January 2016 Suma Varughese in conversation with Marianne Williamson and Rabbi Rami Shapiro India must be the bright spot in the world, as it is uniquely positioned to bring about a spiritual and technological revolution, once it frees itself from the challenges that drag it down such as misogyny, and homophobia,” said Rabbi Rami Shapiro while speaking in a session titled Religion, Consciousness and Spirituality. What Next? at the 13th Hindustan Times Leadership Summit, New Delhi. One of the most anticipated media events in the Capital’s calendar, this two-day confluence took place on December 4 – 5, 2015, in the spectacular Durbar Hall ballroom of the Taj Palace hotel. The session on spirituality was chaired by Suma Varughese, Editor-in-Chief, Life Positive, with speakers, American spiritual author and lecturer Marianne Williamson and writer Rabbi Rami Shapiro. The session started with Suma Varughese inviting both the panelists to share their opinion on the ramifications of the New Age shift across the world. Making the point that spirituality cannot be separate from the economic, politicl, social and business realms, Marianne Williamson said terrorism cannot be understood without exploring the reasons why it came about. Referring to the rise of the ISIS, an organisation behind the recent Paris strikes, she said, “The healing cannot begin unless the United States admits the 2003 invasion of Iraq had a huge impact on the rise of the ISIS.” She added, “Just like an individual, civilisations and countries too generate karmas.” Quoting Gandhi, she explained that the world needs to be seen as a family, implying that global economics should keep in mind the larger good and free themselves from exploiting resources of countries. Partially agreeing with her, Rabbi Shapiro cited Swami Vivekananda’s famous 1893 Chicago address, where he addressed the audience as sisters and brothers. “I don’t exploit my sister. So I wouldn’t exploit anyone else if I considered them my family.” However, he described spirituality as a personal awakening to one’s divinity, instead of making it another system with a set of rules. “Once that realisation happens, then you naturally act in accord with the way of life Marianne is prescribing; not because you have to adapt it, but because that is the only truth existing,” he added. Talking on capitalism, Williamson indicated that the West had ruined food production and is doing the same in India too. Rabbi Shapiro too lamented the marketisation of spirituality, particularly the way America has turned yoga into a commodity with its yoga mats and paraphernalia of accessories. When asked, ‘what next?’, both of them pinned their hope on a conscious grooming and cultivation of children and youth into responsible and awakened individuals to carry forward the world.
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