Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Swami Dayananda Saraswati: The profound journey of compassion

By Mike B.

Dayananda Saraswati is a Hindu teacher of Vedanta and Sanskrit in the tradition of Adi Shankar. He is well known as a very wise, and intelligent disciple of Swami Chinmayananda. He is a 'whole ' man. By whole, I mean he has discovered his meaning in life; he has found purpose for himself and is contented. He is strong and he is solid. He is solid in his beliefs and his words. He speaks what he will, and moves others as he does. The Swami is very motivational; he is an idol.

In his talk the Swami gives his views on many things; compassion, love, empathy, and happiness. He elaborates on how they are interdependent -which is how they must rely on each other to be present in a person. He starts out by speaking on the helplessness of a child and how it needs it's mother to survive. The baby is a consumer; it takes without the ability to give back. The baby believes the world surrounds them and that everything is dependent on it, but as the child grows up, its trust in its mother is violated and so it blames itself, "A wordless blame, which is more difficult to really resolve, the wordless self-blame."

The baby must overcome this as it becomes an adult. It must also find a way to contribute. The ability for a human being to grow depends on their ability to contribute. They must give. In order to give, one must feel, "Secure, one feels big, one feels: I have enough." Once a person is stable, then that person can give. Once you are secure, then you can feel compassionate and can act in that way. The Swami then gives an example of empathy. He describes a scene from a Wimbledon final tennis match. The two opponents fight to the finish with one man eventually prevailing. Then the crowd cheers, the man celebrates and all is joyous for him until he sees his opponent with their head down. Then the victor comes to the net and, "You see, his whole face changes. It looks as though he's wishing that he didn't win." The reason why the man's face fell, is empathy. He sees how crushed his opponent is and he feels his pain. This is empathy and everyone has it. The Swami tells his crowd about the eminence of empathy, "No culture, no nation, and nationalism, nothing can touch it because it is empathy."

The next topics he speaks of our love and happiness. Love is not something you do, but something you discover. As the Swami says, "You can't say, 'Please love me.'" He also says that you cannot make someone act a certain way, but you can act compassionately or conduct yourself with empathy. The Swami encourages 'oneness' which is very hard to understand and harder to explain. It is somewhat of accepting everything around you, and by doing so he says that you will be accepted. He tells us that happiness is found on the way to becoming compassionate. He says that you find yourself in happiness and you are accepting of yourself, "even for a slapstick joke, accepts himself, and also the scheme of things in which one finds oneself."

He finishes his talk speaking about the, so called American manta, "You fake it and make it," He encourages the audience to do this if you don't have compassion. He says that after a while of 'acting it out', you gradually discover it will come naturally. The last piece of Swami Dayananda Saraswati advice will result in you discovering "compassion is a dynamic manifestation of the reality of yourself, which is oneness, wholeness, and that's what you are."

The Swami's speaking style was very confusing and somewhat contradictory at some points. I am not sure if he just struggled to find some of the correct words or if he has trouble in English; at times I had difficulties deciphering what he was trying to get at. One of the worst parts comes as he is trying to explain limitations. He speaks as follows, "Compassion is going to be limited. Everything is going to be limitless. You cannot command compassion unless you become limitless, and nobody can become limitless, either you are or you are not. Period. And there is no way of your being not limitless too." After hearing this part I had to pause and go back a few minutes to try to find context. Then I called up the transcript and still could not understand it. It was somewhat frustrating. I found this talk frustrating in other aspects as well. The Swami's… speaking style… is… spaced out as if… he is in deep…thought. At the start of his talk he will say about four words, then pause for about eight seconds. I might just be too impatient, but this was annoying to me. The Swami's persuasiveness was not the best I have ever heard. This was because he failed to stay on a straight topic path. He tended to speak for a little while on one thing then link it to another idea that linked to something about another thing, that linked to the thing he said first that linked to what he was now talking about. His train of thought was like a spider web, very confusing and random if you look at it up close, but all ties together when finished.

I liked the idea of this talk, however it was hard to find what that was, in most parts. I believe that the main message of it was that compassion will make your life better and will lead you to become 'whole', letting you become happier in the end. The Swami says "everything becomes meaningful. I have no more reason to blame myself." I really would not advise people to watch this video. I found that the Swami was very intelligent and carried a great message, but it would be better if someone else had edited it and presented it for him.

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