De-stressing is important for a united world

Published 12 November 2001 BEING ‘PLUGGED IN’ doesn’t make for globalisation. It’s a fact that those who own computers make up six per cent of earth’s population, and less than four out of a 100 have Internet access. Even among seasoned web surfers, it is a growing concern that computers and the Internet are hurtling us headlong into the outer darkness of dystopia. For reasons like these, many forms of ‘eastern’ meditation are becoming popular in the West where an insatiable appetite for things of this world has rendered much of the East dependent on it. But we, the East and West, have something in common – the feeling that there’s not enough time; there’s too much frenzy, too much speed, too much compression, in a word, stress. “What is stress?” Well, for one, it’s an internal emotion that keeps many awake nights on end. As Gandhi once said, “When doubts haunt me, when disappointments stare me in the face, and I see not any ray of hope on the horizon, I turn to Bhagavad Gita and find a verse to comfort me… Those who meditate on the Gita will derive fresh joy and new meaning from it every day.” How can we be peaceful when even gold and silver monetary standards are gone? We live in a fairy dust world where major wealth is no more than an electronic impulse on a computer disk and yet billions sail back and forth daily on Internet networks. Can it be called magic? Maybe. It may even be a form of prapti siddhi, but is it bringing us peace of mind? Stress stems in part from the feeling that our world is held together by things so tenuous as electrical energy and the ‘balance of terror.’ “We have sold our souls,” wrote historian Arnold Toynbee in 1972 of his British compatriots, “to the pursuit of maximising material wealth, a pursuit which is spiritually wrong and practically unattainable.” A few stress-related instructions from the fifth chapter of the Gita may be of some help. For example, “One whose happiness is within, who is active and rejoices within, and whose aim is inward is actually the perfect mystic,” and “A person in full consciousness of Me, knowing Me to be the ultimate beneficiary of all sacrifices and austerities, the Supreme Lord of all planets and demigods, and the benefactor and well-wisher of all living entities, attains peace from the pangs of material miseries.” Stress and a united world are incompatible. If we de-stress – on spiritual instruction – the global village can become a reality. (The writer is emeritus member of the ISKCON Governing Body Commission)