Spirituality: The core
The twelfth edition of the World Confluence of Humanity, Power and Spirituality was held in Kolkata at The Westin Hotel on December 27 and 28, 2019. Organised by the Kanoria Foundation every year since 2010, this confluence aims to bring together distinguished luminaries from different communities and regions across the world to discuss issues of humanity, power and spirituality. The 2019 edition focussed on promoting a culture of tolerance through spirituality within communities while encouraging sustainable development of society and welfare of the citizens.
Scholars and intellectuals from different walks of life and fields came together to stream their thoughts in favour of conscious transformation of society. The two-day confluence was inaugurated by the Governor of West Bengal, Jagdeep Dhankhar, in the presence of Dr H P Kanoria, the trustee-chairman of Kanoria Foundation. Several eminent personalities including Tathagata Roy, Hon’ble Governor of Meghalaya; Dr Subramanian Swamy, Hon’ble Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha; Dr Karan Singh, scholar and philosopher; Swami Chidanand Saraswati Maharaj; Imam Umer Ahmed Ilyasi Saheb, Chief Imam - All India Imam Organisations; Acharya Dr Lokesh Muni, the founder president of Ahimsa Vishwa Bharti; and Dr Mohammad Hanif Khan Shastri, an Indian Sanskrit scholar graced the event along with various other distinguished international delegates.
In his welcome address, Dr Kanoria said, “Different religions are flowers of different colours to be tied with the chord of love, to make a beautiful bouquet and offer at the altar of truth and humanity. Essentially, humanity is the religion of human beings.” Adding further, he said, “Principles of spirituality govern the harmonious co-existence of everyone in the society. Therefore, understanding the importance of spiritual values by individuals, organisations and society at large has become increasingly important.” His book All in One, One in All was also launched during the World Confluence.
Talking about the importance of spirituality, Dr Subramanian Swamy said, “Today’s education is no longer simply cognitive intelligence. There is now an emphasis on emotional, social and moral intelligence. And spiritual intelligence is the basis of this multi-dimensional intelligence. So, the growth of a nation solely depends on the spiritual enlightenment of its people.”
The confluence created an environment where a plethora of ideas flowed with quintessential acceptability which forms the essence of peace and harmony.
India’s first Structural Integrators
There’s a lot that is unknown about our body; how we experience it and how it interacts with us is subjective. Various methods and protocols have been applied for decades to understand the body as a whole and how it is aligned. One such method is Structural Integration (SI), which is an interactive soft tissue manipulation technique. This manual therapy, based on the works of Dr Ida Rolf, the mother of SI, explores the possibility of change in a way a person can use and experience their body.
Primarily, this therapy focuses not on the muscles but on the protective layer called fascia that surrounds the muscles, bones and organs in the body, giving the muscles their shape and the body its structure. It is essentially designed to be elastic to assist the muscles and bones to move freely. However, injury, stress, ageing and other factors can cause it to lose its elasticity, making it shorter and dense. Consequently, the fascia pulls the muscles and bones out of proper alignment, thus creating discomfort in the body. SI is the aligning and balancing of the body by lengthening and repositioning the fascia, making one feel more at home with one’s body.
India’s first batch of Structural Integrators graduated on December 28, 2019 in New Delhi, having trained under Derek Gill (founder of the International School of Structural Integration in Florida, Global Structural Integration in Florida and a certified Advanced Rolfer). They have mastered the skill of working through the patients’ entire body to bring awareness, and ease the discomfort by integrating the body with the centre of gravity. Systematically addressing the body as a whole, SI is spread over a series of 10 sessions, which starts from ‘Freeing the breath’ and goes on to train the practitioners to help their patients broaden their perspective and understand how their health habits, environment, previous trauma, and limited thinking can adversely affect their body.
SI opens a whole new paradigm allowing the patients to explore for themselves what it means to be healthy with the practitioner as their guide. It allows them to own their healing process by discovering new options for movement, posture, self-care and overall physical experience by learning to expand the body from its core.
Ram Dass merges with his master
Ram Dass (born Richard Alpert; April 1931–December 2019), the carrier of the spiritual flame of his guru, Neem Karoli Baba, to America, is no longer with us. Like Hanuman, whom he worshipped, Ram Dass exemplified the qualities of Lord Ram’s foremost devotee, who stood for unwavering devotion to the guru.
In 1967, Richard came to India to quench his spiritual thirst and find answers to questions he was struggling with as a professor at Harvard. At that time, he was reluctant to go to the Himalayas to meet someone he had never heard about earlier except from the person who was taking him there. He was spellbound when Baba Neem Karoli told him what he was thinking the night before and about his late mother. It was a turning point for him. After that, Ram Dass became a devotee and in the years that followed, he showed the American society what it meant to love your guru.
Ram Dass was completely immersed in love for his guru and others around him. This was something he had never experienced before, even when he was experimenting with LSD. To free him from LSD, Maharajji (Baba Neem Karoli) once ate all the LSD pills Ram Dass was carrying with himself. One pill of LSD is enough for an adult to have a psychedelic experience but nothing happened to Maharajji. He was his usual self. Ram Dass learnt his lesson from this incident and was freed from LSD forever.
Ram Dass’ transformation happened in the presence of his guru and in an attitude of surrender. He understood this deeply and carried the light of devotion to the guru (the Hindu bhakti culture of devotional singing and chanting) to American society. He shared this with hundreds of seekers from the West through his famous book Be Here Now. He authored and co-authored 12 books, but this was by far his best work which till date, guides many seekers.
Ram Dass not only popularised devotion and love for the guru but created an immense body of work on Maa Kaali, Krishna and the concept of dissolving the ego, mindfulness and self-contemplation.
Though Ram Dass has discarded his mortal frame, he will continue to inspire, inform and illuminate the world through the books he wrote, the talks he gave and the temples he helped to build. His legacy will live on through all those who love him.
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