Today’s adults will not remain tomorrow. But today’s adults will, through their contribution in moulding the new world and their children’s values, attitudes, ideas and ideals, survive in the future. Today’s children are tomorrow’s adults. TV anchors are going shrill reporting corruption and violence, newspapers are spilling blood in your living room daily, and the moral fibre of the world is cracking under psycho-social degradation. But situations cannot be wished away overnight. Change of this nature is evolutionary. It happens slowly over time. One has to begin by training our children in fresh new ways of thinking with new inspiration and new ideas. As Tagore writes, “Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit, into that heaven of freedom, Father, let my country awake.”
This is not achieved merely by changing school curriculum or by intellectuals blabbering in coffee shops about transforming political ideology or academics crying hoarse about value-based education in schools. Children do not learn from books – they learn from their parents. If a child grows up watching the father use foul language, be aware, for you will soon see the son pattern himself on it. If the father smokes, the child will play-act by rolling up paper and pretending to smoke, saying, “See, I am daddy!” Medical science is now waking up to prenatal education now. And what has been the helpless embryo’s education? Films, videos and magazines that serve sex, violence and other crap to make their money, sadly, at the expectant mother’s cost! Hinduism insists on the purity of mind and body of an expecting mother. Hinduism does not favour smoking and drinking alcohol among young women, the reason being that young women go through motherhood and alcohol and tobacco harm the unborn. Medical science also points out that smoke and alcohol are two harmful things that the placenta cannot filter!
Parents, especially the mother, play a crucial role in the moral value systems of the family. Parents are directly responsible for the ruinous, suicidal behaviour of a youngster, while they are also the great inspiration for a Gandhi, a Shivaji, a Tagore and an Einstein. Time and again, great achievers have declared their indebtedness to their mothers for moulding their thinking. Even one child brought up to have the courage of a hero and the daring to uphold righteousness is known to have revolutionised the minds of his generation. They have changed the course of history. Such is the power of a mother!
“When mothers lose touch with spiritual values…and the adults’ lives become loose and unethical, then their children’s lives will also be degraded”, said Swami Chinmayanandaji. We can only train the plant to grow straight and strong when the sapling is young and pliable, one cannot train a tree to become straight! Parents need to live those values, not just preach them. No one can become rich by counting the king’s money. The child needs your time and presence, not your presents!
The author is President, Chinmaya Mission, Delhi.
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HOW DOES EXISTENCE EXIST AS GOD?
Human mind has always been mesmerised with a question—whether the God exists? Is there any relationship between the existence and being? The existence and the being is one of the most abysmal relationships. The being cannot exist without the existence because that which is the whole of the being exists in part beings. And the whole that is the existence cannot exist without it being in the parts of the beings because being is part of the whole that it is the whole of That-Which-Is. Because being is a part being of that whole being who is the Supreme Being which we know as existence and which we know as That-Which-Is. That-Which-Is as you is manifested as you in you.
A beautiful story which says that God was alone. He felt lonely and he wanted to become more. Although Gods have that competence and ability to make copies of themselves. But humans do make copies when they breed. God became two and so on. Humans imagine God to be comprised of human ability and the supreme capabilities that humans call supreme. Human God is far different than the God of existence. If we look at ourselves what we are. We are small part of the existence and in our being existence manifests. Without existence there in the being, your being simply un-exists. Your being fails to exist. Cannot exist. There is no gap between you and existence. In your existence, existence exists and is existing in you right now. There is no gap.
Gap exists in your thinking. There is no need for you to find God. Human God exists in the gaps in your thinking. When you think God exists for you in thinking. But it does not exist as your God-the God that you have imagined to be the God that you have built into your beliefs to be the one who you don’t wish to antagonize. Moment the gap between the two—existence and you—that is the mind that disappears you allow the existence to exist in you and your being gives up the desire to be one with existence but your being comes to know that you already exist in existence which is the one and only one that exists and you don’t. It’s existence that exists as existence alone.
Man wants to do something. So finding God becomes his favourite pastime. All religions have become pastimes. But man takes religion a very serious affair. So seriously that you cannot laugh in temples. So seriously that you can murder anyone in the name of religion. So seriously that you can go to war to save religion. So seriously that you begin thinking that you have to save the religion. Not that religion was invented to save you. Not that God was invented to save you. But you become too serious to save the God and religion and you forget that religion was to save you to make you religious, peaceful, loving and playful. Such religious persons fight thousands of wars on earth and kill millions of people in the name of religion, God, love and peace. But that is not being religious.
That you call God who is That-Which-Is exists as existence in you. And that which you imagine that God according to you is not the God but an illusion of a power who you wish to worship because you cannot worship a simple God which exists so simply as existence. Because of this illusion you make the real God who exists in you the unreal. God existed in you from the beginning. God exists in you as your own existence. Your existence is your God. Not someone somewhere who is willing to make you fearful and who is willing to be angry if you fail to perform rituals set by protocols.
Life simply exists. Existence exists simply. Existence is simple. Trees are born from seeds, water, air, sun is available to the seed to be the tree. Seed exists as a small tree of existence and grows to be the tree of existence. You also exist as a seed of existence to be the tree of existence. And you can also grow. Only the one who is playful who is dancing who is ecstatic is the one who is full of existence. Only the one who is singing and rejoicing in the playfulness of existence is the one who is alive. Or you can live on the periphery or you can live in the centre choice is yours. Existence exists in you in the fullness of your being. When we invent gaps and there exist gaps in our being and existence, we make of us beggars full of miseries. Life becomes a living hell for us. We need desires to ride on. We need the God to bail you out. We need some superpower we worship to go out of the misery. But no superpower is going to take you out of the misery. No God is going to take you out of your poverty. You are born king. Your kingdom is there in your being. Be in the being-ness of your being and you will be seated on that seat where existence exists in you, right in the centre of your being.
You can be rich but you wish to be poor. You can be powerful but you wish to be powerless. You can be the king of jungle Lion. But you wish to worship Tiger God. God is not a tiger who is going to audit your life’s accounts. God is not a head master who is there to hold you responsible for mistakes. God is there the one who is there trying to exists in you and in every moment God exists in you and therefore you exist in every moment. God exists in you as you.God is godliness. God is goodness. God is simply God and is not as complicated as our priests have presented.
You can be one with the God. Simply being you exist in godliness. Just relax. The one who is watching the entire world happen around who is the one who is unlike things around you. You are not the eyes by which you watch the world. You are not the ears by which you hear. You are not the nostrils by which you smells. You are not the senses by which you sense the world around. You are the one who is you and He is the only one who is existing in you and he has no name and who is your true self that is you. You don’t have to go search for him to know him. You have to be him to know him. That’s also the meaning of Ahambrasmi.
Author is a spiritual teacher.
OUR SAINTS WARNED OF THREATS LIKE CLIMATE CHANGE, THE WORLD IS WAKING UP NOW
India has not been historically a big contributor to global warming but has a key role to shape the global discourse on the issue of climate change due to its large population and consumption of energy.
Climate change is not an obscure concept but a reality visible to us in our daily lives. All of us can feel the difference in the rain patterns, variation in temperatures and the intensity of weather-related events. While there are prolonged periods of high temperature in summers, long dry spells during the monsoon can be witnessed. Sudden burst of showers inundating vast areas and causing loss of life and property are not uncommon. Our ancient seers were aware of the damage excessive human greed can cause to the mother earth. Our civilization has always taught to live in harmony with the mother earth and nature.
Swami Chandrasekharanand Saraswati, the 68th Shankaracharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham, who worked all his life for rejuvenating Hinduism and for strengthening India’s cultural traditions, foresaw the consequences of excessive consumerism much before the international community rose to the challenge of climate change caused by gases in the earth’s atmosphere trapping the sun’s heat and stopping it from leaking back into space.
Like Mahatma Gandhi, Periyava warned against human greed. He stressed that wants should not go beyond the necessities.“By multiplying wants, we only increase poverty. What is essential for life and honour should be made available to all the people of the country. It is for this we want plans. Men of means should live like the poor and should not increase their wants beyond necessities. The rich should share their prosperity with the poor. This is punya, leading to salvation. The more we increase our wants, to that extent, there will be no peace or comfort and it will only produce poverty and sorrow,” Periyava had said.
He described the mother earth as Kamadhenu. “Cultivate Friendly attitude to conquer the minds of men; Look at others as yourself, give up war; give up jealousy; don’t commit aggression without reason, mother earth is like Kamadhenu to fulfil wishes, The Lord God is like father showering mercy, people of the World ! live with discipline, live with charity, live with mercy, may all people attain greater well-being,” the seer had said.
The words of Periyava hold special significance as the world prepares for the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 26) to the UNFCCC next month in the United Kingdom. If the world had followed the advice of India’s seers and adopted its nature-friendly civilizational values, there would not have been the problem of climate change.
The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which sets out the basic legal framework and principles for international climate change cooperation, came about 1992. India’s civilization has since time immemorial laid thrust on living harmoniously with nature. Periyava and other saints had expounded on the theme in their discourses.
Apart from Hinduism, other religions that originated in India have had a strong relationship with nature. Buddhist monks go on three-month ‘Varshavas’ during the monsoon which sees nature rejuvenating itself in various forms. The Buddhist monks, who ordinarily would be mendicant wanderers, gather in monasteries during the rainy season for a time of study and religious discourse. The idea is also to not cause any hindrance to plants sprouting forth from mother earth or to cause any disturbance to animals. This year a grand ceremony to mark the end of Varshavas was held on the auspicious occasion of Ashwin Purnima on October 20 at Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh.
India has not been historically a big contributor to global warming but has a key role to shape the global discourse on the issue of climate change due to its large population and its ambitions goals to raise income of its citizens that will require much more consumption of energy. India has its own set of climate challenges with its large cities as also semi-urban areas seeing continuous decline in air quality. India also faces effects of climate change in terms of rising sea levels, melting glaciers and extreme weather events. Unprecedented and unseasonal spells of rains, such as in Kerala now, can be seen as clear manifestation of climate change and are causing huge losses. There is also an increase in frequency of cyclones along India’s long coastline.
According to an air quality report released by a Swiss organisation, IQAir 22, thirty most polluted cities in the world, including 14 in the top 15, are in India. This includes the second most polluted city, Ghaziabad in the national capital region.
Delhi’s air quality is also a major area of concern with the index staying in “hazardous” to “very unhealthy’ category for several days in winter months. Looking at the challenges India faces and its role as a responsible member of the global community, the country has embarked on an ambitious “green agenda” that focuses on increasing contribution of renewable energy and switching to electric vehicles for mobility. As with some other areas in global affairs, what India decides will shape the climate change outcomes in the coming years.
India is expected to become the most-populous country in the world by 2027. Though India is way behind the United States and China as emitter of carbon dioxide but it is the world’s third-largest emitter of the gas considered the most potent pollutant. India needs policies that ensure lower pollution, lower carbon emissions and jobs for its growing workforce.
In terms of per capita emissions, India is ranked 140th in the world. The United States is placed 14th and China 48th. Coal continues to be a major part of India’s power sector though there is growing thrust on diversification.Despite its multifarious challenges, India’s actions to combat emissions have been compatible with the goal of limiting global warming to an average of 2 degrees Celsius. Compared to India, China’s actions are seen as “highly insufficient” and that of United States “critically insufficient.” India is on course to meet two major pledges under the Paris agreement on climate change ahead of schedule. It has promised that 40 per cent of its electricity-generation capacity will come from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030. It will also reduce its “emissions intensity” by at least one-third compared with 2005 levels.
As India pursues low-carbon, energy-efficient technologies, it has already reduced emission intensity by 21 per cent over 2005 levels. The country’s solar capacity has grown from 2.63 Gigawatts in 2014 to 36 Gigawatts in 2020 and its renewable energy capacity is the fourth largest in the world.India’s renewable energy capacity will reach 175 Gigawatts before 2022 and the target is to reach 450 Gigawatts by 2030. India has pioneered two major initiatives. The International Solar Alliance, and Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure.
COP26 is a critical summit for global climate action. The NDCs (nationally determined contributions) submitted in 2015 were collectively not ambitious enough to limit global warming to ‘well below’ 2 degrees, not to speak of 1.5 degrees.The 2021 Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report noted that it is still possible to achieve the 1.5-degree-target if unprecedented action is taken now. Global emissions must halve by 2030 and reach ‘net-zero’ by 2050 to have a chance of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees. At COP26, the signatories of the Paris Agreement are expected to submit more ambitious NDCs.
India’s traditions show how our ancestors always had a deep and spiritual link with the nature. Indians worshipped the nature and our ancient texts have ‘Devtas’ associated with the natural phenomenon – rain, wind, sun. There are animals associated it ‘devis’ and ‘devtas,’ symbolizing a deep link with the nature.
Hinduism is perhaps the only religion in the world in which some plants are held very sacred. The ancient science of Ayurveda is largely based on medicines derived from plants. Our ancient scriptures have the concept of Kalpavriksha and the Chaityavriksha. There are rituals associated with trees. The sacred trees include ashoka, peepal, banyan, banana, neem, coconut and sandalwood. The sacred plants include tulsi and bael. Lotus is held sacred and is associated with Goddess Laxmi. The flower has also symbolized spiritual enlightenment.
Peepal tree is the first-known depicted tree in India. A seal discovered at Mohenjodaro depicts peepal tree being worshiped. There is a belief that the tree represents the Trimurti – the roots being Brahma, the trunk Vishnu and the leaves Shiva. Buddha is believed to have attained enlightenment under a peepal tree. The trunk of banana is used to erect welcoming gates and leaves are used to make the ceremonial pavilion. The leaves are used to serve “prashad”.
The trifoliate leaf or tripatra of the bael tree is believed to symbolize the three functions of the Lord- the creation, preservation and destruction as well as three eyes of Shiva. The beal is also sacred to the Jains. Beal (bilva, vilvam) is offered during worship of Lord Shiva.
It is considered essential for Chandramouleeswara puja and there is a story of how Periyava sent one of disciples to fetch it when it became very scarce. The seer sent him to the person who knew where it could be found.
Our rishis and saints went to forests in search of ultimate truth and meditated in silence. Our civilization developed along banks of rivers. Indians regard earth as “dhartimaa” (mother nature) and many salute it first thing in the morning.
Ganga is a river sacred to Hindus. The ashes of the dead are immersed in sacred rivers. Indians have been using earthen pots to store water. The mother earth is source of human life and it is a matter of satisfaction that in accordance with the love and respect of our saints towards the nature, the government is taking steadfast and firm steps to tackle the challenge of climate change.
STOP STRESS FROM DAMAGING YOUR IMMUNITY
In most countries of the world, the majority of diseases are chronic instead of acute. Chronic diseases are called psychosomatic. A part of the cause is psychological – this means that the cause is generated by thoughts and emotions, and is therefore very difficult to examine. The other part is physical, visible and can be measured.
The brain absorbs the energy of thoughts and emotions. The energy is transported to the hormone system and lymph system. Together they form the immune system, which protects the body. A child develops an immune system that starts in the womb of the mother. The physical, mental, and emotional health of the parents have an impact on the immune system of an unborn child. When a child grows up, it then encounters antigens in the form of viruses, bacteria and other micro-organisms. In a healthy situation, the body makes antibodies so that the child does not become sick. The immune system develops through physical contact with other people, food, environment, and micro-organisms. A person deprived of this contact, say in situations of social isolation and/or excessive cleaning or no cleaning at all for a long period of time, may develop an unhealthy immune system. Thoughts and emotions have an impact on the functioning of the immune system. How to make thoughts and emotions so positive and strong so that they strengthen the immune system?
Stress is a physical reaction to something that is experienced as truth. A stress reaction can be acute or chronic. Most people experience one or more stressful events in their lives. There are several forms of stress:
1. Universal: absence of information or fake news. Every chronic or repetitive experience of not feeling in control, or helpless, gives stress.
2. Physical: chronic disease, injury, operation.
3. Chemical: food, viruses, bacteria, pesticides, Wi-Fi, alcohol, tobacco, drugs, soft drinks
4. Emotional: family circumstances, secrets, debt, divorce, disease, death, trauma, abuse, manipulation, neglect, work problems.
Chronic stress suppresses the immune system. Scientific research shows that three in four people with heart problems, high blood pressure, Diabetes Type 2, gastric ulcers, rheumatic disease, skin problems, autoimmune diseases and cancer have a weakened immune system. Chronic stress symptoms, including extreme fatigue, anxiety, sleep disorders, chronic abdominal pain or palpitations may require a visit to a doctor in the first instance.
The immune system can be strengthened. The first step is to recognise and accept that you are in fact experiencing stress and it is uncomfortable. The next step is to acknowledge that you are not alone in this. Everyone feels stressed at one time or another. Then it is a matter of discovering what would be most helpful and being very kind to the self; wish peace for the self and be prepared for this state of peace to take a little time, and not search for a quick fix. Slow down, walk slower, speak less, do less instead of more—all this helps to reduce the feelings of stress in the immediate short term.
Before sleep each evening, there are some positive things you can reflect on or do to strengthen the immune system and write them down in a journal. Take a shower, listen to some music, listen to a guided meditation before you settle down to the reflections.
1. This is what I liked about today
2. This is what I did not like about today
3. This is what made me laugh out loud today
4. I feel grateful for …
5. I was kind to myself in this situation today
6. I practised taking a pause before reacting in this situation today
A human being has more than 70,000 thoughts a day, 90% of which we are not aware of. Meditation is a method to learn about who you are and what is going on in your mind. During meditation, we can create positive thoughts and create new neural pathways in the mind so that faith and trust in the self can become part of your life. Stress will diminish and the immune system will be strengthened.
Dr Judith M. Kocken MD, PhD, is a paediatrician and a paediatric gastroenterologist. A pioneer in holistic healthcare, she studies and practises Rajyoga with the Brahma Kumaris in The Netherlands.
CLIMATE CHANGE FROM THE INSIDE OUT
As we approach the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), 31 October to 12 November 2021, the eyes of the world are on Glasgow, a former industrial and shipbuilding city in Scotland. The talk is of mitigation, adaptation and climate finance, of limiting the rise in global temperatures and harmful emissions.
It is easy to feel confused, even lost, amid the jargon and the torrent of facts and figures. Climate anxiety is growing, especially among younger age groups: Notably, in a recent interview, Britain’s Prince William highlighted his concern for his young family.
And yet there is so much we can do, individually and collectively, to raise our thinking to a place of hope and to believe in action as a force for good.
The first step is to recognise that every single one of us can access an inner world that is far richer than any material possessions the external world has to offer. Once we recognise this, our acquisitiveness—the desire to possess material wealth and objects, the urge to achieve status in the world— diminishes.
Instead of measuring ourselves against others in a spirit of competition, straining to outdo their success, we choose to connect with our inner self and draw strength from the Supreme. The way to do this is through meditation, the quiet focusing of all our energy on the deeper consciousness that lies like a tranquil lake at the very core of our being.
With time and practice, our striving evaporates and we achieve a balance—calm, fulfilled, and genuinely, deeply happy. A little further down the road, we begin to stabilise in this state, so that, no matter what happens, we are able to maintain the balance.
The qualities we are rediscovering translate into a different way of living, and a new way of interacting with the world. No longer either needy or greedy, we are content with a simple lifestyle and grateful for what we have. Our inner transformation creates an outer balance between ourselves and others—and, indeed, all of nature.
With the generosity of spirit, we are ready to put our abundant energy to positive use, doing whatever we can to care for the environment and for those around us. There is nothing forced or insincere about this: It comes naturally and surprisingly easily. As we repeat these actions, they become part of our own nature, ingrained habits of kindness and care for others.
Imagine what the world would be like if we joined together to apply these qualities at the community, national, or even international, level! Multilateral talks would go smoothly, agreements would follow quickly, and action would be taken unhesitatingly.
Sylvia Ismail is a writer and editor with a background in public affairs, radio broadcasting, and journalism.
FAITH AND WISDOM
Devotional feelings are pure ones consisting of sweetness and innocence. They are feelings of faith in God, but they can be shaken.
Faith, without some wisdom to back it up, may fail you in a moment of need. Both are needed for long-term spiritual attainment; like feeling close to God and close to others, too in an unshakeable way. Or having true feelings, no matter what, becoming spiritually accomplished.
If either faith or wisdom is lacking, your life cannot function right. It is like understanding your doctor’s prescription but somehow not trusting it anyway. It leaves you feeling unsure. So have a dialogue between your feelings and your understanding. They need to know each other and work together well!
How to stop yourself from overthinking
Our world is no longer the same as it was. It has been turned upside down. The events took almost everyone by surprise and everyone’s thinking went into overdrive. The media bombarded us every day with information and a variety of experts gave their opinions on what might happen, and everywhere there has been uncertainty and anxiety. Where does all that information ultimately land?—in the mind!
Overthinking is one of the most damaging thought patterns of all. An overactive mind instigates rash and rushed actions, and we spend time with fast-moving technology, sound bites, video bites, and seem to move from phones to computers to TVs. The reason why many spend so much time doing this is that in a way it serves a purpose. It stops us from looking inside to contemplate what the purpose of life might really be. From time to time, we become aware of what we are doing, and we try to chill out, take time out, and if we manage some moments of peace, the feeling is so sweet. But sometimes we find emptiness inside, like a big deep sadness, a sense of meaninglessness to everything, and that is a very uncomfortable feeling, so we change gear into overdrive again and become busier and busier so that we do not have to think too deeply.
There are roughly about 70,000 thoughts created in a waking day of 16 hours. We can think at about 500 words a minute but only speak at about 125 words a minute, and our mind can be aware on seven different levels at any given moment. That is a lot of activity! Our lives are played out in our minds. Thoughts, reactions, feelings, memories all take place in our minds. The way we interpret anything depends on the quality of thinking we have been able to achieve and the wisdom we have been able to accumulate. The most important thing I can do at the present time is to learn more about who I am and what is the greatest influence on my thinking, and with love and wisdom take back the internal authority I have lost.
I have to take responsibility for my thoughts. Each thought is my creation. People may be difficult and situations will come and ultimately, I have the choice—I can overthink or not. If I do just this one thing, take responsibility for each thought in my mind, it will change my life. If I am complaining, criticising, blaming everyone around me for my feelings, then I completely disempower myself. Spirituality is empowering myself to choose the quality of thought that helps me remain peaceful and keeps me happy.
I can begin by reprogramming my understanding of who I really am. If I am a body, then either ego or a sense of superiority emerges or a lack of self-respect and a feeling of unworthiness or inferiority emerge. All actions are then based on that awareness. The 7.9 billion human beings are working on that premise and with the subsequent ego or lack of self-respect. It is time to look within at the real self, the soul. Then, with the awareness of the eternal qualities of the soul, of peace, love and joy, let those feelings calm and nourish the mind, slow down the thought patterns and be the foundation of my words and actions. Taking time each day to replenish this awareness in meditation and a connection with the Supreme Soul empowers the soul to regain internal authority and reclaim the mastery of the mind.
Charlie Hogg, based in Sydney, is the National Coordinator, Brahma Kumaris, Australia.
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