Getting Spiritually Better...              
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In the last issue, we started a new feature about Getting Spiritually Better. We offer below the second instalment. We hope you like it, and would share it with others who are interested in enquiry and self-improvement. Do write and tell us what you think, how you find it, whether it is useful, and in what ways this feature can be improved.

Thank you and Jai Sai Ram.

SGH Team.


It is convenient to pursue our enquiry by adopting a 'triangular view' of God and Creation as below:

What is to be noted in the above are the following:

  1. God is the Creator. He created Nature, and also man.
  2. There are three links - between God and man, between God and Nature, and
  3. between man and Nature / Society.
All three are important.

Modern man tends to view life dropping out one or more links. For example, the atheist drops God from the picture; thus, for him, there is only one link, i.e., that of man with Society/Nature. In particular, the atheist does not look upon Nature as Divine; rather, it is there for man to use and exploit as he pleases. Needless to say that this leads to all kinds of problems.

There are others who accept God. They also accept that God created Nature. However, in daily life, they forget this important fact. The net result is that for this class of people also, there are only two links. Even these are looked at piecemeal, as below:

Thus, the average person seeks to maintain a special and personal relationship with God, but when it comes to Nature and Society, he forgets that God is present in them also. Many devotees unconsciously adopt this attitude. They have great devotion for God, but when it comes to other people, they do not hesitate to be rude, for example. They simply refuse to see God in the other person, even though Swami has advised times without number that one must see God in all. In this context, it is good to recall what Swami says about the individual, Society and God. He says: "The individual is a limb of the community. The community is a limb of Society. Society is a limb of Nature, and Nature is a limb of God."

We are not really distinct from each other; rather, we are organically linked to each other. This is no ordinary link; it is a Divine link. We must go through life constantly remembering these linkages. We are part of a whole - not an ordinary whole but a Cosmic Whole. In other words, all of us are, at the practical level, limbs of God. Without this realisation, there would be imbalance.

Imbalance - that one word sums up the attitude of most people today. True balance is not possible, unless one has a holistic view and one based on the basic Cosmic structure outlined earlier. An example:
Today, there is a tendency to promote more and more the sale of automobiles. This may be good for the auto industry, but is it good for the planet earth? Is it good for mankind? Just think of the pollution. One might say that one could build better cars - this is more easily said than done. When it comes to brass tacks, there are all kinds of ifs and buts and lobbies. This became very evident during the Kyoto meet on pollution. Countries with huge auto industries resisted stringent emission norms. So, in the name of business and industrial progress, the auto industry is allowed to expand, adding to the carbon-dioxide burden. Similarly, coal-exporting countries were equally selfish and adamant in Kyoto about not reducing their exports.

As if all this is not enough, trees are in the meanwhile being recklessly felled in many parts of the world. God in His infinite mercy has given to trees and plants the job of cleaning up the carbon dioxide and replacing it with oxygen. But if trees are cut, then who is going to replace the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere with oxygen? And then, there is the problem of auto junk! Who is going to handle all the 'dead' cars, thrown away or abandoned as junk?

Committees may go into the matter and make recommendations but is that the sane way of dealing with the problem? If one goes to the root of the matter, it is excessive desire that is the problem. As Gandhi once remarked, "The earth has enough to meet the needs of all the people living on it, but not enough to satisfy the greed of one man." So, the question arises whether too much technology is really a boon, as some make it out to be. [Recently, a newspaper carried an advertisement with the slogan: GREED IS GOOD! Is it?]

Science and Technology are both advancing at break-neck speed. Everyone thinks this is a great boon and a wonderful thing to happen. All kinds of scenarios are conjured up to argue how more science would lead to a better life. Just look back over the past forty years and ask if this promise has been fulfilled. In the late sixties and seventies, of the twentieth century, forecasters said that thanks to technology, by 2000 A.D. people would have a lot of leisure - they would not have to work more than three or at the most four days in the week. Has that happened? On the contrary, people are working more and harder. The Internet was hailed as a great blessing. Many now complain that they are chained to the computer for over ten hours a day and seven days a week.

Excessive technology is NOT an unmitigated blessing as is made out to be. The case of medical science provides additional proof. Yes, thanks to advances in medical science, small pox has been eradicated, polio almost conquered, diabetes brought under control, and so on. Many wonder-drugs have been created that have saved millions of lives. All this is true. But today, things are beginning to change. Research has become more and more expensive. Great advances are no doubt made but medical treatment is also becoming astronomically expensive. The result is that fewer and fewer people can afford the marvels that medical science now produces. Is this a good thing? In the name of profit and returns to their share-holders drug companies concentrate on drugs that the rich can afford and not on vaccines that can save millions of lives in the poor countries. Some even go to the extent of saying, "Let all those people die. That is Nature's way of taking care of over population." Is this the right way to look at things?

It is not as if the rich have it good. They may pay more money and get the latest in treatment but it is not necessarily a soothing experience. Since manpower has become expensive, researchers are developing robots that would do the job of nurses. These robots would record the temperature, check the BP, give medicines, give drips, etc. For the hospital management, such robots would be a great boon. They can dispense with human nurses. These robots would work all the three shifts and not demand salary, pay hikes etc. But what about the patient? Will the robot speak kindly or would they programme the machine to 'speak' kind words? Nursing started with Florence Nightingale who has been immortalised in poem. She stood for human kindness and compassion. Service and kindness have always been the hallmark of the nursing profession. Are we to take it that replacement of human nurses by robots is really progress?

Greed is the driving force behind many of so-called modern advances and 'improvements'. God made the cow a vegetarian. The cow was supposed to provide man with milk. Man decided that the cow was good food for him and began to kill it and eat it. To improve the fat content, he began to feed meat to the cow. And one fine day, he ended up with the mad-cow disease.

Then, there is the whole world of genetic engineering and cloning that makes one shudder. A person asked a scientist: "You take a cell from me and clone another person just like me. Who is this person? Is he my brother, my son, or myself?" No one has an answer to this question.

There can always be too much of 'good'. Excessive material progress can hamper and not aid. The standard of living might have improved but the QUALITY OF LIFE has definitely deteriorated in the so-called advanced countries. Stress has become a big killer. Families are getting shattered. In fact, families are disappearing. There is no need to go into this horrifying phenomenon; everyone knows what is happening.

Man has now begun to play God, instead of trying to rise to the level of God. The story of Prahalada that Swami often narrates epitomises the point. The father Hiranyakashipu was the prototype of the modern scientist. He rejected God and regarded himself as supreme. The son Prahalada did not agree with this view and surrendered to God. In the end, the father perished while the Lord redeemed the son.

We must learn from this tale. God has come here to help us. He very much wants to. But He cannot, unless we allow Him to! This implies that we must surrender to Him

We must firmly reject some modern shibboleths such as:
  • More Science and more Technology can only do good.
  • Nature is there meant to be exploited by us.
  • The sky is the limit for desires.
  • There are only rights and no responsibilities.
  • Ethics and morality are merely a matter of convenience.
  • Selfishness is a bad word invented to decry freedom and self-centred approach to life.
No, God did not create this world for us to exploit. He provided us with innumerable bounties so that we could be happy and spend our time contemplating on Him. God wants us to give and not grab. Giving selflessly is Divine, and the more we do so, the closer we come to God.

Everyone admires Mother Teresa, who became a legend in her own time. There is a nice story about her that goes as follows: Once, an American tourist came to Calcutta and saw Mother rescuing a dying man from the gutter in order to comfort him in the last moments. The tourist was aghast and said, "Gee, I would not do that for even a million dollars." Mother Teresa smiled and said, "I wouldn't either. In fact, I would not do it even for two million dollars." The American was puzzled and replied, "But, but, you are doing it now!" "Ah", said the Mother, "This I am doing for God!"

That, in a nutshell, describes how to live in harmony with the 'basic triangle' of Creation. Today everybody complains about cruelty, corruption, etc. People want politicians and businessmen to speak the truth. How would anyone speak the truth, if Sathya, Dharma, etc., are banished from schools? How can people be moral, if they do not have the faintest idea about what morality is in the first place? Is it meaningful to expect such a thing?

Man has introduced a tremendous imbalance in God's scheme of things. How can we restore the balance? This is the question that must concern every individual on this planet. All of us have to pause and ponder.


Volume 01: PDS / 03 Date : OCT 01 2003