BBC Wales - Thought for the Week
16th June 1997
During the last couple of weeks researchers on behalf of the Welsh Office have been stopping motorists for a survey to determine travelling trends for the future.
Every week I drive up and down the M4. But so far, I’m disappointed that I haven’t been accosted by someone with a clip-board asking for my opinion - especially on such crucial questions as “Where are you coming from?”, “Where are you going?” and “What is the purpose of your journey?”
The issue is coping with the ever-increasing demand of the “infernal combustion engine”. But you can’t blame the cars, it’s their human masters who decide when and where they go. That’s why the Welsh Office wants to understand our minds.
As a Hindu, I believe my body is a vehicle carrying me as its driver. Without a conscious driver, a car goes nowhere. So, although the body is a fantastically complex machine, I believe that it requires to be activated and given direction by the soul.
From childhood to now, my body has changed. My personality and outlook has also varied, but I am the individual who has experienced the pains and pleasures at each moment of my life. The ancient scripture, Bhagavad-gita, asks me to consider that if my body and mind is constantly changing but I, as the person experiencing life, don’t change, then perhaps the real me is something distinct from my body and mind. In Hinduism, I, therefore, identify myself not in terms of the body, but as the atma or the soul.
This observation that I remain unchanged despite the changing body I inhabit, suggests that I may continue to exist even after the demise of the body. And it follows logically that I existed prior to the formation of this particular body, perhaps inside another body in some previous life.
So, I see myself as a spiritual being moving from one body to another in the same way as I might buy a car, use it until it disintegrates and then get a new one. In this scenario, questions such as “Where have I come from?” have greater significance than “Where did I start out from this morning?”
And “What is the purpose of my journey?” Am I simply burning up and down life’s motorways, driving one car after another, never finding the exit? Or do I read the signs and find the right direction towards my destination as an eternal spirit soul.
Now, I don’t know if the Welsh Office would accept this as an appropriate response to its survey. It probably won’t fit on the questionnaire sheet.
© BBC This script was commissioned by the BBC for broadcast as “Thought for the Week” on BBC Radio Wales.