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.
PART II - THE BASIC COSMIC STRUCTURE AND THE IMBALANCE
PRODUCED BY MAN
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
All three are important.
- God is the Creator. He created Nature, and
- There are three links - between God and man,
between God and Nature, and
- between man and Nature / Society.
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.
- 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.
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?]
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
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.
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:
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.
- 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.
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.