All life is sacred and therefore compassion and respect towards all forms of life are the basis of a genuine sense of caring for humanity, says Sri Narasimha Swamiji in his masterpiece ‘Life of Sai Baba’.
Today, technology has shrunk the world, bringing people from across the globe closer. An event in one part of the world has repercussions in other parts, too. With our lives so intertwined, altruism is a practical necessity. Religious teachings from ancient times also stress the need for altruism, practicing it as a matter of virtue or ethics.
In economic and environmental matters, countries need cooperation and collaboration, making the concept of ‘us’ and ‘them’ archaic. It is time we consider the whole world as ‘us.’ But, due to lack of awareness and insight, this is far from becoming real. We still believe in separateness, and many of our current problems are because of narrow-mindedness and short-sightedness. For instance, we are facing a serious, worldwide ecological crisis and the issue cannot be resolved by a powerful nation alone, but rather, in collaboration with others.
This small planet is the only hope for us, and all of us have the responsibility to look after it. Only a sense of global and universal responsibility can solve or minimize man-made problems. The logic is quite simple! Our interests are dependent on that of others, and unless that is taken care of, we cannot solve our problems. We should develop an attitude to help one another. We should visualize Sai Baba in each and every one of us. Serving others is equivalent to serving ourselves and God.
We will all benefit when we take greater care of others’ rights and interests.
A majority of over six billion people on this planet do not seriously follow any particular faith. Although people say that they belong to a certain tradition, they may not necessarily be believers in their personal lives. However, they are also a very important part of humanity. When a child takes birth, it does not choose its faith. Even when the parents perform rituals, the child has no feeling for, or appreciation for those rituals. Its mind is free from any faith and it survives only on human affection and concern. The mother’s physical touch or milk is what the child appreciates. These are very strong feelings of appreciation and human affection, without which the child cannot survive.
Thus, from the time of birth, every human being seeks affection. It is also a basic human nature to be gentle — gentleness based on affection. When our mind is calm, compassionate and open, we remain healthy physically. On the other hand, constant frustration, anger, agitation and hatred, affect mental and physical health alike. We learn this from Sai Baba’s life.
While we promote intellectual or knowledgeable aspects of our nature and our valuable qualities, the most important of which is compassion must also increase. When we realize the impermanence of our own lives, and that of all others, while also thinking about ‘how our lives are dependent on others,’ we ensure that the brain and the heart function in tandem. Apart from this, we must take care of the environment for humans to have a better future. This planet is our home.
We must recognize the unifying ‘life’ within all sentient beings – recognizing that Sai Baba is our ‘Antaryami’ – and develop an attitude of respect towards all aspects of the environment — akin to what we give to our families. Disregarding needs and feelings of living, sentient beings will make us develop negative feelings about our fellow human beings and see them as weak, worthless and undeserving of respect. Compassion and respect towards all forms are the basis of a genuine sense of caring for humanity. It is time for each one of us to develop this kind of attitude. The need of the hour is for human beings to develop the virtue of compassion for everything, the entire humanity, the environment, each other, and the self.