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What does the Speaking Tree tell us?
by Hamsini Shivakumar| New Delhi, India
Friday, 15 October 2010
tags: asia, contributions from, culture, disciplines, header navigation, making sense
The Speaking Tree is an eight-page weekly supplement on matters spiritual, attached to India’s largest circulated English language newspaper, the Times of India. It's a medley of material, written for easy weekend reading, spirituality ‘lite’ for the time-starved, go-getting wage slave seeking to live a materialistic and successful life, yet uplift his soul. Also, India’s young and ambitious who are already beginning to get burned out by the race to the top are seeking to re-connect with their spiritual roots; they seek answers to the puzzles and conundrums of their lives.
Drawing from the concerns and preferences of contemporary living, the paper urges its readers to energize themselves, to celebrate their life, to create, to discuss, to contemplate, to explore and to practise. In keeping with the modern achiever’s spirit of action and dynamism, even reflection and contemplation are presented as active verbs, born of intent to engage with the world rather than retreat from it into the monastery or the wilderness.
Wellness as inner peace is presented by Deepak Chopra, the trendy guru who combines American concepts of positive thinking for success with ideas of consciousness and meditation drawn from Hindu and Buddhist philosophy and metaphysics. Good health as balance and undiagnosed illness as body-mind imbalance are also explored. The reader is nudged to re-examine his or her state of health through the body-mind prism.
Ideas from Tantric meditation and Vipaasana Buddhist meditation are presented along with descriptions of pilgrimage sites and explanations of the cultural and religious significance of Hindu festivals, with all of their associated mythology. The writings of saints and mystics from around the world are liberally quoted — be they Christian, Buddhist or Sufi, Greek, Chinese or Persian.
In all of this, the paper follows the hidden codes of the Hindu ethos – an eclectic view of faith. Each believer has his own path, according to this view, and there is no one right path. Here is an example of a religious ethos demonstrating an ability to refresh its ideas and presentation with the changing times — and to permit the peaceful co-existence of contradictory, even opposing ideas under the big banyan tree.