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VEDANTA KESARISpirituality and Ethics | Swami Jitatmananda  

 

 

 

 

               Dialogue among civilizations - Quest for New Perspectives


 

               Spirituality and Ethics


 

               Swami Jitatmananda

 


     [The text of the speech delivered by Swami Jitatrnananda at the International Ministerial Conference on "Dialogue Among Civilizations - Quest for New Perspectives", organized by UNESCO and Government of India on July 9-10, 2003, at Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi. The speech was delivered in the session on "Spirituality and Ethics". A former Editor of Prabuddha Bharata, Swami Jitatmananda is presently the Head of Ramakrishna Ashram, Rajkot, Gujarat. He has authored several books which include Modern Physics and Vedanta, Indian Ethos for Modem Management, Swami Vivekananda: Prophei and Pathfinder etc.]

 

     Chairperson, distinguished Cochairs, Dr. Kirit Joshi, and my brothers and sisters from different countries of the world. We are here in this hall from different parts of the world to discuss Spirituality and Ethics as essential dimensions of civilization and to find out new perspectives for our civilization out of these two.

 

     Our world civilization is a huge orchestral harmony where every single tune either from violin, violin-cello, oboe, flute, organ, piano, and all other instruments has contributed to create the mighty harmony of this global civilization. Every tune is important and indispensable.

 

     French love for aesthetics, Russian humanism, English Love of human dignity and valour, America's spirit of human freedom, Japanese spirit of nationalism, Chinese spirit of pragmatic wisdom and India's spirituality - all these and many many more civilizations have contributed to this grand harmony of our world civilization. And this has been enriched by Islamic brotherhood, Christian charity, Buddhist Love for peace in Nirvana, African dynamism and excellence in the field of sports and music and finally modern scientific explorations that have revolutionized our world views.


     What is the meaning of the word Spirituality? Spirit means non-physical. Anything physical in this universe is limited. Even the vast Cosmos with a hundred thousand galaxies spread over a superspace of 26 dimensions, according to John. A. Wheeler, is a finite reality. Its radius, according to Einstein's calculation is 1Q32 light-years. Anything non-physical is, therefore, infinite.

 

     In the Gospel according to St. John (4:24) Jesus says, "I am the Spirit, and he that worshippeth me as spirit worshippeth me in truth." The physical Christ died on the Golgotha, the mount of skulls, at the age of 33. The non-physical Christ, spans two millennia, and is alive in the heart of one-third of the world population.

 

     Nearly five thousand years ago, the seers or Rishis of India intuitively discovered this truth. Inside the finite lurks the infinite. This universe had, in all probability, sprung from an infinitely small black-hole, may be with a diameter of 10 - 32 cm. How many universes lurk within the body of our children whose bodies contain billions and billions of molecules, atoms and subatomic particles?

 

     Upanishads described that in the finite physical body of man is hidden infinite power, infinite excellence, infinite and therefore deathless life, infinite Knowledge and bliss. We call it Sat-Chit-Ananda. Today Science admits this. Particle Physics and Quantum physics have come, according to Nobel physicist E. Schrodinger and others, to the conclusion that the infinite is contained in the finite, the universal in the individual, which Indians expressed as Atman (the individual soul) = Brahman (the universal soul). The entire Indian culture was devoted to the art and science of manifesting the Infinite inside the finite, the non-physical spirit inside the physical body and this is called the science of spirituality.

 

     Dear brothers and sisters, please remember that this fundamental thought of man as spirit is at the foundation of all major religions. "The Kingdom of God is within you", says the Bible. In Koran (18:50) we find Allah asked all the angels to bow down at the feet of Adam, the first man. All angels bowed except one. Allah cursed this disobedient angel and he was known as Satan or fiery devil (Jin Shaytan).

 

     What is the message of this Koranic verse? A Satan is he who fails to offer a Super-angelic respect to man. Sufi Islam says "Anal Haque" (I am the Truth). Man is the greatest of all living beings, according to Indian philosophy. Because man, by the science and practice of spirituality, can manifest the divinity within.

 

     Brothers and sisters, here comes a paramount question. What is civilization? The Vedic culture had declared that to realize or manifest the Infinite divinity within is the goal of life. What is civilization? Swami Vivekananda, the greatest exponent of India's Vedanta philosophy in modern times declared at Harvard University that civilization is the manifestation of divinity in man.

 

     The foundation of civilization is something deeper than mere material excellence and consumeristic bliss. The Greeks, and the Romans inspite of external excellence faded as civilizations. If you think, brothers and sisters, that civilization is consumerism, I am afraid you are mistaken. Sweden, the richest country of the world has the largest number of suicides. I was in Hollywood on 18th January 2000 and the Los Angels Times (18.1.2000) declared in the cover page that twenty one percent of American younger generation is mad. Do we want such a civilization? Brothers, when we will declare materialistic consumerism as the goal of civilization, we must also write in brackets that we are inviting early death of our children.

 

     Friends, after the 11th Sept. 2001 attack on World Trade Centre, history has changed for ever. Everyone has realized the tremendous destructive power of even the best of men under the spell of fundamentalist hatred. I admire those five youths who led this attack. They read Koran throughout the night, they fasted and prayed to Allah and then went to please Allah by destroying non-believers. They were assured of a heaven which, of course, is non-verifiable.

 

     A friend told me that Christ taught them to bring peace by offering the left cheek when the right cheek is struck. I only answered him that the followers of Christ should then have offered two more towers in U.S.A to Osama Bin Laden, to be destroyed by him. Did they do so? No. At a distance of some 8000 miles, U.S.A. powdered Afganisthan. Why did it happen? Christ would have forgiven his enemy. Buddha would have forgiven. You would also have probably forgiven; probably a simple common man like an auto driver, too, would have forgiven. But, and there is a but, history does not forgive. There is a thing called "Vengeance of history". Friends, let us not go to Fundamentalism, otherwise, we will invite the vengeance of history.

 

     Mr. Chairman, Fundamentalism is based on a wrong understanding of Reality and probably a fatal ignorance of a basic Truth of religions. Mr. Chairman, this little distance between your chair and my podium-stand, an electron can cover by an infinite number of ways. It is known today as the Multiple History Theory, first discovered by Nobel-Physicist Richard Fynmann. If this short distance may be covered in an infinite number of ways, what about God? God is infinite and there must be infinite ways to reach the infinite Godhead. Mr. Chairman, there must be infinite ways to allow human beings to reach God.

 

     Indians realized some five thousand years ago - Truth is One, sages call it by various names. (Ekam sat viprah bahudha vadanti). Mr. Chairman, this truth is the very basis of India's traditional acceptance of the Plurality of Religions. But, it is Sri Ramakrishna, the spiritual teacher of modern Hinduism, who first put it in practice in a historic way. Being a Hindu he practised Sufi Islam and Christianity, especially the idea of Christ on the lap of Madonna. And following him, for the last hundred years, we have been celebrating Christmas, observing Buddha-Mahavir-Guru Nanak's birthdays, reading Koran and singing Sufi songs in our typically Hindu temples.

 

     Brothers and sisters, this is a new perspective, which India can offer to the world civilization. Today we not only tolerate, but accept other religions. We not only accept, but celebrate your religions in our temples. This is a new, much needed perspective that today's global civilization needs.

 

     The question of ethics has come. What is ethics? Ethics is the feelings, emotions and values based on the unity of souls. Why should I show compassion, love, respect to you? Because you and I are fundamentally interconnected. Ask a just new born baby's mother to carry one kg of weight. She cannot do that. Yet all the time she carries a three kg weight - her own baby. How is it possible? Because only a few days ago the baby was inside the mother. All the compassion, love and sacrifice of the mother for the baby comes from the fundamental unity of the mother and the baby.The basic unity of entire humanity is expressed repeatedly in our Vedanta literature. Sri Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita: "I have interpenetrated this whole universe like a thread connecting the pearls in a string".

 

     Mr. Chairman, this unity of existence is today verified by modern science. In Princeton, I asked the great physicist John A. Wheeler, what was the greatest discovery of science. And Prof. Wheeler said that confirmation of the fundamental unity of existence, through the experimental verification of Bell's theorem by Alain Aspect in France in 1986 and earlier by David Bohm in London in 1972 and Clauser and Freedman in U.S.A. in 1972, is the greatest discovery of science.

 

     Mr. Chairman, scientific truths are universal. They are applicable to ail - Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, all alike. No one can deny universal truths. If any one climbs the twentieth floor of a building and says, "I don't believe in the law of gravitation. I will walk on air outside the window" - what happens to him? Death. "Truth doesn't pay homage to any society, ancient or modern. Society has to pay homage to Truth or die", - said Swami Vivekananda, India's prophet for this civilization.

 

     The moment we violate this fundamental unity of all life, we violate ethics. Macbeth realized after murdering his sleeping guest Duncan, that he had murdered his own sleep forever and said: "Macbeth does murder sleep: "the innocent sleep" ... Macbeth shall sleep no more".

 

     So long ethics was the basis of civilization. Today this holistic ethics backed by the discovery of science, has become the connecting link between all civilizations.

 

     Mr. Chairman, today's earlier speaker, our friend from Senegal, Olabiyi Babalola J.Yai, who is heading the UNESCO Racism cell, wanted to know of some practical down-to-earth programmes, based on spirituality and science. For the last one hundred years Indians have taken a new programme based on practical spirituality. We are slowly turning our schools into temples where every student, irrespective of colour, religion, or nationality, is being treated as God or Goddess and teachers are worshipping them with knowledge. We have started developing our hospitals, where in a similar manner, the doctors are worshipping God as patients with medicines and surgery. Slowly this attitude of serving human beings as gods is entering today into many sectors of India's national life, including industry and administration. This is a new perspective, which India can offer to the global civilization.

 

     Brothers and sisters, by seeing all of you here, it seems to me that our own brothers and sisters have come back to see us after a long, long time. A deep sense of joy and fulfilment has filled our hearts by your coming to India for this conference. I offer my deepest respect and love to all of you.

 

 

     Prabuddha Bharata

     Vedanta Kesari

     Vedanta Mass Media





      

International Yoga Day 21 June 2015
International Yoga Day 21 June 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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