I atrended a very inspiriting talk on how to deal with diversity and avoid conflicts by Gandhi Foundation at St Martin- in- the- Fields at Trafalgar Square in London. The talk was initiated by Rowan Williams who is actively involved with various works of Gandhi.
He addressed on how to accept the diversity and avoid conflics arising out of it. It was an wye opening for me to know a completely different shades of empathy, diversity and peace.
It is surely going to take my reaearch on peace and restoration of peace to the next level.
Few excerpts from the talk
– conflicts arises out of failing to understand the difference
– I have no idea how you feel is definaltely not a good statement
– Empathy might do wonders id applied positively
– Accepting the complications of diversity is the only solution
– Deeper sense of all religions and identity and security of that identity is the key issue of today’s world
– Ethical behavior is the roots of the civilization and culture
– Border disputes, tribalism, civil war- outcome of a rigid mind
– Diversity is not the death of the country
– Deficite of knowledge is growing
– Education system is designed to make people fit into the society as they like
The United Nations has marked 21st of September as the International Day of Peace. It is observed in all the nations all over the world and the practice began in 1981 with the sole aim of promoting peace in the world. The UN Secretary General strikes the Peace Bell to signal the commencement of the celebrations. The Bell was cast using coins donated by delegates from 60 countries and collected by children and presented by Japan to the UN in 1954.
But we often wonder if all this is mere tokenism or is there a higher purpose to observing an exclusive day dedicated to peace. We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves is what the Dalai Lama says. We need to be at peace with ourselves only then we can reflect that in our actions. Today in the world we find people who are ready to retort and react at the drop of the hat. There is so much of anger within each one that it manifests in acts of violence against all those who are vulnerable. Peace does not mean absence of war alone. There should be no violence even in the minds of people only then can we say that there is real peace.
How do we attain the state of being at peace? We need to practice it meticulously. Thích Nhất Hạnh, the Vietnamese monk speaks of mindfulness as the key to finding peace. Every act should be done with a mindful consciousness. Even something as mundane as drinking tea. We need to concentrate on the act and not gulp it down as a chore. This mindfulness becomes a habit if we extend it to all our actions. Then we will think and speak only if there is an absolute need and that too after analyzing whether it will hurt other’s feelings or not. This is one way of developing the state of being at peace.
We all believe that we have some kind of permanent residence here on earth. We plan, prepare, hoard and organize plans for a long overhaul forgetting that we have all come with a return ticket. Life is often compared to a journey and all our relatives and friends are like the fellow travelers we meet on the journey. Some get off before we reach our destination point, still others continue even after we get down. Our Indian religions keep pointing out to this so often. Still we tend to forget this simple truth. Karma, reincarnation, liberation are words that we across in all the four religions that have had their origins in India.
To the followers of Vedic Hindu scriptures’ based lifestyle, the law of karma is a fundamental belief. ‘As we sow, so shall we reap.’ We go on accumulating results for our action and keep reincarnating or taking so many lives until the soul obtains moksha or liberation. Krushna describes in Bhagwad Geeta to keep doing the work and leave the fruit of the Karma on him. He says that we always belonged to him. We have come to this material world due to some karmic results and it is our duty to perform karma which can lead us back to him. The only way to escape this karmic bond is by offering everything to god, to do nishkama karma- which essentially means, doing an action without looking at its fruits.
The youngest religion Sikhism asserts that our lives are connected to karmic debt. The more karmic debt we have, the more number of times we will come back to earth and as we make an effort to reduce the karmic debt, then we are a step closer to God. A good Sikh is one who has got rid of the karmic debt completely after which he will reunite with the creator.
Jainism explains karma in an interesting manner. Karma is not an immaterial concept there. It is said to exist in the form of subtle particles. When the jiva is overcome with passions, then these particles enter the jiva and it acquires a body. In order to get disembodied again, the jiva has to go back to the pure state again. Only then can the jiva get freed. It is for this that every jiva has to follow the sadacharana or observance of ethical discipline.
The Buddha himself is supposed to have reincarnated many times. The Buddha made use of the powerful analogy of taking birth as an animal in the next birth to caution simple laymen to lead a life of virtue. This fear of being born as a lower life, that is as an animal, kept people away from mischief. But it cannot be taken too literally. The entire process of change from one life to the next is called “becoming again”. Karma operates as a moral law in the universe according to Buddhism as a continuous chain reaction of cause and effect. The Dhammapada says, “All that we are is a result of what we have thought, it is founded on our thoughts and made up of our thoughts.” So we can change our Karma with our good thoughts, good words and good actions. We can reach the enlightened state of the Buddha by raising ourselves with our goodness thus escaping the clutches of karma.
We thus see that these 4 religions speak of reaching god or achieving reunion with god by progressing with our own self effort and transcending the cycle of birth and death, by finally merging in the ultimate being. This is referred to as achieving liberation or moksha or nirvana.
I generally prefer to write in few words to explain any points to keep up the interest of the people. If any of you want to know more about any of these theories feel free to ask me. OR you may go through our website www.indianscriptures.com
Spirituality is our only hope of finding peace in today’s hectic life. It helps one get into a mental and emotional state of balance. I never had to learn the importance of spirituality from anyone around me. I was born with this realisation. Though it is a very personal matter, I’d still like to share my experiences here, because I want people to know that spirituality has the answer to all of life’s questions. It teaches you to live with yourself and gives you immense pleasure out of doing NOTHING. Spirituality helps you attain whatever you want in life, it improves your communication and relationships, helps you grow as an individual and makes you so powerful that your enemies will never find a chink in your armour.
I was lucky to get a taste of spirituality very early in life. I used to have long conversations about life and spirituality with my teachers during my school days. These conversations influenced me to take a deep interest in various scriptures and the Vedas and Puranas. I also began to understand the importance of connecting with one’s own soul.
I heard about ‘Vipassana’ from a friend during early days of my professional life. This word comes from Pali, the language of the Buddha, and it means ‘SEE IT AS IT IS’, i.e. without any alteration or denial of the truth. Vipassana is a 6000-year old practice of achieving inner liberation that was revived by the Buddha about 2500 years ago. Sadly, it disappeared from India about 500 years after he attained nirvana. However, Vipassana remained preserved in Burma in its purest form of ‘guru-shishya parampara’. It was brought to India again by Mr. S. N. Goenka.
When I went for my fist Vipassana camp, I remember being completely clueless. The code of conduct for participants strictly forbids killing, stealing, sexual activity, lying, intoxicants, bodily decorations and even high beds! Even the diet is strictly controlled. The aim is to wash away all the pain and stress accumulated inside the body and mind. I remember crying frequently for the first 3-4 days.
But in this cathartic process, all my .previous aversions, agitation, cravings, negativity, anger, fear, and all kinds of disturbing thoughts were slowly getting eliminated After purification of the mind, we were told to observe each and every feeling inside the body. My mind was constantly wandering and I realised then how difficult it is for us to just focus on the moment and not measure ourselves by various yardsticks. I realised that we were not born to eat, sleep, adhere to silly societal laws or live for pleasure. We can actually create a world of our own in our minds and hearts. Believe me, that camp changed my life spiritually and emotionally. An unexpected outcome of the camp was that I was able to start using certain perfumes that I was allergic to earlier.
I strongly recommend this camp to people suffering from migraines and headaches, psychosomatic problems or any kind of allergies. You may want to visit www.dhamma.org for more details.
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