Spirituality The Key to the Resolution of the Problems of Our Age

Jan - Feb 2003

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The modern human society is engulfed by challenging problems such as pollution, environmental imbalances, unethical practices, religious intolerance, terrorism, etc. on the social and global fronts and stress, fear, job uncertainty, etc. on the personal front. Even birds, animals and other living species have suffered due to selfish human activities; deforestation and the dumping of the industrial waste into rivers for instance have had detrimental effects on the food chain and the habitat conditions of several species, generating fear of extinction of some of them. The idea that changes need to be made in order to solve problems is widely accepted across the globe. It is also recognised that it is our duty to ensure a bright and better future for the coming generations. How can these two requirements be met? What approach should we take? Several suggestions have been put forward.

For example, a group of intellectuals has been saying for a long time that financial hardships give rise to all problems. If the economic condition improves, prosperity will increase and then no one will remain backward nor will anyone have to adopt dishonesty or theft as a means of earning money. Thinkers of this group do not lay as much stress on increasing the production or savings on expenditure as they do on equal distribution. They argue that if money is taken from the haves and distributed amongst the have-nots, the financial condition of the masses will improve. As a result, solutions to moral and other problems will also be found. The people of this group identify themselves as communists.

A second group considers the lack of education to be the cause of backwardness. This group believes that the solution to all the national and international problems, including that of morality, can be found in improving the educational level of the masses. A third group says that the government has enormous power in its hands for halting the activities of criminal elements; at the same time it can use national resources for opening the doors of progress and prosperity.

A fourth group considers the exclusiveness of communities or nations as the cause of mutual conflict. They think that in order to unite everyone, we must put an end to all differences, so that a single world-nation, world-religion, world-family could be created, that can automatically lead to peace and prosperity. A fifth group, comprising of scientists, has a solid faith in science to solve all the problems of the world. However, scientific knowledge is relative and thus incomplete; it does not have definite answers to many basic questions pertaining to human life, such as the mystery of life and death.

1.  In fact, most of the time, problems are created due to the errors, wickedness or immoral behaviour of people. Sometimes circumstances too generate hardships. Wise persons try to find solutions to such problems with the help of existing resources. Efforts are made to compensate the damage and curtail the corrupt practices but a long-term solution is not found. Problems continue to arise from time to time. Circumstances are never created in which an individual is given protection and the society is seen in an orderly state, although such circumstances are hoped for and anticipated. Peace therefore remains only a pleasant illusory dream.

The above approaches for finding solutions to problems are only partially correct. Even if all the suggestions are implemented, it can solve the problems faced by the human race to a limited extent, because they suggest the eradication of symptoms that apparently seem to be the causes of many hardships and disturbances. It is akin to using allopathic medicine to suppress the symptoms of a disease. For a permanent cure of any disease, the root cause has to be diagnosed and then targeted. The universal governing power of a human being is "consciousness."

2. It gives birth to beliefs, faith and desires. These impulses form the personality of an individual. It is the faith that generates desires. Thoughts play an indispensable role in fulfilling desires. A person will first have a thought to fulfill a desire and then he will perform the necessary action. Since the performance of a task is visible to our eyes while thoughts are not, we base our judgment of whether the task is good or bad and deserves praise or blame on false appearances. From the materialistic point of view, only this is possible and in fact it is appropriate too. However the fact remains that it is thoughts that lead to actions and so they deserve praise or blame in the real sense. Thoughts possess the power to mould the personality and give it a direction towards progress or failure. A person is what he thinks. Thoughts are extremely powerful. They inspire a person to take decisions regarding what is to be done and what is not to be done. This decision-making capability lies with the brain. Motivations are generated in the brain. The organs of the body simply obey them like faithful servants. Therefore, it is the brain that is responsible for good or bad deeds.

Problems and hardships do not come out of the blue. They are created by the activities of people. In order to overcome adverse circumstances, undesirable activities must be closely examined and shunned, but such an examination is not possible merely by imposing physical restrictions. If the mind is not happy with the method of keeping a sharp eye on undesirable actions, some other means will have to be found to carry them out because a person normally invents ways to bypass barriers.

Laws have been made to deal with every unlawful activity and there exists a system of police, courts and jail to punish the criminals. In order to investigate crimes, government inspectors and detectives operate round the clock and incur heavy expenditure in the process. In spite of all this, crimes are still committed. Many criminals are not caught. Of the criminals that are booked, several walk away free by unfair means. Only a few get really punished for their crimes. Also, after getting the punishment, they become more hard lined criminals. Once inside the jail, they get trained by other inmates. When they come out after completing their term, they become masters of other "jobs" instead of reforming their ways.

The intention here is neither to say that the police and jail are redundant nor to make a mockery of the judicial system.The only thing that is being conveyed is that enforcement is not sufficient for eradicating or stopping the disturbance caused by innumerable problems in this world, which are created primarily due to evil tendencies. In fact, thoughts of people should be refined. Their viewpoints should be modified so that they can visualise directly the benefits of moral conduct. A person must realise that his dignity and good lie in following the righteous path. If he can visualize correctly the ill consequences of adopting evil tendencies, then his decision will support morality. Thus, it is by one's own will that one can get rid of evil instincts and habits.

On the contrary, if one fancies evilness, the root of evil will remain strong and attempts to improve oneself will fail. More efforts should be made to refine the level and flow of thoughts and emotions than the efforts made to prevent the evil tendencies by putting restrictions and inspections. If that could be done, then every person will become his own guard, inspector, magistrate, jailer, etc. He will become his own guide, preceptor and teacher and instead of needing a guard, he can serve as a guard to others. If it becomes possible to refine one's level of thoughts and make one's point of view noble, then certainly, civility and gentleness will be reflected in his activities. In that state, his character will be idealistic, one that augments human dignity, and also praiseworthy and worth following. A person whose thinking is exalted can never indulge in base activities. He will never step forward in a direction leading to his downfall. Therefore, in comparison to augmenting the physical facilities, it is preferable to make the mind cultured and moral.

There is one more notable fact  the brain too is not independent in itself. The mind rules the body and the consciousness makes the mind dance like a puppet. The field of consciousness encompasses emotions, beliefs, faith and desires. Thoughts can be changed easily with the help of arguments, facts, evidence and examples, and also be changed under the pressure of fear or greed. But consciousness is different. Its roots are very deep. If a person's inner faith does not conform to morality and his conduct is not good, then externally he may act as a religious preceptor but internally he will remain a total atheist and secretly he will fulfill his immoral desires. Under such circumstances, the brain will also fully cooperate with him. On the contrary, people endowed with moral convictions and saintly attitude will exemplify integrity of character and deeds and inspire many others towards higher values of humanity.

The method of refining the inner consciousness is called yoga and the devout endeavour that can accomplish this transformation to the higher state is called tapa. One may call yoga "principle" and tapa "conduct". Together they form the science of spirituality. In other worlds, spirituality is the science of refining and uplifting the inner self to the level of divine self.

Considering the fact that the other constructive approaches (including political, economical, scientific, psychological) have not been successful because they have been focused only on the materialistic domain of life, it seems imperative that the mentality and character of the people also needs to be improved to achieve viable solutions to the all round crises faced by the world today. Therefore scientific spirituality along with the ongoing efforts in various fields is the key to lasting solutions of our problems. It is with its help hat the objective of a bright future and the beginning of a golden era can be accomplished.

 Notes:

1. Refer to the article "Is Unravelling of the Mystery of Life and Death Possible Through Science?", this issue.

2. Also refer to articles "The Philosophy of Gayatri: An Introduction" and "Scientific Spirituality: The Religion of Future" for an explanation on "consciousness" in this issue.

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