Talking to Youth
Wisdom and knowledge, kindness and compassion, happiness and joy are not exclusive property of a few; every one of us is the repository of these virtues. This is because that is our real nature. Infinite knowledge and perfection are our own, right from the birth; it's just that we are not aware of the same. However, it is unfortunate that no special efforts are being made to make us realize this truth. Many factors are responsible for such piquant situation: 1) Overtly or covertly the established social culture does not want us to question the causes of inadequacies and disparities prevalent in the society, 2) nor are we allowed to rebel against it. 3) Secondly, some inscrutable evolutionary factors have made our genes utterly selfish that keep us entangled in the interests and pleasures of senses alone.
This all leads to routine life pattern of learning, earning, and engaging in materialistic enjoyment in life, full of stress, anxiety, worry, and apprehension. The occasional sane words or suggestions to lead a different kind of life are fraught with social and familial resistance preventing the full expression of new ways and aims in life. For instance, many a young people are really selfless and a caring lot. They want to help others, care and serve others without expecting much in return, but this is not allowed easily. Thus generosity, altruism, and compassion, although acknowledged as great virtues, cannot find representation in youths where it is needed most. Such youths are sure to become ideal for next generation. In fact, this is the beginning of spirituality or true religion. The index of spiritual growth is the extent to which most of the youth express quality of selflessness: 'Not me, but thou!'
1. Self-confidence and need for Spiritual Groups
The person who has or who shows such inclination in his or her youth should be proud and happy about it. He or she should have confidence in himself or herself that he or she is right and correct in harboring such noble virtues, even though the family, social, cultural, and political institutions do not lend much support to their beliefs. However, as it is not possible to live alone, or in isolation proclaiming such virtues as the aim in life, it is urgently necessary to create such groups and associations where such persons can find family-like atmosphere. The association should be broad-based and scattered at many places, each unit comprising of small number of like-minded people. The association has to be international in its reach and universal in its outlook. The advanced systems of communication should allow various local and national groups to interact not only within a country but also internationally. Such an association would help remove feeling of loneliness and boredom, and even depression, which might affect the youth for want of friends in his or her life and surrounding area.
2. Ideology and Program
To find the ideological base for the virtues one feels correct, it becomes necessary to find supporting evidence from a) the scriptures, b) the life, teachings and sayings of great persons and of prophets. One should start with the study of Faith one is born in. One can begin with the study of the life and teachings of the founder persons who advocated and exemplified such selflessness in their life. Naturally such a study would be widely divergent to begin with, however, soon it would be noticed that in essence every great soul has to tell the same thing. Thus, sectarianism would be avoided. Moreover, drawing from the vast resources of varied culture and places it would be easy to comprehend and accept the teachings of all religions and saints. Buddha and Jesus, Krishna and Mahavir, Guru Nanak and prophets of other religions teach one thing only: Selflessness! Soon the group or the family would shortlist on one prophet as the Chosen Ideal for that association.
3. Methods and Means to practice what one believes
Without wealth, power, position, name and fame also a person can enjoy his work and seek fulfillment in life. Gradually the person learns that, indeed, it is renunciation of all worldly bonds and life of non-attachment that is most desirable, for that is most joyful and glorious state of being. Such a state of mind can be cultivated through association with holy people and in the company of like-minded friends. Maximum satisfaction in work and fulfillment in life is obtained in 'selfless work,' in the work carried out in the spirit of non-attached state of mind.
Vedanta philosophy, which emphasizes two basic truths: 1) that you are Divine, and 2) that you are perfect should help allay all fears and doubts about failure or correctness of approach. Every secular and spiritual act in life, indeed life as a whole, is worship of the Divine; is the act of realizing and manifesting one's divinity; is the expression of Divine Glory. 'Excellence in work is Yoga,' declares Lord Krishna in the Gita, and what better excellence can there be other than 'serving others as God'!
However, all this is not easy. To see God all around is very difficult, for the distractions are too many and doubts unrelenting. Secondly, it is not possible to see Divine outside unless one realizes or 'sees' the Divine within his or her own heart. 'I'm not this weak body with wavering mind, I am all knowing, all powerful Atman' such faith and conviction needs to be effectively developed. For this other spiritual practices like meditation and control of mind are essential.
What we have written up till now points to one thing; that we should engage ourselves in all forms of activities - reading, work, mediation, worship, - that would help us realize our true divine nature, i.e. take us towards God. All such activities are none other than Yoga. Love, devotion, worship, and rituals form yoga of Bhakti; selfless service to others and our own work to earn livelihood come under Karma Yoga; meditation and control of mind and senses form Raja Yoga, and contemplation, discrimination between real and unreal, studying Scriptures etc. form path of Jnana.
Youth of today who have inborn desire to seek fulfillment and freedom in life, who are inclined to serve others out of sheer force of selflessness, who have least attachment to sense pleasures, and who have curiosity to know God should come together by forming such groups. Initially the ideas are bound to be vague and the mind would sure to rebel, but with patience and perseverance and assurance from wise teachers they are sure to become confident about the correctness of the path they have chosen, the path of glorious life and spiritual enlightenment.
Such individuals should not only communicate on phone or by e-mail, or through letters, but should also make every effort to meet each other in person by undertaking journeys as pilgrimage. Intra-national and international group meetings would help encourage exchange of ideas, knowledge, information and most importantly establish a spiritual bond of love between youths from diverse sections of society.
c s shah