Vision from the Wise

 In Speaker / Gateway

The Rotary Club of Bombay was honoured to invite one of India’s most spiritual dynamic leaders, Swami Swatmanandaji, to our meeting last Tuesday. Swamiji introduced his topic of ‘Oneness and Humility,’ choosing to explore it through the environment’s perspective.

He grabbed our attention with a few equations. The first one being: Action minus vision equals division. “When we don’t act with a higher vision, we act with narrow-mindedness. With small vision, we only create divisions – division in our family, division in a company, division in a community, in a country. When the vision of oneness is not there, divisions is what we create,” stated Swamiji, explaining the importance of the right vision when performing actions. Borrowing an example from the Hindu epic The Mahabharata, Swamiji highlighted how the families of the Pandavas and the Kauravas were oriented in action but lacked vision, causing division in the form of one of the biggest wars in mythology.

Swamiji then introduced us to another equation: Vision minus action equals imagination. By this, he meant that ithout any action, a vision is just mere imagination, but vision plus action equals transformation. Reiterating the importance of vision, Swamiji quoted a powerful line from the Vedas. “Yatha drishti tatha srishti,” which translates to, “As the vision is, so the world appears to us.” He then told us Rotarians about the two types of visions. The first is material vision, where you try to gain maximum happiness from the world without a care about the consequences. This is to look at the world as an object. The second type of vision is known as spiritual vision, which is to see the world as one living being – as a manifestation of an infinite cause, wherein everything is divine, and everything is one.

This is the vision that guides Oneness and Harmony.

Segueing into a discussion about the environment, Swamiji said that with a vision of Oneness, we live in harmony with the world without creating conflict, agitation, or disturbances in the world. How we interact with the environment is dependent on our vision for the world. Swamiji thus showed us a video about the world’s grandeur, after which he read out a few disturbing statistics – every week, species are labelled extinct; every day, huge forests are completely eliminated; every second, three hundred animals are killed in the United States alone.

Shedding light on the environmental aspect through oneness, Swamiji quoted Swami Chinmayananda Saraswati, saying, “To assume differences in the world is to believe this great Oneness in life.” If we assume this oneness, we would become much more sensitive, loving, and caring towards the environment and others.

What we do effects the entire universe, said Swamiji, warning us Rotarians about the effects of each of our actions. Micro-causes somewhere in the world have macro-impacts somewhere else in the world. The war in Kuwait caused acid rain in India, the CFC emissions in the United States created a hole in the ozone layer above Australia – because this is a linked world.

How must humans, who are the roof and crown of creation, live to ensure that everyone is safeguarded and not destroyed because of us? Being a humble person is the beginning of all knowledge and transformation. Humility, Swamiji says, “Is not to think less of yourself, but to think of yourself less because there is a bigger cause to identify with.” A bigger cause is the desire to eliminate suffering in any form, and acknowledging the Rotary Club of
Bombay, Swamiji identified our contribution in eliminating world suffering.

Abbreviating the word ‘One’ in reference to Oneness, and transforming it into an acronym, Swamiji encouraged us otarians to broaden our outlook and look at the world like a global family, engage in noble actions, and expand our vision. Listing a number of actions one can perform to live a life more rooted in giving back to the environment, Swamiji urged us to practice the Ubuntu philosophy, “I am, because we are.”

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