“What if the world embodied our highest potential? What would it look like?” This film is the brand new 25-minute retrospective of Global Oneness Project. It “asks us to reflect on the state of the world and ourselves, and to listen more closely to what is being asked of us at this time of unprecedented global transformation.”
For more videos from this organization on “how the radically simple notion of interconnectedness can be lived in our increasingly complex world“, you can visit their site at http://www.globalonenessproject.org/
Some thoughts which came from a discussion Neema and I had after having watched this film are enclosed in this post. Do not hesitate to share with us your comments !
On ‘What would it be like ?’ of Global Oneness Project
Comments from the perspective of Vedanta
It is an inspiring film with powerful images and well chosen speakers. It is about time that people recognize the fact of interconnectedness and act on it. The present state of our planet is a truly global challenge and it needs increased awareness, across cultures, religions, etc. In that respect, this film contributes in making us see how different people from different cultures are committed to bringing about this change, based on a larger perspective of things.
As the movie explains strikingly, it is not an impossible task as it may seem at first sight. Many breakthroughs like going to the moon, or breaking an atom to use its energy, which seemed totally out of our reach, have been achieved in human history. Not only scientific achievements, but also social advancements have been made possible in the recent past like empowerment of women in different domains and equal rights for black. The fact is that societies are evolving, hence things can potentially change for better. This means, to believe that when you and other like- minded people do act for a social cause, we can definitely bring about a change.
Action is a power given to human being
I would like here to make a few comments on these ideas from the perspective of Vedanta. Indeed, among the three powers all human beings are endowed with, the power to desire, to know and to act, the power to act is very significant. We are placed in this universe not only to witness or watch what is happening but are meant to act and interact with the universe. We have been given a capacity to bring changes in certain situations that are unfolding everyday in our lives, at an individual or global level.
Dharma : the framework of action
When we act, the more we incorporate in our decisions the order of dharma or universal values that binds humanity together, more considerate and responsible our actions are. When we base our decisions not on a narrowly defined self interest but on universal values of preservation of life, environment and diversity of cultures, the global state of affairs will certainly improve.
Expectations with reference to results of actions
This movie inspires people by emphasizing the role of action. Here, we totally agree that with reference to actions, we must necessarily exercise our free will and make more informed decisions. But if one has to be totally objective, one has also to consider some facts about result of actions. Once we understand the exact scope of result and action, we can sustain our enthusiasm for actions.
When I perform actions, for example, in improving the environment, maybe as a result of these efforts, private enterprises would realize the importance of using more eco-friendly technologies and we can achieve some significant improvement in state of environment. However, there is also the other possibility that things may not go in keeping with my expectations. When things do not happen either to the extent or at the speed with which I expect, I may loose enthusiasm.
I will continue to persevere if I recognize that I have choice over actions, but results of actions I don’t totally control. If I were really in control, I would always be able to get the desired outcome, but it is not so. I do not always know nor can I intervene on all the factors that enter into play into determining the outcome of actions. Hence, sometimes we get more or equal to what we expect. There is also a possibility that results are less or opposite of what we expected.
If I don’t control results, then what decides the outcome? Results are governed by an order which connects my actions, the actions of others performed in the past and present, and connects them to bring about the outcome. This order manifests in the form of certain laws which are never failing.
Problems themselves are a result of interconnectedness
The various problems that we are facing are themselves a result of actions that are performed by oneself and many others. So many people have contributed in the past and at present to the present state of environment. The order has taken into account actions of corporations, individuals, politicians etc, in the past and present to bring about the present state of environment which has reached such magnitude and complexity.
Things may have started small when few industries started polluting the air at the beginning of the industrial age. Then more industries came and additional wastage led to further deterioration. One cannot say these companies were not responsible or evil entities. They were all providing employment, and contributing to overall economic development of society. But the neglect of environmental impact over the years led to the present state of environment. We individuals made choices, and the order has combined all these effects to bring about the outcome.
Youth dreams of an ideal society
The understanding of this relationship between action and result is very important to sustain my efforts towards bringing about change. Many of us remember that in our teenage years, we wanted the economic system to change, people to be loving and responsible, we were rebelling against corruption, wished to do something against poverty. We had all kinds of ideals which were very noble in nature. But many of us were not able to sustain these ideas with enough momentum. Why? Because we often became discouraged when we discovered that things do not always happen according to our wishes. We then joined the mainstream against whom we were rebelling earlier. In some cases, change for better may still remain a dormant desire but we don’t actively pursue it any more.
A complex process at multiple levels
In our effort to change things for better, another expectation which may discourage us to persist further is the expectation that as result of our effort, all people will realize the necessity for global change and act with the increased level of awareness. This expectation is not realistic. When we observe any thing in creation, there are no identical things. There are differences. We all are born with a psyche with certain possibilities. Each psyche can expand but to anticipate that all individuals will operate from the same level of awareness is unrealistic. Human beings at any given time are not all going to behave or think in an identical manner.
To keep the momentum going: bringing in the order
I do not mean to say that as an individual you will not be able to change anything or anyone. And you have to remain passive or inactive. One can certainly make a difference and one must act to bring about a desired change. But if your expectations are inherently unrealistic, then what happens is that the momentum for action soon goes away when things do not happen your way. If your whole focus and commitment is on the expectation of a particular type of result, you will be often disappointed. But when you focus on your actions and you recognize that things happen according to an order, an immense network of different laws and possibilities connecting all human psyche, actions and results, then you continue your efforts in spite of shortfall. Once the recognition of order comes, you do not loose trust even when things do not happen at the pace or magnitude you are expecting. You have trust in the universe and its order that sooner or later, five or ten or hundred years from now, any well intended action, will be rewarded. This is how you keep going.
Then, the realistic position is, maybe each and everyone is not going to change, but you continue to act. Your action can very well inspire a portion of humanity; as a result, those human beings will be able to do things differently and things will change at a bigger level. Each of your actions will produce a result. Each of those small acts will be included in the network of laws and rewarded, no matter how small they are because they are all inputs which are considered in the overall arrangement or scheme of things.
To summarize, one is totally objective when one recognizes the scope of actions, the order governing results, and also the psychological order which make all our psyche different. Once we keep all these elements in mind, and focus on action, because this is what we can do, then we can really sustain all our efforts on a long term basis.
Recognizing our place of possible intervention
Another important element is the recognition of our place in the overall scheme of things. We all want to do big things. But we all have our own position of power and influence in the scheme of things, which determines our unique sphere of possible interventions. A politician, a scientist, a religious leader, a spiritual teacher, a school teacher, a house wife, a writer, a journalist, an architect, etc. do not have obviously the same scope for intervention in various domains. And within these groups, each individual will also have a different position of power or influence and set of skills from which he or she can intervene. That position can of course change in the course of time and also with reference to the different roles we assume as a human being.
For example, even if you want to do something about global warming, you cannot as an individual change everything everywhere at all levels. Maybe world leaders can intervene in the current environment crisis as they have a much bigger sphere of influence than any other individual. Or a CEO of a company has a large domain of influence than what you have. Similarly concerted actions of groups, medias, advocacy groups and organizations have more influence than those of isolated individuals. However, the key to being a contributor is to identify what you can do realistically at any given point in time and take concrete actions towards achieving these goals.
The focus has to be on action
To conclude, in order to be effective in achieving some noble goals, I have to ask myself what is it that I can do tangibly at this point in time in each of the spheres of environment, poverty, religion, etc. given my position. In some spheres I can do a lot, in some I may not be able to do much but at the same time, I can definitely initiate things. I can identify some realistic goals for myself, work on it sincerely. For example, environmental goals for an individual can start by reducing usage of plastic, consumption of electricity or water, or walk instead of driving when possible etc. These small actions themselves are a contribution. The focus has to be on action.
Having performed these actions, we can have trust in the order. No good action gets unrewarded even if the results in the short run may not be what we expected. This is how we become objective with this idea of interconnectedness and make a contribution without loosing heart or momentum. When we have started in the right direction as a contributor, the order may keep providing us more and more opportunities to meet other individuals and groups who share our overall vision; and that has the power to make our earth a better place to live in.
Neema Majmudar & Surya Tahora