The postmodern man, on the threshold of embarking on a revolution of Artificial Intelligence and Creative Robotics, is still facing challenges posed by the most primitive set of emotions, Anger-Anxiety-Depression, and Guilt. With strides in the field of Neuropsychopharmacology and the development of Cognitive Behaviour Therapies, this man and his culture are still looking with hope towards the wisdom emanating from the past, may it be Yoga, Vipassana, Mindfulness, Art of Living or Inner Engineering.
What is so endearing about these pages of the past? What is it that makes this scriptural wisdom relevant in the globalized, gadget-dependent world? Why are even some of our most ‘Scientific’ brains delving deep into this ancestral treasure? And of course how can this society benefit from these pearls from the past in this ozone depleting environment?
This interesting phase in Human Evolution, where unabashed consumerism is growing in stature every day and individualism is reaching new peaks of self-centric intoxication, there is also a quest to transcend mundane materialism and seek a fresh meaning in life.
With multidisciplinary and multiracial teams getting together to study unsolved scientific and cultural riddles on one side, fanatic streams of thought in nearly all corners of the world are trying to hold this globe for ransom. It’s a strange co-existence of liberal thought and restrictive, sectarian dogmatic thinking co-existing at the same time.
Or is it that this is an eternal conflict that man has faced throughout his journey, and that’s the very reason why past wisdom still finds a place in a world that has changed outwardly beyond recognition if a sage from the Upanishadic times visits the globe today.
Is it that this is an eternal conflict that man has faced throughout his journey, and that’s the very reason why past wisdom still finds a place in a world that has changed outwardly beyond recognition?
As a student and activist in the field of mental health for a period of almost four decades now, I find myself at a remarkable crossroad. Trying to understand torn minds amidst apparently bountiful consumer goods, people still having existential problems and in contrast, people with a treasure of pleasures, still unsatisfied and even complaining about getting a raw deal from life.
As a mental health professional, I have been dealing with individuals and families in distress with Psychopharmacological molecules, liberal dosages of REBT (Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapy) and also giving them genuine support. At times I have crossed my limits of being a ‘Clinical Psychiatrist’ and walked an extra mile with many of my clients. Yet, I felt I need to extend my understanding of life. Life, existence, death . . . the meaning of life and of death, the relationship with the self and with others!
Here I decided to go back to the basic treasures from wherein arises the stream of ancient Indian wisdom – Vedanta.
The Vedanta philosophy and its origin had been an eluding puzzle for me for over two decades. My attention turned to the Bhagavad Gita, after I started receiving queries on it by some of my participant executives at Corporate Seminars on the theme of ‘Stress Management’.
The study then became a habit of sorts, unsettling my emphasis. First, the Gita. Then its creative presentations in my mother tongue, viz. the Dnyaneshwari (by Sant Dnyaneshwar), Gatha (by Sant Tukaram) and some other scriptures. With my interest in History, I also closely studied the works of Swami Vivekananda, Lokmanya Tilak, and Mahatma Gandhi. I am deeply touched by how these visionary leaders in their times fell back upon this pool of wisdom for their altruistic goals. Then came the modern commentators of Vedanta, most prominently amongst them Vinoba (Bhave), the spiritual heir of Gandhiji and a profound Rishi whose insights have become the illuminating lights on my daily life. Closely followed by Osho, whose lucid style still encapsulates my attention. When I started studying Vedanta, this luminous trail was enlightened by others like Eknath Easwaran, Nisargadatta Maharaj, Sri M (a Muslim scholar of Vedanta), scholars from the Ramakrishna order, Gandhian writer, Mrunalini Desai, and many others. Each of them, while explaining the major Upanishads, banked on the wisdom of people like Adi Shankaracharya, Ramakrishna Paramhansa, Ramana Maharshi, J Krishnamurti, and others.
I wanted to link insights in Cognitive Psychology with Vedanta and explore how Vedanta was going beyond cognition. Recent strides in Neurosciences related to imaging techniques added to my excitement. What was still lacking was the presence of a GURU, an enlightened teacher.
Since the last four years, I have had the good fortune to learn from two special teachers of Vedanta, Neema Majmudar and Surya Tahora. Neema is an economist by training and Surya has a doctorate in pharmacology. Neema was working with the UN and Surya is a faculty at the S. P. Jain Institute of Management. Both have done their study of Vedanta with Swami Dayananda Saraswati, who is the peer of Swami Chinmayananda Saraswati and who founded the Vedanta University near Coimbatore in the South and who has an Ashram at Hrishikesh. Both my teachers are extremely articulate as well as empathic. With a globalized world view, they add their understanding of the modern world to the delivery of Vedic knowledge.
I always require a culminating goal point to all my studious journeys. Three decades of our organization, IPH (Institute for Psychological Health) coming up in March 2020, is one such occasion. Why not share the process of my journey with all, on this occasion and also perform a ‘Dnyanyadnya’ by raising some funds for our institution? Almost fifteen years back I had done a similar experiment for our work and helped realize the dream of our institute in its own, owned space. So I have made a plan.
On December 13, 14, 15, 2019, 6 p.m. – 9.30 p.m., 180 minutes per day, 540 minutes on three evenings, I will share with all, my journey around the theme ‘Vedanta Ethos and the Enlightened Personality.’
My serious limitation at this point is my emphasis on the Cognitive approach. To me, all study is about Thinking and Attitudes. That’s my conditioning. Being Empathic is something that I have tried to sharpen over the years. Therefore, the doctrine of ‘Bhakti’ is not new to me. Altruistic behavior is something that comes naturally to me quite a number of times, as material gain has hardly ever been a priority in my life. But I am still away from any illuminating spiritual experience that goes beyond cognition. However, there are many times during a day when I do experience the dissolution of my ‘Human MEness’ and the awareness of only a Flow of Being. I just experience it, acknowledge it and drop it.
The advantage of this limitation is that I can relate to all the sorrows and disappointments of my day-to-day practical life in a ‘common’ way. Sometimes it is more useful to share your journey midway than after reaching the destination. You are still there with miseries around and within you, awaiting transcendence.
So, here is what it’s going to be…
Audiovisual communication. A Monologue draped as a dialogue. For all these 540 minutes, on three evenings, at the end of this year.
Want to join in? Reserve your place and help our cause of ‘Mental Health for All’.
Date: December13, 14 15, 2019
Time: 6.00 p.m. to 9.30 p.m.
Venue: Shiv Samarth Vidyalay, Opp. Gadkari Rangayatan, Near Talao Pali, Thane West
Donation Contribution: ₹ 500 per person for all three evenings.
(Your further voluntary contributions to our cause are welcome at the venue)
Seating Arrangement: Limited
Book your seat in advance NOW.