OF SPIRITUAL CONCORD
1. OUR EXPERIENCE
At the foothills of the lofty Himalayas, on the banks of the Holy River Ganges, in Vanaprastha Ashram of Rishikesh - a city hallowed by thousands of years of intense training of the human spirit by the Sages and Seers of India, we have met, at the World Congress of Spiritual Concord. We are more than two hundred humble pilgrims of the Spirit, from many lands and all climes, seeking the Light of the Transcendent, not just for ourselves, but for the whole human family.
In the seven days (December 6 to 12, 1993), we have refrained from analysis and discussion, to concentrate on prayer and meditation, on worship and adoration of the Transcendent, according to a dozen or so of our various religious and spiritual traditions of humanity. We have been refreshed and renewed by the Spirit; we have experienced the peace and joy of the Divine Presence; great Masters and Mistresses of the Spirit have shown us many ways of seeking the Divine Presence and drawing nourishment from it. We have received much inspiration and many insights; we have also gained some useful knowledge. We now want to share with you, in all humility, some of our insights, which to us are precious. We hope they are of some worth to others as well.
II. OUR INSIGHTS
First of all, we are firmly convinced that our problems - whether growing injustice and persisting poverty, spreading militarism and wild terrorism, pervasive violence and ethnic conflict, the deterioration of the family, the disintegration of human values and the erosion of human moral responsibility, the marginalisation and powerless-ness of ordinary people, the increase of incurable diseases like Cancer and AIDS, the disruption and pollution of the environment, perhaps even so-called ‘natural’ calamities like earthquakes and floods, typhoons and tornadoes - all these problems have one common root, namely a spiritual malaise that has gripped humanity. Socio-economic analysis alone will not reveal this common malaise; it takes spiritual insight to recognize this spiritual dimension of human suffering today.
III. THE ECLIPSE OF THE TRANSCENDENT
We have sought to examine the nature of this pervasive malaise in our reflection and meditation. We see that something has happened to us as humanity, in the wake of the Industrial Revolution which commoditised human relations, and the European Enlightenment of the 18th and 19th centuries which repudiated the authority of all tradition and all religion. We call this the Eclipse of the Transcendent in the Life of Communities. It is a sad fact indeed that the Scientific - Technological, Urban - Industrial, Secular, Global Market, civilisation into which the whole of humanity is being progressively incorporated, is at its roots a godless civilisation.
The Transcendent plays no role whatsoever when scientists explain the origin and nature of the universe we Inhabit. Whatever paradigm they use to perceive and express Reality, whether an unaccountable Big Bang or an automatic Continuous Creation, they seem to take for granted that such amazingly complex entities as the human brain, for example, have simply developed on their own, without any dependence on a Transcendent Power or Mind.
How we wish that the Transcendent could play a central role, in our civilisation’s educational systems! Children are trained in our schools to gain the Impression that everything in Reality can be explained without reference to any Transcendent Consciousness. The Transcendent gets little or no recognition in our curricula. How different it would have been, if at least children could have been taught the truth common to all religions, that the manifest world has originated in, and is totally contingent upon, the Unmanifest, and drawn the consequences both for our actions and our understanding!
The situation is no different in the realm of medicine and healing. Modern medical science and medical education find it difficult to base their diagnosis and therapies on a richer concept of the human, and of the relation of the human to the cosmos and to the Transcendent. Medical theory as it developed in the 19th and 20th century took the human body as something distinct from the mind, a self-contained unit, a closed system, which has no relation to society, environment, or the Transcendent. Healing is often regarded as the simple result of chemicals and drugs, or repair of parts of the body. The well attested role of prayer and spiritual power in healing is not officially recognized by most of the world’s medical systems, though a few among the world’s outstanding healers have in small groups around the world begun to explore wholistic healing. The great achievements of modern medicine may obscure the fact that its healing techniques have been developed in a period when the Transcendent was already in eclipse in advanced industrial countries.
Our physical and social sciences also function without any reference to the Transcendent. Politics and economics, as well as the functioning of the institutions of government, in our secular societies, have no way of incorporating into their theory and practice, the role of the Transcendent in the affairs of human beings.
The Eclipse of the
Transcendent plays a devastating role in the area of human communication
and information exchange. The public media and the commercial system
together transform information too into a commodity, selling only those
items with marketable value, withholding information from the public when
such information would damage the interests of the commercial-financial
establishment or of the government. Truth is a casualty in the streets;
because the commitment of the media is more often to profit and power,
than to the truth or to the Transcendent. Human communities choke on the
polluted air of distorted truth. Governments have been known to deceive
their own people by withholding important information. Common people have
access, neither to truth nor to justice. Our newspapers and other media
seek to give us the false impression that the most important news for
humanity each morning is what some government leader did or said, or what
new caper a political party is up to. The truly important human stories of
courage and integrity, inspiring instances of high ethical conduct, the
impressive spiritual exercises and achievements of groups or persons -
these have no news value. This lopsided highlighting of the political
distorts people’s perspective about what really matters.
IV. THE ETHICAL AND THE SPIRITUAL
Not all of us
agree on the description of the cosmic and spiritual laws and powers,
which govern our universe. Some think that the Transcendent Source and
Ground of All directly governs the universe without any intermediaries.
For many the rule of the Transcendent is most often exercised through
various intermediary powers and agencies. We are all convinced, however,
that the moral and spiritual laws of life are written in to the very
structure of the universe, and that we violate these moral and spiritual
laws only at grave peril to ourselves and to others.
Middle Axioms eventually get worn out, and lose their sharpness and clarity, hackneyed by long and careless use. New socio-economic developments make the axioms obsolete. Fresh formulations of old axioms are demanded. People yearn for new embodiments of ancient values, such as Mahatma Gandhi was. It is only by going back to the original spiritual and religious roots that we can renew the axioms and seek fresh embodiments of the ancient good. That is why the ethical should not be made totally independent; the spiritual and religious roots should be watered and kept alive.
V. OUR HUMBLE APPEAL
From this Himalayan Retreat of Rishikesh we appeal to you therefore
a. that all those interested in the healing of humanity should renew themselves, not only ethically, but also in their cultural, religious and spiritual roots. Repentance has always to begin with ourselves. People in different parts of the world should all humbly wait in prayer and meditation for the Grace of the Transcendent, which alone can redeem us from the encircling gloom. We should therefore prepare ourselves by continued and disciplined cleansing of the darkness within ourselves through prayer and meditation, through worship and devotion, through regular spiritual practices, so that the light may dawn in ourselves and in the outside world.
b. We should also seek to cleanse our institutions and social structures, where evil in many forms has become rampant. This may seem too far beyond our ordinary human capacity. The controls of these decadent, yet powerful, institutions and structures seems so remote and so beyond human reach. But the power of the human spirit equips us to strive for what seems at first sight, unattainable. Institutions like the family, the school, the healing system and the system of information exchange can be fundamentally reformed, if a large enough group of deeply devoted and spiritually trained human beings can set their minds and spirits to it.
c. We should not allow ourselves to be intimidated by the regnant power of various forms of evil in the political economy. The political process in too many countries seems polluted by undemocratic factors like the use of money power or muscle power to force the democratic election process. Too many governments are linked to nefarious activities like the drug trade, the manufacture and trade of inhuman weapons of death and destruction, and the operation of clandestine mafiosi. Evil is always sly and camouflaged, at times pervasive and intimidating, sometimes armed to the teeth and menacingly aggressive. But we shall not, as children of the Spirit, fear evil. When a sufficient number of people in each country are freed from their lethargy, fear and fatalism, and apply the power of the good fearlessly and creatively against evil, the fortress of evil will fall before the advancing power of the good. We shall not counter violence with violence or race hatred with race hatred. We shall strive by the power of the spirit and the spiritual force of the good, to break through the barriers that divide race against race, religion against religion, state against state. The faces behind the faceless power of corporate, institutionalised evil, like bribery, corruption, extortion, terrorism and so on should be exposed, not in violence or terror, rather by the gentle but firm power of goodness in action, developed though prayer and meditation. Our prayer and meditation should not, however be just for personal self - realization and fulfilment, but also for redeeming our states and other corporate or institutional structures from the power of evil. Only light can dispel the darkness.
d. We make our appeal to spiritual and religious leaders all over the world, to redeem religion from its marginalisation and privatisation by the secular culture, and to make religion a healing balm for the whole world and the whole human family, and not just for the followers of one’s own religion. The teaching of each religion must be delivered from doctrinaire exclusivism and from narrow concern for its own followers. Factions among religions and religious leaders in too many situations have scandalized people and made religion itself an object for contempt. People are saddened when they see moral laxity and selfish struggles for power and prestige among religious leaders themselves. If the leaders do not practice what they preach, how can the people listen to their religious teachers with respect? One life that sheds peace and joy transforms more lives than a hundred speeches and admonitions. We have seen that here in Rishikesh. We appeal to all people to work for the spiritual renewal of all religious leadership, and to make places where the religions train their leadership more broad and open, free from parochialism and narrowness.
e. Our final appeal is to the United Nations. The charter of the United Nations is a major symbol of humanity’s hope for a better, more peaceful and just, united world. Due to lack of vigilance the United Nations has allowed itself to captured by the power brokers and people exploiters of the world. It mindlessly intervenes in conflicts, claiming to seek to resolve the conflict peacefully, but achieving only the establishment of near permanent foreign outposts for the armed forces of some nations. The United Nations must be democratised and made to serve the interests of humanity as a whole and not the narrow interests of some nations and large corporations. The Security Council should become a fully elected democratic body responsible to the community of nations. The General Assembly should become a bi-cameral body, with a House of States and a House of the People, the latter with elected representatives of the people of all regions. The UN should have a Spiritual Cell with highly evolved spiritual souls of all religions and cultures in it. Their job is to pray and meditate together, and seek healing for the whole of humanity. We should go beyond the obsolete concept of national sovereignty, and begin to lay the foundations for a Community of Nations, in which each nation not only would be responsible to the Community for its actions, but also dedicate its efforts to serve the whole of humanity and not just its own citizens. The funding of the UN should also be made democratic, each nation paying the same fixed percentage of its GDP of the previous year; in addition there should be a uniform tax on the previous year’s defence expenditure of each nation. This should be, like the tax on tobacco and the alcohol, both a disincentive to spending on war and militarism, and a way of financing the United Nations democratically. The UN staff and personnel could, with some effort become more simple in their life-style, seeing their jobs as a great opportunity to serve humanity, and becoming living examples of the principle that human responsibilities are as important as human rights.
Finally we appeal humbly and earnestly to all our sisters and brothers in humanity, all over the world. Let us all intensify our discipline, and pray, worship, meditate, regularly for the healing of humanity! Let us teach prayer and meditation in our schools and hospitals in our jails and in the training centres of the police and the armed forces. Let us train vast armies of spiritual adepts committed to the welfare of the whole of humanity. Let us open meditation centres in the parks and public gardens, and in other serene and scenic spots. Let us start in every country and region multi-religious International Academies for training people to be spiritual guides committed to the whole of humanity. Let us ask and achieve a period of quiet meditation for the personnel in every school and medical clinic, and every office and factory, in the centres of scientific research, in institutions for business management training, and also in the UN. Let us seek to improve the patterns of overall vibrations on our planet by generating new creative waves of spiritual energy. Let us create cross-professional networks of spiritual seekers and pilgrims all over the world. May this our humble appeal be read and pondered upon in all parts of the world. May it be improved upon by wiser souls, and bring vision and inspiration to many.
Let us all lift up our hearts in faith and hope to the Compassionate One, the Transcendent, the Merciful. May our constant care be for the healing of all humanity. Blessing and Grace will descend on our human race, and Peace with Justice and a healthy environment will come out of our prayerful and dedicated good efforts. We greet you all in the name of Peace and Joy, in the name of the Healing of Humanity. We send you our corporate blessings and warm good wishes. May Peace and Concord prevail!
Om shantih, shantih, shantih.