Archive for December 13th, 2010

How Culture is One

Date: Mon, 13 Dec 2010 06:48:27 -0000


From: Hariish Deva

Subject: How Culture is One




“A’mi toma’re bhuliya’ chinu katadin…” (P.S. 4091)




Baba, I was remaining forgetful and was oblivious of You for such a long

span of time. My life passed like this. I traveled on the rugged, jagged path.

Sometimes I fell down in the ocean current.

My days, full of stains, were wasted in hopelessness– without any

achievement, without any genuine progress. So many lonely, isolated nights

passed in crying in utter despair with no pra’na– just frustration.

Baba, sometimes I suffered and got hit by the cold northern breeze. And

sometimes that northern breeze took away all my hopes, inspirations, and

gains. Just I drowned in staticity and crudeness.

But now, by Your grace today spring has come. All the surroundings are

filled with the colourful flowers and sweet aroma. The dark night has

changed into a glittering moonlight, shining in the sky. Peacocks are

dancing in happiness and expressing their joy by extending their feathers.

The sweet breeze has come. It is shaking my whole existence and making

me quiver in the divine vibration. That sweet breeze is giving me the hint

and telling me, ‘Listen! the divine flute, which is resonating, it is

calling you…”






Commonly people think there are so many cultures: African, western, Native American, Chinese, Russian, Indian etc. Indeed, in the last two decades, various terms like multi-cultural, plurality of cultures, bi-cultural etc have come into vogue. People think humans are different according to their “separate culture”. Hence it is often thought that there are many different cultures on this planet. In that case there is no question of one human family.


But according to Baba’s teachings, human culture is one – not many. This letter is an effort to better understand Baba’s sublime teachings on culture, and why culture is one.





First and foremost, according to Baba Shrii Shrii Anandamurti ji, culture is the collective name of various human expressions.


Baba says, “Culture is the collective name of various expressions of human life.” (A Few Problems Solved – 6)





Let’s examine a few practical examples to better understand what is culture.





As we know, when people meet then they greet each other. This practice of humans greeting each other when they meet is pervasive. It happens everywhere. A person in the hills of North Korea greets their friend; and a person from a valley in California greets their friend. In both cases, in some way they greet their relations.This is a common practice. This is culture. And because it is everywhere, that is why culture is one.


Of course, people from different lands may express their greetings differently.


For instance, in Ananda Marga we do namaskar or pranam; in some lands, people bow to one another; in other countries people wave their hand and say hello; in some places people say shalom; in other lands people embrace one another or kiss; and many resort to handshaking also. Thus there are many ways that people greet each other. But these various types of greetings are not cultures, but rather demi-culture.


Culture is the act of greeting, irrespective of how it is done. One this point, all human beings share a common thread; they all greet one another.


Some may try and bifurcate the society by dividing people into this culture or that culture. But in truth there is a common thread that is shared among all. Greetings is one such common point. Again, there may be various ways of greeting a friend, but in reality people from all various places are all doing the same thing, i.e. greeting.


It should be very clear that the greeting itself culture , while the way people greet one another is a cultural expression or demiculture. Demiculture may be innumerable but culture is one. That is why all humans are one.


To some it may look like culture is many. However, the very act of greeting another person is itself our human culture. The practice of greeting a friend or neighbor etc is shared by all peoples in all lands.





All over the world people express their joy or happiness. This expression of happiness is common to all. This is culture. If someone is happy in Thailand then they express their happiness, and if someone is happy in Alaska or Siberia then they too express their happiness. Expressing happiness the culture of human beings: When they are happy then they express themselves in some way.


It may be through art, dance, laughter, drama, music and so many ways. That is a common point everywhere. That is why human beings are one, irrespective of their geographical area. Because their culture is one, i.e. when they are happy they express their joy.


People of Thailand may dance in a way different from residents of Alaska or Siberia. And that difference in style is their demi-culture, or the cultural expression of that area.


One should not confuse culture and demi-culture. Culture is the trunk of the tree and the demiculture refers to all those branches, and twigs.


So human culture is one, i.e. expressing happiness when they are happy.


In other words in different lands, people express their joy or happiness in various ways. Some sing, some dance, some clap, some whistle, some smile, some laugh, some slap hands, and others hug. There are so many ways how people express their happiness. These are not culture, but rather demi-culture. Demi-culture are different in various lands. The main theme is that when they are happy and they express their happiness. That is common everywhere. That is culture and that is one.





Each and every community gives value or importance to something. In the west, matter or material wealth is most valued: people chase after property, possessions and money; in other lands marriage or social status is most valued; and in some places religion is what is most cherished. In each of these areas, people have a chosen arena that they revere or value most; this gives them their stamina and direction.


Giving value to something is present everywhere around the globe. A person of a remote village of Zaire has something that he cherishes in life and deems very important and a person of Canada living in a bustling city also values something in his life. This is the common point everywhere. Human beings have something they cherish. That is the culture of human being. Both in Zaire and Canada this is true. They share a common point in that they both value something. Around the globe, all have this. That is the common point of all human beings. That is culture. It is one. Peoples’ values may change from place to place, but the act of giving value to something is common to all.


In other words, that every person in every land gives value to something is our shared human culture. On this point of giving value or cherishing something, people of various lands or areas cherish different things. People in some parts of the world value material possessions, and in some parts people give importance to religion. So there are local variations, but those variations are not culture, but rather demi-culture. Then what is culture? To cherish something in life, that is culture.


So it should be very clear that giving value to something is culture. Every human being on this planet has this quality. This is the common thing to all. That is why culture is one. People of different areas may value different things, but they value something. And that quality of cherishing something is human culture. And that is common. That is why around the planet there is one culture.


In clarification: Demi-culture means chasing particular things: whether it be material or spiritual or intellectual or external beauty or art and literature – they must cherish something. This variety is demiculture and the common point of cherishing something is culture. That is why all humans are one. All have the same culture.





Wherever people live together they have friends or family and on various occasions they share their food. This is common everywhere. In China, people feed their children, relatives, friends and family; and in Australia they feed their children, relatives, friends and family. The common ticket is that they share food with others. This everyone does. This is human culture – it is common and done everywhere. Thus, on the point of food also, human culture is one.


No doubt the person in Australia has his own style of cooking, dining, menu choices, and serving, and those from a remote Chinese village have their way of cooking, dining, menu choices, and serving. These things are demi-culture. Culture is that they all share their food with one another – that is common around the globe. The difference is these expressions are but local variations of a superficial nature. The deeper aspect is common: Preparing and sharing food.


The way people eat may vary significantly from place to place. Some do half-bath, sing kiirtan and do sadhana before eating; others wash their hands and feet and say a prayer; some eat with their hands; others eat with a spoon; some eat vegetarian and some take non-veg. And there are so many ways and foods people eat. The manner and style varies dramatically from place to place. But these things are not culture; they are demi-culture.


Here culture is practice of serving and sharing food with friends, family, relatives and neighbors. This is commonly done all around the globe. That is why Baba says that the culture of human beings is one. Everyone shares food with their children, family, friends or guests etc. Hence, human culture is one.


There are various ways of doing this around the planet, but those various approaches and styles are not culture; they are demiculture. The culture of human beings is one, irrespective of where you are born, culture is one.


We should not separate one human from another by proclaiming people of various areas as having various cultures such that they are alien to each other. Our outlook on this issue is 100% integrated – all inclusive.





All human beings are one: (a) everyone greets, (b) everyone expresses happiness, (c) everyone has something they value or holds as an ideal, (d) people share and serve food together, and (e) many similar practices can be included in this list.


Irrespective of their so-called caste, language, so-called race or geographical areas, literal or educated, all have these common qualities. That is why inherently human culture is one. By superficial look, it seems that people live in different ways and express themselves but these are local variations that we term as demi-culture.


The conclusion is that fundamentally human beings are one and there are various local differences and those differences are not cultural but rather demi-culture.





Ananda Marga wants to unite all and form one human society. This is one of the main themes: To unite all human beings. If we view culture as many then it is difficult to unite everyone. So our AM’s perspective on culture is to find common elements that all have in their general expression. It is by this way we can understand human culture as one.


And when people start thinking human culture to be one then it will be very easy to unite everyone. Then peace can be brought on this earth. Disunity invites violence. People divide humanity on the basis of various platforms including culture. By that way so many problems surface. By understanding culture as one we can unite everyone and bring peace.








qqq Often, what people think to be culture is not culture but rather demi-culture. Subtle or fundamental qualities which everyone has is culture and that is prevalent everywhere. And that is what we tried to express in the above letter. qqq





Some may innocently think that this issue of culture is not an important affair or that this is not a problem. Here following is one striking example of the degree to which the present day humanity has fallen into the trap of dividing people into different cultures.


When watching or listening to a news broadcast, reports are commonly given: “75% of Black males…”, or “15% of Asians…”, or “the majority of hispanics…”, or “Haitian immigrants are prone…” etc. People are not treated as people but rather as members of separate groups, clans, castes and cultures.


Here the point is that the news purports to present events in an unbiased, impassive tone. Yet the language which they use itself is divisive: blacks, hispanics, whites, asians etc. They put people in different groups as a matter of course. In turn everyone accepts this as being totally normal. Because when such an authoritative voice speaks in this way, then people take it as an unquestionable truth that there are different cultures or different races on this earth. They do not think twice about it. Just they live as if deep down we really are different and there is no common thread. Such is the dramatic or blatant manner in which people commonly think these days and this is reflected by popular and even intellectual news reports.


So then how should such news be reported. Firstly, people should be referred to as human beings, and not “African Americans” or “Asians” or “Latinos” etc. Everyone is a human being and it should be reported in that manner. Secondly, if indeed it is needed or noteworthy to provide differentiations, then that classifcation can be made on characteristics like lifestyle (i.e. obese persons are more prone to heart disease, or those eating flesh foods are prone to coronary heart disease), economic level, age, educational attainment etc. In all these ways we can groupify people, but not based on race. It should not be reported that on white person attacked three black people or that a chinese man started a new business etc. We are all human – that is our race & human culture is one; our manner of speaking should reflect this inclusive approach.


As Ananda Margiis, it is our job to change this outlook and help all come to the understanding that human culture is one.





One critical point to know is that demi-culture can be good and demi-culture can be bad. When a demi-culture elevates a person or a community it is good demi-culture; and when a demi-culture degenerates a person or a community it is bad demi-culture. More about this will be written in the next letter.




Real Wealth


“Ya’jinavalkya asked, ‘What would you like?'”


“Maetreyii replied: ‘Yena’ham’ na’mrtasya’m’ tena’ham’ kim kurya’m'”


“‘What will I do with things which will not remain with me permanently?

Of what use are the objects which will not establish me in

immortality?…’Please give me that thing which will remain with me

permanently, which I’ll be able to preserve forever, which will

establish me in immortality. I don’t want anything else.'”


“Then Ya’jinavalkya gave her a number of instructions, upon which a

major part of Raja Yoga is based’.” (AV-7, p.44)


Note: As described in the above quote: Really, worldly things cannot

remain with us very long. That is why ideal people run towards Parama

Purusa. Being Parama Purusa and Guru, Baba Himself has guided us how to

reach Him. On this point, we are extremely fortunate to at least have

gotten the path. Now our main duty is to follow it.



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