Sunday Satsang Sessions:
DEFENDING ANCIENT SPRINGS
Exploring Our Relationship to the Modern World
in Light of the Ancient Wisdom Traditions:
Maintaining Values during the Four Ashramas in the Post-digital Age
The Sunday Sessions with Jim and Michael will resume on September 9th. The general theme for this fall and into the winter months will on values and will begin with a review of the India’s age-old code of conduct, Ashrama Dharma – but will expand beyond that into a discussion about values in general and guidelines for daily living in today’s world.
Ashrama Dharma includes the Four Purposes of Life (Purusharthas) and how they play out among the four social classes, but particularly how these principles play out during the Four Stages of Life:
(1) the Studentship Stage (Brahmacharya) and growing up),
(2) the Householder State (Grihastha) and one’s family relationships,
(3) the Retirement Stage (Vanaprastha), and
(4) the final Stage of Renunciation (Sannyasa).
In Joe Biden’s Eulogy for Senator John McCain, he talked about “a value set that was neither selfish nor self-serving – first and foremost, an idea.” He said, “John came from another age; he lived by a different code, an ancient, antiquated code where courage, integrity and duty were alive. “The truth is,” he said, “that John’s code was ageless, IS ageless. It was the underlying core values that animated everything he did. He’d part company with you if you lacked the basic values of decency, respect and knowing that there is something worth sacrificing oneself for that is larger than oneself. Character is destiny, and John had character.”
Where did these values come from? What did Swami Veda say about values in his books — What is Right with the World: The Human Urge for Peace and in Sadhana in Applied Spirituality? What was Frithjof Schuon talking about when he said that there are “extrinsic values and intrinsic values”?
These up-coming sessions will not only explore the values which have held societies together for millennium, but also touch on the ethical principles of ancient civilizations: the Yamas and Niyamas, Confucianism, Taoism, Judaism, Christianity, as well as those of indigenous cultures, such as those of Native Americans.
If there be righteousness in the heart, there will be beauty in the character.
If there be beauty in the character, there will be harmony in the home.
If there be harmony in the home, there will be order in the nation.
If there be order in the nation, there will be peace in the world. (Confucius 551-479 B.C.)
Through Hunkapi (A traditional Oglala Sioux ceremony) a three-fold peace was established. The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of men when they realize their relationship, their oneness with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the universe dwells Wakan-Tanka (the Great Mystery), and that this center is really everywhere; it is within each of us. This is the real peace, and the others are but reflections of this. The second peace is that between two individuals, and the third is that which is between two nations. But above all you should understand that there could never be peace between nations until there is first known that peace which, as I have often said, is within the souls of men. (Black Elk)
In adolescence I aimed to change the world – to right the wrongs of humanity on a global scale. I envisioned an end to war, oppression, injustice, and strife. Soon I realized that I would have to change my own community first. Only after succeeding here, could I hope to impact upon the world. So I set out to improve education, mediate quarrels, and introduce proper priorities into local politics. Finally, I saw that my real work was with my family. I must begin by changing and perfecting those closest to me – my wife and children. Only later did I see that my true focus of effort must be myself – that to become a kind and decent human being was a life’s worth of work. And if, with the grace and assistances of G-d, I could succeed in this most difficult of tasks, I would be making the greatest of all possible contributions to my family, community, and even to the world. (Rabbi Yisrael Salanter)
What do these principles have in common? Are any of these values relevant in today’s post-digital age? If so, how can they be incorporated into one’s family life and one’s community life in the face of the current situation where traditional values have all but been lost?
Michael taught junior high, elementary school for 35 years and was a professor of Comparative Religion. Jim worked for many years as a high school social studies teacher, family counselor and counselor for troubled youth; he wrote the book Running on Empty: Transcending the Economic Culture’s Seduction of our Youth. For many years, both Jim and Michael cared for their aging parents, and are now caring for their children and grandchildren. Their hope is that the community discussions in the Sunday sessions will shed more light on how to navigate through the stages of life with a meditative focus.