Points I’m Taking Into 2013

I have tried to make resolutions before and have naturally failed to keep up with them after the New Year’s hype has died down. I was even cheeky enough to have the following resolution for a recent year:

“Do not make a resolution.”

That resolution ended before it began and I realised I was not good at keeping resolutions.

And that got me thinking.

How does a change in year change a person’s attitude? Why do people suddenly feel like they can create rules for themselves and believe that a new year will mean that they will stick to resolutions?

The fact is, people do not change between 31st December to 1st January, they change over a period of time. This is the reason why I have decided against making an abrupt resolution for this year; instead, have decided to reflect on the past year and ensure I keep moving forward with the positives that have come out of 2012.

Out With The Old; In With The New.

Out With The Old; In With The New.

What I have learnt from 2012:

-Confidence in yourself is important in this dog-eat-dog World.

-You cannot love another if you do not love yourself.

-Take a chance. Give people, places and things a chance. You’ll be surprised where it leads you.

-Indolence is not fun when it is a regular occurrence.

-Keep moving forward.

-Only you can make things happen.

-You can literally do anything you want to; all you need is a strong vision and firm actions.

-Learn new skills.

-Commit yourself to your tasks.

-Take each day as it comes. Clichéd but true.

The Real Caste System

“The caste system”.

I dislike it. A lot.

But I despise the assumption that the caste system is connected to religion, even more.

One religion that the caste system is generally assumed to be synonymous with is the Sanatana Dharma or Hinduism as it’s popularly known. I do not have a comprehensive knowledge about all the literature that makes up Hinduism, or Sanatana Dharma, nevertheless, I would like to share my thoughts regarding this issue in the hope that it can provide a counter-argument (or make people think about the topic, at least) to the caste system stigma attached to Hinduism.

“The Caste System”

Here are some points on the caste system that seems to be commonly acknowledged:

-The caste system is a structure and Brahmins are at the top and the “Untouchables” are at the bottom.

-The structure is rigid and is prescribed by God and it cannot be changed.

-The structure gives certain rights to one caste over the other.

-Your caste is dependent on the household you are born into and the job you do.

The Caste System

Now onto some ideas about the actual caste system, its uses in non-Hindu societies and Hindu societies.

I have found that there are two ways to understand the caste system; one is economic and the other is spiritual.

Social System

Social System

The economic understanding would argue that society is split up into different sections based on the job you or your family undertakes. In this sense, the Brahmins are placed at the top as they are seen to be full of knowledge and the Sudras are placed at the bottom because they are the workers of society. This distinction is very similar to the feudal societies that existed in many Western civilisations prior to the industrial revolution. For example, the King’s divine right to rule is no different to the supposed Brahmin right to knowledge and religion, the Sudra’s role to work for others is no different to the labourers and the Dalit (or Untouchables) are no different to the peasants. These divisions in societies occur in Muslim, Christian, Hindu and even Atheist societies.

The economic example shows that society in all parts of the World, in all eras, has been divided along these lines so to assume that the caste system is a Hindu phenomenon is naive.

Having said this, many people will counter this and point out lines from scriptures and show that Hinduism agrees with a rigid caste system.

There is no doubt that Hindu scriptures do mention the caste system, but the understanding of the system seems to be lost in translation.

The Hindu version of the caste system is a dynamic system, one where humans are able to change from being a Brahmin to being a Kshatriya, to being a Vaishya, to being a Sudra.

As Shri Krishna states in The Gita:

I created the four divisions of human society based on aptitude and vocation. Though I am the author of this system of the division of labour, one should know that I do nothing directly and I am eternal.” (4.13)

The division of human labor is also based on the qualities inherent in peoples’ nature or their make up.” (18.41)

The idea that Brahmin do certain things and behave in certain ways compared to Sudras, for example, is quite true if you think about it. Any spiritually aware person (regardless of religion) will behave in a certain way. Those who are genuinely spiritually enlightened will be of a calm and understanding nature. Take Siddhartha Gautama and Jesus for example; both spiritually on levels higher than many of us, and both were peaceful in nature. This is how the Brahmin person, or spiritually inclined person, will behave as they have a greater knowledge of God and understand that there is no need for anger and hatred as the consequences are always negative. In this sense anyone can be a Brahmin assuming they have the spiritual awareness that goes with the title.

The image below represents the Hindu Caste System in a visual form. It shows that those who have a greater level of self awareness have a higher form of consciousness thus they are known as “Brahmin”.

An Image That Symbolises The Caste System.

The Hindu Caste System.

In other words, the Hindu caste system is based on a person’s attitude, which affects their spiritual awareness, which ultimately affects the way they behave and their nature which then affects their karma and the way they interact with other people, as opposed to merely focusing on the economic role society labels a person with, as soon as they are born.

Furthermore, the Dalit caste is also known as the “Untouchables” because their role in society is a role where the tasks can be seen as dirty. This has meant that society keeps away from them as they view them as unclean because of the tasks they undertake. Nevertheless, many great people from history were from the supposed lower caste.

The Love Between Krishna And Sudama

The Love Between Krishna And Sudama

One of Shri Krishna’s best friend was Sudama, a poor man. Although their social places on Earth were of extreme sides of the spectrum, the Lord himself had a special place for Sudama in His heart, so who are we to assume we cannot touch the supposed lower caste or befriend them?

Valmiki and Ved Vyas

Valmiki and Ved Vyas

Additionally, some of the most exalted people in Hindu history supposedly come from the lower castes. The writers of the Ramayan and Mahabharat are Valmiki and Ved Vyas and both are supposed to be from a low caste. Two knowledgeable men with divine insight and great skill of Poetry coming from a low caste is also a great representative of how the caste system in the Hindu tradition is not merely based on the jobs that people do in society; rather, it arguably focuses on the spiritual awareness a person possesses.

Finally, before I end, I would like to say thank you for reading this far (I am aware the post is quite long) and I would also like to point out, once again, that I do not have complete knowledge of this issue and I am always learning about the Sanatana Dharma, so if you have read this and wish to know more, I would recommend reading the scriptures themselves and pondering this issue further to gain a complete insight into it. Having said that, I hope my humble and simplistic post has opened up new avenues of thought which will hopefully dispel the negative connotations associated with the caste system and its link to Hinduism and the uses of negative connotations as justifications for doing wrong towards fellow human beings.

The Truth Behind The End Of The World

Everyone has an opinion on what will happen at the end of this year. Personally, I do not think the entire World will end just yet and if it does then clearly I am no Mayan.

Anyways, here are some scientific facts (cough) I have learnt about the Mayan civilisation:

-They want the World to party at the same time on the same day. They were clearly a kind bunch.

Party Like A Mayan

Party Like A Mayan

-They were hungry for fame and wanted higher celebrity status than Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

-The Mayan civilisation were known for their practical jokes.

-The Mayans were made extinct before they could add more dates to their calendar.

-The Mayans loved getting drunk.

Having said that, Death generally puts Life into perspective and if there is one thing that we should learn from the idea that the World is going to end, it is this;

-Death is the fact of Life; whether you are Rich or Poor, all our ends will be the same. Therefore material things are useless in front of Death which means that we should endeavor to increase our kindness towards all other Beings over trying to step on people so we can have the most money, the best clothes and the fanciest of homes.

The Earth Song

No. Not the Michael Jackson cover.

“Cover? I thought it was his song!” I hear you cry. Well, it isn’t. Michael Jackson merely gave a human voice to the Earth Song but he did not pen it because the Earth Song has been written and sung long before civilisation itself.

Allow me to explain.

I came across a picture the other day; this one to be precise:

Some Tree Advice

And an idea which had been pushed to the back of my mind came to the forefront. This idea that I am about to talk about has been spoken of before so it isn’t new and well, going back to the beginning of this post, the Earth has been trying to drum it into us since forever so I won’t take credit for it.

But before I begin I would like to draw your attention to this video:

Bruce Lee and the image above have captured two verses of the real Earth Song. The image and video both highlight the benefits to our character from imitating nature but it does not stop there because the benefits reach out to all forms of human activity; from the seasonal colours, such as reds and browns for Autumn and yellows for Summer, used in the fashion industry, to engineering solutions used to make buildings withstand problems and to the food industry which uses seasonal ingredients in different dishes.

Trees

Trees highlight the importance of confidence by, as the image suggests, standing tall. Having said this, it also shows how standing tall, being stronger and heavier than most living things is not sufficient; rather, you must also keep your feet on the ground so that your strengths do not allow your character to turn into ego. Trees may be strong but they are humble enough to maintain life within them and provide for life around them.

Water

Bruce Lee touched upon a fantastic point; the ability to adapt yourself to fit into different surroundings. Whether you wear clothes to camouflage yourself from enemies whilst in the army or you need to fit into a new country by learning the language, adaptability is essential for survival. Even Darwin agreed with his evolution theory!

Mountains

The obvious characteristic of Mountains is their strength and height, but as we have already touched upon that when I spoke about trees, I thought it may be better to point out their steepness. The steepness arguably portrays two things; one, life is about the journey as opposed to the peaks and two, you better develop some thick skin along the way. Let’s take a 100m sprinter’s goals and training as a metaphoric mountain. The audience only sees the sprinter from the start to the finish where he is awarded with a gold medal. This is a medal that anyone could make artificially and is arguably just a piece of metal, but it is a medal that matters to the sprinter because of the journey he has taken to get there. The blood, sweat and tears that were felt during painful, intensive training sessions made the piece of metal feel important and ultimately, the sprinter will celebrate the medal win in the short-term, but in the long-term he will rejoice in developing thick skin from his struggles.

Sunlight

Phew. The last paragraph was long wasn’t it? I’ll try keeping this one short. It is no secret that the Sun shares its light with the Moon and it does it without expecting anything back. When people help others out they rarely do things for the sake of helping and always expect some sort of favour back, but that mentality can turn negative quickly, especially because not receiving help after you have expected it in return, will hurt and can make people seek “revenge”. Moral? Illuminate freely.

Smiling Sun

So there you have it. I have put up some free advice from Nature to guide humanity and I am sure you could think of at least one other example of a message the Earth is singing to us.

For the humans who do not understand the language of the Earth, in Michael Jackson’s human voice,

“Did you ever stop to notice the crying Earth, the weeping shores?”

It’s the end of my post so if you haven’t stopped reading and started thinking of examples already, then your time to begin is…coming up in…

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Now!