Mission and Vision

Swami Chinmayananda

God alone does nothing. He is aboktha. Man must strive to improve the world. Man alone, also, would not be able to do anything. He needs the blessings of things which are called God - the blessings of nature.
Though spirituality and religion should not be organized, it can be unfolded; spiritual vitality can be unfolded within the heart of a human being, only in perfect liberty and freedom. The world today has moved to a situation wherein nothing can be done without organization. Even to bless the society, to spread values of life, organization has become very important and necessary. Organization is not in the Hindu tradition. In Vedic days, such organizations were not there. So, if you look for sanction of organized religion or the sanction of Vedic books, you will find none. But as the number of people in the society increased, the problems of the community multiplied, then religion could no longer sustain the needs or answer the needs of the community.

And thus the Puranic days came when religion first started conforming itself as an organization, centered in the various temples in India. But even at that time, there was only a minimum number of them--Badrinath, Benaras, Rameshwaram and Dwarka. Then, five hundred years B.C., organization became more urgently needed and the first Hindu who brought organization in the religion was Lord Buddha. Buddha had to organize his team of workers, unified as bikus, through centers called Buddha Vihars. Within another six or seven hundred years, Buddhism flourished and decayed and became very decadent. And thus, the Indian spiritual atmosphere became very chaotic. Hinduism also decayed. Buddhism also decayed. Spiritual values decayed.

It was at that time that Adi Shankara appeared on the horizon and brought about a certain amount of swift organization into Hinduism. More and more temples were built and as temples became prominent in society, they became the source of inspiration for the community. The temples became the center from where spiritual ideas and thought were spread into the community. But in time even these temples could no longer inspire the members of the community and they also reached a point of decadence.

Again, in the nineteenth century, Vivekananda tried to organize Hinduism and the Ramakrishna Mission came into being. These Missions are nuclei for developing, perpetuating and spreading spiritual and ethical values, religious and moral ideals. There are Christian Missions, Islamic Missions, Buddhist Missions, Hindu Missions, and World Missions. We view them as organizations wherein inspired people come together to work and serve in the society for spreading spiritual values and to improve the moral quality of life in the community.

After Ramakrishna and Vivekananda's time, whenever the great acharyas appeared, they got a number of followers who organized themselves for the purpose of their own self-development. Many missions came about. Each acharya was, in his lifetime, able to inspire a large number of people to organize themselves so that they were more effective in their work. These missions were established as a result of a lot of human effort. Many social and material sacrifices went into creating temples, schools, hospitals and colleges. After all that, as soon as the Master leaves, the Mission collapses; because our loyalty is to the individual personalities and not to the ideal. The Mission's members do not have the vision, but only the membership of the Mission. The members are not inspired by the ideal that the teachers stood for.

We need a fundamental change of attitude. Otherwise we will never be able to organize ourselves for the development of society. We need to understand that an old vision may not suit changing times. We must adapt the vision to the new requirements of modern life. If that elasticity is not there in the vision, that mission becomes redundant. It is not that the vision was wrong, but societies are constantly changing and if the mission and its vision is not elastic enough to accommodate new demands of the community, the mission again fails.

Adaptability has always been the quality of Hinduism. Hinduism has constantly changed, has always embraced the new dimensions and demands of society. When cultural revolutions lose this elasticity, religion becomes a dead carcass also been lost. They think it is only another organization with vested interests. Learn to keep a vision. Learn to have an ideal. Discover it in yourself. No one else can give it to you. True heroism is in living uncompromisingly up to your ideal. The world may threaten you. The community will not easily leave you free. But he is the hero who defiantly stands, firmly rooted, in his own conviction. That one, even a single individual who inspires the entire population, is the true hero, inspiring generations and generations thereafter. This uncompromising heroism of living up to the ideal is the very core of our avatars.

Whether it is Krishna or Rama, what is it that we glorify in them? They had heroism in their life. Otherwise they were like other human beings. We worship them, we revere them because they had heroism to live up to their ideals. Living up to their ideals was not easy. Jesus was crucified. Mahatma Gandhi was shot. But what does it matter? One day everyone has to die. You have not taken a contract that you will die in a hospital bed, surrounded by wife and children. Once you have found the joy and glory, why not die living up to your ideal?

That consciousness can arise in you when the vision is clear. He who has a vision rises to the highest. That vision is not a contract; it is not written on paper. It must be enshrined in the hearts and minds of everyone. And where there is a vision, when even a single member has developed and cultivated this courage, this heroism to live up to the vision, then that mission cannot die. It is such a vision that can serve the society, the community and the world at large.