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Having spent a delightful time with our son in Berlin, yesterday we enjoyed my daughter’s birthday celebrations. Family is a great thing. Einstein talks of the expanding circles of compassion, larger than the individual is the circle of the family, and there is no doubt that being part of the family circle is one of the great blessings of life. Beyond the family is the community and so on. Where does it end? Well it was the Stoics that coined the word Cosmopolitanism. This didn’t just mean a conglomeration of people from all different cultural backgrounds living together in the same place. The original definition of cosmopolitan was citizen of the cosmos. The cosmos is a wide circle indeed and difficult to conceive, but I think we might get some sense of it every time, however small, when there is a dissolving of the confined space we occupy called my life.
On Saturday I was invited to speak at an event arranged by the Gujarati community of West London. I didn’t know quite what to expect. I wasn’t even sure that what I had to offer was the right thing. I’m still not sure. What was certain was that it was a lovely occasion with families gathered together to celebrate the end of Navaratri,
Navaratri means nine nights and is one of the greatest Hindu festivals. It symbolises the triumph of good over evil. During this period the goddesses Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati are worshipped as three different manifestations of Shakti, or cosmic energy. Navatri is of particular importance to women. If you would like to find out more and discover how Navatri is celebrated in India click on this link. BBC - Religions - Hinduism: Navaratri
One thing can be assured, though not as colourful as the celebrations in the film what took place in Greenford library was a delight. Given that it is of particular importance to women, it wasn’t surprising that it was mostly women present, and the care that they showed to one another was evidence of what community spirit is like.
At the end of the event the women, old and young, got up and danced in a circle as a devotion to their goddesses and confirmation of the spirit of their community. After all what does the word community mean: coming together in unity. There it was in physical form, the circle of community
The hymn to Durga in the ancient Vedic text the Rig Veda is this line: The eternal and infinite consciousness is I, it is my greatness dwelling in everything. An there was definitely a sense of that in the non-fiction section of Greenford Library on Saturday afternoon.
I was pleased when people came up enquiring after the five week course. It won’t be long before Philosophy As a Way of Life begins again, and with it another opportunity to experience something of the same, the end of separation. Details below.
With my best regards, William
THE DEDICATION TO LOVE
If love offers anything it offers the end of separation. If we are driven back upon ourselves in any way, if we feel isolated and alone, consider what it is that makes us feel like this. What is it that we have lost contact with, both in the world around, in our relationships, in our general experience of life and, most importantly, in ourselves? What emotions do we carry in our hearts, and how do these emotions colour everything?
If love is not the basis of our experience, then lack of love and all that accompanies it will rush in to cover it. When our activities become a burden, when our relationships are a source of heartache, when natural enjoyment is replaced by tension and anxiety, we know that we have lost in some way and to some measure the capacity to love. But despite the pain that must accompany this acknowledgment, it has its purpose, for it may encourage questions as to what it is we do lack. What is love? From where does it arise, and what is the natural outcome of love? Above all, how might we both enjoy and offer the fullness of love?
In seeking answers to these questions we are being prompted by the most deep rooted of desires. We are seeking the source of human satisfaction and ultimate happiness.
When those ladies danced in a circle they were, consciously or not, evoking the Shakti, the spirit of love that pervades everything. That was more than evident.
Even the briefest of acknowledgment has its effect, a smile in the direction of love, whatever the occasion has its effects.
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