It has been a heavenly experience. Recently, I spent three weeks in India, visiting family members in two cities. Every time I visit India, I feel spiritually rejuvenated. This time, that rejuvenation was elevated to a level that I had not felt before. What makes this wonderful and unique (at least to me) experience so special?
There are many factors in an India trip that could put a damper on the experience: the crowds, the traffic, the noise, the dirty streets, the lack of conveniences, but to me, none of these mattered.
I visited many people – mostly relatives – and had a great time, as anyone would. Of those that I spent time with, there were special people who made the experience unique: they showed great respect, showered love, and went an extra mile to ensure that my time with them was memorable. They were so appreciative of what I was doing in my retirement, (service to community in Victoria - charitable fundraising; creating brand new programs as well as initiatives and projects for the Victoria Hindu community; participating in interfaith activities in Victoria, etc.)
So, what makes the time spent with someone special? It happens when one makes a heart-to-heart connection with the other person. One shares ideas, thoughts, and feelings, with full acceptance of the other person without even the slightest reservations. It happens when there are no negative thoughts or judgements. No evaluations of actions or motives. And no distractions – electronic or otherwise!!
Is such an ideal experience possible? Of course not. There are occasions when some minor irritants pop up (and sometimes, not so minor irritants). Then it depends on how we handle these situations, and how we react to them. Whether we bring understanding, forgiveness, compassion, and an ability to move past the situation. Then to bring in positive thoughts and feelings once again, and let these wash over us.
That I have such wonderful relatives really amazes me. It must be my good karma, I believe.
All the spiritual thoughts and messages from my Hindu faith float around in my head.
But before I get carried away, I come to the realization that not everyone who follows the Hindu faith is like the people I spent my time with during these past few weeks.
There are people with not so good intentions. People whose dark side propels them. They can even bring harm to others.
That is the reality of human beings. Each one of us is endowed with a varying proportion of the three qualities, called saatvik, raajasik and taamasik. The saatvik quality implies harmony, joy, intelligence, goodness. Raajasik quality implies action, energy, control, passion. Taamasik quality implies all the dark qualities such as anger, ignorance, materialism, greed.
I would like to extend this idea to groups of people. Whether it is a community, a set of relatives, a congregation of a faith group, a social group, or a group inside a business organization, the overall temperament and the quality of the group also can be characterized by the above mentioned combination of the saatvik, raajasik and taamasik attributes. Of all the factors that determine the quality of the group the most important are the qualities of leadership, the focus and goals of the group, the guiding principles of the group, the norms of the group, and the actions of the group.
I do indeed feel blessed that I have a set of relatives whose love, spirituality, and goodness is so compelling and benevolent. Do I have a hand in this? Well, my relatives would have to answer that question.
Suresh Basrur practises the Hindu faith, participates in inter-faith activities in Victoria, and speaks to audiences about Hindu religion, philosophy and practices.
You can read more articles on our interfaith blog, Spiritually Speaking, HERE
* This article was published in the print edition of the TImes Colonist on Saturday, January 6 2018