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HTLS 2015: Islamist terrorism bad karma of the West, say experts

HTLS2015 Updated: Dec 05, 2015 20:07 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Hindustan Times Leadership Summit 2015 Live

Noted spiritual authors Marianne Williamson and Rabbi Rami Shapiro during a session at Hindustan Times Leadership Summit in New Delhi. (HT Photo)

The scourge of terrorism that is ravaging many western nations may be the result of the bad karma these countries have accumulated due to their past actions, and a process of healing could only begin with an acknowledgement of the mistakes, noted spiritual author Marianne Williamson indicated on Saturday.

Speaking at the 13th Hindustan Times Leadership Summit, the American author and lecturer said Karma applied to not just individuals but also to civilizations and countries – an apparent dig at western nations who have been historically accused of selectively nurturing terrorists in West Asia to destabilise hostile regimes.

“The healing cannot begin unless the United States admits the 2003 invasion of Iraq had a huge impact on the rise of the Islamic State. Praying to the goddess Durga can help us learn more about fighting the IS than US military,” she said.

“If we don’t talk about the deeper cause for the IS rise, the conversation will remain superficial.”

The jihadist group controls large swathes of land in West Asia and has gained notoriety for its mass public executions – putting up gruesome videos online – and a string of terror attacks, including the Paris strikes last month.

Her fellow speaker, Rabbi Rami Shapiro, partially agreed, saying the world needed to see everyone as a family, referring to Swami Vivekananda’s famous 1893 address to the Parliament of the World Religions where he had addressed the audience as ‘sisters and brothers’.

“I don’t exploit my sister. So I wouldn’t exploit anyone else if I considered them my family,” he said.

The session on religion, consciousness and spirituality also saw a spirited debate on the nature of capitalism. Williamson asserted that big agriculture and chemical industries ruined food production and the lives of farmers in the West and now were trying to do the same in India.

“We are a human family and have to take care of each other. If the economic system can cause human suffering, individual actions won’t help. Capitalism has to be personally awakened – without ethics, it becomes monstrous,” she said.

Rabbi Shapiro lamented the deterioration of spirituality into a consumer product nowadays, saying people in the US were more worried about the kind of clothes and accessories one has to wear during yoga than the act itself.

“India must be a bright spot in the world as it is uniquely positioned to be a spiritual, technological power and to separate spirituality from the medieval influences that drag it into dogma such as misogyny and homophobia,” the Rabbi said.

“India has had the best of European and Oriental enlightenment and the realization that we are all manifestation of a divine identity.”

Williamson agreed, saying that not following the path of the heart and putting short-term economic gains over humanity would be disastrous.

“What Indian minds discerned 5,000 years ago is still relevant. Spirituality cannot be separate from the economic, political, social, business realms,” she said.

Full coverage of HTLS 2015