Don’t let anyone determine your contentment

Hindu Thought: State of the Country

I’ll get right to the point, it’s a great time to be alive. Not only is the statistical and historical evidence overwhelmingly in humanity’s favor, but even our own choice to be who we want and think the way we want has never been more open to the individual. It’s 2020 — I can change my name; change my sex; be anywhere around the world in a matter of hours (that alone is amazing); smoke marijuana openly; make a living from my couch; and live better than the wealthiest populations did one hundred years ago.

The world is improving. Let me offer some global statistics from ourworldindata.com:

Global poverty is declining; GDP per capita has increased rapidly since the 1950’s; child mortality is at an all-time low; life expectancy is higher; since only 20 years ago, entire countries have been lifted out of hunger and undernourished populations; education and literacy levels have improved throughout the world and continue to get better every year. ¹

Is everything perfect? Of course not, and they never will be. Life is meant to have fluctuations — both in socio-economic, socio-political, and consciousness itself — that are measured on massive time scales that Hindu cosmology call Yugas.

Ancient Hindu Epochs

Hindu’s understand time in four cycles: Sat, Treta, Dvarpara, Kali. If creation started from the Kali yuga, it would end in the Sat yuga. These long time cycles last for up to millions of human years and end in what’s known as Mahapralaya — a great cosmic absorption of souls into their source as a type of rest before being spewed out into the yugas again.

This grand macrocosmic sense of time allows for the understanding of microcosmic fluctuations regarding who’s running for president, climate change, increases in technology, and improvements or declines in global consciousness. When we can have a knowing of the larger picture, the smaller details are seen as temporary and fleeting.

As my Paramaguru Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami wrote, “At this time in the Kali Yuga, all states of consciousness are out in the open. All of the fourteen chakras are manifest in one way or another on Earth. It is a very intense time on the planet, and likewise a ripe time for spiritual unfoldment.”

While the world may seem unbalanced and parties are at each other’s throats, we as individuals can remain at peace knowing that we are doing our thing, at our pace, in our own way. And, one of the most beautiful aspects of this country is that it allows us to remain uninvolved, at a distance, while we live with the rights of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

That is how a yogi views the overall scenes of life. Now let’s zoom in to look at the details.

Our Current State of Affairs

To take a closer look at the countries divide between political parties, social inclusions regarding the LGBTQ community, foreign affairs creating tension with people who only watch left-wing media: none of it really affects me whatsoever. The mystic doesn’t hold these matters to be important to the overarching theme of spiritual attainment, neither are they the be all and end all of one’s own sense of contentment.

That’s not to say these issues don’t matter, they do. We should be able to have gender and race equality, change our sex after the age of 18, attain equal pay for both genders, and we should be able to involve ourselves in socio-political matters like the entire exclusion of bordering countries with a wall, which historically has been a necessity for larger countries.

You can see by the above which way I lean — sometimes conservative, sometimes liberal, sometimes green party. It’s case sensitive to me, neither believing that blanket policies cover every situation, and to be stuck to one party because it starts with an R or D is somewhat myopic. If it were up to me, the country would hire one Republican, one Democrat, and one Green — and they’d all have to agree on bills together as a team. If the country is split between parties, then have both in office so everyone gets a fair voice.

A Hindu’s Path

The Hindu ideal is to support one’s country, but also support one’s own individual path to moksha, liberation from rebirth. That means fulfilling individual dharma, resolving karma, and attaining self-realization in meditation. Our individual dharma consists of fulfilling the four Purusharthas — dharma (moral duty), artha (economic prosperity), kama (love or pleasure) and moksha (spiritual liberation). Resolving karma means helping more people than hurting them. Self-Realization is the highest attainment found in the deepest meditations.

There’s also the lion in the village philosophy that I think can relate to a country’s politics. If the lion remains in the jungle and away from the village than both the lion and the village live in harmony. However, if the lion decides to come into the village than it becomes our duty to protect it. All that is to say, if the standards, morals, and ethics of a nation continue to reflect its constitution, then the lion remains at bay and there’s no need to hunt it. Once political powers turn tyrannical and begin going after the individuals liberties and freedoms — just like the lion coming into the village — it becomes our dharma to restore balance.

Is anything like that happening now? Is President Trump our modern day lion encroaching into our village? Of course not. Trump may be unprofessional, but he knows how to keep unemployment low, get people off food stamps, demand more financial support from NATO, reduce terrorism in Iran, and reduce illegal immigration.

Affectionate Detachment

Throughout the fog of reality one aspect remains clear — we are our own light in life. No one but us can decide how we feel, how we act, and how we respond to situations, people, or things. It’s good to be passionate until it’s not. So long as our health remains in tact I’m all for activism, but when our interests begin to cause our own self-destruction we know we’ve gone too far off balance. It’s important to love, have compassion, and understand all natures of the mind and character, while at the same time choosing which concepts and ideas make us the most fulfilled. Our truth should be sought for and found, but shouldn’t make us less agreeable to others in the process. If society changes us into bitter, resentful, and fearful people, than we only have ourselves to blame.

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.

-Aristotle

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Rajan Shankara

Rajan Shankara

Former monk of 12 years. Human performance specialist. Rajanshankara.com