3 - Issue 9
WHAT IS PROGRESS?
This is an article from one of our readers, Dr. P. Vijayaraghavan, M.D. who is working as Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Madras Medical College & Govt. General Hospital , Chennai.
Know That, knowing which, you will know everything that is to be known
The above saying from the Upanishads, represents the acme of human thought. It implies that when one becomes aware of a higher perspective, one comes to know of things encompassed by that higher perspective (the highest perspective being that of Universal Consciousness or ‘God’).
Thus, we find that at the social level, material progress as evidenced by the modern development of cities is frequently regarded as a sign of progress. Consequently ‘growth’ is considered to be the increase in material possessions and poverty is regarded as lacking in material needs. These are superficial interpretations, which have been perpetuated and have come to be accepted, by and large.
However these assertions do not stand close scrutiny. Progress and growth have no meaning if the human being is unable to enjoy them. Good physical and spiritual health form the basic requirements for material possessions to have a meaning. Material progress is hollow inside, if people are lacking in inner peace. Today we find that whatever inner bliss people may be having is being constantly eroded by the materialistic socio-political environment, which is at conflict with the core requirement of inner well-being. Such a hollow progress is fragile and always at the risk of collapse. As Baba tells us,
(Divine Discourse on 12-5-84 )
True progress can be considered as strengthening our inner peace and contentment. If this is recognized and preserved then superficial material possessions will be added on to it as and when required. This is the law of nature. Whether this law becomes operational depends on one’s preference at the individual level and the political process at the state level.
For true progress of the state or the nation, we need a political structure that is in tune with this law of nature. This is possible when the individual’s heart, the abode of bliss, is made the touchstone for all political processes. It is a question of society recognizing and reposing faith in this law of nature that will provide prosperity based on inner peace.
Once progress is viewed from this perspective, it throws light on the present distressing global phenomenon of terrorism and suicide bombers. Those who indulge in such inhuman acts are empty of ‘inner bliss’ and instead they are filled with negative feelings. It would be wise to try and find why they have come to reach such a state of ‘lovelessness’, and try to correct the conditions that have led them to such a state. Simply trying to counter terrorism without addressing the basic cause would be shortsighted and counter-productive. True progress would take into account the grievances of people whoever and wherever they are.
One Arrow, Two Birds
In his book My Baba and I, Mr. Hislop refers to a conversation he had with Swami. Mr. Hislop asks Swami how to reconcile the fact that material needs are unavoidable in this world, though spiritual fulfillment appears to be the desirable objective of life. In His beautiful reply, Swami explains it as follows:
Dwell on the Inner Bliss
The above explanation forms the core of this article. All we need to do is to constantly dwell on the Lord or the ‘Inner Bliss’ - the manifestation of God who is within each one of us. The Lord then takes care of the individual’s needs, as Lord Krishna says to Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita. Accepting this word of God implies faith in the Divine Plan and that whatever happens, being under the purview of God, is ultimately for our own good.
We are blessed to have realized that Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba is the Lord Himself in our midst. His teachings simplify our understanding of complex problems. His instruction to ‘Bend the body, Mend the senses and End the mind’ guides our Sadhana. When we ‘end our mind’ by taking refuge in Swami, it is He who will inspire our life – taking care of today’s needs and even our thoughts, words and deeds. To attain this goal He prescribes Chintana (constant contemplation of God), Namasmarana (constant repetition of God’s name) and exhorts us to ‘Be Good, See Good and Do Good’. This purifies our minds day by day and keeps us focused on our goal.
What is found to be true on the individual level can also be true for society as a whole. If human society is able to stay focused on the ‘Inner Bliss’, or feeling of well-being, within each one of us, then society’s material needs should be taken care of by the all-pervasive God. This is possible by utilising the Conscience (which is a manifestation of God) in the structures of society such as politics, health care and education. Swami has said that we should constantly endeavour to find solutions to the problems of the society, especially of the poor and the needy and He urges us to utilize our energies towards this end.
ABC of Life - Always Be Careful.
Speak the Truth; avoid speaking truth that is unpleasant.
Follow the Master, Face the devil, Fight till the end and Finish the game.
are some of His words which have guided the author. Swami inspires us by His untiring Work, instills wisdom by His illuminating speeches, teaches us by His exemplary conduct and soothes us by His Compassion and Love. If we put into practise even a fraction of His life, which is His message, then our lives would be redeemed and fulfilled.
(It is the author’s view that human society can stay focused on the ‘inner bliss’ through the mechanism of Partyless Democracy based on the individual’s conscience, which is elaborated in his ‘Musings on Partyless Democracy’ available at http://partylessdemocracy.rediffblogs.com/)
Vol 3 Issue 9 - September 2005
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