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By Dr. Deepak Chopra, MD
(Courtesy of Dr. Deepak Chopra and Intentblog.com)
"Resisting the ego's stuff verifies its power and fear. What a monumental Catch-22!" This echoes a dilemma that persists in people who wrestle with inner change, only to find that their underlying fear and conflict changes very little, if at all.
The basic question is how to escape the paradox that resisting fear (or evil or neurosis) only makes it stronger, while giving in results in the same thing. This situation of "damned if you do, damned if you don't" has led generations of people to desperation over their inner lives.
Some have believed that they could cut through the paradox by intense faith or devotion to God. At the opposite extreme is an existential acceptance of hopelessness as a necessary kind of courage. But most of us aren't capable of leading either the life of St. Francis or Sartre.
The paradox can be overcome with careful self-observation. What does it feel like to give in to a compulsion? Let's say that the desire in question is one you have fought all your life. It could be a habitual craving for food or sex, a tendency to be hypercritical and perfectionist, a seething sense of resentment, chronic loneliness--really, anything the mind can devise to plague us.
If one looks closely, what these impulses have in common is that they deprive us of choice. They are built-in habits that have worn a groove in the psyche. When we aren't under their influence, they seem not even to be part of our real selves. So how can choice are restored? That is the real question, not whether to give in or resist. Normally, our first reaction is to say to ourselves, "Uh oh, here is that impulse again, which I hate. Am I going to give in again or resist this time?" But by the time a compulsive thought has arisen, the moment of choice is past.
The power to choose can only be restored when you aren't under the sway of cravings and compulsions, neuroses and dark fears. In a reflective state one asks, "How can I get my choices back?" The classic answer was stated most simply by the poet Rumi: "Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it."
This would include love of the self, because all habits, addictions, and compulsions are united by judgment against the self. A person is saying, "I cannot behave as I really want to because I don't deserve fulfillment." Addictions and habits are surrogates. They give second-hand fulfillment when a person despairs of finding it first hand.
One must discover a way to return to the self that is worthy of fulfillment, but the barriers raised against it consist of many things: negative beliefs, memories of unloving situations, judgments imposed from within and without, emotional traumas, misguided identification with evil and wrongdoing., etc
I would be love to hear personal stories of how anyone has been successful in reclaiming their sense of choice. To me, this is an abiding challenge that faces us all.
By His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
The big ‘C’ of corruption can be countered by five more ‘C’s! The first, I would say, is the sense of ‘Connectedness’. A lack of connectedness or sense of belongingness breeds corruption in society. That is why, often, you see people looking for connections, in order to avoid corruption! A sense of belongingness among people, among the community, can root out corruption. That is why corruption is lowest at the village level; but when it comes to urban areas, cities, it’s much more because there is no community sense there — no belongingness.
The second ‘C’ is ‘Courage’. A lack of self-esteem or confidence in one’s own ability is one of the causes of corruption. It is fear, or insecurity in a person that makes one become more corrupt. He then tries to find his security only through money, which doesn’t really happen.
The more money he acquires, the insecurity doesn’t disappear. In fact, he becomes more afraid and more fearful because the money is not earned in a right manner. So the second ‘C’ that we will have to focus on is to create that courage in a person — courage and confidence in one’s ability and in the laws of nature.
Third is an understanding of ‘Cosmology’ — looking at one’s own life in the context of extended space and time. Just take a look at our own life. How long is it? Only 80-100 years! See life in the context of the huge dimension of time. Billions of years have passed since the creation. Our creation, as scientists say, is 50 billion years old. And everything in this creation is recycled. The air we breathe is old, every cell in our body, every atom is old, the oxygen and hydrogen is old!
And this will continue. Seeing life from a different perspective of space and time is what will deepen one’s vision about one’s life. Being corrupt, one amasses a lot of money and puts it in the bank. One can’t spend all that money and then one dies. One’s children inherit the property and then they fight over the inheritance! Seeing life in the context of this huge universe and unfathomable time can broaden one’s vision, can broaden one’s mind and can enrich one’s heart.
The fourth ‘C’, I would say, is ‘Care’ and ‘Compassion’. Care and compassion in society can bring dedication. It is the lack of dedication that causes corruption. The Kumbha Mela in India was attended by a total of 30 million people — nearly 3 million people each day, and there was not a single incidence of violence, theft or robbery!
One night, we were distributing blankets to the poor as it was very cold and I came across a youth, who refused to take a blanket, saying that probably someone else there needed it more! That sense of care and compassion: ‘It doesn’t matter even if I don’t have, somebody needs this more. We have to care for them’. That care and compassion can root out corruption.
The last one I would like to emphasise is a sense of ‘Commitment’ — commitment to contribution. When a person has a goal, a commitment to a higher cause in life, it brings a shift from gaining to giving. In society, if everyone keeps thinking, ‘What can I gain?’ rather than ‘What can I contribute?’ or ‘How can I be useful to the people around me?’, then corruption cannot be rooted out. In society, we need to have this shift in our attitude, from ‘What can I gain?’ to ‘What can I contribute?’
But all this cannot be possible without individual upliftment. Spiritual upliftment. A sense of belongingness with the whole world. Today the globe has become a village. We have globalised everything other than wisdom. And that is one of the causes of terrorism and unrest in the world today. We accept food from every part of the world, we accept music from every part of the world, but when it comes to wisdom, people seem to shy away.
If every child in the world learns a little bit about all cultures, a little bit about all values, the whole scenario will be different. Then one will not think, ‘Only I will go to heaven. Everyone else will go to hell’. This wrong education or lack of education has caused so many problems in the world. A sense of belongingness with the whole world — it doesn’t matter what colour or race you are — is that shared value that we are talking about today.
Even if one pocket in the world remains ignorant of these shared values, common values, the world will not be a safe place. So we need to address these issues with a lot of patience. It is not a job that we can do overnight, but through education and creating that sense of community, through inspiration and example.
Make a subtle distinction between spirituality and religion. Religion is like the banana skin and spirituality is the banana. Spirituality or the common values are the same, in every religion. The differences are only on the surface. and they are good! It’s good to have differences. Nurture the differences and at the same time enliven spiritual values. Then we all get together and make a change. Make a better society.
His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is a spiritual teacher and the founder of the Art of Living Foundation, an international nonprofit educational, humanitarian and service organization with centers in over 140 countries. The Art of Living Foundation is dedicated to serving society by strengthening the individual through programs that eliminate stress, restore human values, and encourage people from all religions and cultural traditions to come together in celebration and service. His Holiness is visiting Atlanta from May 24 – 26, 2005 and giving a public talk at King International Chapel at Morehouse College on May 24th at 7:30 PM. Please visit http://events.artofliving.org for more details.
The ART Excel program (All Round Training for Excellence) for children and teens between the ages of 8-18 is now being offered in Atlanta through the Art of Living Foundation. ART Excel (All Round Training in Excellence) is a dynamic program for youth that enables them to eliminate stress, handle emotions, deal with peer pressure, and develop leadership skills. Youth are provided techniques that increase mental focus and facilitate the learning process. The ART Excel curriculum nurtures human values and embraces all cultures, religions, ethnic and racial backgrounds. Kids have fun, as they become creative and responsible leaders of tomorrow.
For further information, please call 770.218.3135 or Email Atlanta@artofliving.org or visit http:/www.artofliving.org/atlanta
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