Social Media Blitz – Sabbath Day Observance

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Surrey Stake invites you to participate in a “Social Media Blitz” to support the teaching of Sabbath Day Observance.  This social media campaign is scheduled for Sunday January 21, 2018, which happens to be World Religions Day.

For the one day blitz, we are encouraging our interfaith friends to use the unique hash tag #BCSabbathDay.  The unique #BCSabbathDay will allow us to track posts, tweets, etc during our one day effort and repost to our Stake Facebook page.

Many faith communities have a holy day or day of worship or meditation during the week.  We would like to reach out to other faith communities to encourage them to participate by using the same #BCSabbathDay hash tag sometime during the same weekend to help us trend.

Posts, tweets, etc. should be focused on appropriate activities for Sabbath Day Observance or the day of worship or meditation.  (What make that day special or different?)

In order for this Social Media Blitz to be successful, we are asking everyone to:

  • Use the prescribed hash tag, #BCSabbathDay
  • Make their posts public so that we can track them,
  • Inform their friends about the event, and
  • Specifically ask at least 5 friends to repost their entries so that it contributes to the trending effort.To track your specific faith community, you can add an additional hash tag, but for all of us working together, we at least need to use the same hash tag.

For more information, please contact Sherry Marceil, Director of Public Affairs – Surrey BC Stake, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Mrs. Prophet’s Prophesy of Doom

MRS. PROPHET’S PROPHESY OF DOOM
(First written in 1990. Mrs. Prophet is mentioned as an illustration to discuss spirituality that transcends such predictions.)

It was in the news that the world would end on April 23, 1990. This was announced in the United States by a Mrs. Prophet (Elizabeth Clare Prophet, known to her followers as Guru Ma) prophesying such an end. She had apparently prophesied the end of the world in October 1989, but for some reason, the world did not come to an end at that time.

See NY Times, March 1990: [“http://www.nytimes.com/…/thousands-plan-life-below-after-do…]

“Heeding a call from their leader, members of the Church Universal and Triumphant have sold their homes, closed their bank accounts, bade goodbye to relatives and headed to the valley and the elaborate system of concrete and steel shelters that the church has built here. Many have paid up to $10,000 to reserve a spot guaranteeing them a role in planning the future after most of the world is dead.”

Mrs. Prophet apparently has been able to convince a number of people in different parts of the world about the coming of the end by nuclear bombs. She has been stockpiling food to last for several months in bomb shelters in the Montana mountains. Several of her believers will be joining her. They are also stockpiling weapons for some obscure reason, as it will be unlikely that she will be able to ward off the destruction of the world by nuclear explosions. But she could just as well think that the world would be destroyed by Supernatural powers. It appears that she will feel secure in the bomb shelters in the mountains. I wonder if she suspects that the world will come to an end by a huge flood as in the Bible, and for that reason she has chosen the mountains. Or possibly the world will end with hailstorms, or fire. Suppose the world comes to an end by volcanic eruptions that occurred in the very Montana mountains where she is seeking shelter, or by a huge meteor striking the same mountains? How would she and her followers then escape? Science has agreed that all the dinosaurs were wiped out sixty-five million years ago by a huge meteor impact on the earth that raised enough dust to hide the sun for a considerable time, resulting in death of living forms. Or could the world come to an end by man-made atomic explosions and radiation from atomic and neutron bombs?

The end of the world had been predicted many times in the past, and somehow God or any other Supernatural Force, did not fulfill those predictions. The Mayan calendar predicted the world would end in 1912, but it did not happen. Ostensibly, the world is to be destroyed because of the evil or so-called sins that people perpetrate in the world. But the world has all kinds of people from the very evil to the very saintly. How is it possible, logical and proper for a loving and compassionate God, who is thought to be the father of all creation, to commit such an act and inflict destruction on those who are his ardent devotees? He must have a way of inflicting harm on those who disobey his laws, and willfully commit crimes against Divine Law? Perhaps Mrs. Prophet and her followers believe that they are the chosen ones to be saved. But if that were so, then they certainly do not have enough faith in God for sparing their life and destroying those who are the evil ones. If God wants to destroy the world, hiding in a bomb shelter, or hiding anywhere else for that matter, one cannot escape the Omnipotence of the Lord for whom all things are possible, except that it is not logical for Him to destroy his own creation. For God is a Loving God. If He destroys the world then He will cease to be a loving and forgiving God. If he is a vengeful God then I am sure he will have a way of choosing those on whom he must display his vengeance for their evils. It is a Divine Law that people will reap what they have sown. I am sure that you will agree that not all people have sown the same actions in thought, word and deed. How then can they all face the same calamity, which would render the Just and Loving God into an unjust and deceptive God who does not adhere to His own Just Laws.

Many people hold the view that Jesus will be coming again. What will be a more appropriate time for him to come than before the destruction of the world? He certainly will be able to do a great job in trying to reform the people into more spiritual ways. How can Jesus decide to come after the destruction of the world? His mission would be pointless. An enlightened being such as Jesus will certainly want to come at the time when there is calamity in the world, so that he can “save” the world. In India it is the view that whenever troubles afflict the world, God will manifest himself in a physical form to set people on the right path again. It is therefore possible that we should see saints, prophets or saviours coming at such a time prior to the destruction of the world. If they do not come to save the world, then these exalted beings, though being close to God, do not obtain that intuitive knowledge of God that they are supposed to have. And if this is the case, then may God have mercy on all of lesser humanity.

Science says that the world will last for at least another five billion years. That is supposed to be the remaining life of the sun. When the sun explodes into a red giant and then contracts to form a white dwarf, its energy will have been spent, and the earth will then cease to have any life. That is a long time away. The more appropriate way for the world is to be as it has been going on. All things in nature change. Beings are born and they die, to be reborn again. As Bernard Shaw stated it, “The law of life is the law of change.” Nothing is static. All changes involve destruction of what was, into what will become. Let us hope that God maintains his smoothly working laws and not, at any single moment, decide to change His ways and destroy small vulnerable earth.

[Christmas is soon here, so mentioning Jesus is timely.]

Dr. Jagessar Das

dasj.kabir@gmail.com
www.kabir.ca

http://www.surreyinterfaith.ca (See my blogs in the left sidebar)

COLUMN: Curiosity key to acceptance

The following article by Taslim Jaffer appeared in the November 22, 2017 edition of the Peace Arch News. The original article can be viewed here.

COLUMN: Curiosity key to acceptance

So far, fear of others’ ideologies has gotten us nowhere

Last week, I spent a couple hours with David Dalley from the Surrey Interfaith Council, and a group of students taking the Early Childhood Education program.

During their practicum and upon graduation, these students – many of whom are also mothers – will be guiding preschoolers in phonics, imaginative play, music, fine motor skills and more.

They will also support these three- to five-year-olds as they learn to share and socialize with others their own age.

This is a critical developmental period on many levels, and it’s also an age of interest for those who work in social change.

David and I were there to facilitate a discussion on raising children to be accepting, empathetic and peace-loving citizens.

We came with our own opinions, experiences and field studies, and also with great excitement to hear what frontline workers had to say.

It was a hopeful night after a long and tumultuous year.

Nobody can argue that anyone with even an ounce of hope for a more loving planet has had to struggle to keep that flame alive. Coming together with other like-minded individuals who believe that it is still possible is one way to fan that flame.

What I came away with that evening was that there are still a lot of questions. One that stuck with me the most was, “how do we teach acceptance of other faiths without stepping on anyone else’s toes?”

While it’s the parents’ responsibility and prerogative to pass down the beliefs that they most resonate with, it falls under the educators’ mandate to keep the classroom a safe space for each child to feel fully understood and accepted.

For example, my daughter’s preschool went on a bowling field trip the other day with a hot dog lunch served there. Knowing my daughter doesn’t eat pork, her teachers ordered her a plate of nachos.

This created an educational opportunity for the rest of the students (if anyone had asked why she had a different meal) where the teachers could pass on the knowledge that most Muslims and Jews don’t eat pork.

Learning these things as facts (without judgment) as children goes a long way to creating adults who are also non-judgmental and accepting.

When children learn, they are like scientists. They are curious.

They question, they investigate and they take in data without the kind of judgment that comes with decades of seeing things only one way.

Celebrating that curiosity and rewarding it by providing information, keeps the love of learning alive.

It was brought up in the discussion that some parents might feel that their children were being bombarded with different ideologies than their own and would find it unacceptable to mention religious/faith topics.

My response to that was to look at the underlying emotion behind such a statement, and that emotion is fear.

Fear that their child would be exposed to something different, fear that their child would realize there are differences among people, fear that their child might be brainwashed into other ways of thinking, and so on.

So far, fear has gotten us nowhere. Turning a blind eye has gotten us nowhere.

While we may not have all the answers, we have to remain open to many possibilities.

We have to be… like preschoolers. Be curious, investigate, ask questions, be open to the idea that there is more than one way to look at something. To be sure of who we are and to be happy to play with others just as they are.

We have such a long way to go – and it bears repeating that this past year has been heavy on anyone working toward change.

But spend some time with preschoolers and those who interact with them regularly, and your hope may be rekindled.

Taslim Jaffer writes monthly on multicultural connections

U. N. International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women

U. N. INTERNATIONAL DAY TO ELIMINATE VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

“One of the most devastating human rights violations:

Violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations in our world today.

Gender inequality persists worldwide. Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls will require more vigorous efforts, including legal frameworks, to counter deeply rooted gender-based discrimination that often results from patriarchal attitudes and related social norms, as stated by the UN Secretary-General, in his latest report on progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.

“Some intolerable facts:

Violence against women is the most extreme form of discrimination. According to the aforementioned report, on the basis of data from 2005 to 2016 for 87 countries, 19 per cent of women between 15 and 49 years of age said they had experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner in the 12 months prior to the survey. In the most extreme cases, such violence can lead to death. In 2012, almost half of all women who were victims of intentional homicide worldwide were killed by an intimate partner or family member, compared to 6 per cent of male victims.” United Nations

Domestic violence occurs in all parts of the world, in all countries, in all cultures, in all socio-economic groups, and in all religious and non-religious groups. We need to examine why domestic violence occurs and what are the possible remedies to alleviate this grievous situation that occurs in so many homes. Families are disrupted and broken; they are subjected to economic, social and emotional hardships. It is a problem common to human beings everywhere. In this article I shall examine domestic violence from different angles and try to make a coherent sense out of it, and suggest possible solutions.

First of all we can categorize domestic violence into (a) Physical (b) Verbal and (c) Passive. Physical violence is immediately obvious and results in direct use of physical force, and often with weapons. Physical violence results in physical injuries and/or death. Often various weapons are used such as guns, knives, iron bars, wooden bats etc. I have knowledge of a husband who stabbed one of my patients in the abdomen with a knife. He was arrested and imprisoned. We are aware of several Indo-Canadian women who were murdered by their husbands in the last several years. We are sadly aware of the Bangladeshi professor, Rumana Manzur, who was studying at U. B. C. for her master’s degree in political science, and was blinded by her husband on a visit to her home in Bangladesh. This year she graduated from U. B. C. with a law degree.

Verbal violence is also immediately obvious and takes the form of verbal abuse, criticism, insult, defamation, shouting and impoliteness. It often results in lowering of self-esteem of the victim, and a lack of emotional and psychological support, as well as chronic anxiety and depression.

The passive violence may be called passive aggressive violence. It is not immediately obvious and consists of passive resistance to the needs or expectations of others. It also consists of withdrawal of love and emotional support, apathy, and manipulation of events in order to cause emotional or perhaps physical harm to the victim.

The physical and verbal violence can be thought of as direct violence because they are quite obvious that the perpetrator of the violence is attacking the victim. The passive aggressive type of violence is indirect and it is not immediately discernable. For example, if one partner in a marriage has a certain need, then the other partner will deliberately not fulfill that need, without necessarily saying anything. A simple example would be that the wife would like her husband to buy some ice cream, but he purposely “forgets.” Another example may be between two friends, one of whom would like to go to a party, and the other sabotages the going by making some excuse about having other commitments. Passive aggressive violence often manifests as procrastination, sulking, irritability, and argumentativeness, deliberately doing everything very slowly or protesting without justification. There is often resentment and obstruction of efforts of others, and also unreasonably criticizing or scorning people in authority. Some of these characteristics are contained in the diagnostic criteria for psychiatric problems.

Perhaps we can try to figure out the causes of domestic violence. It is quite obvious that anger is involved. Hate, ego and pride are often also involved. Anger can occur very quickly, at the spur of the moment, so to speak, whereas hate, pride and ego are more pervasive and long lasting. Other conditions such as greed, jealousy and selfishness are also present in committing domestic violence.

Since it is common human nature to love that which is good, and which brings peace and happiness, and to dislike that which brings harm, it is obvious that whatever can remove domestic violence will be a great asset to all humanity. Foremost among the attributes to be developed is love and compassion for others. There must also be respect and good communication. It is essential to allow other people to express themselves and to achieve self-actualization and growth. In other words, one must not stifle the aspirations of another. To achieve a state of peace one must exercise self-control. Self-control does not occur automatically by merely thinking about it. One has to constantly practice self-control of all the negative emotions that lead to violence. One of the surest antidotes for domestic violence is to live a spiritual life. This recognizes the intrinsic value of other people. In the final analysis, if you truly love others as you love yourself, then you will definitely not practice violence. The golden rule is not to do to others what you would not like them to do to you. Treat others with love, understanding, compassion and forgiveness, and your life will be enriched, and the lives of those around you will also be enriched. But these attributes need to be taught from childhood by parents, teachers and religious authorities for them to serve a useful purpose in later life.

Dr. Jagessar Das
Email: dasj.kabir@gmail.com
Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, people standing

Connie Waterman Receives Community Leader Award

Connie Waterman works tirelessly to build a community where all can thrive

Connie Waterman brings together people from different religious, spiritual and secular traditions to build peace and understanding in our community. Connie sits on the Surrey Interfaith Council and Board of Directors for the Multifaith Action Society in Vancouver.
“My commitment to community building is the reason why I serve on the Surrey Interfaith Council and the board of the Multifaith Action Society and why I co-host weekly interfaith devotional gatherings with another family in my neighbourhood.” Connie says. “These are opportunities for people to come together for meaningful conversations that, hopefully, will lead to a transformation of their thinking and actions.”

Recently, Connie co-organized two Interfaith Pilgrimages in Surrey. The first, in November 2015, was in response to the bombings in Paris and Beirut. The second, in February 2016, was part of the global United Nations designated World Interfaith Harmony Week. Both events were well attended and fostered many new connections and friendships between people with diverse worldviews.

“The creation of spaces where groups of people from different cultures and faiths or philosophical outlooks is imperative if we are to learn to understand one another and build a community where all can thrive,” Connie says. “I believe that effective leadership is done from the background, where the individuals and groups feel empowered to devise plans of action, free from outside criticism but guided by the firm belief that all people have been created noble and with capacity.”

In addition to the Surrey-wide events that Connie supports, she also works diligently at the neighbourhood level. For the last three years, Connie has hosted weekly gatherings of the Surrey Interfaith Contemplative Group at her home, and has supported the development of similar groups in other neighbourhoods. This open and intimate community gathering invites people from all backgrounds to meditate together and share readings, prayers, songs and chants from their diverse traditions.

See the full summary of Community Leader Awards in this article in the Now Leader Newspaper.

Christmas and Spiritual Life

CHRISTMAS AND SPIRITUAL LIFE

Christmas is fast approaching and many people, all over the world, are caught up in a frenzied activity to “prepare” for Christmas. This season has some sort of magic to make some people happy, in anticipation of family get-togethers, exchange of gifts, Christmas dinners, celebration of the birth of Jesus, etc. The same magical power also makes other people unhappy because of loss of loved ones, loneliness, poverty, illness, and those who dislike the frenzied activity, in the name of a significant religious event. It will be interesting to take a brief look at what Christmas is.

Christmas is, popularly, observed to celebrate the coming of Jesus to teach people a spiritual way of living. Essentially, his teaching is: “Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and all thy mind and all thy soul,” and “Love one another,” and “Love thy neighbour as thyself.” His teachings appear simple enough and anyone can understand them. However, observing the conditions prevailing in the world, it does not appear that people understand his simple teachings, and to live by them. If people truly loved God then they could not help but love one another, because we are all “children of God.” We should not bear any anger or animosity towards our own brothers and sisters, no matter to which religion, race or culture they belong. But how can people love a God whom they do not know? They are told that God dwells in heaven and the people do not know where heaven is. God, thus, becomes an abstract entity, that is not ever-present, and the most immediate power in the lives of his children. People are also told that God is vengeful or gets angry and will punish people in hell and with fire and brimstone. Basically, the people do not know God, nor do they know where God is. How can they then have a deep and abiding love for God with all their heart and mind and soul? Dr. Albert Schweitzer stated: “To make up to itself for the fact that it does so little to prove the reality of its spiritual and ethical nature, the Christianity of today cheats itself with the delusion that it is making its position as a church stronger year by year. It is accommodating itself to the spirit of the age by adopting a kind of modern worldliness. Like other organized bodies it is at work to make good, by ever stronger and more uniform organization, its claim to be a body justified by history and practical success. But just in proportion as it gains in external power, it loses in spiritual.” Such a strong statement from a devout Christian and humanitarian goes a long way in pointing out a certain deficiency in people who try to promote and practice the teachings of Jesus.

It becomes obvious that people who follow any religion, in the superficial way that most do, that their hearts and mind and soul are not in their practice. If people were truly religious, they would ‘love one another’, but in the world we see more like ‘hate one another’. Jesus taught: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, which is the golden rule. But what do we see? It is more like, “Do unto others before they do unto you.” In other words, take advantage of people and situations so long as you can benefit yourself. Who really understands the teachings of Jesus?

Christians of all denominations comprise 2.4 billion people, or 33.5% of the world’s population. If they all put their hearts, wisdom and aspirations in the proper place, I am sure that the world will be a much happier place. But, instead, we see divisions and schisms among those who follow the teachings of Jesus. In one suburban yellow pages of the telephone book I counted forty denominations of the Christian church. I doubt that this book listed all the denominations in Christianity. How happy would Jesus be if he were to be on earth right now observing what is going on in his name? Certainly he would have been disillusioned and sad, but being a person of great spiritual stature and enlightenment, he would have imputed the situation to peoples’ spiritual ignorance or naiveté, and he would have regretted that people continued to remain ignorant, and do not make sincere efforts to be awakened spiritually.

As Christmas is approaching, it will be worthwhile for all people celebrating this event to reflect, truly, on the teachings of Jesus and to make those teachings a working part of their lives. He did not teach God to be somewhere in the abstract in a remote place. He said: “Know ye not that ye are gods and that the spirit of God dwelleth in thee,” and, “The kingdom of heaven is within.” If you realize that God dwells in you, you will also realize that God dwells in your brothers and sisters. Would this not be a marvelous realization? Would it not then truly make Jesus’ teaching meaningful to you? Would the world not then be a much happier, compassionate and loving place for all of us? Let the true spirit of Christmas be awakened in the hearts of all!

[I first wrote this article in December 1989, and I have updated it for this posting. Please note that I wrote this for Christmas, but similar ideas can be expressed for adherents of all religions.]
Dr. Jagessar Das
(In pursuit of Truth in spirituality)

Mahatma Ghandi

MAHATMA GANDHI – A GREAT SOUL OF OUR TIMES

By Urmila Das

Every year not only India, but also the world, celebrates the birth anniversary of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, popularly known as Mahatma Gandhi. Mahatma Gandhi, a man of small stature, experimented with his thoughts and ideas and gave to the world a philosophy for all of humanity. He not only preached the tenets of ‘satyagraha’ but lived and acted them. He showed by actual examples how these basic principles could be transformed to make the world a better place. Mahatma Gandhi made his thoughts and ideas more powerful than empires. According to one writer who stated, “If Gandhi had lived in India thousands of years ago, his life would have wrapped in myths and miracles.” But Mahatma Gandhi was a great soul of our times, “which shows that his origin was ordinary, his childhood normal, his student days uneventful and his early professional career unsuccessful.” Such was the description for this great soul who became a statesman not only for India, but also for the world.

From about the fifteenth to the eighteenth century Britain and other powerful nations of Europe, had intensified their quest for empire building, and as a result expeditions were sent out to conquer lands and people, and to take whatever wealth they gained back to Europe. Whether it was gold or silver, silk, tea, sugar or spices, they were taken to Europe to finance wars, beautify the women and enhance the exotic tastes of Europeans. With such aims in mind, certain countries became prized possessions for the foreigners. India was one such country.

Beginning with trading posts that opened up trade with India, Britain eventually gained political control over India. The conscious ‘foreign’ element was always in the mind, if not in all, but in a majority of Indians. According to one historian who states, “from the time the British took political control over India, Indians whatever their religions, castes, or regional origins may have been were immediately conscious of the ‘foreign’ character of the white Christian sahibs who ruled their land.” With foreign minds alien to the Indian social, economic and political conditions, one sees the influx of missionaries, English education replacing the Indian education, and trade with the outside world as a process of British unification and modernization. Such changes only served to intensify Indian perceptions of their ‘native’ differences, cultural, socio-economic and political, from the British rulers. Under such conditions men like Surendranath Banerjee, Rande, Gokhale, Phadhe, Mehta, Naoroji and others began to emerge. Later men like Basu, Tagore, Roy, Tilack, Nehru, Patel, Bhave, to mention only a few, rose to rally with Mahatma Gandhi not only to free India from foreign domination, but also to kindle a re-awakening of the deeply rooted thoughts and ideas found in the ancient Indian philosophical system. As the famous Martin Luther King in describing Gandhiji said, “Gandhi was inevitable. If humanity is to progress Gandhi is inescapable. He lived, thought and acted, inspired by the vision of humanity evolving towards a world of peace and harmony. We may ignore him at our own risk.”

Professionally, failures in India caused Gandhi to accept a post in South Africa where he was legal counsel to a leading Indian entrepreneur. It was when he was there that racism awakened his consciousness to national identity. He developed the unique system of ‘satyagraha’. ‘Satyagraha’ according to one writer, is a non-violent method of non-cooperation and civil disobedience, and tapped the deepest roots of India’s cultural heritage. His ideas of ‘satyagraha’ further expanded to include ancient yogic powers of truth, ahimsa (non-violence to any living things in thoughts, word and deeds), meditation, fasting and silence. It is therefore a force born of truth and love. Such thoughts of Gandhiji gave him a tower of inner strength to stand against the might of the foreign power that ruled India, to be honored with the title of Mahatma, to bring social changes to India, and to be ranked amongst the statesmen, not only of modern times, but of all times.

Mahatma Gandhi was a man with inner wealth, and allowed an insurance policy on his life to lapse. When his wife was given an expensive piece of jewellery as a gift in South Africa, he stayed awake all night thinking about its safety. Eventually, all the expensive gifts given to himself and his wife were sold and the money was used for the establishment of a fund for the benefit of the Indians in South Africa. His simple attire of loincloth, wooden chappals, a bowl and a walking stick were the possessions of this politician cum saint. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the Bhagavad Gita became his spiritual dictionary that probably exercised the greater single influence on his life. Aparigraha (non-possession of material wealth) inspired Gandhiji so immensely, that it was not surprising that he did not see material wealth as the answer to his problem, nor the problem of humanity. By his action one cannot deny the fact that he was a Karma Yogi.

The word ‘truth’ which forms the basis for Gandhiji’s experiment, is derived from the concept that nothing exists in reality, except ‘Truth.’ Truth is God and God, Truth. Gandhiji sees God as an “indefinable mysterious power that pervades everything.” Furthermore, Gandhiji sees God in everything around him and though everything is ever changing and ever dying, there is underlying all that, that change is a Living Power which is changeless, which holds all together that creates, dissolves, and re-creates. This Living Power is God (Gandhiji). His thoughts on the Unseen Power transcend the senses. He stated that for God to be God He must rule the heart and transform it. If Gandhian concept of God – which is universal – is realized, then the transformed heart will transform the world.

In honoring Gandhiji today, let us pay homage to this politician who became a saint of modern times, and always reflect on his teachings for the good of humanity.
– A GREAT SOUL OF OUR TIMES

By Urmila Das

Every year not only India, but also the world, celebrates the birth anniversary of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, popularly known as Mahatma Gandhi. Mahatma Gandhi, a man of small stature, experimented with his thoughts and ideas and gave to the world a philosophy for all of humanity. He not only preached the tenets of ‘satyagraha’ but lived and acted them. He showed by actual examples how these basic principles could be transformed to make the world a better place. Mahatma Gandhi made his thoughts and ideas more powerful than empires. According to one writer who stated, “If Gandhi had lived in India thousands of years ago, his life would have wrapped in myths and miracles.” But Mahatma Gandhi was a great soul of our times, “which shows that his origin was ordinary, his childhood normal, his student days uneventful and his early professional career unsuccessful.” Such was the description for this great soul who became a statesman not only for India, but also for the world.

From about the fifteenth to the eighteenth century Britain and other powerful nations of Europe, had intensified their quest for empire building, and as a result expeditions were sent out to conquer lands and people, and to take whatever wealth they gained back to Europe. Whether it was gold or silver, silk, tea, sugar or spices, they were taken to Europe to finance wars, beautify the women and enhance the exotic tastes of Europeans. With such aims in mind, certain countries became prized possessions for the foreigners. India was one such country.

Beginning with trading posts that opened up trade with India, Britain eventually gained political control over India. The conscious ‘foreign’ element was always in the mind, if not in all, but in a majority of Indians. According to one historian who states, “from the time the British took political control over India, Indians whatever their religions, castes, or regional origins may have been were immediately conscious of the ‘foreign’ character of the white Christian sahibs who ruled their land.” With foreign minds alien to the Indian social, economic and political conditions, one sees the influx of missionaries, English education replacing the Indian education, and trade with the outside world as a process of British unification and modernization. Such changes only served to intensify Indian perceptions of their ‘native’ differences, cultural, socio-economic and political, from the British rulers. Under such conditions men like Surendranath Banerjee, Rande, Gokhale, Phadhe, Mehta, Naoroji and others began to emerge. Later men like Basu, Tagore, Roy, Tilack, Nehru, Patel, Bhave, to mention only a few, rose to rally with Mahatma Gandhi not only to free India from foreign domination, but also to kindle a re-awakening of the deeply rooted thoughts and ideas found in the ancient Indian philosophical system. As the famous Martin Luther King in describing Gandhiji said, “Gandhi was inevitable. If humanity is to progress Gandhi is inescapable. He lived, thought and acted, inspired by the vision of humanity evolving towards a world of peace and harmony. We may ignore him at our own risk.”

Professionally, failures in India caused Gandhi to accept a post in South Africa where he was legal counsel to a leading Indian entrepreneur. It was when he was there that racism awakened his consciousness to national identity. He developed the unique system of ‘satyagraha’. ‘Satyagraha’ according to one writer, is a non-violent method of non-cooperation and civil disobedience, and tapped the deepest roots of India’s cultural heritage. His ideas of ‘satyagraha’ further expanded to include ancient yogic powers of truth, ahimsa (non-violence to any living things in thoughts, word and deeds), meditation, fasting and silence. It is therefore a force born of truth and love. Such thoughts of Gandhiji gave him a tower of inner strength to stand against the might of the foreign power that ruled India, to be honored with the title of Mahatma, to bring social changes to India, and to be ranked amongst the statesmen, not only of modern times, but of all times.

Mahatma Gandhi was a man with inner wealth, and allowed an insurance policy on his life to lapse. When his wife was given an expensive piece of jewellery as a gift in South Africa, he stayed awake all night thinking about its safety. Eventually, all the expensive gifts given to himself and his wife were sold and the money was used for the establishment of a fund for the benefit of the Indians in South Africa. His simple attire of loincloth, wooden chappals, a bowl and a walking stick were the possessions of this politician cum saint. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the Bhagavad Gita became his spiritual dictionary that probably exercised the greater single influence on his life. Aparigraha (non-possession of material wealth) inspired Gandhiji so immensely, that it was not surprising that he did not see material wealth as the answer to his problem, nor the problem of humanity. By his action one cannot deny the fact that he was a Karma Yogi.

The word ‘truth’ which forms the basis for Gandhiji’s experiment, is derived from the concept that nothing exists in reality, except ‘Truth.’ Truth is God and God, Truth. Gandhiji sees God as an “indefinable mysterious power that pervades everything.” Furthermore, Gandhiji sees God in everything around him and though everything is ever changing and ever dying, there is underlying all that, that change is a Living Power which is changeless, which holds all together that creates, dissolves, and re-creates. This Living Power is God (Gandhiji). His thoughts on the Unseen Power transcend the senses. He stated that for God to be God He must rule the heart and transform it. If Gandhian concept of God – which is universal – is realized, then the transformed heart will transform the world.

In honoring Gandhiji today, let us pay homage to this politician who became a saint of modern times, and always reflect on his teachings for the good of humanity.

Spiritual Meaning of Service

SPIRITUAL MEANING OF SERVICE

DO WE QUALIFY?

All religions teach that to serve others is of paramount importance. Some people feel that we must first serve God, then we can serve others. But if we examine service to God properly, we would find that we cannot really serve God. God is not in need of anything. In fact in, one way or another, God supplies us with all of our needs. We can then say that God is serving us. To truly serve God we must serve others. God needs only our love and our submission to his will which really means to submit to the laws of cause and effect. Whatever we sow, that is what we will reap. In other words, we are creating our own destiny, and we need to accept whatever comes to us as a result

Service may mean different things to different people. For example, some people feel that when they are engaged in their job, that is, rendering service. For example, in Canada 73% of people are listed as employed in “services.” In contrast, China and India list 60% and 63% of the population engaged in agriculture. This does not leave too many people employed in the “services.” Canada lists only 3% of the population engaged in agriculture. This is to show that the services I am discussing in this article are not the employment of people in order to earn their living. People in all countries need approximately the same degree of “services” rendered in a religious or spiritual sense. It is in this latter sense that I am discussing services in this article. But in order for service in this sense to be rendered adequately, there are certain guidelines that we can list as follows:

Service done for personal gain is not service
Service done to impress others is not service
Service done to satisfy ego is not service
Service done in a condescending manner is not service
Service done with strings attached is not service
Service done with hesitation is not service
Service done grudgingly is not service
Service done after persuasion is not service
Service done with boasting is not service
Service done with criticism is not service
Service done because of guilt is not service
Service done as lip service is not service
Service done for fear of criticisms is not service
Service done only to earn a living is not service

Perhaps it is good to mention here what Satguru Kabir said about service:

Service rendered without being requested is equivalent to milk.
Service rendered after being requested is equivalent to water.
Service rendered after being requested, and you argue about it, is equivalent to blood.

Perhaps you can add others along the same lines to show what are not services as long as there are personal motives involved; then we can say that it is not really service in the sense in which this article presents the subject

We may then ask the question what is service? We can give an approximate meaning of what service is. We can say that service is any activity, in thought, word, or deed, which is rendered unselfishly, purely for the welfare of others. It means to give of yourself in every way possible to promote the welfare of others. It is in serving others we can truly serve God. In this context it would be well to remember John Wesley’s Rule which states the following:

Do all the good you can
By all the means you can
In all the ways you can
In all the places you can
At all the times you can
To all the people you can
As long as ever you can.

(John Wesley was an 18th century Christian Methodist leader in the Church of England)

There are many examples in the world of people rendering this kind of service. A notable example is the late Mahatma Ghandi of India who remained poor, but served others unhesitatingly. All the great spiritual teachers, saints, and prophets have served others not for any personal gain but only because of love for others. There are many people who volunteer their services, often in foreign and poor countries, for the welfare of others

Why is service so important? Service to others enables us to purify our own actions. We must not have ego and seek personal gain. We need to realize that the soul dwells in all, and that the soul is divine. Recognizing this divinity in all beings allows us to serve them purely for the love of God and his creation. This type of service gives a sense of wellbeing and meaning to life. It makes life sublime and divine.

Jagessar Das

Corruption

CORRUPTION

We hear of corruption in high places,
But it is equally present in “low places.”
It’s a cancer eating away at spirituality,
And it does not spare morality.
The ones in high places are those in power,
Whether in government, or religious calling.
They abuse their power in seeking bribes,
Or peddle influence on the unwary.
They deviate from the ideals of society,
Selling their souls for transient gains.
Where is empathy, where is compassion,
When others must innocently pay the price?
Corruption is a cancer that invites itself
Into the hearts of the heartless!
It has the power to cloud judgment,
And to lay aside God-given intelligence!
It drives away guilt and shame,
And makes entitlement the alluring goal.
Sad to say! Their karma lies in wait,
And will inflict severe punishments!
Loss of good character inevitably follows,
And loss of goodwill becomes a calumny.
But there is corruption in “low places” too,
As is evident in the thief and drug gangs,
In domestic violence and elder abuse,
In cheating spouses and children’s abuse!
Should we not mention modern slavery,
And people-smuggling as a trade?
And black marketing when others starve?
The mind grows weary with mental fatigue,
If we ponder on the web of corruption,
That has ancient roots, and still viable.
So to maintain composure and self-respect,
Let us allow karma and our justice system,
To fulfill their legitimate calling!

Jagessar Das

Realizing God Endows Self-Confidence

REALIZING GOD ENDOWS SELF-CONFIDENCE

In the line of Indian saints, Satguru Kabir Saheb’s name is at the top. That is why he is known as “Sant Shiromani.” His 14th-century teachings are relevant and a real pathfinder even today.

In the context of mushrooming of personal Deras, and the so-called, ‘religious shops’ Kabir’s one Doha is an eye-opener and a panacea of all the evils and can save humanity from religious catastrophe.

“jyon til mein tel hai, jyon chakmak mein aag,
tera sain tujh mein, jaag sake to jaag.”

Just as oil is in sesame, and fire is in the flintstone, just so God is in you. Realize it if you can!

The full explanation is given below:

Zile Singh
Ambassador (Ret’d.)

Believe Yourself

“Believing in oneself is a Magic.
If you can do that, you can make anything happen.” – Johann Goethe

In the English language, the word Believe is a Verb. It means to accept something as true or as conveying the truth, and have faith in the existence of something that can perform acts of providence. Belief, on the other hand, is a Noun meaning faith, conviction, an opinion or an assumption.

Beliefs are thoughts underlying our conscious and sub-conscious mind. We start to gather and build up beliefs from our childhood. Belief may not necessarily be correct or accurate based on logic and facts. In order to establish one’s belief, one may consciously or unconsciously look for evidence, or other coincidental incidents that may confirm and reinforce that belief, and save oneself from being wrong. The outside environment, which can be religious or non-religious has made all efforts to take you out of your inner nature of logic and practicality, to make you believe in anything according to the norms and conventions of the society at the cost of your own will and individuality. In other words, the belief and faith have been acquired at the cost of one’s intuition, free will and self-inquiry. Over time, the correct or incorrect belief system becomes so strong that an individual finds it impossible to get rid of it. Instead, it becomes an inseparable part of day-to-day life and takes the form of rituals and superstitions. In religious field some beliefs compelled human beings to perform human and animal sacrifice to propitiate deities. There have been numerous social evils in the name of beliefs.

There is no unanimity of beliefs in different regions and religions. Belief systems have affected people and societies to a large extent. Almost all people believe in something or the other; like fate, afterlife, previous life, destiny, hell, heaven, gods, omens, ghosts etc. People go after a belief when they feel that they have nowhere else to go to get some relief from their illness, or some benefit in business. Belief justifies their actions and brings them comfort. To justify and uphold their beliefs, religions and sects have fought with each other for supremacy. History is witness to the fact that humanity has suffered a lot on account of false beliefs. Whosoever tried to awaken the masses against these rituals, blind faith and illogical practices, had to face severe difficulties in their lives.

To protect society from such unfounded beliefs, it is necessary to understand the value of “Believing in Yourself.” Believing in oneself is a magic that dispels the darkness of blind faith, and paves the way for a clear understanding. If you do not believe in yourself, you sabotage yourself. It induces in you a lethargic and inferior complex, dependent on outside forces, including non-existent phenomena. And inferiority complex pushes you towards failure and self-pity as you start believing in certain non-existent power. Dependence on any outside element, especially an unfounded belief, leads to slavery and low esteem. The world is trying to make you somebody else than your own-being. To be nobody but yourself is to fight, and fight the hardest. But by nature, an individual has avoided genuine struggle as far as possible. Therefore, it is necessary to respect yourself enough to walk away from anyone or anything that no longer serves you, empowers you or enhances you. Also, remember that a person who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The man who walks alone is likely to find himself in a place that no one has ever been before. That is why it is necessary to “Believe in Yourself.” It is SOS vs SOS situation. Save our Souls vs Sense of Self. In the former case, you pray to somebody else for your safety, whereas in the latter case your own effort is the panacea for all difficulties. We have to create a society where we are not swept away under the carpet by manipulative and cunning elements all around in the name of false beliefs. Flood of thoughts and emotions, based on false assumptions, needs to be managed carefully. Scientific attitude and believing in oneself are the handy tools to overcome the age-old false assumptions based on blind faith. Nowadays there is mushrooming of sects and congregations that are taking advantage of the innocent public in the name of religion, ethics, morality and spirituality. Outwardly, these establishments look appealing, but inwardly these are dens of corruption whether it be moral or financial or both.

Believe in yourself and walk on a track carved out by your own logical understanding, and the calling of your own conscience based on scientific temper. Your destiny is in your hands. You are the maker of your fate.

The following two quotes will sum up the article:

“I do not want to give advice to people about their religious beliefs, but I do think that it is not smart to bet against the power of science to figure out the natural world. It used to be a thousand years ago that if you wanted to explain why the moon moved through the sky, you needed to invoke God”. – Sean Carroll.

“The medicine for my suffering I had within me from the very beginning, but I did not take it. My ailment came from within myself, but I did not observe it, until this moment. Now I see that I will never find the Light unless, like the candle, I am my own fuel.” – Bruce Lee

Guest Blog by Zile Singh

Faith in Harmony