Swami Prabhanandaji Maharaj, eminent scholar monk of the Ramakrishna Order, wrote various articles on spirituality, on our inner lives as well as on relevant issues of the outer world which were published as observations in the monthly Bulletin of the Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture, when he was the Secretary of this Institute. In the book in Search of Spiritual Values we published these observations upto June 2004. it was highly appreciated among the devotees and scholars. Now we have collected the rest of his articles upto April 2007 and publish these observations under the title ‘Spiritual Values to Live By’. We also include some relevant articles written by him which were not published as observations or otherwise. Hope this book will help the readers to find the inner light and spiritual joy.
If a person lives by certain values, that means he or she behaves in the manner in which those values say one should behave. However, many people proclaim adherence to a value system but they do not live by it, and the lip-service they pay to it soon becomes exposed.
India has long been known as a land of spirituality. After Independence a large umber of temples, mosques, and churches proliferated all over the country-in a way never seen before. But regrettably, and contrary to expectations, this has not resulted in the lives of Indians becoming enriched with more spiritual values. Rather, India seems to have lost her grip on the spiritual culture of which she was so proud. Consequently, one finds today that in almost every field of life India has become grossly bloated by mediocrity. Elderly people, intellectuals, and others all blame it on the deteriorating values that people of today live by.
As we look around, we unfortunately find that there has been in no other period of our national and global history more violence and mistrust than there is today. A few decades ago Dr. D.S. Kothari, the distinguished educationist, gave a diagnosis of the problem and said: ‘You have great science and great poverty, because you have failed to link STP [science, technology, and productivity] with wisdom. You have expertise-but no character.’ (The Statesman, 20 May 1984) And this is even more true now than at the time the great thinker pointed it out. As a remedy for these ills, experts like Dr. Kothari recommended adequate value education-that is, man-making and character-building education.
But the big question is, how does one acquire values, whether mundane or spiritual? The renowned psychologist Gordon W. Allport once said, ‘Values are learned by accretion, by association, by precept, through vicarious experience, and through traumatic experience.’ In fact, at every step of our life we are confronted with choices regarding values of various kinds. But then there is another point: we find that in Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Jainism, and Sikhism no distinction is made between religious and secular values, or spiritual and mundane values. In the West, however, values are classified into categories, such as spiritual, moral, political, economic, and aesthetic.
Values are abstract concepts and have their ultimate source in the Spirit. This is why value education must be rooted in the conception of the ultimate Reality, or Spirit. Spirituality lies in ‘being and becoming’. ‘Being’ indicates the need for Self-realization, while ‘becoming stands for self-expression. Spiritual values manifest when a person develops the ability to control his mind and sense organs, and skillfully traverse his external environment in order to reach the goal of Self-fulfilment.
Religion, philosophy, and spirituality in the Indian tradition have always constituted an integral whole that guides a person through life. Thus learning to be and become is one continuing process. Naturally, Swami Vivekananda and his Master laid stress on putting precepts into practice and realizing in one’s life the ideal that one aspires for most.
Rather than trying to get a child to absorb a long list of values, it would be wiser for a teacher to help a child learn the ‘why’ of values as well as ‘which values to choose’ and ‘how to choose them’. these three aspects constitute the first half of the learning process. The second half, which is even more important, is concerned with learning how to assimilate the value concepts and turn them into ‘becoming’.
Swayed by ignorance, the soul creates its own fantasy in the form of egotism. Egotism then breeds attachment, and attachment leads to aversion. This chain reaction is responsible for our tremendous clinging to life and our suffering. A person who is egocentric then is one who is spiritually ill. Thus, attenuation of the ego is an essential prerequisite for all who want to embark on the spiritual path.
Human beings are potentially divine, and the manifestation of their inherent divinity is their paramount goal. When the veil of ignorance is removed, the ultimate Reality becomes Self-manifest. The word ‘manifestation’ suggests spontaneous growth, provided that whatever Vedanta, ignorance is of two kinds-tulavidya (empirical ignorance) and mulavidya (causal ignorance). Learning removes the first one and brings knowledge of empirical objects; while the removal of causal ignorance opens the door to Self-knowledge, leading to the manifestation of our inherent divinity, or consciousness.
Thus, in order to traverse the path of spirituality, we should strive to bring about a total change in our attitude towards ourself, towards the world, and towards God. Only then can we prepare ourself to live by spiritual values. There is an organic wholeness to humanity. That is to say, human beings are all like leaves of one tree-a universal tree. Or, better still, they are like molecules of a huge human body.
If one part of the body is worn out or diseased, other parts of the body-or for that matter, the whole body itself-will be affected. This is why human beings must, for their own sake, live by spiritual values.
In order to throw some light on the various facets of this issue, these articles were written, and most of them appeared as ‘Observations’ in the monthly Bulletin of the Ramakrishna mission Institute of Culture. It is my pleasure to thank everyone who has helped in this publication, particularly Pravrajika Shuddhatmaprana (Cecile Guenther).
In order to throw some light on the various facets of this issue, these articles were written, and most of them appeared as ‘Observations’ in the monthly Bulletin of the Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture. It is my pleasure to thank everyone who has helped in this publication, particularly Pravrajika Shuddhatmaprana (Cecile Guenther).
Back of the Book
In order to traverse the path of spirituality, we should strive to bring about a total change in our attitude towards ourself, towards the world, and towards God. Only then can we prepare ourself to life by spiritual values. There is an organic wholeness to humanity. That is to say, human beings are all like leaves of one tree – a universal tree. Or, better still, they are like molecules of a huge human body. If one part of the body is worn out or diseased, other parts of the body – or for that matter, the whole body itself – will be affected. This is why human beings must, for their own sake, live by spiritual values.
In order to throw some light on the various facets of this issue, these articles were written. Now these are being published in a book-form.
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