WHAT ARE human values? Compassion, friendliness, co-operation, peace of mind, joy and a smile that lasts throughout our life.
Often in society, we find a crisis based on identity. Groups form to assert their identity, (and) somewhere they lose a sense of belonging with the whole human race. For example, “I am a Hindu”, “I am a Buddhist”, “I am a Muslim”, or “I am a Christian”. In order to maintain this limited identity, a human being is ready to lose his very own life. Is this not what is happening today? It is the same with culture, tribe, religion and nationality.
If the emphasis was first and foremost on being a human, then there would be more peace in society and there would be more understanding among people. For this, we need to help people to see that even before they are Jewish, Muslim, Hindu or Christian, they are human beings. And as a human being, the whole of humanity is part of you and belongs to you.
Today, people who are looking for some identity often move into religious dimensions and get caught up in fanaticism or fundamentalism. When there is a lack of proper spiritual education or knowledge about the oneness of the human race, people take a direction that is not beneficial to the welfare of mankind. So friendliness needs to be fostered, especially at the educational level, because friendliness is our inherent nature. We can be friendly with anyone and everyone.
We need to be free of the walls and boundaries our mind has created. We need to create a sense of security from deep inside; compassion and a sense of security that dawns from deep within oneself.
How can we get anger, violence and the sense of hatred out of the hearts of people? This is the problem that is facing us today. We know the answer philosophically, but what are the practical steps and how do we begin? It is here that something very basic to our life comes into play – our breath.
The might of your breath
Breath is the link between body, mind and emotions. When we are agitated, we breathe differently. When we are upset, we breathe differently. And if you are happy, your breath is different still. So if you attend to the breath, then you can see that your mind can be calmed down.
Neither at home nor in school are we taught how to handle our own emotions. When we get angry, people advise us: “do not get angry, it is no good”. But no one ever taught us how to get the anger out of our system. Breath plays an important role in removing anger from the mind and body.
Breath is an important source of energy, which we have completely ignored. The first thing we did coming into this world was to take a deep breath in. And the last thing we will do on this earth will be to breathe out one last breath and that will be it. Throughout our entire life we breathe, but even so we have never attended to our breath. Attending to our breath for just 10 or 15 minutes a day, or even once a week for half-an-hour a day, will eliminate toxins and stress.
Many doctors and scientists have done extensive research on this subject. It is highly significant how such a simple thing as the breath can produce a powerful transformation in an individual’s disposition and interaction with others, as well as his or her attitude towards society.
I am very confident about this because I have seen thousands of lives transformed. As they come in touch with themselves, they became clearer about their values. As the humanness in them increased, their sense of responsibility increased. They began to take responsibility for the society around them. This is the basis of human values.
It is not that people should sit and expect the government to take care of everything for them all the time. Rather, it is the responsibility of governments around the world to bring that quality of responsibility in people alive, so that they share a sense of belonging as a natural feeling of more friendliness.
Many things can be solved by a friendly relationship and a friendly attitude among people. We need to bring these values into society. Human rights is protecting others’ freedom, seeing the other person is also like oneself. It is a human right; protecting someone else’s freedom, giving them security, letting them live.
Who violates human rights? Those who do not have human values. Those who do not respect human values in themselves would go and hurt, and take away the human rights from other people.
Universal values are not difficult, (but) it is far easier to talk about very vague and universal things, than to act in practice with individual cases.
You are born with this nature, to be friendly. You see a child’s face, whether it is a child from Africa, Mongolia or India – there is such a light, such a love, such a charm. Everybody is charmed by any child of the world, are they not? There is such an innocence. And innocence is feeling at home. You are born with it. You have it. It is only outer conditions that have made it a little restrictive. Once we understand, “this is only my own conditioning of the mind”, you become free.
Human values are not something which need to be taught; these values are in-built in us. It is only the stress and tension which covers it that needs to be removed. That is all.
We are all part of one light, one life in the world.
• If you would like to read more about Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and related subjects, visit www.artofliving.org, www.srisriravishankar.org or www.iahv.org