THE MOVING POWER OF THE SPIRITContinued from The True Nature of Man
This is the clarion call which the modern man needs to carry him forward out of the present stagnation is a recurring phenomenon in world history. Civilizations some times get struck up in the mud of finite values, and become stagnant; and history tells us that there is one way by which to overcome the deadlock. No political methods, or social, economic, or financial manipulations can help to redeem man from such crises; these can be temporary palliatives at best; but they cannot raise a culture or a civilization from its stagnation and impart to it creative dynamism. The malady is a spiritual malady; its remedy lies in the spiritual sphere. There is only one method of effecting a remedy, and that is to bring the power of the indwelling spirit to bear upon the psychophysical organism, the machine of our collective life. As Jesus Christ has said "man will not live by bread alone."
This is what India did again and again. Repeatedly in Indian history we get evidence of the expressions of this power of the spirit to move a static world and make it dynamic. In the Bhagavad-Gita (IV.8), for example, Sri Krishna says :
" I come age after age to establish righteousness in the world."
When life becomes static, and moves in the narrowest circle possible, then God, the indwelling Spirit in man and nature, comes once again and imparts a new dynamism to the social process, which then develops a new assimilative power and manifests fresh energy of movement.
Another illustration of the power of the spirit to make the world dynamic may be seen in the example and the words of Buddha (563 B.C.-483 B.C.), who appeared a thousand years after Sri Krishna. At Sarnath, in his first discourse after his enlightenment, Buddha spoke of his mission as the setting in motion of wheel of dharma. The very title of the discourse is significant: Dharmachakrapravartana Sutra-Discourse on the setting in motion of the wheel of Dharma is conceived as a wheel, and human life collective as individual, is conceived as cart on wheels. A wheel gets stuck in a muddy road and will not move until a strong shoulder comes and pushes it. So a society or an individual may get stuck in the little things and trivial enjoyments of the body and the senses. History tells us that the Roman society decayed and fell for just this reason, and we find similar periods in our history also. Lost in enjoyment and pleasure, and losing sight of the higher values in life, causing the society to stagnate and die. So Buddha, in his discourse at Sarnath, said: "Come, let us put our shoulders to the wheel, and make it move." The very concept of the wheel implies something in motion. Buddha said: I have come to set the wheel of dharma in motion. Sri Krishna said: " I have come to set in motion the power of Dharma." And it is just this that has happened again and again in Indian history. What did Shri Ramakrishna do in our time? Apparently he did nothing; he lived a quiet life, outside the political and social movements of his time. But the energy that was created and released from his inner life powerfully influenced men and movements around him, and bid fair, at the not to distant future, to transform the modern world itself. He lived the life of the spirit in all its intensity, and showed the authenticity of man's spiritual life. He demonstrated the true purpose and function of religion and harmony between the different religions, and showed that there is no need to fight in the name of religion. Quarreling and fighting make of religion a sham. But religion is not sham. It invites man to the highest adventure in life, the realization of his true freedom, which is the freedom of the spirit.
Physically and socially, man is not free; he is conditioned by external and internal factors. Freedom is in our spiritual nature, immortal and divine, and we must realize it in our life. This alone is true progress, development; this alone is true religion. This great idea Sri Ramakrishna lived, and in so living, imparted such a power to it that, when other received this idea, they received that power as well. They became convinced of the authenticity of this idea because Sri Ramakrishna had actually lived it.
This is the way by which a static society becomes dynamic and is made to move again. As blood flows through a healthy body, so through the body politic must flow the blood of spiritual life. A great teacher comes and with him comes great power, a new influx of energy. We start moving once again, and the stagnation begins to vanish. Once more Man begins to seek the higher values of life. In the wake of the great teacher come creative individuals who ask deep questions, and strive to discover the answers themselves: what is the true nature of Man? How can Man realize it? What is his destiny and how can he achieve it? Is spirituality a prerogative of only a few, selected gifted individuals? Or is it the prerogative of everyone?
The Upanishads boldly proclaim that spirituality is the prerogative of every individual. This Atman, the divine, the immortal is the self of every man and woman and child. It is the true nature of Man. It is also the true nature of all animals, but animals cannot realize it. It is only Man with his unique psychophysical system, aided by the psychosocial environment created by himself in the course of his evolution that has the capacity to realize this truth. Man is specially fitted for this great adventure. He has certain advantages, he is able to rise to the highest level of spiritual life. The Upanishads tell us that wealth and power are not the highest glory of Man. The Upanishads do not condemn Man's pursuit of worldly wealth and power; they never condemn any values pursued by Man. Only they say, "There is something better and higher than these." Sri Ramakrishna, in one of his parables, tells the story of a woodcutter who, going into the forest to cut wood, was told by a holy man to go forward. Following this advice, in due course the woodcutter came across, first, a sandalwood forest, then, a silver mine, then, a goldmine, and going deeper still into the forest, he found at last a diamond mine, and became exceedingly rich. Telling this story, Sri Ramakrishna said, "Therefore I say that, in whatever stage of life you may be, you will realize better and purer things if you only go deeper into yourself."
Continued in The Need for Broad Based Education
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This page is created and maintained by Dr. Nilotpal Ghosh
Last Update : September 25, 2003