Sunday, 31 January 2010

Doctor Who?

“Why don’t you get a job?” – that was the immediate question an elderly Indian man in Loughborough asked me last week as I hurried through the town centre clad in my saffron robes. I could sense a feeling of disapproval mixed with amazement, but I tried to empathise with him instead of becoming defensive. Anyone from an Indian background will know about the family pressures to graduate and become a doctor, accountant, or at the very least settled in some professional career. After all, the prestige of the family rests upon it.

The Bhagavad-gita explains how every civilisation functions around four powers: labour, economic, military and educational. Although divisions and classes have become synonymous with discrimination and exploitation, practically every society exists with such classification in one form or another. In reality, an organized society needs different people to do different things. If they interact in appreciation and cooperation then society will flourish, but if there is competition, exploitation and criticism then there will be chaos.

No doubt, every society needs doctors, lawyers and accountants. However, a healthy society also needs spiritual teachers - people who will dedicate their time, energy and personal comfort to remind people that in the midst of their worldly duties and responsibilities, there is a deeper purpose that shouldn't be neglected. That is also a valid and important contribution to society. All occupations have a unique function and importance, and a mature person can recognize and appreciate that. The ultimate success of life is when we develop the spiritual understanding that all the roles and occupations we are currently playing are temporary, and that our real identity is a spiritual one. In the words of Shakespeare “All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players: They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts”

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