India

I lost my prejudices
Added: Wednesday, 29 April 2009

watch original V-Blog in Persian

watch original V-Blog in German

The following is a translation of a letter from a German-speaking viewer of my v-blogs. I thought it was so candid and refreshingly inspiring, I'd share it with you all:

"Not long ago I was on a flight to go and see my family. I don't generally consider myself racist or prejudiced, since I am myself of Indian descent and know what it's like to be discriminated against, but I guess if we're really honest, we all are a little prejudiced at times. As I was waiting at the gate, I saw five Arab men who were praying in preparation for their flight. They were all dressed in traditional attire. I'm a woman and I suddenly felt uncomfortable around those men. Perhaps because I felt that they were looking at me or judging me for not being dressed like a Moslem woman should. I hoped that I would not be sitting next to them.

Of course I ended up right in the middle of them. The plane was pretty full and it was difficult to find another seat. One of them started praying again and I wondered why he had to do that next to me. I guess my body language betrayed the fact that I was feeling uncomfortable, because when I looked around for another seat, a white, German lady caught my eye and sympathetically said, "I know how you're feeling. I wouldn't want to sit next to these kinds of people either."

I found myself going red in the face. I was really ashamed that someone, whom I would consider racist, was 'bonding' with me. Had my discomfort been so obvious? Were my prejudices written all over my face? I kept thinking, that's not what I stand for.

When it was time to eat, they brought the food for the Moslem gentlemen first, as it was halaal. And then something happened that shook me up thoroughly. For some reason, the five men, who had been sitting next to and behind me, didn't open their dinner packs, but instead sat there and waited. At first I thought they might be fasting or praying. But then, 15 minutes later, when my food came, they all began eating with me. And it hit me – they had had the decency to wait for me to eat.

In that moment, as we sat together and ate dinner, I felt so connected to these gentlemen and so alienated from myself and the lady that had spoken to me earlier on. No word was every exchanged between me and the men next me, nothing was ever said, but that elegant and mannered gesture had spoken more than words and had impressed me beyond imagination.

I don't know. You told us to look for the good in people and this was an example of how I had looked for the negative, but in the end I realized how wrong I'd been. For the remainder of the flight I realized that none of these men had looked at me strangely or judgmentally. That the only one with judgmental eyes had been me. This experience has certainly changed me for the better."

The benefits of sacrifice
Added: Monday, 11 August 2008

watch original V-Blog in Persian

watch original V-Blog in German

One of the things that many people say and I used to say, is "one day when I'm rich and famous I will do this and that"...I'll build water wells in African villages, I'll create a school for the underprivileged or even just a simple workshop for women...it doesn't matter what our lofty plans, we imagine a certain level of success and achievement to be the prerequisite for doing great things. After all, how can you give anything when you don't have anything?

But in the last couple of years it's occurred to me that making your mark or making any meaningful contribution is a privilege that every human being can partake of. It is a process that requires sacrifice, not comfort! A friend of mine once told me that the most precious wedding gift she received was a chicken. After panning across the crystals and china in her lounge, I asked her if she was serious. And she explained, that she lived in a village at the time and her neighbor owned nothing but a chicken in this world. That was his most valuable possession. And that's what he gave her. Everything he'd owned.

The word sacrifice is often associated with loss and pain. We think of it as something that we give away and it's gone. The man with one chicken gives that one chicken away and now he's got none! But the Latin root of the word, sagrificium, denotes trading in something lower for something higher – rendering something sacred! So in the case of the man with the chicken the chicken becomes sacred. But can we render that concept tangible? What does it mean for the chicken to be 'sacred'?

I'd like to refer readers to the video called Infinite Vision featured in our videos section. It truly speaks for itself, but here's some info. In it, Dr. V of India, who was sent into retirement at age 58 with rheumatism and an unexciting pension, decides to start his life legacy around an eye-clinic that is designed to help blind people regain their sight. 40 million worldwide suffer from blindness, 12 million of them live in India and 80% of them suffer unnecessarily. Their blindness can be reversed. He started with 11 beds. Him and his family sold their jewellery and mortgaged their homes in order to keep building the clinic. They literally gave everything they had. It was not about how much they had, it was about scraping together the little security that they had built over the years to create a project that would ultimately help hundreds, later thousands of people. Today, 30 years later, at age 88, Dr. V has a whole series of large clinics all over India where he cures the blindness of tens of thousands of people.

And just to give you an idea of what that 'higher' thing is, that we trade our blood, sweat and resources for when we give - here is what Dr. V says:

"When we grow in spiritual consciousness, we identify ourselves with all that is in the world. So there is no exploitation. It is ourselves we are helping. It is ourselves we are healing."

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29 July 2008

Infinite Vision

An eye clinic with 11 beds. A country with 12 million blind. ...and one doctor dedicated to a beautiful dream. Infinite Vision is the story of Dr. V, the legendary eye surgeon from South India who made it his mission to restore sight to the blind and whose work has resulted in one of the world's most extraordinary models of service delivery. This film traces the inspiring life journey of a visionary dedicated to serving humanity, outlines the evolution of the Aravind model of eye care and affords glimpses into the spirituality that has guided both for over fifty years in service for sight. "If you can't pay them you don't have to. If you can't come to them they'll come to you. Each year they bring light to millions of lives. Their services are world-class, but the spirit that drives them is one of a kind..."

CREDITS:
Written & directed by Pavithra Krishnan
Cinematography and Editing by Ayla Gustafson
(C) Aravind Eye Care System 2004
contact: infinitevision@aravind.org
Aravind Eye Hospital



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22 February 2008

Mother's Crown

Mother's Crown delves into the eccentricity and spirituality of a 74 year-old Indian-Australian sculptor captivated by the beauty of motherhood. This observational documentary draws a parallel between motherhood and the artistic process as forms of creativity and inspiration.

CREDITS:
Director/Writer: Misagh Habibi
Music: Todd McNeal
DOP/Editor: Misagh Habibi



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30 October 2007

One Common Faith

Every age has its needs, its exigencies. Humanity has always turned to God for answers and God has always provided humanity with relative guidance through His Manifestations. These Manifestations include those that have appeared before recorded history, Buddha, Krishna, Zoroaster, Moses, Christ, Mohammed, the Bab and Baha'u'llah. Located where religions have historically been forced to confront each other, India has been a battle-ground for religious turmoil. But like a gem, that is polished through great ordeals, its unity now shines bright. In 'One Common Faith' we meet some of India's religious leaders and hear what they say about the inherent oneness of religious truth, the human family and our collective salvation.

Read the One Common Faith document written by the Universal House of Justice and access a wonderful study companion to the document at ChangelessFaith.com.

CREDITS:
Produced and Directed by: Sean Hinton and Peter Bisanz
Executive Producers: Hassan Elmasry, Kersten Pucks, & Ramin Khadem
Director of Photography: Stefan Forbes
Written by: Leyla Haidarian
Edited by: Ryan and Leyla Haidarian
Music by: Amal Ma'ani
Field Producer (India): Rumana Hamied
Sound Engineer: Subramanian Mani
First Assistant Director: Avani Batra
Production Services in India provided by: Sparkwater

Interviewees in order of appearance:
Dr. A.K. Merchant
Archbishop Vincent Concessao
Dr. Mohinder Singh
Rabbi Ezekiel Isaac Malekar
His Holiness, The Dalai Lama
Pir Khwaja Afzal
Swami Agnivesh
Farida Vahedi

With thanks to:
The Office of His Holiness The Dalai Lama
The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of India
Dr. A.K. Merchant
Naysan & Jalan Sahba



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