You are listening to a programme from BBC Radio 4. We often use the news to keep us up to date with the frequent changes in societal boundaries. Whether they're geographical, political or familial the trend has generally been that countries are getting smaller and families are becoming more nuclear. Often these changes are driven by a desire for a solution to our struggles with working together in a spirit of cooperation. What's prevalent in society often depends on the environment created by our culture. The risk of a culture of self-reliance is that it can encourage more division if it's not rooted in values that benefit and unify the majority. The Vedic model of culture suggests that we belong to the whole—as parts of the universe, nature, our communities and parts of our family units. It assumes that we are intrinsically responsible and will therefore commit ourselves to the well-being of present and future generations with gratitude for how much we have received from our ancestors and the extent to which our community and extended family nourish us. The idea being that when we feel connected we naturally accept responsibility for preserving the gifts we have received for those who will come after us.
The Vedas recommend that a culture that fosters harmony is based on inclusiveness, tolerance and acceptance, but they go on to say that to establish a healthy, cooperative environment. We must also discover the divine harmony and order inherent within ourselves so that we can express it in the world through our relationships. That is why for Hindus it is so important to do our inner work of self-observation and self-improvement and notice what has real, lasting value and treasure what is truly sacred. In today's world, I think it's really important we revitalize the human spirit and it is more natural to us than we realize. The Bhagavad Gita describes how although our spiritual essence is encased in a material body, spiritual qualities of humility, forgiveness and compassion are inherent to all of us and can always be accessed. We simply need an environment that encourages us to invest time and energy in bringing this spiritual competence to the surface. It is then far easier to play our role in establishing a culture based on forgiveness, respect and a loving community. Once established, such a culture will kick start a cycle of positivity. I believe this is a realistic and achievable goal if we can persevere and commit to what's required of us.