The Greatness of the Nation

One person said today, “I just cannot live without birds of prey!” This man, Alexander, is the initiator and motivator of the shelter for wild birds. I had not known before that such a shelter exists in Togliatti (though it has been even shown on the central TV channel). But, judging by the number of cells and pets in them, such a shelter for birds is really required – a refuge from people, from their cars, guns, hands, especially for those who cannot fly any more.

After all, man is higher than birds and animals not because he can torment them but because he is able to pity them. The man sympathizes with birds and animals because he feels that in them there lives the same thing as the one which lives in him.

I cannot say that Continue reading “The Greatness of the Nation”

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How to Speed up Spiritual Growth?

Egyptian family

An Egyptian Family.

During the two weeks while we were in Saint Petersburg and Moscow we stayed at our friends’ places. Spiritual growth is known to go really quickly when you are living with other people. I do not mean living with your wife/husband and kids. I mean friends, acquaintances or even people you did not know before.

Sometimes it seems that such society really makes our already hard life harder. But if we look deeper, we will realize that when being put in the circumstances when you have to face each other several hours every day, “sharp corners” of the whole company are gradually getting round. And one day you notice that being in the collective really brings you joy.

The issue I am speaking about is topical for the West, I am sure not for the Eastern countries like India. I remember living in Bristol in a collective house/ashram for two weeks. We were five there: an English lady and an English man, a Hindu and we (two Russians). We had no problems living together as we are all Sahaja yogis and thus understand very clearly that the disadvantages we see in somebody else for sure exist in us as well (otherwise we would not notice them and react). This experience also gave us a chance to look at the conditionings of each other (I mean the conditionings we got due to the countries we live in) and, what is more important, discuss them. What means trouble for a Hindu (for example, a forced marriage) is never a trouble for a Russian. We also learnt that in India it is quite natural to have big families, I mean from grannies to grandchildren. In Russia it is considered a torture in most cases.

It was the case with us as well as we have been living with my father and grandfather for 3,5 years already. Continue reading “How to Speed up Spiritual Growth?”

Why not Widen the Outlook?

True religion

A doorbell. My husband opens the door. There is a woman and a man standing in front of him. Neat and educated by appearance. In the process of communication it turns out that the man is a Canadian who speaks Russian quite well. Moreover, he is a seeker by nature. It also appeared that they had come to introduce the teaching of the Seventh-Day Adventists to my grandfather. My husband answered that the grandfather lived quite happily and if they wanted to talk to somebody they could talk to him.

The unexpected guests started with the fact that there is God. The truth is incontestable. But then the conversation turned to the topic of salvation. According to their point of view, only those will be saved who follow their, so to speak, religion.

My husband asked, “Do you mean to say that the whole world, except your followers, will be put into a sack and thrown overboard? From the Creator’s point of view, it is quite illogical. There is a part of God in everybody”. Continue reading “Why not Widen the Outlook?”

Perceive God with Inner Joy

There once lived a great (as he was considered by his contemporaries) philosopher, Bertand Russel by name. He thought the idea of becoming one with the ocean (i.e. a person’s spirit becoming one with God/Brahman) “conventional stuff and unmitigated rubbish”. He wrote about R. Tagore’s lectures: “I regret I can not agree with Tagore. His talk about the infinite is vague nonsense”.

What would you tell Bertand? Would you agree or disagree? In case of the latter, what explanation would you use to contradict him?..

Ok, no more questions… only the last one: are you interested in what Tagore (1861-1941) answered him?

TAGORE’S LETTER TO BERTRAND RUSSELL
37 Alfred Place W, South Kensington, London, 13 October 1912

Dear Mr. Russell,R. Tagore

…I read your article on the Essence of Religion in the last issue of the Hibbert Journal with very great interest. It reminded me of a verse in the Upanishad which runs thus:

Yato veiche nivartante aprapya manasa saha Anandam Brahmano Vidvan na vibheti Kutushchama.

From him words, as well as mind, come back baffled. Yet he who knows the joy of Brahman (the Infinite) is free from all fear”.

Through knowledge you cannot apprehend him; yet when you live the life of the Infinite and are not bound within the limits of the finite self you realize that great joy which is above all the pleasures and pains of our selfish life and so you are free from all fear. This joy itself is the positive perception of Brahman. It is not a greed which authority imposes on us but an absolute realization of the Infinite which we can only attain by breaking through the bonds of the narrow self and setting our will and love free.

Yours sincerely,
Rabindranath Tagore

Thought for the day: “Why are you wasting so much time with trivial and unimportant nonsensical things? What is your destiny?” (Shri Mataji)

Culture and language

Two Guys 

A Guy from Cameroun and a Guy from Finland (in Russia) – getting on very well, photo by the Author

Axinia’s post “The Confusing Easiness of the English Language” inspired me to write some words on languages as well. She has raised the idea that some languages (like German, Russian, Italian, etc.) are called synthetic and some (like English) analytic. Axinia continues that she remembers TOUGH classes when she was taught to make an analytic English sentence from a synthetic Russian one. I believe the article below will develop the topic a little bit and give you some idea why it can be really tough for some people.

Edward Sapir, an authority on the science of linguistics, especially in the area of American Indian languages, believed that each man carries within himself the basic patterns in the organization of his language, and that, in order to understand the patterns, a very thorough knowledge of the cultural environment of the language was necessary.

His student, Benjamin Lee Whorf, also made a very significant contribution to the science of language (though he was just a chemical engineer and did not sought a higher degree in linguistics). Whorf was recognized for his investigations of the Hopi language, including his authorship of a grammar and a dictionary. Even in his early publications, it is clear that he was developing the theory that the very different grammar of Hopi might indicate a different manner of conceiving and perceiving the world on the part of the native speaker of Hopi.

In 1936, he wrote “An American Indian Model of the Universe”, which explored the implications of the Hopi verb system with regard to the Hopi conceptions of space and time.

Whorf is probably best known for his article, “The Relation of habitual Thought and Behavior to Language”, and for the three articles which appeared in 1941 in the Technology Review.

In these articles, he proposed what he called the principle of “linguistic relativity”, which states, at least as a hypothesis, that the grammar of a man’s language influences the manner in which he understands reality and behaves with respect to it. And since Sapir most certainly shared the development of the idea, it became to be called the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis.

In addition to what has been said, modern scientists believe that people who know more than one language never suffer from sclerosis, as when they are speaking different languages different cells of the brain work.

Upon the whole, it proves that a person who knows several languages can see life from a wider perspective than a person operating only one language. It also partially explains why people from different countries even when speaking the same language (for example, English) understand each other only by 50-70 percent.

Thought for the day: “Rational and moral always coincide” (Leo Tolstoy).