Saturday, July 11, 2015

Mata Amritanadamayi address at UN academic impact, technology for sustainable development conference

A few extracts from Mata Amritanandamayi's address titled "RECONCILING ANCIENT SPIRITUAL WISDOM AND MODERN TECHNOLOGY FOR SOCIETAL TRANSFORMATION" at a UN Academic Impact, Technology for Sustainable Development conference on July 8th 2015, New York, USA:

Some of you may wonder, “Does a spiritual person like Amma have a place here?” It is my faith in the validity of spiritual knowledge that has brought me here in front of you today. I often reflect deeply on the future of the Earth, the preservation of nature, and the disappearing harmony between humanity and nature. This contemplation has led me to the conviction that science, technology, and spirituality must unite in order to ensure a sustainable and balanced existence of our world. The present age and the world around us demand this transformation.

Day by day, science and technology are rapidly growing in an uncontrollable manner. Nobody knows where this growth is leading. When we look around, we see developers, producers, distributors and consumers all seem to be caught in a frenzy to acquire the latest, greatest and largest things. The current state of humanity is like that of a child let loose in a candy store.
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There are two types of education: education for a living and education for life. When we study in college, striving to become a doctor, lawyer, or engineer, this is education for a living. On the other hand, education for life requires an understanding of the essential principles of spirituality. The real goal of education is not to create people who can understand only the language of machines. The main purpose of education should be to impart a culture of the heart – a culture based on enduring values.
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Life is a perfect combination of logic and mystery -- perhaps more mysterious than logical. In all areas of life, the head and heart should go together.
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The current gap between the haves and the have-nots is the bane of the entire world, and this disparity is increasing daily. A mountain on one side and an abyss on the other—such is the current situation. On one hand, there are those who live, squandering millions upon millions on luxuries. On the other hand, there are those who struggle in hunger and pain to make enough for just one meal—to make enough for just one day’s medicine. If we postpone reducing this gap any longer, it will culminate in violence, even widespread riots. A bridge of love and compassion joining these two groups is desperately needed.

Poverty is a terrible plight upon humanity, destroying all goodness and talent. It is the cause of all moral degradation.

Once, when Amma was giving a program abroad, a group of homeless children who more or less lived underground in the city’s subway lines came for darshan. They had drawn pictures for Amma. Most of the pictures were violent scenes of bombs, missiles and battleships. One child drew a picture of Jesus Christ and Mother Mary, but they had guns in their hands. When Amma asked the child why he had drawn Jesus Christ with a gun, he said, “When he’s hungry, won’t he need to eat? If he has a gun, he can pull it out and mug someone.”
Amma asked, “Son, is the only way to get money by pulling a gun on someone?”
The boy replied, “That’s what my dad does.”
“Can’t your father work to earn money?” Amma asked.
The boy replied, “My dad is healthy enough to work. He went for many interviews, too, but no one would ever hire him. No one will hire people like us. That’s why my dad uses a gun. That’s how he is supporting us.”
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Once, a man brought a 10-year-old boy to Amma. He wanted Amma to raise the boy in the ashram and told her the story of how he became an orphan. His father had died two years before, so his mother and sister went to work in a candle factory near their home. Then his mother was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease and was unable to work as she was bedridden. Even though his sister was paid very little, it was just enough to make ends meet.

After a while, laws were established that banned child labor. The owner of the candle factory was arrested, and his company was shut down. All the children working there were let go. Distraught at the loss of their only source of income, the mother sent her son to school in the morning and then she poisoned her daughter and herself.

It is justifiable to shut down such factories, but we often forget the families of the young children who depend on these factories in order to live. In our attempt to resolve a problem, if we only see one aspect and fail to see the other, the repercussions are experienced by people who have no other recourse.
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Today, universities and their researchers are ranked mainly based on the amount of funding they receive, the number of papers they publish and their intellectual caliber. Faculty are promoted according to the same criteria, as well. Along with this, we should take into consideration how much we have been able to use their research to serve the lowest and most vulnerable strata of society. This would be like gold becoming fragrant. In our approach to sustainable development, we should not forget that it is by strengthening the people at the base of the pyramid that the entire edifice of society becomes healthy and strong.
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Full speech text: https://academicimpact.un.org/sites/academicimpact.un.org/files/Amrita%20Chancellor%20Sri%20Mata%20Amritanandamayi%20remarks.pdf

and here's the webpage for UNAI-Amrita Conference on Technology for Sustainable Development, https://academicimpact.un.org/content/unai-amrita-conference-technology-sustainable-development.

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