Little unity exists in ages-old, ever-changing world
Boredom is a disease from which I have never suffered. Life has always tickled my curiosity. In authoring this column, you will notice, I rarely have any answers to life’s issues ‘ only questions. Just as soon as I think I have discovered a resolution to a query, up pop more unknowns and possibilities to explore. And so it was in India these past weeks as I visited that ancient and complex country.
You, who know the owner of this 71-year-old body, know I am no candidate for a poster on physical agility. But when I was invited to attend The International Yoga Festival in Rishikesh, India, as part of the Ambassador’s for Children program, I signed up to go, along with daughter Jenny. My head is right in the middle of ponderings upon the unity of all. Where better to explore this subject than along the Ganges River in the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains.
I had a lot of catch-up reading to do before we left. Leah Porter sent me the book ‘The Tao of Physics,’ in which the author Fritjof Capra states: ‘Modern physics leads us to a view of the world which is very similar to the views held by mystics of all ages and traditions. The two basic themes of this conception are the unity and interrelation of all phenomena and the intrinsically dynamic nature of the universe. The further we penetrate into the submicroscopic world, the more we shall realize how the modern physicist, like the eastern mystic, has come to see the world as a system of inseparable, interacting and ever-moving components with man being an integral part of this system.’
This kind of thinking sure jazzed up my head. I watched videos on ‘quantum physics’ and read Thomas Freidman’s book ‘The World is Flat.’ Wow! This was developing into something exciting. This is really community building as I envision it.
I had always thought of yoga as a series of physical positions, most of which I would never be able to achieve without dislocating some part of my body. I have found out that the word ‘yoga’ means ‘union’ ‘ union of breath with the body, of the mind with the muscles, and most importantly, of the self with the divine. Yoga conditions your body that you might be still for long periods of meditation. I found the necessity of this out in my first class. All I could think about was my cramping legs and that was hardly a route to ‘enlightenment.’
We stayed at a center called an ashram which was under the guidance of H.H. Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati. Don’t let his name give you the impression this is a fellow who is out of touch with the modern world. He is a recognized leader in numerous international, interfaith conferences and parliaments. He was a participant in The World Economic Forum and a member of The World Council of Religious Leaders.
He cites: ‘Lack of unity is the cause of all problems in the world, both on a personal level and on a global level. We are constantly at war between our mind and heart, our desires, our fears, our confusions. We are not united with God. We feel alone, we feel scared, we feel that everything is on our own shoulders.
‘In our families also there is no unity. We fight with each other, manipulate each other and criticize each other.
‘Unity is lacking in our communities, too. And of course in our world we are divided by nations, by religions, by color. But, how to find that union?’
That is the forever question of all of mankind.
Isn’t it intriguing that all kinds of people from all varieties of disciplines are asking the same question and finding common ground? I read Thomas Friedman and learn about the new global political and economic living room. I study yoga and participate in the oneness of body and soul. I hear scientists discuss the electrical connectivity of all life. David Talbott and Wallace Thornhill during a radio interview discussed their book titled ‘Thunderbolts of the Gods.’ They tell us, ‘From the smallest particle to the largest galactic formation, a web of electrical circuitry connects and unifies all of nature, organizing galaxies, energizing stars, giving birth to planets and, on our own world, controlling weather and animating biological organisms. There are no isolated islands in an electric universe.’ If we hear of this unity of all things from all directions, there must be something of truth in it.
You might wonder what all this has to do with children. After all, I did say I went to India with a group assembled by Ambassador’s for Children. We did indeed work and play with kids in orphanages, and it had everything to do with our place in the universe. I guess that is what all this questioning on my part is about. Oh dear, you will be hearing more from me about this trip for a long time.