The history of the human race is replete with stories of personal abuse as well as individual triumph in the face of adversity.
Gripped by the influence of mind, egocentric consciousness has dominated mankind for centuries. Human growth has been slow. The march from ego obsession to universal personal awareness advances and retreats, and then advances again. Two steps forward, then one step backward. However, over the last 50 years there has been an acceleration in growth of human kindness, sensitivity, and greater regard for the well being of all peoples.
The binding influence of mind continues to weigh heavily on the human race. Meditation lessens selfishness, and frees body, mind and spirit.
While walking on the beach and enjoying the sun we can take a stick and drag it through the sand. That creates a line or furrow. The harder we press the deeper the channel we create. That line remains in the sand and will stay there until the wind or surf eventually covers it back up. Now take that same stick and swipe it through water. You will notice that it also creates a line, with emanating ripples, but that will not last long. The impression in the water quickly disappears. Now take that same stick and swipe it through air. That also creates a line, we can feel the resulting wind, but that disappears even faster.
As consciousness expands the imprint of experience on the mind becomes less and less. The winds of time and change and their resulting vicissitudes fall more softly on our psyche. Less indelible become their influence. Just as dragging a stick in the sand makes a deep furrow not easily covered up, swiping the stick through the air makes much less of an impression. So to, as our individual consciousness grows the impact of experience softens.
As we continue our meditation practice individual consciousness grows along with strength and stability. Mediation helps us to more easily forgive and heal.
One of the first tipping points in favor of the recognition of human rights took place on English soil in the year 1215. The rule of aristocracy was set aside when King John of England signed (rather reluctantly) a document later known as “The Magna Carta.” This granted rights to everyone, hitherto only afforded to the ruling class and wealthy Barons of the land.
And it’s not that this was the first document ever to formalize human rights. Heaven knows, many virtuous and well wishing people, along with spiritual leaders through the millennia, have tried. But the acceptance of this document by the prevailing human race indicates that the average consciousness of the mass of people living at that time – had finally risen to the level of valuing every human life.
A revised and expanded 1297 version of this document, called the “The Great Charter of the Liberties of England, and of the Liberties of the Forest,” still remain on the statute books of England and Wales.
Here are some of the more relevant tenants of the Magna Carta:
1. In the first place we have granted to God, and by this our present charter confirmed for us and our heirs forever that the English Church shall be free, and shall have her rights entire, and her liberties inviolate; and we will that it be thus observed; which is apparent from this that the freedom of elections, which is reckoned most important and very essential to the English Church, we, of our pure and unconstrained will, did grant, and did by our charter confirm and did obtain the ratification of the same from our lord, Pope Innocent III, before the quarrel arose between us and our barons: and this we will observe, and our will is that it be observed in good faith by our heirs forever.
We have also granted to all freemen of our kingdom, for us and our heirs forever, all the underwritten liberties, to be had and held by them and their heirs, of us and our heirs forever.
30. No sheriff or bailiff of ours, or other person, shall take the horses or carts of any freeman for transport duty, against the will of the said freeman.
31. Neither we nor our bailiffs shall take, for our castles or for any other work of ours, wood which is not ours, against the will of the owner of that wood.
39. No freemen shall be taken or imprisoned or diseased or exiled or in any way destroyed, nor will we go upon him nor send upon him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.
40. To no one will we sell, to no one will we refuse or delay, right or justice.
45. We will appoint as justices, constables, sheriffs, or bailiffs only such as know the law of the realm and mean to observe it well.
As human consciousness grows, the higher values of life will be reflected by society and eventually find their way into the laws and constitutions of the governments of the world.
Here are some examples of what is currently of the statute books of several countries …
The Constitution of Argentina (1994):
All inhabitants of the Nation enjoy the following rights under the laws that regulate their exercise, namely: to work and perform all industries tender, to navigate and trade; to petition the authorities, to enter, remain in, travel in and out of Argentine territory, to publish their ideas through the press without prior censorship to use and dispose of property, of associate for useful purposes, to profess freely their religion; of ensenhar and learn.
No inhabitant of the Nation may be punished without previous trial based on the fact of prior law process, nor tried by special commissions, or removed from the judges appointed by law before the act for the cause. No one can be compelled to testify against himself, nor arrested except by written order of authority competently. The defense at trial of the person and of rights. The home is inviolable and also the correspondence and private papers and a law determine when and how evidence may proceed with their search and occupation. Are abolished for always the death penalty for political causes, any kind of torture and beating.
Chapter III, Protection of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms of the Individual:
Whereas every person in The Bahamas is entitled to the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual, that is to say, has the right, whatever his race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex, but subject to respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for the public interest, to each and all of the following, namely-
a) life, liberty, security of the person and the protection of the law ;
b) freedom of conscience, of expression and of assembly and association ; and
c) protection for the privacy of his home and other property and from deprivation of property without compensation,
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; Constitution Act, 1982:
Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
(a) freedom of conscience and religion
(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other means of communication.
(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
(d) freedom of association.
The Federal Republic of Germany:
Article 1 (Protection of human dignity):
(1) The dignity of man inviolable. To respect and protect it is the duty of all state authority.
(2) The German people therefore acknowledge inviolable and inalienable human rights as the basis of every community, of peace and of justice in the world.
(3) The following basic rights bind the legislature, the executive and the judiciary as directly enforceable law.
Article 2 (Rights of liberty).
(1) Everyone has the right to the free development of his personality insofar as he does not violate the rights of others or offend against the constitutional order or the moral code.
(2) Everyone has the right to life and to inviolability of his person. The freedom of the individual is inviolable. These rights may only be encroached upon pursuant to a law.
Article 3 (Equality before the law).
(1) All persons are equal before the law.
(2) Men and women have equal rights.
(3) No one may be prejudiced or favored because of his sex, his parentage, his race, his language, his homeland and origin, his faith or his religious or political opinions.
Article 4 (Freedom of faith, of conscience and of creed).
(1) Freedom of faith and of conscience, and freedom of creed religious or ideological, are inviolable.
(2) The undisturbed practice of religion is guaranteed.
(3) No one may be compelled against his conscience to render war service as an armed combatant. Details will be regulated by a Federal law.
Article 5 (Freedom of expression).
(1) Everyone has the right freely to express and to disseminate his opinion by speech, writing and pictures and freely to inform himself from generally accessible sources. Freedom of the press and freedom of reporting by radio and motion pictures are guaranteed. There shall be no censorship.
(2) These rights are limited by the provisions of the general laws, the provisions of law for the protection of youth and by the right to inviolability of personal honor.
(3) Art and science, research and teaching are free. Freedom of teaching does not absolve from loyalty to the constitution.
The Constitution of the Republic of Hungary:
Chapter I, Article 8:
The Republic of Hungary recognizes the inviolable and inalienable rights of persons. Ensuring respect and protection for these rights is a primary obligation of the State.
The Constitution of India, on Fundamental Rights:
Article 14: Equality before law:
The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.
Article 15: Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth:
(1) The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them.
(2) No citizen shall, on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them, be subject to any disability, liability, restriction or condition with regard to-
(a) access to shops, public restaurants, hotels and places of public entertainment; or
(b) the use of wells, tanks, bathing Ghats, roads and places of public resort maintained wholly or partly out of State funds or dedicated to the use of the general public.
(3) Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any special provision for women and children.
(4) Nothing in this article or in clause (2) of article 29 shall prevent the State from making any special provision for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.
Article 17: Abolition of Untouchability:
“Untouchability” is abolished and its practice in any form is forbidden. The enforcement of any disability rising out of “Untouchability” shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law.
Article 19: Protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech, etc.:
1) All citizens shall have the right-
a) to freedom of speech and expression;
(b) to assemble peaceably and without arms;
(c) to form associations or unions;
(d) to move freely throughout the territory of India;
(e) to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India;
(g) to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business.
Article 25: Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion:
(1) Subject to public order, morality and health and to the other provisions of this Part, all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion.
It’s not a matter of writing documents that delineate human rights. It’s a matter of recognizing the sanctity of human rights, and flowing through by creating a safe-space for their exercise.
When the collective consciousness of a people rise to the value of honoring life, the idea of human rights takes hold and resonates in the very fabric of that society.
We see this time and time again, where countries are aided in transitions to democracy, only to once again fall back to old ways and habits (self centeredness). The quest does not take root and is not sustained because the general populace still remains deeply ensnared in the dream of samsara.
Sometimes bad situations in a country are blamed on their leadership. We certainly hope that the leaders representing all nations are chosen from the best that their society can offer. But as a representative of their general population and human stock, they will carry the fears and dreams of those in their respective societies. That’s why deposing one leader and installing another does not necessarily lead to better times.
A countries’ leader is a mirror of the consciousness of their people.
Assure human rights and their proper governance through the development of human consciousness.
Day by day, person by person, close the eyes and meditate.
There is a growing realization that we get what we deserve (cause and affect). So first deserve, then desire.
Abandon all melancholy and malaise from the human psyche, by opening your mind to the infinite blissful value of pure consciousness. Deep within, at the seat of thought, resides the jewel of eternal existence. It’s already there.
As a hummingbird sipping nectar flies continuously from blossom to blossom, so does the mind wander in its endless search for peace. Continue your meditation practice every day, so that your mind settles to find its true essence.
That wonderful eternal value of life is the home of all rights, human and divine.