Current General Studies Magazine: "Religious Values & Human Society" October 2014

Current General Studies Magazine (October 2014)

General Studies - IV (Religious Values & Human Society)

In one way, in material terms, the present generation has reached a high level of development. Yet at the same time, we human beings are facing many problems. Some are due to external events or causes, such as natural disasters. These we cannot avoid.

However, many problems are created by our own mental defects; we suffer due to an internal lacking. We call these problems unnecessary ones, if we adopt a right mental attitude, these man-made problems need not arise.

The basic principle is compassion, love for others. Underlying all is the valid feeling of T, and on a conventional level, there is an I- “I want this,” “I do not want that.” We experience this feeling naturally, and naturally we want happiness- “I want happiness,” “I do not want suffering.” Not only is it natural, it is right. It needs no further justification; it is a natural feeling validated simply by the fact that we naturally and correctly want happiness and do not want suffering.

Based on this feeling, we have the right to obtain happiness and the right to get rid of suffering. Further, just as I myself have this feeling and this right, so others equally have the same feeling and the same right. The difference is that when you say T. you are speaking of just one single person, one soul. Others are limitless. Thus, one should visualize the following: On one side imagine your own 1 which so far has just concentrated on selfish aims. On the other side imagine others - limitless, infinite beings. You yourself are a third person, in the middle, looking at those on either side. As far as the feeling of wanting happiness and not wanting suffering, the two sides are equal, absolutely the same. Also with regard to the right to obtain happiness they are exactly the same. However, no matter how important the selfishly motivated person is, he or she is only one single person; no matter how poor the others are, they are limitless, infinite. The unbiased third person naturally can see that the many are more important than the one. Through this, we can experience, can feel, that the majoriry-the other limitless beings-are more important than the single person ‘I’, If I am used for these infinite beings, it is right. If others are used for this single I, it is absolutely wrong. Even if you can use these others, you will not be happy, whereas if this one single one contributes, serves as much as he or she can, that is a source of great joy. It is in terms of this attitude that real compassion and love for others can be developed.

Compassion which is based on such reasoning and feelings can be extended even to one’s enemies. Our ordinary sense of love and compassion is actually very much involved wiui attachment. For your own wife or husband, your parents, your children, you have a feeling of compassion and love. But because it is in fact related with attachment, it cannot include your enemies. Again it is centered on a selfish motivation - because these are my mother, my father, my children, I love them. In contrast to this is a clear recognition of the importance and rights of others. If compassion is developed from that viewpoint, it will reach even to enemies.

In order to develop such a motivation of compassion, we must have tolerance, patience. In the practice of tolerance, one’s enemy-is the best teacher. Your enemy can teach you tolerance whereas your teacher or parents cannot. Thus from this viewpoint, an enemy is actually very helpful - the best of friends, the best of teachers.

In my own experience, the period of greatest gain in knowledge and experience is the most difficult period in one’s life. If you go along in an easy way, with everything okay, you feel everything is just fine. Then one day when you encounter problems, you feel depressed and hopeless. Through a difficult period you can learn, you can develop inner strength, determination, and courage to face the problem. Who gives you this chance? Your enemy.

This does not mean that you obey or bow down to your enemy. In fact, sometimes, according to the enemy’s attitude, you may have to react strongly - but, deep down, calmness and compassion must not be lost. This is possible.

If you try to implement, to practice, compassion, then as a Buddhist, even if you do not place much emphasis on the Buddha, it is all right. For a Christian, if you try to practice this love, there is no need for much emphasis on other philosophical matters. I say this in a friendly way. The important thing is that in your daily life you practice the essential things, and on that level there is hardly any difference between Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, or any other religion. All religions emphasize betterment, improving human beings, a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood, love - these things are common. Thus, if you consider the essence of religion, there is not much difference.

We must implement these good teachings in daily life. Whether you believe in God or not does not matter so much, whether you believe in Buddha or not does not matter so much. You must lead a good life. And a good life does not mean just good food, good clothes, good shelter. These are not sufficient. A good motivation is what is needed: compassion, without dogmatism, without complicated philosophy; just understanding that others are human brothers and sisters and respecting their rights and human dignity. That we humans can help each other is one of our unique human capacities. We must share in other peoples’ suffering; even if you cannot help with money, to show concern, to give moral support and express sympathy are themselves valuable. This is what should be the basis of activities; whether one calls it religion or not does not matter. In the contemporary world atmosphere, some people may think that religion is for those who remain in remote places and is not much needed in the areas of business or pohucs. My answer to this is “No!” For, as I have just said, in my simple religion, love is the key motivation. Except for certain minor ones, all actions - all larger and deliberate actions - come with motivation. In politics, if you have a good motivation and with that maovanoo seek to better human society, such a politician is a right and honest politician.

Politics itself is not bad. We say, “Dirty politics,” but this is not right. Politics is necessary as an instrument to solve human problems, the problems of human society. It itself is not bad; it is necessary. However, if politics are practiced by bad persons, out of cunning and lacking the right motivation, then of course it becomes bad. This is true not only of politics but in all areas, including religion - if I speak of religion with a bad motivation, that preaching becomes bad. But you cannot say religion is bad; you cannot say, “Dirty religion.”

Thus motivation is very important, and thus my simple religion is love, respect for others, honesty: teachings that cover not only religion but also the fields of politics, economics, business, science. law, medicine - everywhere. With proper motivation these can help humanity; without it they go the other way. Without good motivation, science and technology, instead of helping, bring more fear and threaten global destruction. Compassionate thought is very important for humankind.

At the present moment, it you look more deeply into society, you see that people are not as happy as might first seem. For example, when I first land in a new country, everything is beautiful. When I meet new people, everything is very nice, no complaints at all. But then day by day I listen, I hear peoples’ problems, and it is clear that everywhere there are many problems. Deep down there is unrest. Due to this inner feeling of unrest, people feel isolated, they get depressed, have mental uneasiness, mental suffering. This is the general atmosphere. Real justice and honesty are impossible within cunning feelings. Wanting to benefit others but deep down having a selfish motivation is again impossible. If you talk about peace, love, justice, etc.. but then when things are actually affecting you. forget all about them and. if necessary, suppress others or even make war, this is a clear sign that something is lacking.

This troubled atmosphere is our current reality. It is very bad, but it is reality. People may feel that the opposite of this, the internal transformation about which I have been speaking, is merely idealistic and not related with our situation here on earth. My feeling, however, is that if this present atmosphere in which everything depends on money and power and there is not much concern about the real value of love continues, if human society loses the value of justice, the value of compassion, the value of honesty, we will in the next generation or farther in the future face greater difficulties and more suffering. Thus, although to bring about inner change is difficult, it is absolutely worthwhile to try. This is my firm belief. What is important is that we try our best Whether we succeed or not is a different question. Even if we could not achieve what we seek within this life, it is all right; at least we will have made the attempt to form a better human society on the basis of love - true love-and less selfishness.

Can human values be taught?

Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, has since 1983 been giving workshops on the theme “Human Values” on an in-house basis in many companies and as open workshops for managers from different companies and academics, mainly from India, but also from abroad.

The objective of the workshops is to enhance in course participants the sensitivity to and sustenance of the value-system, what is known as “the Indian ethos”, based on studies of Buddhist, Vedantic and Yogic literature together with Indian epics and Pauranic literature. It is claimed that Indian values are found in the deep-structure of the Indian psyche, as reflected in these sources. The basic idea is purification of the mind, partly through a mind-stilling technique, and partly through practice of nourishing noble thoughts (e.g. compassion, friendliness, humbleness), and rejecting wicked ones (e.g. greed, jealousy, arrogance). Such practice will reveal the “divine”, or “higher self, within the individual and s/he will be able to perceive the same in others. The goal is that in a management setting Uiese practices will have repercussions on business life, more specifically in respect of the individual, improved cooperation, non-attachment to the selfish rewards of the work, increased creativity, service to the customer, improved quality, creating an ethico-moral soundness, cultivating self-discipline and self-restraint, and enhancing generosity.

Educational experiences presumably promote the intellectual openness, flexibility, and breadth of perspective essential for self-direction values. These same experiences increase the openness to non-routine ideas and activity central to stimulation values. In contrast, these experiences challenge unquestioning ‘ acceptance of prevailing norms, expectations, and traditions, thereby undermining conformity and tradition values. The increasing competencies to cope with life that people acquire through education may also reduce the importance of security values.


  1. Thus, the question is: Should everyone he used for my attainment of happiness, or should I be used to gain happiness for others?

  2. Can human values be taught?

  3. Why motivation is so important in our life?

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