Harmony and Peace through Education and Culture

by Laj Utreja, Institute of Global harmony, Sardarshahr, India
Keynote Speaker at International Seminar “Harmony and Peace through Education and Culture,” Shridhar University, Pilani, Rajasthan, India, December 6-7, 2014
Respected Dr.Ravindra Ji, Dr.Bir Singh Yadav, respected folks with distinction at the platform, and distinguished guests: Anyone who stands at the podium to deliver a message feels the strength and support of the organizers and the audience. I’m grateful for that support and the support that can be had from the unknown state of existence, which some of us call Brahm (Existence, Consciousness, and Bliss), because of who I’m here, and because of whom you all are here.
The unknown Brahm, without any qualifications and attributes, and with the other identical names Sat, Chit, and Anand, is a peaceful state completely dissociated with its potency called Prakriti (nature) with properties. All through the ages, it has communicated important information that we need to guide us in our common mortal journey. Some call it Veda. While the information is crisp and clear and essential, it warrants following what is given or revealed to us. The message is known to us as shruti (revelation). The others may call it by different names, such as Torah, Ahura Mazda, Dhammapad, Bible, Quran, or Kitáb-i-Aqdas. And like so, when it comes in a series of revelations at different ages and times we must reflect upon those as a worthy objective.
I believe that we move and have our being in the presence of the imminent (the birth and death principle, I call Shiva), the transcendent (the preservation principle, I call Vishnu), and the other celestial bodies and beings, may those be akashganga (the Milky Way), surya (the Sun), chandrama (the Moon), akash (space), vayu (air), agni (fire), jal (water), prithvi (the Earth), and the plants, animals, and the human beings (I call Brahma). We are not separate from them. We are also closely related to our ancestors, who have preceded us into the celestial world. We cannot forget them; we hold them in our hearts, in memory, and thus we are united to them by ties that we cannot break. We are all connected.
Relationships can be strengthened through the complementary duties with people we know. That is achieved by our determined effort to continually do what is right, and what supports and hold the society together; that is dharma. We can strengthen our relationship with the unknown spirit by recognizing that when we do not see the same unknown in the other that the separation is temporary and that our connectivity with them is eternal. When consistently followed, dharma assures the eternal realization of the strength inherent in it, because dharmorakshtirakshitah (Dharma protects those who live in dharma).
Foundation of dharma is to be found in Sanatana Dharma (the eternal precept). Simplified, Sanatana Dharma means, Ekam Sat; VipraBahudaVadanti (Truth is one, but the learned ones call it by different names). There are other Great Statements, such as, SarvamKhalvidamIdam (This all is Brahm, that is, this all is Truth, Consciousness and Bliss). In other words, the basis of all this is peace. Another Great Statement, AhamBrahmasmi(I am Truth) implies that ‘I’ in ‘I am’ does not change with space, time, or the human mind. In other words, I am peace, the ultimate state of existence.But, I’ve a body, a mind, and a soul. My body and my mind are made of Prakriti (a specific mixture of Satva (light), Rajas (energy), and Tamas (matter), which give me a specific nature. Therefore, I have pre-established gunas or properties. So, I’ve likes and dislikes. Similarly, everyone around me has likes and dislikes. I want to have what I like and I want to discard what I don’t like. So long as I associate myself with my body and mind, I’ll have likes and dislikes. Similarly, it may not be possible all the times for everyone around me to satisfy their likes and dislikes.
So long as I associate myself with my body and the mind, I’ve ahamta (ego), mamta (attachment), and ichha (desire). So long as the others associate with their bodies and minds, they’d have ego, attachment and desire as well, but they may be different from my likes and dislikes. So long as I’ve ego, attachment and desire, I can never have peace. So long as others have ego, attachment and desire, they can never have peace. Correspondingly, global peace is a subjective impossibility. However, it is not a utopian ideal. Global peace is possible only when we all are willing to have peace. It can only start with individual peace.
So long as I’ve an agenda, I cannot have peace. So long as I’ve demands, I cannot have peace. I cannot be in peace if everything all around is not in peace. Otherwise we wouldn’t have the shanty mantra (the Peace verse), “Om dyuh shanty, antriksha shanty, prithvi shanty, apah shanty, aushadhya shanty, vanaspatya shanty, vishwe deva shanty, brahma shanty, sarwagwam shanty, shanty eva shanty, sama shanty, redhi” (May there be peace in the celestial regions, peace in the heavens and peace on earth. May the waters be appeasing? May the herbs be wholesome and may the trees and plants bring peace to all. May there be harmony among the celestial beings, perfection in the eternal being and peace in the universe. May thy wisdom, the source of peace, spread to all, and may that peace come to me.) Om shantih, shantih, shantih (Let peace prevail).
So, it is true that either all are in peace, or no one can be in peace. I’ll be in peace if I want peace. If I choose to fight, I can never have peace. I cannot be in peace if I am physically indisposed and am sick or in pain. I cannot be in peace if I am mentally disturbed and cannot concentrate, my mind wanders and I cannot sleep. I cannot be in peace if I’ve wants.I cannot be in peace if I don’t find purpose in life. I cannot be in peace if I‘m anxious or depressed. I cannot be in peace so long as my emotional needs, such as love, care, security, etc. are not satisfied. I cannot be in peace if I’ve fear, grief, worry, or doubt. I cannot be in peace if I gripe, nag constantly, and find faults with others. I don’t especially care for peace if I’m in my comfort zone.
I may desire peace if I’m not happy with my circumstances (my likes and dislikes). So, I can be in peace if I desire peace. I can be in peace if I’m in harmony with myself, the people I’ve relationship with and the environment. I can be in peace if I’m physically healthy, mentally balanced and spiritually aware. I can be in peace if I am satisfied and content with what I have and my attitude with myself, people I associate with and the environment.
Peace is state of mind. To be in peace, I need to develop an environment for harmony with myself, the people I’ve relationship with and the environment. A peaceful and a harmonious mind is possible with yoga; yogasana, pranayama, and dhyana. Yoga is a process that attunes the mind to connect to the source, Brahma. Yogasana stimulates endocrine glands for physical wellness. Pranayama allows the breath to carry pran and the chit to the body cellular level, so that the body and the mind come together in the process to balance and focus the mind. Dhyana attunes the mind to a state of single thought at the exclusion of all others. Constant practice of yoga offers the most conducive environment for harmony. It is just that simple only if we all understand that simple practice. Only a peaceful and harmonious mind leads to Truth, our source. This needs to be taught in education.
Education is the process of Teaching through a methodical system. Teaching is not complete until what is being taught is learned. Learning happens when one experiences. Learning is listening, knowing, reflecting, and understanding until what is heard, reflected upon and understood becomes self-obvious. We need to get into the minds of students and imprint the light of knowledge and remove ignorance. We need to undo all the negatives that the present education system has done. The current education system has created a global culture of unashamedly adoption of greed and arrogance and local cultures of rampant lies, mounting hypocrisy and corruption abound.
Culture is a dynamic and shifting network that shapes and connects social roles, hierarchically structured knowledge domains, and ranked values. Culture is embedded in the way we express ourselves through our behaviour, language, and art such as writing, poetry, music, dance, and painting, etc. It is embedded in the structures of our language. At any given place and time, we are the product of our collective culture.We’ve created greed and allowed greed to proliferate. Greed exists because we created it, we like it, and we become greedy. We’ve created insecurities and we feel insecure. We’ve created corruption, and we become corrupt. We’ve created differences and we feel different. We’ve created jealousy and malice, and we feel jealous and have malice.
Peace is not to be found in separating a nation from the other, separating a faith from the other, a race from the other, a culture from the other; separating a human being from the other, or separating a human being from the environment, but in understanding a human being’s relationship with the other human being, with the environment, with other faith, race, culture, and nations.Above all, peace means knowing what it is to be a human being and behaving like one;Atmavatsarvabhuteshu (Seeingyourself in others). Peace means understanding that one coexists with all of those elements which makes this world and its orders.
Peace means creating trust with the other human being so that the boundaries of nations, faith, race, culture can be removed and we begin to live together as we must; without fear, and insecurity, without doubt, without worry, without a life of lies and hypocrisy, without the feeling of superiority, without competing for that which belongs to all, without claiming rights which come with understanding our nature, enjoy the relationship with each other, and find happiness, happiness in continuity, and achieve bliss, our source. So, how is it possible?
SarveBhavantusukhinah, sarvesantuniramayah, sarvebhadraanipashyantu, ma kashchitdukhbhaagbhavet(Let all be happy, let all be free from misery, may all realize goodness and may no one suffer pain).
Peace is possible if we are willing to transform. This is what we plan to do at the Institute of Global Harmony in Sardarshahr. To make it happen, we need your assistance, your guidance and your cooperation and above all, a desire to transform. And how?
Samaanivaakootihsamaanaahridyaanivah; samaanavastuvomanoyathaavahsusahaasati (When we are united, when common is our sankalpa (volition) and common are our thoughts for the welfare of the human family along with the environment we call, the earth that sustains us, the waters that bear us, and the air that carries the breath of life).
Nature has abundance for all. We can have enough for all if we so care and desire. We’ve created boundaries. We can unite as one people Vasudeva Kutumbkam under Brahm with liberty and justice for all. We can have individual peace if we so desire. We can have global peace if we so desire. Choice is ours. Our willingness!
Om Shantih, Shantih, shantih
One of my friends says, wherever attention goes energy flows.
Does it make any difference if I call it mind or attention, but different people understand the same thing with different words and different ways
According to one view, people are basically good, but they commit bad actions because of delusion.
Does it make any difference if they act badly, whether they are in delusion, or under the spell of expressing only their prakritis
Different people understand the same thing with different words and different ways
We’ve a tendency to exaggerate what we like (people, places, things) and downplay what we dislike.

Guidance About Life after Graduation

Graduation Address to the Class of 2000, Huntsville High School, Huntsville, AL
by Laj Utreja, NAS Inc., Huntsville, AL 35805
I don’t know if I’m the right person to advise this young audience to prepare for life than someone else that is well attuned to their way of thinking and living I feel like a priest who along with his driver friend went to the Pearly Gates after their death. St. Peter who met them at the gates of heaven allowed the bus driver to go to one of the highest heavens but the priest had to wait. After waiting a long while the priest finally goes to St. Peter and asks: “Why could that bus driver go to the highest heavens and I, who all my life spoke about God, have to wait for such a long time?” St. Peter said: “When you were speaking to the people at your church everybody was sleeping, but when that bus driver was driving everybody prayed.” But let me try anyway.
Preparing for life is a big preparation and it is as big as life itself because we always keep on preparing and there is hardly enough of that. You are young with tender minds. In many cases maturity has not settled in to form convictions. So let us see as to where we are headed. You’ve already graduated from high school. And what does that do, prepares you for college. And what does that do? That prepares you for the yet next phase. And that may be to get a good job. And what does that do? It makes you financially independent? And that prepares you for the yet another phase. And that is to settle down, get married and so on and so forth. It is already started getting boring.
Well any how life is all those collection of preparations but it makes it worthwhile if we begin to enjoy what we are preparing because then we learn. And we all learn if we make those preparations ourselves. Now the idea is to make these preparations worthwhile so that we learn from them. It all boils down to how we perform to achieve those preparations. Everyone has some ways that suit their respective natures. But then there are some proven ways that need to be cultivated.
Let’s see how this will apply in life. Pick up a goal; Stick to it. Don’t be distracted or side tracked with others. And then work to achieve the goal. And that work is nothing but the preparation. Remember that is a must because to be a human being is to prepare to act. There would be constraints. Those can be financial and time and other resource limited. To work through the constraints requires planning. I’m again reminded of my first job with the US Navy when I began testing the parachutes for naval aircraft ejection seats and recovery of missile systems. I had no prior experience in parachutes. On one of the projects when I was really stuck, my boss, realizing my situation, called me in his office and said, “Remember the seven Ps and then three Ps.” I still remember those words to this day. I’m going to make them six Ps for you because one P is the Navy talk and then the three Ps. Here is what he said; “Proper Prior Planning Prevents a Poor Performance”. And with Patience, Persistence and Perseverence you can achieve anything in life. That little advice opened up an avenue for me to think through my project, set up priorities and workout the budget and time constraints. And when I followed those seven Ps and three Ps consistently, I received sustained superior performance award only after two years in service.
The real learning is cultivation of those values. That can happen by internalizing them, by making those values as part of our nature. Remember you’ve innate intelligence for discrimination and discretion; discrimination to pick up the right goal and discretion to set up the priorities. So, it is all about picking up the right goals and setting the right priorities. Problems come when we want everything and we don’t internalize the values. That reminds me about the yogi who walked into the Zen Pizza Parlor and said, “Make me one with everything.” And when the Yogi got the pizza, he gave the proprietor a $20 bill. The proprietor pocketed the bill. Yogi said “Don’t I get change?” The proprietor said, “Change must come from within.”
I wish you all the very best in pursuing your dreams in life.