This world is a priceless garden with which the God has blessed humankind and other beings. He has provided all the required resources and wealth for all of us to live healthy, happy and peaceful lives.
But today, in our race to attain material comfort, we are overlooking some important issues. It is imperative that we take steps to rectify at least four of these.
Otherwise, the situation may become completely out of control. These are: 1) Education that disregards values, 2) Sophistication that disregards culture; 3) Development that disregards nature; 4) Lifestyle that disregards health. If we pay proper attention to correct these four social weaknesses, we would be able to transform this earth into heaven.
One curse of modern society is the removal of universal ethical values from our educational systems. Just as sunlight drives away darkness in the external world, the light of knowledge is there to drive away darkness in the internal world. In ancient times, the gurukula was the cradle of all culture and people believed knowledge should give rise to humility.
The current setup has led not only to education strikes and teachers being disrespected by students, but also to drug abuse and criminal behaviour among the youth. When a seed goes under the soil, it sprouts and begins to grow. Likewise, real growth begins when we bow down. We need an education that fosters proper values, love for society and respect for knowledge. Education should not be limited to a few pieces of information transferred from the teacher’s brain to the student’s. Information should grow to become knowledge; knowledge should grow to become proper discernment.
Another danger the younger generation is facing is the indiscriminate pursuit of so-called “sophistication”, while forgetting one’s culture. Young children are enslaved by an attraction to new trends in fashion and fancy gadgets. To keep children from bothering them, many parents buy them smart phones and tablets. This results in the children quickly falling slave to these gadgets.
Their world becomes limited to them and their gadgets. As a result, they are becoming mentally handicapped and physically unhealthy. In many countries, there are thousands of youngsters who withdraw into a shell because of addiction to their gadgets and then end up with mental problems. Gadgets can be useful educational tools, but parents and teachers must ensure that their use isn’t harmful by using proper surveillance. Also, parents should restrict the amount of time young children spend with computers and phones.
The third weakness of modern society is development that disregards Nature. As a result, crops, fields, lakes, and ponds are being polluted. Healthy food, pure water and clean air are like endangered species. Humankind is trampling Nature indiscriminately, like a herd of elephants trampling through a grove. In the future, will we have enough water to wet our parched throats? We have big challenges with waste disposal. But, if we learn the art of composting, each household can at least convert all of their own food waste into compost right at home and use it for their plants and vegetable gardens.
Our fourth weakness is a lifestyle that disregards health. Many of us are too lazy to exercise. Those who spend most of their time in air-conditioned rooms and cars, neither get enough sunlight nor exercise. The level of vitamin D in their bodies reduces and they become weak. In olden days, at least small children would run about and play outside. When they grew a little older, they would play outdoor sports.
Now, these have been replaced by computer games. Their food intake also includes lots of fat. This is why even young children are diagnosed with high cholesterol. We should try to teach our children yoga. Once children develop a liking for yoga, it will become like a habit, a very healthy habit!
We not only need to focus on our physical health, but our mental health as well. As the illness of our ego grows, our discernment decreases. Perhaps that is why we don’t recognise the dangers of our pettiness and false pride increasing. We wear our arrogance like an ornament. Just as we beautify ourselves externally, we should also constantly try to refine our mind.
The writer is a world-renowned spiritual leader