15th January 2013 - QA 4

Gurudev, can the feeling of nationality and spirituality move together? Do you not think that the love for our country limits our expanse?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:

No, not at all. Both can go together, and there is no need for any conflict between the two.
See, you are a part of a democracy. You are a stakeholder in a particular country and its democracy, so you do have a say in that country’s affairs, and you have to stand up and express that. Doing this in no way obstructs your sense of universal brotherhood, or your universal oneness.

Let us say, for example, you are a social worker. Now if there is garbage in your own home, your first duty is to clean your own home.
Now if you ask me, 'If I clean my home, will it not conflict with my cleaning the streets, or cleaning other public places?'
I would say, 'No! If you are going to clean the world, you need to clean your home as well.'
A little bigger extension of your home is your country, and then of course peace in the entire world.
If you do not belong to a particular country, you cannot go and talk about the corruption present in that particular country. The people there would tell you, ‘It is our internal affair. Who are you to come and ask us?’
You have the right and the authority to clean up your own home, but you cannot tell your neighbour, ‘I am going to come and clean your home. I feel a sense of belongingness with you too.’ They would tell you, ‘Thank you, but you are not welcome. Please do so in your own home, that will be good enough.'

In your own home you have the authority to do what you like. But you cannot use the same authority on the neighbour.
Now if your neighbour invites you by saying, ‘Please come, I need your help. Let us clean my home too’, then you should just jump and do that.
If you are a tourist in a country and not its resident, then you cannot meddle with the affairs of that country. It is not the right thing to do by law.

So this is where the abstract and the concrete levels come into conflict.
At an abstract level, you have a sense of belongingness with everyone. At the level of feelings, you feel, ‘Oh, what is the difference between India, or Pakistan, or America or Europe? Wherever I go, I feel like it is my own place. I feel totally at home.'
At the same time, you cannot behave the same in all the places. Every place has its own code of conduct which we have to follow.

If you need to fight against some injustice, you can do so only within your own country. So in this sense, it is not contrary.