Chapter 6.7 from "Study Circles for Divinity"
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6.7  SOCIETY

WISE SAYINGS FROM DIFFERENT FAITHS

"And if there is among you a group who believes in what I have been sent with, and a group who does not believe, then be patient until God judges between us, for God is the best of judges."     Mohammed

"All infractions of love and equity in our social relations are speedily punished. If the government is cruel, the governor's life is not safe. If the tax is too high, the revenue will be proportionately less. If the criminal code is sanguinary, juries will not convict. If the law is too mild, private vengeance will step in. Nature abhors all extremes and our salvation lies in temperance or the golden mean which is nothing else than a state of equilibrium between the two opposing forces of the all-pervading polarity of Nature." 
 Zarathustra

"The wasp gathers honey, yet to the flower, the colour and fragrance, no harm does it give. Without causing any harm to the country, would a monk in that country live."  Buddha



FROM DISCOURSES OF SAI BABA

LIVE IN SOCIETY

You have heard some basic directions that I have been continuously giving. I have been telling you to deal with them, as directions for life. 'Duty is God; Work is Worship', and another dictum, 'Heads in the Forest, Hands in Society'. Do such deeds as are holy and beneficial, untarnished by ego and the greed to benefit. Start on the sacred pilgrimage to the Divine Goal, and make every minute of your life holy and purposeful. (221178)

There is no need to retire into a forest or a cave to know your inner truth and to conquer your lower nature. As a matter of fact, you have no chance to exercise your anger there and so the victory achieved there may not be lasting or genuine. Win the battle of life; be in the world but yet be away from its tentacles. That is the victory for which you deserve congratulations. (030958)



THE INDIVIDUAL AND SOCIETY

Society is the coming together of people. Cooperation, among people in a society, motivated by spontaneity and by pure intentions is the hall-mark of Service. Service can be identified by means of two basic characteristics: Compassion and willingness to sacrifice.

History informs us that in all countries and in every age, man is a social animal. Man is born in society, he grows in and through society and his life ends in society itself. Man's song and speech, his duties and diversions, are all determined by society. Society is like water for fish; if society rejects him or neglects him he cannot survive.

What a single individual cannot accomplish, a well-knit group or society can achieve. A man walking alone will feel tired and miserable at the end of five miles; but, walking with ten others as a group he would find the five miles a jaunt. He arrives refreshed and strong. Social living contributes increased happiness and more efficient effort among birds and beasts. They are able to defend themselves from enemies, secure food and shelter, migrate to places beyond great distances when they act as a group. Even ants have learnt that immense benefits are derivable from group activity and social organisation. Monkeys also live in groups for greater security and happier lives.

Let me tell you nothing is impossible of achievement if an organised society is set on achieving it. Even liberation from material entanglement can be won through serving and promoting the progress of society. Through the sense of unity, the willingness to sacrifice and the softness of compassion, all objects can be gained. So, the Sathya Sai Organisation must move forward with hearty enthusiasm in the field of service to society. (191181)

What has sociology or the social sciences to do with the sciences of the spirit or the inquiry into the human spirit? This is a question that is commonly raised. So too, many do ask: What has the spiritual student and aspirant to do with society and its problems? It must be said, that both these attitudes are wrong.

No society can find its fulfilment, no social ideal can fructify, without the blossoming of the spirit of man. Mankind cannot realise the Divinity whose expression it is, without careful and constant attention being paid to the cultivation of the spirit. How else can this Divinity express itself than in and through individuals? We can apprehend only the creation; this moving, inconstant, fantasia; we cannot see or hear, smell or taste or touch the Director of the Fantasia, God. In the same manner, we can apprehend the Individual, but not the entity named Society. For, society is no separate, distinct, complex formed out of elemental components. Society is the divine proliferation produced by the Will Supreme. (010374)

The relationship between the individual and society has to be rightly understood. Why should the individual serve others? What claims has society on the individual? When we examine these issues, we realise that the individual can find fulfilment only in society. Born in society, growing up in society, living in society, man ends his life in society. Man cannot exist for a moment away from society. In the word 'Samaajam' (society), 'Sam' represents unity, 'aa' means going towards. Samaajam means going forward in unity.

Society may be viewed as a many-petalled flower. Every individual is like a petal. All the petals together make for the beauty of the flower. Without the petals there will be no flower. Likewise every individual is a petal making up the flower of society. Each one should manifest the glory of the Divine.

Society may also be compared to a four-wheeled chariot. The four wheels are: Unity, Control, Knowledge and Power. These four help make society go forward. (260987)

In ancient days, there was immense mutual love and regard between the rulers and the people. Today such relations do not exist. The people are wasting their lives in selfish pursuits. The rulers, for their part, are also preoccupied with their own selfish ambitions and desires and are concerned only about achieving or retaining power and position. Selfishness has grown excessively both among rulers and the public. Unless this process is reversed, man cannot find peace or happiness. There should be control over desires. Peace will grow in proportion to the limitation on desires. All man's worries, difficulties and problems increase with the growth of desires. Man is the architect of his own happiness or misery. Only good actions can produce good results. When the individual is good, the family is good. When families are good, the society is reformed. When society improves, the nation improves. When the nations improve, the world is transformed. Hence, the transformation must begin with the individual. How canthis transformation be brought about? There are two impurities within man which have to be cast out: selfishness and conceit. But that is not enough. Pure qualities like love, forbearance and compassion have to be imbibed. Life has to be divinised. (050987)



GRATITUDE TO SOCIETY

Man is a creature of society and owes everything to society. Hence he should be grateful to it for all that he has received from it. Gratitude is a supreme virtue. Ingratitude is a grievous sin. It will deprive a man of his God-given sight. There is no means of atonement for the ungrateful person. If you wish to safeguard your future, you have to be grateful to those who have helped you in your difficulties and needs in the present. (191190)

Man should strive to use every talent and skill given to him not only for his own benefit but also for the good of the world. Man owes everything to society and should be grateful to society for all that he receives from it. Expressing this gratitude is man's foremost duty. This gratitude has been described as devotion. Chanting the names of the Lord is one of the ways of expressing this gratitude. All the nine forms of worship are different ways in which this gratitude is expressed.

The New Year celebration is an annual reminder of man's obligation to express his gratitude to the Divine for all the benefits received from God. (070489)

Service should proceed from an awareness of what one owes to society. One's name and fame, all the comforts one enjoys, are derived from society. One finds fulfilment in society. That being the case, if one does not serve society, whom else can he serve? Sheer gratitude demands that one should serve society which is the source of all benefits enjoyed by man. Men without gratitude are worse than wild animals.

What are required for service are not money and materials. A loving heart is the first requisite. All service done without a love-filled heart is dry as dust. Fill your hearts with love. When you are filled with conceit, everything looks misshapen. When you are immersed in the Spirit, everything looks good and beautiful. Forgetting this higher destiny of man, people are ceasing to be human. (211188)

Born in society, brought up in society, educated by society and deriving countless benefits from society, what are you doing for society? Social service should be regarded as an expression of gratitude to society for what it has done to us. Without society we cannot survive. The God-given body should be employed for practising righteousness As Prahlada said: "Of what use is the human birth if the various organs like hands, legs, mouth and ears are not engaged in the worship of the Lord? Such a man is a burden to the womb that bore him". Sankaracharya, exponent of the Path of Knowledge, in the last reckoning commended the path of devotion in his 'Bhaja Govindam'. (230389)

Society is composed of the affluent, the middle class and the poor. Social service means service to one's fellow-men. A wealthy man has been able to acquire riches only with the help of others. Realising this, he has a duty to extend help to others in need. Man derives his strength from three sources: wealth, knowledge and the physique. The power derived from these sources should be used properly for right ends.

The term wealth is usually applied to material riches. But it applies equally to the wealth of knowledge and to physical strength. One having this triple strength should devote it for the well-being of society. Joy and sorrow are like the two pots carried by a man on a pole. They are inseparable companions. No one can tell what the future has in store for any person. A millionaire may become a pauper and vice versa. These are familiar phenomena. They occur in the course of nature. Whatever sacrifices or ceremonies one may perform, these vicissitudes cannot be avoided altogether. These changes in fortune are wrought by the whirligig of Time. Recognising this, one should ensure that one's actions are righteous and helpful to others. (191190)



SPIRITUALITY AND SOCIETY

Today, people think that spirituality has no relation to mundane life and vice versa. This is a big mistake. True divinity is a combination of spirituality and social obligations. National unity and social harmony are founded upon spirituality. It is the Divine that links spirituality and social existence. The Creator and the cosmos are inexplicably associated with each other. Hence, God should not be regarded as separate from the creation. See God in the cosmos. For instance, here is a tumbler made of silver. The one who notices the silver in the tumbler, thinks only of the material base and not the form of the tumbler. The one who sees it as a tumbler, does not note its silver base. Only the person who can recognise both silver and tumbler can recognise that it is a silver tumbler. Likewise, without the Omni-Self there is no creation. Today, most people see only the creation. Very few recognise that the creation is a projection of the Creator. It is essential that every human being should have the realisaton that without the Supreme there can be no cosmos.

Unfortunately, man today adheres to a different view. The reason is, he has become a slave of the senses. It is high time he recognised the truth about his inherent nature and started exercising control over the senses. Only when man has mastery over the senses can he perceive the ultimate Reality. It is disastrous for man to be dominated by his senses. he forfeits peace and forgets the Divine. (120291)

This is the true function of Society - to enable every member to realise this Divine Vision. The men and women bound by mutual interests in a society are not merely families, castes, classes, groups, or kinsmen kinswomen; they are ONE Atma. They are knit by the closest of family ties; not only the one society to which they feel they are bound, but, all MANKIND IS ONE. As the scriptures declare, the whole world is one family. This unity must be experienced by every one. (010374)

What is it that men should do to promote the welfare of society? In what way are we proceeding? We serve with intentions of selfishness and for name in the society. I am born in society. I cannot live for a moment without the society. My happiness and pleasure depend on the society. Service to society is service to one's own self. We should understand this unity. It is ego if you say I am serving society. What is the gain to the world by your service? There is no loss sustained if you don't serve. The gain and loss go to you, not to the world. (231195)

How should one's attitude to society be changed? One should give up talking ill of others, reviling them or ridiculing them, feeling envious of good people. Evil traits like these lead to loss of peace in society. People should develop friendly and loving attitude towards their fellow beings in society. To develop a sense of helpfulness, there should be the spirit of sacrifice. People should also cultivate the feeling of sympathy and understanding. (181195)

Divinity is fully immanent in every one; it is patent for the eyes that can see clearly and deeply. Whoever denies this is only cheating himself of his reality. He cannot dismiss it by denial, either from himself or others.

The conclusion, therefore, is inevitable, that, it is the duty of man to see in society the expression of Divinity, and to use all his skill and effort to promote the welfare and prosperity of society. Men must cultivate:  (1)  this expansive feeling;  (2)  this inclusive thinking, and  (3)  this intuitive vision. Without these three, man is but an inert being; if he derides these three, he loses his title to be human.

The spirit of renunciation, adherence to virtue, the eagerness to co-operate, the sense of kinship - these are the characteristic signs of man. Life which considers these as encumbrances cannot be valued as 'life'.

The brotherhood of man can be translated into life only on the basis of the Divine Vision. All men thirst for peace, happiness and bliss. They are the precious heritage which is their right, for, they are God's Treasure. They can be earned only by recognising the bond that unites man to man. All men are of one lineage; they are of Divine Lineage.

All men are cells in the One Divine organism, in the Divine Body. That should be your faith, your fortune, your fort, your fullness. Awareness of this alone gives you the right to call yourself a man. Learn to live as men. This is the spiritual practice, this is the message of Sai. (010374)

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