STRIVE FOR SELF-IMPROVEMENT
We are often concerned with what we will be. President Abraham Lincoln said, “I did not know who my grandfather was, I am much more concerned to know who his grandson will be.” We want to be better human beings. If we would not be better human beings, then why are we so preoccupied with trying to look after ourselves in the physical sense, or study, or interact socially? We are trying to improve ourselves, to be better human beings. Education is one avenue. Education broadens our horizons. Instead of limiting you, it causes an expansion of your consciousness and intelligence. It is therefore always prudent for us to keep on learning and becoming better human beings. We will create a better life.
All of you know that, especially in western societies, there is a great deal of disintegration of the family. Perhaps fifty percent of marriages end in divorce. There are so many other problems in the family, which I am sure you all know by reading the papers and watching television. Having better families will eventually produce a better society, and if we have a better society we will have a better world. Everybody is talking about having a better world. Look at what is going on in the world right now. They are not conducive to making a better world. It is an eye for an eye behaviour. Mahatma Gandhi said, “If you follow the philosophy an eye for an eye, the whole world will soon be blind.” To have a better world we must also have a better environment. You know it is in the news everywhere that the Green Peace Foundation is trying all over the world to improve the ecological conditions, and to maintain natural habitats, forests, clean water and clean air. These are all important for making a better world, and that starts with being better human beings.
Education can be religious or secular. I will not dwell on that, as I am sure you are all familiar with what is a religious and what is a secular education. An education for the 21st century ought to stress mutual coexistence because that is lacking in the world today. We do not tolerate or accept people of other ethnic origins, religions, cultures, castes etc. Except for ethnic origins, most of the differences are man made. We should have a classless society and we will all be better off. This mutual coexistence means we appreciate, accept, and respect one another as human beings. The same spirit that dwells in me also dwells in you. What makes us different? Satguru Kabir said, “We are all born from the same Mother Nature, we are all nurtured by the mother’s milk, we all live on the same earth, the same blood flows in our veins. By what kind of cunning intellect have we created separations between ourselves.” It is not human to create separations. Let me draw an analogy: have you ever seen a brown horse and a black horse fight because their color is different. Are human beings less smart than the horses? Sometimes you wonder about human behaviour, that they cannot tolerate somebody because the color is different, the race is different, or the religion is different. Thus there are religious wars, racial wars and all kinds of other wars going on, because people have not trained the mind to accept the divinity that is the same in all. Actually, I am a medical doctor and I will just point this out to you. Peel off the superficial layer of your skin. All of you will be the same colour. So look below the skin before you make judgments and hold prejudices.
I think that it is important for the 21st century that every child should be trained in virtues of love, respect, compassion, and understanding. Confucius said, “The superior man thinks of virtue and the small man thinks of comfort.” It is important for a child to be trained for the 21st century to accept diversity, as diversity is everywhere – people are different, and animals and plants are different. I’ve heard biologists say that even every fish is different. Only we can’t tell because we don’t look at the fine peculiarities of each fish. The biologists can tell the differences. So are the differences in our fingerprints. Nothing is really alike except if you make clones as was done in Scotland with Dolly the sheep. But we don’t want to clone human beings. The child should also systematically be taught by developed, mature, spiritual individuals to give up such things that create trouble in the world. He should learn to control hate, greed, anger, jealousy, selfishness, ego etc. Negative behaviour is due to immature thinking; it’s foolish. We must not get caught up in these negative behaviours.
Now we have come to the topic I would like to stress. It is the introspective knowledge, which means that you are looking within yourself. If you study history you can say it is retrospective. If you formulate conceptions and ideas about the future, let’s say science fiction, that you can say is prospective. But looking retrospectively at history is like looking to the left, and prospective knowledge is like looking to the right. You are not looking to the center, and you will run into trouble. The center is right here, your self, your heart, your mind, and your intellect. You are your self, the real Self, the eternal Self, and that is what we need to learn. That Self that you are is called the soul. That is your intrinsic value. It is like the precious diamond. It is as Satguru Kabir said, “hira paiyo gath gathiyayo, bar bar wako kyon khole.” When you have found the diamond and put it in your pocket, you will not be taking it out like a foolish person, again and again to show it around.” You will soon lose it. Just so, when you have spiritual depth of knowledge, it gives you the satisfaction that you own the most precious commodity in the world. The most precious commodity in your life is the soul. That is why all the great saints and teachers of the world taught through meditation to go within your self. Seek the divinity within yourself. When you realize your divinity, you will realize divinity within all beings. Then you will see the equality. Let us all strive sincerely to become better human beings for the twenty first century. Let us follow the injunction, “Sow an act and you reap a habit, sow a habit and you reap a character, sow a character and you reap a destiny.”
Dr. Jagessar Das
Self-improvement, Kabir, Gandhi, Ethnicity, Clones, Behaviour