vedantathoughts

Forgiveness from the HeartPauses

Posted by Akhandadhi das Sun, October 18, 2015 21:34:31

BBC Radio 2 - Pause for Thought
3rd August 2003

A friend of mine recently revealed a personal moment of spirit in action. She had been chronically abused by her father and this had led to an array of deep psychological issues during adulthood. Three years ago, her father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Reluctantly, she agreed to support her mother on a visit to the hospital. My friend recalled the moment she saw the man who had ruined her life. Lying on the bed, hooked up to monitors and drips, he looked so weak and helpless that something stirred in her heart. Unexpectedly, she then told her father that she forgave him entirely. Somehow, she was able to resolve her pain without compromising her conviction of what she had suffered.

Together, we wondered where such forgiveness springs from. When we analyse a situation within our mind, we generate thoughts of right and wrong, the need for justice, recompense and how to cope with the trauma. And, for years that is all that occupied my friend’s mind. It helped to cope with the issues, but the original suffering haunted her and the hurt lingered.

The Hindu text, Bhagavad-gita, recommends that we shouldn’t just accept the mind’s deliberations on important matters. The mind can be a great friend, it says, but only when it is kept under the control of our higher self. For the Gita, it is the soul - that aspect of our self that is our true identity –which has the clearest vision of what will satisfy us. Whereas the mind generally schemes and plans to maximise enjoyment and minimise pain, the soul hankers for a deeper spiritual pleasure - love - soul-to-soul connection. Forgiveness from the heart happens when the soul asserts its yearning to express love despite the mind’s perception of the awful circumstances we have suffered.

My friend and I concurred that forgiving her father was an instance of her soul reaching out to another tortured soul; superseding, but not ignoring, all the wrong he had done. My friend still cries when she recalls that moment, but now she says they are tears of joy that she could resolve their relationship just two weeks before her father died.

© BBC This script was commissioned by the BBC for broadcast as “Pause for Thought” on Radio 2.



Meet Fido – my GuruPauses

Posted by Akhandadhi das Sun, October 18, 2015 21:32:00

BBC Radio 2 - Pause for Thought
2nd August 2003

In the grounds of the estate where I work, there is a set of gravestones. Underneath, are buried a horse and a dog. One inscription written in 1841 by Major J P Holford fondly describes his horse as “fleetest of the mountain race; my gallant, docile, hawk-eyed grey.”

In a second inscription, written two years later, he commends his dog as “the noble, grateful Guard.” He then states: “May he who readeth this equal him in faithfulness and truth. Man can learn virtue from a dog.”

The Vedic scriptures on which Hinduism is based agree; and suggest that all creatures, being sparks of the divine spirit, can teach us useful lessons. Dogs, particularly, have several laudable traits. They rise immediately from sleep, whereas we need the generous use of cold water and stimulating beverages to shake off our night’s rest.

They are alert – usually because they think there is some treat in store – food, walkies or they’ve just spotted the neighbour’s dog.

But, most importantly, say the scriptures, dogs demonstrate exceptional loyalty and faithfulness. They are eager to please and their dearest delight is being rewarded with affection. One spiritual master analysed the difference in psychology of a dog with a good master and the poor street dog. Even if smaller and weaker, a dog with a master feels happy, satisfied and confident in his master’s care. In contrast, the street dog is in constant anxiety, fearful of anything remotely threatening and rarely feels peace or contentment.

If dogs with their wild wolf backgrounds can show such faithfulness to us, humans, can we not, in turn, place our trust in the protection of our Lord and Master? Dogs don’t always understand everything we do for them. Sometimes, like during a trip to the vet’s, they must think we are being horribly cruel. But, they remain devoted. Wouldn’t it be wonderful, if as Major Holford challenged, we could equal them in faithfulness, expressed through our devotion to God. Perhaps, then our tails would wag as readily and as guilelessly as any young pup.

© BBC This script was commissioned by the BBC for broadcast as “Pause for Thought” on Radio 2.

Bad Karma for Rally DriversWords for Wales

Posted by Akhandadhi das Sun, October 18, 2015 21:27:28

Wednesday Word with Roy Noble

BBC Radio Wales - 12th November 2003

Bad Karma for Rally Drivers

When people drive into Wales these days, the first thing they notice is not the beautiful scenery, but the fact that all the cars are travelling in convoy at exactly the speed limit. They might think: “Aren’t the people of Wales such law-abiding folk!” But, the reality is that many of us are already on nine points and are terrified of losing our license and having to cope on public transport.

So, isn’t it reassuring that our police are so even-handed they’ve prosecuted the rally drivers in last year’s World Championships for speeding during the Wales section of the race. Speeding tickets are a good example of the Hindu concept of karma. You may have heard of Bad Karma or Instant Karma as some kind of punishment for wrong-doing. But, karma is really about personal responsibility and how the happiness and distress we cause others through our choice of actions is returned to us.

Karma isn’t fatalistic, because each one of us is in charge of our own destiny. Hindus believe in free will. We’re not compelled to crime or evil; it is a choice we can resist. So, when we break the speed limit, we’ve only ourselves to blame.

Karma is even more pervasive than Welsh speed cameras. Nothing escapes the universal law of karma. It affects everyone - like gravity– whether you believe in it or not. The rally drivers might have argued that they no longer drive the cars that broke the speed limit. But, that isn’t much of an excuse as it’s the driver, not the car, which must face the consequences. Similarly, karma doesn’t just work within one lifetime. Hindus believe that the soul moves from one body to another through the process of reincarnation in the same way we might change our car. And, sometimes we have to face the consequences for things we did in a previous life. This might seem unfair, as we no longer remember what we did. I bet the rally drivers don’t remember zooming past the cameras a year ago, but it would be even more unfair if both the law and karma overlooked our indiscretions just because we had forgotten them.

It’s been proposed that the rally drivers should be above the law on the basis that they and their cars are safer than most road-users. Maybe…, but we would expect safer drivers to lead by example and to follow the law. There is a parallel in Hinduism; that those who dedicate their lives to God are above the law of karma. That doesn’t mean they are free to misbehave. It means they should live a life of pure love so that all their actions are so pleasing to God that karma becomes irrelevant.

© BBC This script was commissioned by the BBC for broadcast as “Weekend Word” on BBC Radio Wales.



Embryology and Scientific SpiritualityScience meets Philosophy

Posted by Akhandadhi das Sun, October 18, 2015 21:24:34

BBC Radio Wales – Weekend Word

3rd October 2003

Families and the law are never a happy mix and this week, we’ve witnessed a legal decision possibly ending the chances of two women enjoying motherhood. Natalie Evans and Lorraine Hadley have been told by the High Court that the embryos that were fertilised from their eggs and the sperm of their respective ex-partners must be destroyed on the basis that their former partners no longer wish to become the father of the children.

Even if you disagree with the ruling, it is not the judge nor the court at fault. UK law is clear that both partners must give consent for every stage of the storage and use of embryos, including before an embryo is implanted in the mother.

It may seem at odds with “normal conception” where the decision to fertilise one’s partner is essentially a one-time decision, but the IVF process, as these two ladies discovered, can be fraught with complex issues. Modern medicine, particularly embryology, offers new opportunities but also raises new moral quandaries. Often, that leads people to question the science of IVF as being immoral, dangerous or evil.

But, what is really being exposed is that society does not have a clear moral framework underpinned with scientifically-sound philosophy. Nor do we have a science that is broad enough to embrace all the phenomena of the natural world.

We are very cautious about pronouncing the point of death, but, as yet, there is no consensus on what is the starting-point of life. Science still has no coherent explanation of why a single cell divides into two, four, eight - all the same - and why these cells then decide to be different, becoming muscle, blood, skin, brain, liver and so on, forming specialised organs which work with other organs in an amazingly co-ordinated system – the body.

The Hindu view is that this manipulation of matter is made possible by the presence of something that, itself, must be different from matter – spirit - for want of a better word. Using “spirit” to explain natural phenomena is perfectly rational, if it provides the only logical explanation and also holds the potential for research – which it does on both counts.

If this scientific and spiritual model was adopted, we would then conclude that every embryo holds the essence of life and should be treated as sacred or, at least, deserving of its own rights. Maybe then, when our courts and society face difficulties from medical and scientific advances, the judgements would be based on the welfare and future of these tiny persons.

© BBC This script was commissioned by the BBC for broadcast as “Weekend Word” on BBC Radio Wales.

Embryology and Scientific SpiritualityWords for Wales

Posted by Akhandadhi das Sun, October 18, 2015 21:24:10

BBC Radio Wales – Weekend Word

3rd October 2003

Families and the law are never a happy mix and this week, we’ve witnessed a legal decision possibly ending the chances of two women enjoying motherhood. Natalie Evans and Lorraine Hadley have been told by the High Court that the embryos that were fertilised from their eggs and the sperm of their respective ex-partners must be destroyed on the basis that their former partners no longer wish to become the father of the children.

Even if you disagree with the ruling, it is not the judge nor the court at fault. UK law is clear that both partners must give consent for every stage of the storage and use of embryos, including before an embryo is implanted in the mother.

It may seem at odds with “normal conception” where the decision to fertilise one’s partner is essentially a one-time decision, but the IVF process, as these two ladies discovered, can be fraught with complex issues. Modern medicine, particularly embryology, offers new opportunities but also raises new moral quandaries. Often, that leads people to question the science of IVF as being immoral, dangerous or evil.

But, what is really being exposed is that society does not have a clear moral framework underpinned with scientifically-sound philosophy. Nor do we have a science that is broad enough to embrace all the phenomena of the natural world.

We are very cautious about pronouncing the point of death, but, as yet, there is no consensus on what is the starting-point of life. Science still has no coherent explanation of why a single cell divides into two, four, eight - all the same - and why these cells then decide to be different, becoming muscle, blood, skin, brain, liver and so on, forming specialised organs which work with other organs in an amazingly co-ordinated system – the body.

The Hindu view is that this manipulation of matter is made possible by the presence of something that, itself, must be different from matter – spirit - for want of a better word. Using “spirit” to explain natural phenomena is perfectly rational, if it provides the only logical explanation and also holds the potential for research – which it does on both counts.

If this scientific and spiritual model was adopted, we would then conclude that every embryo holds the essence of life and should be treated as sacred or, at least, deserving of its own rights. Maybe then, when our courts and society face difficulties from medical and scientific advances, the judgements would be based on the welfare and future of these tiny persons.

© BBC This script was commissioned by the BBC for broadcast as “Weekend Word” on BBC Radio Wales.



Voting for Moral AuthoritySpiritual Politics

Posted by Akhandadhi das Sun, October 18, 2015 21:20:28

BBC Radio Wales - Wednesday Word

30th April 2003

Assembly elections tomorrow – and, yes, I’ll be turning out in our village hall to do my bit as a good citizen. When you think of all the fuss about bringing democracy to Iraq, it’ll be interesting to see how many folk here in Wales choose to vote in the Welsh national elections.

We hear criticism of a lack of democracy in some Islamic countries, but really none of the world’s religions is big on democracy. There’s no major religion that allows all of its followers to vote who should be the head of that religion. Can you imagine the campaigning? Vote for me and I’ll downgrade the Ten Commandments to just “Half-a-dozen Guidelines to think about”. Or, “Let’s cut tithing down to 9%!”

The ancient texts of Hinduism describe a type of democratic voting – but only to chose a person from amongst one's peers to represent the views of the whole group. Voting for representation is one thing. Voting for someone to govern the group is another…because what we are actually doing is choosing someone to be a higher moral authority over us. I suspect that many religions have a deep-rooted feeling that universal suffrage isn’t necessarily the best way to ensure the instatement of a moral authority for a country, but most do recognise that it’s probably better than having non-elected governments.

You might think that moral authority has nothing to do with the Welsh Assembly or your local council. After all, the issues are practical. They consider the allocation of resources and don’t usually involve ethics and morality. But, any decision by anybody can only be made on one of two grounds – either it is based on pure selfishness, or it’s based on considering the effects on others – and that is a moral judgement. How we spend money on schools shows how we value the younger generation and their future. Our systems of social care speak volumes about our attitudes to the old, sick or needy. These are moral issues and we need truly moral people to be in government at all levels.

If there is a democratic message from the world’s religions, I think it is that we must cast our vote wisely – not choosing the person or party that promises the most for me – but electing those wise souls who will selflessly serve the needs of all their constituents – people we have confidence in to be a moral authority.

© BBC This script was commissioned by the BBC for broadcast as “Weekend Word” on BBC Radio Wales.

Voting for Moral AuthorityWords for Wales

Posted by Akhandadhi das Sun, October 18, 2015 21:19:58

BBC Radio Wales - Wednesday Word

30th April 2003

Assembly elections tomorrow – and, yes, I’ll be turning out in our village hall to do my bit as a good citizen. When you think of all the fuss about bringing democracy to Iraq, it’ll be interesting to see how many folk here in Wales choose to vote in the Welsh national elections.

We hear criticism of a lack of democracy in some Islamic countries, but really none of the world’s religions is big on democracy. There’s no major religion that allows all of its followers to vote who should be the head of that religion. Can you imagine the campaigning? Vote for me and I’ll downgrade the Ten Commandments to just “Half-a-dozen Guidelines to think about”. Or, “Let’s cut tithing down to 9%!”

The ancient texts of Hinduism describe a type of democratic voting – but only to chose a person from amongst one's peers to represent the views of the whole group. Voting for representation is one thing. Voting for someone to govern the group is another…because what we are actually doing is choosing someone to be a higher moral authority over us. I suspect that many religions have a deep-rooted feeling that universal suffrage isn’t necessarily the best way to ensure the instatement of a moral authority for a country, but most do recognise that it’s probably better than having non-elected governments.

You might think that moral authority has nothing to do with the Welsh Assembly or your local council. After all, the issues are practical. They consider the allocation of resources and don’t usually involve ethics and morality. But, any decision by anybody can only be made on one of two grounds – either it is based on pure selfishness, or it’s based on considering the effects on others – and that is a moral judgement. How we spend money on schools shows how we value the younger generation and their future. Our systems of social care speak volumes about our attitudes to the old, sick or needy. These are moral issues and we need truly moral people to be in government at all levels.

If there is a democratic message from the world’s religions, I think it is that we must cast our vote wisely – not choosing the person or party that promises the most for me – but electing those wise souls who will selflessly serve the needs of all their constituents – people we have confidence in to be a moral authority.

© BBC This script was commissioned by the BBC for broadcast as “Weekend Word” on BBC Radio Wales.



Hiss, but don’t strikeSpiritual Politics

Posted by Akhandadhi das Sun, October 18, 2015 21:15:57

BBC Radio Wales - Weekend Word

31st January 2003

It’s been yet another week of increased temperature regarding possible military action on Iraq, culminating today with a summit at Camp David. Perhaps, Messrs Bush and Blair have felt the need to issue extra doom-laden justifications to stop public opinion sliding away from war.

There is a story in Hinduism about a cobra who decided to renounce his life of wanton killing and become a religious hermit. The reformed snake was tormented by local hooligans who thought he had gone soft. So, he asked his guru what to do. His teacher advised him: “Next time, raise your hoods, hiss, but do not strike.” Sure enough, the boys were no longer certain of the cobra’s passivity and they left him alone.

Of course, a threat has no teeth unless there is full intention to follow it up with the use of force. I don’t, therefore, object to our country threatening and intending action under the auspices of a UN resolution. But, because war is the ultimate sanction, we must be extremely cautious upping the ante too early, or for nebulous, possibly wrong, reasons.

In the Hindu text, Bhagavad-gita, Arjun presented the case for holding back from war. His words seem relevant today. “How strange it is that we are preparing to wage war and commit the sin of killing for no grander reason than our own self-interest. Our opponents may be cruel and avaricious and see no fault in war and terror, but why should we, with knowledge of the sin, engage in the same acts.”

We failed the Iraqi people twelve years ago when we enabled Saddam to quell resistance and retain his oppressive regime. They may still need our help, but I don’t think that’s the motive behind an assault on Iraq. We hear of a “preventative” strike – but the proposition that one country can attack another just in case it might start a war seems hideously medieval and is surely a rejection of the values of modern democracy and internationalism. Moreover, it sweeps aside the premise that all human life is equal and sacred. It’s saying it’s OK for the hapless residents of another nation to die in our quest for a safe and comfortable existence.

Arjun was no wimp. Ultimately, he fought one of the bloodiest battles in ancient history. But, he did so only when every alternative for peace was thoroughly exhausted, when the crimes of the opposition so massively out-weighed the ramifications of war and when he was ready to be held personally accountable to God for every injury and death, for every widowed wife and for every orphaned child.
© BBC This script was commissioned by the BBC for broadcast as “Weekend Word” on BBC Radio Wales.