Social Work : The Ethico-Spiritual Paradigm ► [05] Man, the Spiritual Being

Posted: 16.06.2005

V. Man, the Spiritual Being

Without having a comprehensive worldview as its foundation, Social Work cannot function as a holistic discipline and orchestrate its varied roles and activities into a mellifluous symphony. The status empowerment function of Social Work is directly proportional to the nature of philosophical framework within which it establishes its goals and linkages. The spiritual worldview represents the summit of human understanding and cannot be repudiated or exiled by any intellectual acrobatics or philosophical shenanigans. This is not a dogmatic assertion but a fact supported and corroborated by history. So many ideologies sprouted and flourished for a while and then vanished into the limbo of oblivion; only the spiritual ones acquired a life coterminous with human history. Spirituality is not only the real and ultimate nature of man but of the entire cosmos. Man was created in the image of God. The kingdom of God is within man. The fatherhood of God is one of the cardinal principles of Christianity. The Sufi Islam declares "Anal Haq". The Vedanta pronounces, "I am the Brahman" and "thou are that”. When Christ says, "I and my father are one" he implies by this statement the identity of man and God. Man is potentially divine and his greatest mission is to realise this divinity. All actions that foster the attainment of this goal are virtuous and sacred and those that distract are vicious and profane. The Hindu scriptures classify human actions into four categories viz.

  • Nihshreyas - those that lead towards liberation
  • Shreyas - those that are performed for the good of others
  • Preyas - those that are undertaken to sustain and enrich worldly life
  • Heyas - those that promote selfish ends by causing harm to others

As God is the provenance of all beings, all beings are your own self in an alienated state. When we see ourselves in all beings and all beings in ourselves in a heightened state of consciousness, this alienation ends and the primeval state of identity is restored. This realisation requires a single-minded concentration, intense meditation, a secluded Sadhana. The effacement of the individual ego consciousness is a pre-condition for the emergence of the universal consciousness.

When this consciousness is attained, the self becomes one with the universe; it is now capable of experiencing its movements and rhythms as an internal reality. Man becomes a realised being and his compassion embraces the whole cosmos. Such a compassion is not confined only to fellow human beings but includes all life. Service to man loses special status and significance, it becomes diluted and diffused, service and social service have no clearly-demarcated boundary lines in this world view. All creatures, from worm to man deserve and enjoy the same care and compassion. If Sadhana becomes an end in itself, it may not lead to service, but Sadhana has been generally the life spring of service in the Indian tradition. Sadhana means the transmutation of ego-centred worldly life into other-centred spiritual life. Unless the individual purifies himself and becomes free from all evil passions and inclinations, he cannot do good to society; his service will only desecrate the world rather than consecrating it. That is why greatest souls of mankind first undertook long austerity and penance and then only turned to the redemption of fellow beings.

This Sadhana linked them to the cosmic reservoir of energy and made them the dynamo of ceaseless action and activities. These actions not only augmented the physical well-being of men but also awakened their sleeping spiritual aspirations. Sadhana creates charisma which is a tremendous force of attraction and transformation. It happened that their very presence exorcised people of all their sorrows and sufferings and made them fit receptacles of liberating messages and benedictions. Their Social Work not only provided relief to the people but also spiritual strength and vision that enabled them to meet the exigencies of life freely and fully. Self transformation, therefore, is indispensable to social transformation. The spiritually enlightened person, though encased within a miniscule physical frame experiences the whole universe as his own bodily form. All his actions are cosmocentric and emanate under the pressure of ontological oneness. Such actions do not need conscious deliberations, they carry the stamp of infallibility and perfectibility from their very divine source. The attainment of such spiritual heights is beyond professional competence but social workers can draw their inspiration and sustenance from the spiritual 'managers' of mankind. In case of spiritual personages, it is their being that speaks and transmits messages, not words or actions so much. Their life represents a convergence point of all knowledge, values and actions that serve as auto vehicles of human development and happiness.

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