investigate the larger context within
which we humans exist today, and to get a feel for where we may
be headed. Once we harness the energies of self-development,
we will need a roadmap that we can use to chart our personal and
civilizational aspirations. In this book we will discover that the Tao
Cycle of Human Development  can provide such a roadmap – not
only for our personal development but also for all of humanity...

The Aspiring Human, Inspiring Universe series represents a
succession of dialogs between Hu, the typical aspiring human, and
Uni – the personification of the inspiring Universe. The Riddle of
the Sphinx, which is the first book of the series, tracks their
conversations through half a lifetime. The backdrop is a set of real-
life crises that Hu comes face to face with, and the dialog brings
out the inspirational wisdom that Hu needs to navigate
successfully through these challenges.

The key premise of the Tao Cycle approach is that the challenges
we must overcome are dependent on the individual self-
development segment we find ourselves in. Thus the teenager Hu
has very different psychological needs than the Hu who is about to
become an ‘Empty Nester.’ There is not a constant set of
aspirations that fit every human being. Our aspirations change as
we age, and as we face and overcome new challenges. Yet there
is a pattern through all these aspirational trajectories. They reveal
themselves as a symphony of musical notes, each developing
seamlessly from the previous as we step through the ‘tango’ of life.

The second key aspect of the Tao Cycle is that it scales. The story
of the Riddle of the Sphinx is taken from ancient Greek literature
(Oedipus Rex by Sophocles). It is also modeled after the ancient
Indian Ashrama system. As the name implies, it also borrows from
Taoist philosophy. These sources were developed thousands of
years ago, and their appeal is timeless.

The essential model scales through time – and also through
degrees of organization. Thus, the same Tao Cycle holds true of
nations and even civilizations! At this juncture of history, it does
appear that it applies equally to the human race! If we are
concerned about the civilizational trajectory that humanity is on –
we now have a model against which to measure our progress.  
The Tao Cycle philosophy overlaps well with many of the major
modern religions as well. Very humbly, the author would like to
propose that the Image of God conferred upon humanity is
embodied within the Tao Cycle. The Image is all inclusive, yet each
segment has its distinct character. The concepts of Good and Evil
must now be interpreted as ‘appropriateness’ within a given
developmental context. In spite of the overlaps, The Riddle of the
Sphinx is not a book on religion. It interprets spirituality in the
greater context of our lives, but does not subscribe to any single
religious doctrine.    

It will be immediately obvious to the reader that Hu and Uni
develop a very timeless interdependence and fondness for each
other. They define themselves as two halves of the same
existence – one internal (Aspiring, Human) and one external
(Inspiring, Universal). It is the pattern of interaction between
these two entities that moves our story through the Tao Cycle. In
each new segment, a fresh aspect of their developing relationship
is revealed – working towards complete spiritual union at the end
of the Tao Cycle. Hence, this is a love story that plays out through
the ages.

But what is love? To understand better this basic question, let us
take a look at the things that we love and desire. Let us start with
the feeling associated with winning, as in ‘everybody loves a
winner.’ This is the love of triumphing in our chosen field of
endeavor, of having our selection of mates, of being the alpha
male in our dominance hierarchy. This love of winning is typically
indicative of our personal growth towards the end of the first
segment of Studenthood. The love of power and dominance has
been a great motivator through the ages, but it is not the only kind
of love.

In a romantic sense, we love our mates – whether or not the
feelings are reciprocated. The words ‘I love you’ have been said in
many a romantic setting. We love our children and our extended
families. These are both examples of the love of the second
segment, the love of the Householder. To provide for our family,
we partake in economic activity, and we love the ‘affluence’ that
comes with being successful. It is interesting to note that ‘making
love’ plays into both the Householder and the late Studenthood
segments. In late Studenthood, it is a sign of winning, of conquest.
As a householder it is more reciprocal and intimate. Many a couple
participating in Householder activities still hold on to the paradigm
of ‘love’ from the previous segment – often looking to find a
winner where there is none to be had. A timely mindset change
goes a long way towards ensuring that the right kind of ‘loving’ is

To many folks, the Householder phase is the end of love. To
others it is just the midway point. In the next segment, the Social
(Service) Leader learns to extend out their love in ever widening
circles. We grow our circle of caring past community and
nationality; past the brotherhood of all humanity – to where some
of us could profess our love for the entire extant Universe. In this
segment we try to banish the petty divisions that keep us apart.
We dedicate ourselves to working for the common good. Yet, this
is not the end of the love story.

In the final segment we are confident not only in our love of all
that exists, we also start envisioning the vibrant possibilities that
range across time. Here we build the vision of the best possible
future for all of Humanity. This is our eternal fountain of love, as
the ensuing Spirituality connects us to the purpose of all
intelligence in the Universe – past, present and future. This is
indeed a mind-boggling expansion of who we consider our selves
to be, finally living up to the optimism contained within the
traditional Indian greeting – the Namaste.   

The gesture of Namaste with the folded hands signifies a very
important message – ‘I recognize the spark of Divinity in you.’ For
many people, that spark of Divinity may be never awakened, yet
the potential is always there. My sincere aspiration is that the Tao
Cycle love story will encourage us to discover the full nature of our
personal being. And by extension, to explore the full potential of
our human presence here on planet earth...
The Riddle
 The Sphinx