Thought for the Day - Akhandadhi Das
Good morning. It used to be said there are only six degrees of separation between any two members of the human race. But, according to the techies of a well-known social networking website, it’s now down to four. In rough terms, this means that a friend of one of your friends knows the friend of a friend of anyone else in the world.
Ignoring the issue of whether all online “friends” qualify for that title, it’s seems that, thanks to the internet, the world is getting smaller. And, from a Hindu point of view, anything that helps us understand the inter-connections and similarities that link us all is a good thing.
In the words of one Sanskrit prayer: Let us think together; act together; and be successful together. For we all belong to that Great Light where there is no scope for hatred. This doesn’t mean society has to be homogeneous or bland. Rather, recognising the underlying oneness of all life allows us to celebrate the unique distinctions of individuals. As Swami Vivekananda said: tolerance of peoples’ differences is better than a lack of it, but it still means that you feel superior. Better to accept others as equals.
The Chandogya Upanishad explains that within the body of every human, animal, plant and creepy crawlie is the life force, or atman. All atmans are part of the unlimited spiritual energy, Brahman. Some Hindu teachers interpret this to mean that if the soul is spirit and God is spirit, then all souls are one with each other and also one with God
However, other authorities say that the Upanishads go on to explain that there is always a distinction between God - as the source of everything - and the atman, which a tiny part of the unlimited energy of God. In this understanding, spiritual liberation for the individual atman entails a state of eternal loving devotion to God.
Either way, we are closer to each other and to God than even four degrees of separation. But, in case we feel proud of our spirituality, one text offers God’s caveat: Someone who thinks they are my devotee, is not my devotee. My devotese sees themselves as the servants of my devotee.
The word “das” at the end of my name, isn’t a surname. It’s a suffix meaning “servant of”. In the Vaishnava tradition, it’s suggested that we consider of ourselves “dasadasanudas” – the junior servant of the servant of the servant of God. It’s a personal reminder to serve those who God loves and cares for rather than try to serve God directly. When it comes to devotion to God, it seems the more degrees of separation the better.
Available since: Tue 29 Nov 2011
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