The Need For Spiritual Regeneration


Sri Swami Sivananda

Our forefathers would be considerably amused at many of the maladies that afflict humanity today, e.g., inflation, black-marketing, bootlegging, gun-running, et hoc genus omne. These Frankenstein monsters, threatening to destroy us before long, are our own creation as they are merely the inescapable effects of our lapse from a spiritual outlook upon life and the adoption of a purely materialistic philosophy of living. These and myriad of other similar problems have their origin in a love of luxurious living and are the products of a foolish mania on the part of every nation to raise its so-called standard of living over that of its neighbours. The economic-blockades, the armament-races and the atom-bomb imbroglios are all the resultants of human vanity, greed, jealousy, mutual suspicion and hatred; and as each nation wants to be on the safe side by multiplying its power of destruction, there is a regular scramble and competition for becoming the most ruthless and the most destructive power! ‘Is there no remedy for this’ has been on every one’s lips for over a generation now; but no one has the courage and the faith for taking the practical steps necessary for stopping the rot, irrespective of the cost or the consequences. Each nation wants the other nations, each man all other men, to take the initiative; and so the merry game goes on unabated. The vicious circle has to be broken by someone; and why not let it be done by ourselves rather than by others? The minimum essentials of the change that has to be brought about should be clearly visualised and consciously and conscientiously pursued by everyone according to his capacity.

The first step to be taken is to change the angle of vision of life. All materialistic ways of thinking and living should be abandoned. A simple, spiritual sense of the values of life should be carefully inculcated in all countries, and in all societies. There should be an immediate return to the motto of ‘Plain Living and High Thinking,’ so successfully followed by our ancient forefathers, who understood well that the practice of renunciation is the sine qua non for the thorough eradication of greed and fear, which lie at the root of all troubles of the world.

As a supplement to this, the spirit of selfless service should be infused into every man from his childhood-days. This is the point at which religion meets ethics and sociology; for the first posits the one Self alone pervades all existence. Hence, every piece of service done to others amounts to a benefit conferred on ourselves. The more this sublime basis of human actions is recognised and adopted, the more rapid will be man’s evolution towards perfection and divinisation.

The emphasis in human relations should be shifted from right to duties. Communalism, racialism, nationalism–all ‘isms’ are only the different hoods of the same hydra-headed monster of selfishness and insistence upon rights and disregard of duties and should, therefore, give place to one all-embracing Universalism. National borders should gradually lose their artificial significance and importance; and one by one, all difference–of religion and language, social and moral codes, cultural and political institutions–should vanish and be replaced by the greatest common measure of uniformity of outlook, interests and conduct.

In this age of atomic armament, racial hatred and policies of national greed, organised exploitation, inter-national exclusiveness, intolerance and distrust, our task is not so much the alteration and transformation of the patterns, policies and plans of the governments of the nations of the world as the creation of a great world-enveloping movement for a mass spiritual education and for the purification and the transfigurations of the nature and the personal propensities of the individual. The paramount importance and the imperative and indispensable necessity for the moral, ethical and cultural refinement of the individual personality upon a world-wide scale is to be realised first and foremost. For, the prime and fundamental unit of all wider groups like class, race, nation and human society the world over is the individual man.

Great masses of mankind have to be weaned from the unfortunate hedonistic tendencies of thinking, feeling and acting with the grossness and greed of the mere beast. This is not an impossible proposition, for the Divine exists in all beings and it is an integral part of every individual consciousness. The method to draw it out is right and true education. This task of gradually, yet surely regenerating the nature of the masses has to be seriously undertaken in all earnestness and worked out in the educational and the domestic spheres, in particular, and the wider social sphere, in general–if the hope of creating a new generation and bringing into existence a new humanity who will elect and manage the future governments of nations in the best interests of all is to be fulfilled.

I know this is a difficult task; but no great thing is ever done as if by magic. All constructivity implies hard work and more so much a creative and constructive task of world-wide nature. The results may not be immediate. To a large extent the fruit of such work will be for the posterity, while the tempo and the sincerity of the movement will set the elders athinking and gradually transform them as well. Just as a farmer who wishes to reap a rich harvest of healthy and luxuriant crop does not so much attempt to change and improve the existing crop that is already standing in the field–though he exerts to safeguard them from rot and pestilence–but rather starts to treat the soil in which the seeds of the next harvest are lying and germinating in silence, even so, all those who are to work for future peace and universal well-being should first of all strive to create a right and ideal condition that will ensure the four freedoms in order to enable the future generation to fulfil the hopes and ideals that we cherish today. If the world is to have peace, there has to be less of hypocrisy, less of prejudice and fear-complex, less of slavery to outdated traditions and exclusive material values. Above all, the ideal of righteousness to live and to let live and to consider the other man’s rights, necessities and self-respect as much as our own should have to be realised first.

That act or exertion which does not do good to others, or that act for which one has to feel shame, should never be done. That act on the other hand, should be done, for which one may be lauded in society. This is a brief description of what right conduct is. To speak the truth, to practise Ahimsa, not to hurt the feelings of others in thought, word and deed; not to speak harsh words to anyone; not to show any anger towards anybody; not to abuse others or speak ill of others and to see God in all beings is Divine Life.

It is by conduct that one acquires a long life, and it is by conduct that one acquires riches and prosperity. It is a means to attain the goal of life. Without good conduct no one can achieve the goal. Good conduct brings in fame, longevity, wealth and happiness. It eventually leads to Moksha. It is conduct that begets virtue, and it is virtue that prolongs life. Conduct gives fame, long life and heaven. Conduct is the most efficacious rite of propitiating the celestials. One should show mercy to all orders of men. Virtue is singled out by conduct.

The good and virtuous are so on account of the conduct they follow. The marks again of good conduct are afforded by the deeds of those that are good or righteous. Indeed, it is by conduct that one acquires fame that depends upon great deeds both in this world and the next. Forsooth, one may, by his conduct alone, conquer the three worlds. There is nothing which the virtuous persons cannot obtain. A person of good deeds and pleasant and sweet speeches has no peer. People respect that man who acts righteously and who does good acts, even if they only hear of him without actually seeing him.

“Do as you would be done by. Do unto others as you wish others do unto you.” This is the whole of Dharma. Attended to this carefully, you will be saved from all troubles; practise this in your daily life.

Man should cultivate unlimited love. All patriotism, love of one’s nation, one’s own race, one’s own religion should never be allowed to be factors to encourage disunity, discord, hostility and superiority-complex. The love of your country and personal freedom should all the more emphasise that how much sacred is the other man’s love for his country and his personal freedom. True religion is love. True religion unites all in fellowship. Sages call upon man to see good in all, but our endeavour should be to see God in all, for only then will we be able to see the good in all. Let man be taught truth, purity, love, contentment and selflessness. Let there be a living faith in God in the hearts of men, for it is the very essence of the spirit of true religion. In this faith alone, lies the hope of our victory. Having achieved this, the main task is all but over and such humanity in whose bosom the divine flame has been kindled up will spontaneously direct all endeavours towards the materialisation of all these ideals.

May the world be free from the fear of war and destruction, from the fanaticism of religious intolerance, racial prejudices and hatred, from the delusion of fostering civilisation through enslavements, from the self-righteous pride of charity and doing good to others, from ungodliness and the diabolical dialectics of materialism. May peace be unto all beings!

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