Recently, I was present at a panel discussion on why is it difficult for individuals to implement directions of their own conscience. Honestly, its not like loads of fun for my brain to process profound arguments, but Myoclonus of the brain is a normal medical condition, i hope. Anyway, Mr. Gunit Chadha, (CEO Deutsche bank, Asia-Pacific) made a very interesting observation on what is it that brought about worldwide respect in different era’s over the last 1000 years. It was the military might and the size of the kingdom in the era of Akbar and Alexander. It changed during the Renaissance when all respect was for arts and music with the greats of Van Gogh, Mozart, Beethoven, Picasso, Da Vinci and the likes. What is it that gets respect today? nuclear power? Stock markets rulers? Political power? Top 10 wealthy? What does world community really respect in present times? What do these words/names have in common – Edison, Einstein, Steve Jobs, Tesla, Gates, facebook etc – Innovation/idea? On the other hand there have been strong modern ideological influences as Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Sri Sathya Sai Baba – the proponents and practitioners of spirituality, values and social service in innovative forms tailored made to modern thought-set.
It seems logical to say that Innovation (ingenuity of the mind) and Social service (purity of the heart) drive respect today. Ultimately, no matter what the time period, it is this pursuit of respect that drives human race …makes sense.
I was pondering over the origins and meaning of this quality of Service.
There are people in this world who possess everything, well almost – material, wealth, power, status …seemingly lack nothing. Then, There are a totally an opposing set of people who possess nothing. Almost. No material, no riches, no physical or intellectual property, no recognized status …they seem to have nothing tangible.
Yet, ever wondered what do these people with ‘almost’ everything bend before?
King Alexander before Aristotle
The British Empire before the Mahatma
The millionaires before the spiritual leaders
The list can go on… but you get the point.
The ones with apparently nothing are free and fearless. The ones with apparently everything have all of that ‘everything‘ at stake all the time. It is this fear that distinguishes one from the other and it is this perturbation that makes the latter bend. It makes me wonder; what’s the identity of such incorporeal power?
Thousands of saints and sages residing in the Himalayas are living off national resources without contribution to the ‘GDP’, economic development. This is what ignorance would say. But who has seen the scent of a rose? These timeless people with absolute no possessions or wants have always been a testament to society that it is possible to live in complete harmony with nature, enriching it, rather than destroying it. Hukka and Chilam may not be their only reason for existence (barring a few). They are the sublime strength of this country. Their very existence reminds us of the ridiculous importance we attach to the material that we pursue all our life. I am not advocating for everyone to smear ash and give up Karma. There are as many paths as the pilgrims, but in due course of this pilgrimage i think it is how we treat karma that matters immensely.
Many commentators of the Geeta have interpreted that the giving up of the fruits of one’s actions is advised because one has no right or authority to desire the fruits. Bhagawan Baba clarifies, “This is wrong. When one has the right to engage in action, one also has the right over the fruits of that action; But the doer can, out of one’s own free will and determination, refuse to be affected by the result, whether favorable or unfavorable. Geeta doesn’t say na phaleshu (no right over the fruits of action)“. It says, maa phaleshu ‘refuse the fruit’, which means, the deed does yields results, but the doer should not do it with the results in view. Being unattached to the fruit is the sign of purity.” Renunciation is possible without giving up karma.
They are the ones with nothing. Almost. They use the power of renunciation as an incubation chamber to nurture this quality of selfless service and it forms a viable channel to engage in karma while still being renunciate …a design that definitely commands respect today.
‘Renunciation is not giving up, rather, it is the very means to power’, said Chanakya some 2300 years ago.
some interesting links…
Typical American style survey’s but the implications are interesting – http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/michael_norton_how_to_buy_happiness.html
Interesting graduation speech to the University of Pennsylvania students – http://www.dailygood.org/view.php?sid=236