Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Anand Krishna: Lessons from Bali


Features - August 29, 2006
The Jakarta Post

Michele Lee, Contributor, Bali

TO SIT in the cool tranquil space of the new Anand Krishna center in Bali with the man himself is to be in the company of one of the most renowned spiritual leaders in Indonesia.

His talk the night before had been inspirational so The Jakarta Post took the opportunity to meet him to explore further his beliefs about love, religion and peace.

His Indian accent was undeniable, yet he was born and raised in Surakarta, Indonesia.

Jakarta Post: You said last night in your talk that love is the only solution. Why is it the only solution?

Anand Krishna: I would say that love is the deepest emotion in human beings. It is the deepest part of our inner selves. When the solution is deep enough, then the result is also quite long-term.

It's just like when you have a tree. If the roots grow deep into the earth, then you will have a big tree. So this is the same thing, we should have a solution that is deep within our being and then we can expect a result which is long term.

That's a beautiful metaphor. You also said that when we practice consciousness, this is love. Do you have any suggestions as to how we can become more conscious in our lives?

In Bali, especially, they have a beautiful tradition of dedicating oneself to the environment, to another human being and to God.

I would say that the generic word for God is love. When you do that you are being conscious. You are being conscious of your environment and you are being conscious of anything that you do.

How you sit. How you behave. How you converse with people and interact with them. Consciousness is not something that you can achieve from an hour of meditation every day; it's a full-time job.

It's how you practice meditation in your daily life - from moment to moment. And consciousness also means that it is important to let go of a part of your body in order to save the rest of your body.

So, to let go of part of your body as you say, is a form of sacrifice. So you do feel that there must be some sacrifices made?

I think so. We are sacrificing every minute, every moment actually. We are sacrificing certain things which we feel have lesser value. If you have a better vision, then you let go of the smaller vision of the vision that you no longer have anything to do with now. So actually we are sacrificing every moment.

It was quite enjoyable to hear your views on Gandhi. You said last night that you didn't agree with his methods of fasting because that was a form of hurting himself and love is not about hurting yourself. What do you think, then, is a better way to achieve peace?

Bring about awareness. This is why I started admiring Martin Luther King recently. He was so inspired by Gandhi but he didn't use Gandhi's methods. He would go into the street and make his point clear; he would let himself be imprisoned, but he wouldn't fight back or retaliate.

This is the way, I think. You make your point clear and you think about awareness and you make people aware of the cause you are fighting for. This is exactly what I'm trying to do ... trying to put these two great people together - Gandhi and Martin Luther King.

This is what is needed in Indonesia to bring about awareness that we are a great nation. Once upon a time we used to export spices to Madagascar and Africa. We used our own ships.

So where is that greatness? That greatness is still there within us. Why do we have to adopt something that is not suitable for us?

What I see in Indonesia is that one part of Indonesia is adapting to the Western way of life, which is quite good; I don't have any problem with this, but the whole culture from the West may not be suitable for this country.

The other part of Indonesia is adapting to the Arabic way of life and this is going to create two societies within one. That's not good because we will bring the fights, the battles and the wars to our side - to our country.

Your views on religion are very interesting. As you said, we all have many different religions, such as Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, etc, but you feel that we can all come together, because even though we may all have different methods of worshiping God, there is still that one God and one truth that we are all trying to realize.

How can we overcome our prejudices about religion and become more open and less narrow-minded about the whole concept of what God is?

That's why I like to use the word love, because when you speak of love you talk about love. You can even accept the ideas of those who don't believe in God.

There was a Sufi who met someone who said, "I don't believe in God." The Sufi asked him, "Do you believe in yourself?" The man said, "Yes, I do."

As long as you believe in something - that something can be God, love, or self. In the Indian tradition God is your higher self - so I think we have to create this awareness about love.

There are many people who may think to themselves, "I have nothing to do with God." But all of us have got something to do with love.

So the state of creating a dialog between religions, what has been done especially by Christians and Muslims for the last 2,000 years, has been going on for centuries, yet we are heading nowhere because they are talking about God, yet God is not appearing before us.

When a Christian loves a Muslim or a Buddhist loves a Hindu or a Hindu loves a Muslim and if they are really deeply in love - just two human beings, then they forget about all these barriers.

Instead of talking about God - this is wrong I think - let's talk about love.

Once you talk about love and you develop that feeling of oneness with each other then God is present; then you will have no problems at all.

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