BBC Radio 4 - Thought for the Day
7th September 2000
Forty-seven million. That’s a lot of money to salvage the operation of the Millennium Dome for the rest of the year. It’s certainly difficult to put that quantity of cash into perspective when we can think of lots of good causes and projects which could be transformed by a fraction of the amount.
The main issue for the Dome is simply a lack of attendance. I suppose I’m partly to blame since, like many others, I haven’t bothered to visit it. I may well be missing out on a great experience but, somehow or other, it hasn’t enticed me enough to make the trip to Greenwich.
There’s a salutary lesson in this. Something may be worthy, educational, even enriching, but it has to be able to attract us naturally – like bees to nectar.
There is a story of a Hindu guru challenging his students: “Why are you following spiritual life?” Each tried to give a philosophical response – “Because, we are all the servants of God.” “NO!” “Because we must fulfil our religious duties.” “NO!” And so it went on – until one tentative voice said, “Because I like it.” “YES!” the guru confirmed.
This principle of enjoying what we do is there in every field of human endeavour. We work better when we enjoy it; we give more to our relationships when we feel reciprocal appreciation; we can move mountains when there is inspiration and satisfaction from the effort.
This drive for pleasure is not a defect of human nature. According to the Hindu texts - anandamaya-bhyasat – the nature of the soul is to enjoy unlimited bliss. In the embodied state in this world, the soul’s need for pleasure is still the critical impetus behind every activity. We may fear that justifying people’s desire for pleasure undermines the principles of acting out of duty and obligation. But the Bhagavad-gita warns us that unless we are enjoying, what it calls, “a higher taste” from observing our social and religious duties, we are unlikely to stick to them.
And, it says, there is no higher taste than loving and being loved.
The most valuable advice I ever received in relating with others came from my wife. It applies to everyone – whether they be family, friends, colleagues, employees, whoever. All we have to do is to convey - “I like you, I value you and I need you.” It’s a heart-warming message to give and it is wonderfully inspirational to receive.
And what attracts us into spiritual life? Hearing these words from God.
© BBC This script was commissioned by the BBC for broadcast as “Thought for the Day” on the Today programme Radio 4.