Beauty And The Beast
Loving Sai Ram and greetings from Prashanti Nilayam.
Sathya Sai Baba reminds us again and again that our true nature is Ananda or Bliss, but the sad fact is that in this wide world, wherever we turn, there is a lot of violence. Violence always causes pain, suffering agony and anguish. It is natural therefore to wonder why there is so much violence and conflict, if we all are the Sparks of the Divine and Embodiments of Love, as Swami invariably addresses us. That is the question we wish to explore this Sunday.
A wise man once said that the Mind has infinite capacity to trick itself. This is very true; the Mind of man is indeed enormously powerful. That should be no surprise because in the Gita, Krishna emphatically declares that among the senses, HE is the Mind, meaning that the Mind is packed with vast reserves of the Power of God. It is because of that Divine Power latent in the Mind that man has been able to accomplish so much, not only in art, music, and literature but in Science as well. In fact, it is in the areas of Science and Technology that the awesome power of the human Mind becomes most evident. All this means that man must undoubtedly be incredibly clever.
The question now arises: “If man is so very clever, how come he is not able to see the obvious?” The word obvious here refers to the dangers that Mind can create. This is precisely where the quote we offered becomes relevant, besides uncovering an immense tragedy. It all starts with the question as to what man thinks he is. This is not a trivial matter, which is why Swami often poses the question: “Who am I?” in His Discourses. Man has to constantly ask this question of himself, and look for the answer from inside. Broadly speaking, he can get two kinds of answers. Category 1 would be, “You are so and so, you are a terrific person because you achieved this and that,” and so on. This answer that man gets is from what might be called the lower-self or ego, as spiritual philosophers describe it. Basically, the ego is shorthand for a man who identifies himself with his body, his senses and his Mind. Such a man is all the time focussed on the external world, concerned about the success and fame he must achieve in the world, etc., etc. He is highly body-conscious. In other words, the lower-self is almost entirely preoccupied with the external world and the way the individual must respond to it.
We must mention that preoccupation with the external world need not always be in terms of achieving fame, wealth etc. For millions if not billions, it is sheer survival that is priority number one. There are millions without food, water, clothing and shelter, the primary needs of every human being, but which they do not have access to. Such people become worried, depressed and a good many of them even end up taking their lives.
One might at this point ask, and legitimately too: “Listen, it is God who created the world and it is God who put us there. It is also God who gave us the body, the senses and the Mind. And now you seem to imply that the body, the senses and the Mind form the ego, that they are dangerous, etc. There is something funny going on here and I am very confused. Can you be more clear about what you are trying to say?” A valid point and that is precisely what we wish to address today.
Let us get back to the category of answers that one would get, and consider what we would call Category 2. In response to the question “Who am I?”, the answer in Category 2 would be: “The human being is actually a composite of the body, the senses, the Mind and the Atma. This composite entity thinks it is the ego. This is a wrong choice or identification. The correct choice is for the human to say, ‘I identify myself with the Atma.’ So, the answer to the question who am I really is: ‘I AM THE ATMA.’ ”
So it all boils down to a matter of identification. The human can identify himself or herself with the ego/lower-self – that is choice one. Alternately, the human can identify herself/himself with the Atma/Higher-Self – that is choice number two. OK, there are these two choices for identification. What do they mean in practical terms? What has all this got to do with the enormous amount of violence that we see all around? That is the question we shall now turn to.
Trouble starts, sometimes in a big way, when a person identifies himself with the body. Such a person easily gets affected by the six deadly viruses lurking in the Mind – Lust/desire, anger, etc., which have been pointed out to us by Swami innumerable number of times. The senses then take over and get into the act and constantly take the person in the direction of worldly pleasures. The Mind gets corrupted, and soon the person is in the control of desires, jealousy, greed and so on. The Mind keeps on prompting: “Hey, you are born free. Why restrict yourself? Go out and have a ball!” When lust grips a person, there is trouble for sure. When greed and ambition rule a person, there is trouble for sure; and so on it goes. The problem is that the actions of an individual affect not only affect that person or those close to him but often also affect large segments of Society, if not the whole of it.
Take the case of a computer hacker, who creates a computer virus just “for kicks”. The virus may spread and affect millions of computers the world over. Thus, with Science and Technology in hand, the individual’s capacity to cause havoc on a large scale has now greatly increased. Let us now focus specifically on violence, physical violence that is. Here, one might perhaps distinguish two types: a) violence caused by the greed of some to make money, etc., and b) violence that is the result of poverty.
Let us start with the first category. We start with the gun. Everyone knows that guns kill people. Yet, there is a thriving gun industry that makes huge profits. It is simply not bothered that free availability of gun actively promotes a gun culture and thus violence. The gun industry is vigorously aided by lobbies that secures political patronage. And the movie industry aids the process for it does not bat an eyelid in the graphic portrayal of violence.
The most serious aspect of the gun industry is the huge export market it caters to. Take Africa for example. Everyone knows that there is widespread poverty in Africa , and that the continent has all kinds of problems , that need urgent solution. Yet, powerful commercial forces are busy marketing small arms, which in turn have promoted innumerable conflicts and even genocide. So Africa which ought to spend all the money it has for solving problems, ends up buying guns which add to the problem. The matter was taken up by a Committee of the UN. The Chairman of the Committee, an African, pleaded to the members from the rich countries: “Please for heaven’s sake, place an embargo on the sale of arms to Africa . These guns that you sell for profit are killing thousands and thousands of people.” His plea did not make any impact on the arms traders; all they were interested in was their market share.
That the arms industry can become excessively obsessed with sales and profits to the point of completely overlooking danger to humanity was foreseen by Gen. Eisenhower, when he retired as the President of USA. Now Eisenhower was the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during World War II. He was a much-decorated military officer. Yet, quite contrary to the hawks that military officers usually are, Eisenhower, in an address that he delivered when he stepped down from office, said that humanity had to protect itself from the dangers of the Military-Industrial Complex or MIC as it was referred to in those days. It was a most perceptive warning with far-reaching implications. Unfortunately, what Eisenhower feared is precisely what happened later, with many countries making small arms an important item of export.
The point we are making is that the free availability of guns and various types of arms in the global market has made an enormous contribution to the killing of hundreds of thousands, if not millions every year. And this sale is promoted by the greed of the arms merchants. This is not to say that the rich alone are responsible for all the killing. Far from it. Poverty produces its own “reasons” for people to resort to violence, sometimes in the extreme. In the slums and the ghettos of the world, it is the poor who kill the poor; and yet, the asymmetry of wealth distribution is an important contributing factor to slum violence.
We do not wish to imply that violence and cruelty are a recent phenomenon. Far from it; they have come to man from the time he evolved from lower species. However, technology, communications, and extreme asymmetry of income now prevalent have vastly enhanced the scale of violence. It is time now to return to the starting point and link it all up.
A human being is Divine at the core but is shaped at the level of the senses and the Mind by the environment around him. If, for example, the external environment says a girl child is bad news, then people in that society try to get rid of the girl child before birth or immediately after birth. This makes two things clear. The first is that violence really starts in the Mind. The second is that it really starts with individuals, just as cancer starts with individual cells that start malfunctioning. Thus it is that violence has always been present in human society to varying extent. Having said that, we must also acknowledge that in today’s circumstances, violence has galloped and become a most horrifying phenomenon, largely due to the social climate prevailing.
Have things gone beyond the point of no return? Is there no hope for a return to sanity? There is, provided we take level 2 of individual identification seriously. Suppose each one of us says, seriously that is: “I am not the body, I am not the Mind; I am a Spark of Sathya Sai Baba at the core. Therefore, my actions should be similar to that of Swami, at least in spirit though not may be in quantity.” Suppose we make this identification seriously and start living our lives in this manner. It is not difficult to see that it would make a sea change in our individual lives. Equally important, this change would also have an impact in the environment immediately surrounding us, like our family, like our work place, etc. In other words, when individuals change their identification, there is definitely a multiplier effect.
Today, the population of the world is six billion plus. Just imagine if a mere one million people identify themselves in this manner and lead lives that are only 10 % Selfless as Swami is. What a change that can bring about in our society immediately! That really is the point we are trying to make.
Himsa and Ahimsa [non-violence] start really in individual Minds. One Hitler, for example, could eventually cause the death of over 20 millions in World War II. The Mind becomes prone to violence when in the grip of the internal enemies. One might be immensely clever but when it comes to selfishness, greed, anger, desire etc., logic almost invariably fails. As Krishna told Arjuna,
Dwelling with the Mind on sense objects develops attachment; attachment leads to desire, and desire breeds anger.
From anger arises delusion; delusion promotes confusion of the Mind; confusion generates loss of reason; and finally, loss of reason leads to complete ruin.
So you see, a person may be very clever in the worldly sense, but if he lacks discrimination, then he can become blinded to reason, cause havoc, and himself rush to ruin.
So the bottom line is, humans have two fundamental choices: 1) To submit to the senses and the Mind and identify themselves accordingly. 2) To submit to the Atma and identify themselves accordingly. If they prefer the former identification, then they would become a prey to the beast, if not become the beast themselves. On the other hand, if they make the second choice, they would emerge as the Beauty instead of as the Beast.
It is thus entirely within our power to be the Beauty or the Beast. Long ago Plato talked of Truth, Goodness and Beauty. Those three words have also often been referred to by Swami, who uses the more ancient Sanskrit terms, Sathyam, Sivam, Sundaram. If we follow Sathya, we would transform into Sundaram or Beauty. If we follow Asathya and all its companions, then we are sure to become the Beast. If the world is full of beasts, then it becomes a jungle. If the world is full of Beautiful people, it becomes Heaven. It is not God who is going to make this world into Heaven. He merely gives the recipe. It is we who have to do that. And whether that happens or not depends on which of the two identification options we prefer to make.
Jai Sai Ram. H2H Team
Filed under: Ananda, Beauty And The Beast, Bliss, Divinity, India, Mind, Prashanti Nilayam, Puttaparthi, Search For God, Swami | Tagged: ahimsa, Atma, Beast, Beauty, Dharma, Free, Free Will, Freedom, God, Prema, Sai Baba, Sathya, sathya sai baba, Shanti, Violence |