Inculcating the Spirit of Volunteerism
For those who are wondering about my latest tweets; I am in Nepal working amongst Youth here. We have started a campaign here called Volunteer For A Prosperous Nepal (VFAPN) to instill feeling of volunteerism for their Nation and I have been writing inspiring tweets for the Youth in Nepal. Few days back I had an interactive session with the Youth and Art of Living Family Nepal, wherein they came up with interesting questions. Presenting below is short gist of our interaction;
Q1 what is volunteerism?
A: The culture of giving, sharing and caring is called volunteerism.
Q2 Why be a volunteer or why volunteerism?
A: The overall prosperity, be it socio, political or cultural, of any Nation depends upon the spirit of volunteerism in its citizens. Taking social responsibility is an inherent quality which is inborn and we do feel a natural inclination to act on it. Further, doing something good/meaningful for society and nation in a selfless manner can boost sense of self-worth. Moreover it can also instill a sense of accomplishment in life and give a broad purpose/vision in life. The spirit of volunteerism takes one out from confined and limited thinking or mind-set.
Q3 what is the source of volunteerism?
A: The basis or source of the sense of volunteerism is the institution of joint family and sense of patriotism. Since, the institution of joint family has declined over the years so one needs to kindle the spirit or sense of patriotism. Emphasizing things that make you proud of your Nation also fosters this spirit of patriotism. The seed of volunteerism can be sowed early on in kids.
Q4. Can Art of Living do this?
A: Certainly. In fact Art of living is already doing this world over through different workshops and programs amongst different sections of society. The Art of living programs enhance self -esteem and cultivate and kindle natural talents in an individual. Also through spiritual techniques (Pranayam, Meditation and Sudarshan Kriya) taught in Art of Living workshops, we experience the harmony with the Self. Since harmony with individual, society and nature depends on harmony with the Self. Through Spiritual awakening one can achieve this. See a stress free mind always communicate positively n responsibly. Thus we are reviving volunteerism through “spiritual awakening”.
Q5 Could you please elaborate on spiritual awakening?
A: Being aware of the impermanence of life is the source of spiritual awakening. Attachment brings sorrow and misery. It’s silly to say “this is mine” it’s mere an illusion. Spirituality takes you beyond negative emotions like lust, greed, cravings, anger, and brings up positive emotions and divine qualities like kindness, love, compassion, and cooperation in an individual. See, sanatan tradition (dharma) is co-operative not competitive. And spirituality revives these values and one not only enriches oneself but also starts contributing towards society and that is “spiritual awakening”.
Q6 But then how exactly this spiritual awakening will be implemented?
A: Before that we need to examine why this sense of volunteerism declined in our country, which inculcated and promoted the feeling of one world family, As I said earlier also the model of development adopted by us led to decline and disintegration of the institution of joint-family. The very institution of joint family which provided or served as training ground of co-operation, compassion. Right communication (all this is very core of volunteerism.)
Another institution which used to or could have fostered volunteerism are our educational institutions. But unfortunately our curriculum has been dominated with poverty in the country, illiteracy, and eulogized English and anything western. If we are going to teach kids all that is ill about our country and not teach them to be proud of their country how we can expect they will have any feeling of being a volunteer.
Having sense of inferiority regarding country/nation has affected a sense of entrepreneurship in people. And we all know that self-esteem and entrepreneurship are inter-related and inter-dependent. And spirituality can create high self-esteem. Today our greatest challenge has been to change the attitude and the mindset of the individual. To manage mind and emotions can be a tricky job. Through spirituality and value education one can transform this phenomenon.
Q7 what should be the first step or where to start from?
A: let’s begin by creating violence free and stress free society. Again, violence is of many types but the most significant kind of violence is “structural violence” and this can be eliminated only through spirituality and spiritual awakening of the people and society.
Q8 what do you have to say about the political culture in south Asia?
A: Not much, just this that our political leaders are suffering from “vision deficiency syndrome”. This is preventing them from rising above their personal interests. Vision can only be broadened through the practice of meditation which brings contentment in life. If we want to change the political culture again spirituality is the answer.