Our only asset is the past. We have many plans, many desires, many fears for the future. We live our present life oriented towards the future. Without hopes for a better future there would be no motivation to study, to share, to act, to keep up. But the means we use for living and growing have arrived to us from the past.
From the past we have inherited the culture, the manners, the paths. And we also have been supplied with a good deal of unsolved problems: finding new solutions is our present enterprise. From the past we have inherited the knowledge, the tools, the laws that we need now for solving these problems. Our new solutions will create new problems that the people of the future will have to solve. And what they can use for their future endeavours are the knowledge, the tolls and the laws which we will be able to hand over to them.
We are now enjoying many fruits of development. The way of thinking that has made the development possible has been handed over to us by the previous generations. They have handed over to us technologies more effective than those they had received; medicines much more powerful, and social systems much better organised. We are enjoying all that. But we are also facing a new scarcity of good things that were better enjoyed in older times: previous generations had more time, a cleaner environment, more united families. We have a smaller world. They had more relaxed communities.
So, sometimes, trying to solve the problems we are facing now we look back, trying to recuperate good things lost along the race for economic progress. And so we start re-appreciating the cultural heritages of the past: we search back for knowledge of the spiritual aspects of the human being, for ways to have more relaxed family life, for educational methods capable of fostering a deeper esthetical taste.
In this search we travel to remote villages, visit old cities, learn old professions, receive initiation to traditional arts.
In this search many of us have arrived toBanaras, a special city, where for centuries people have come in search of the old paths.
InIndiato travel to Benares has always meant to abandon desires, struggles, achievements in order to renovate one’s spirit. It’s a town where the past is living, where the oldest traditions survive. For the world in the past 50 years to travel to Benares has become a sort if spiritual initiation to what has mainly been lost in the rest of the world.
Many people arriving at Benaras are able to see beneath the veil of dirt and confusion to enjoy the magic of the place. It is a unique experience. It gives the possibility of returning to one’s usual environment with a broader vision of the human being and his destiny.
This is the resource the Benaras offers to the future: a living possibility for confronting with the roots of human history. As far as ancient traditions are kept alive in places likeBanaras, we will have the possibility of comparing what we have achieved with what we have scarified. This will give us the possibility of correcting our mistakes. When traditions will die also in Benares, even if the facade of old palaces were preserved and the ancient manuscripts were all properly cataloged in the libraries, the world will be far poorer. And development will become far more dangerous.
“We cannot spend our money for future welfare! We need to enjoy the returns for our investments!” This is the justification of those who are ready to sell off the common heritage. But investing for the future does not make us poorer: it will teach us how to share knowledge, which is the thing that makes us fertile. To care for others produces a richer culture. Through culture, we enlarge the limit of our consciousness, to include within our self-identity also the well being of the others, the well being of nature, the well being of future generations. If we are rooted on a value system that values culture, we will be able to enjoy the pleasure of “spending” for others, because we do not feel the others strangers, but as factors of our own deeper self.