Natraj Guru- Lover of Humanity.

While strolling amongst the stately trees at Ootty with Nataraja Guru one day in the spring of 1956, he said, "To be a lover of humanity, one first must acknowledge its existence. This is difficult for most people to do. It means giving up many false notions. We continued walking in silence. The immense calm of the forest, with the sun's rays scarcely penetrating their foliage, the wonderfully mild climate and his homely yet strangely impersonal kindness soothed me immensely after the hurly-burly of America and Europe.

"Lover of humanity?" It was the first time I had heard the phrase. It had a strange ring. How could one love all humanity? Wasn't love a strictly personal emotion one felt toward another individual or to ones' family, or to a sport or a favorite food, in other words, to some one or something with which one identified personally? How could you identify personally with humanity as such? How could one even grasp the reality of humanity in order to "love" it? True, I had read much science fiction in my teens. "Humanity" was often pitted against alien races in distant galaxies or far-off star systems. Invariably "home" planet was "Mother Earth," and I came to regard this notion as natural, even banal, as most self-evident facts are. My "travels" in space and even time thanks to Issac Asimov, Arthur Clarke and Ted Sturgeon allowed me to "leave home" mentally and emotionally and to return not without theoretical appreciation. But to accept the reality, the existence of humanity, as the Guru demanded for its "lovers" required a dimensional leap in sheer comprehension, almost an acceptance on faith bypassing one's already acceptance of lesser groupings such as family, nation and even corporation. Yet was not the extension more than logical, more than reasonable? Did not all lesser groupings by definition derive from "common" humanity? To love the part therefore without loving the whole was to be ignorant of its very source.

As I was pondering these thoughts, the Guru stopped and looked at me, his head slightly cocked. I think, he started slowly in that deliberate way of his, "You are a true lover of humanity." I stared at him my feelings mixed. "Love" and "humanity" were not yet a pair in my mind. Love was personal and humanity an abstraction. Yet some how, I sensed the rightness of allying them, even the necessity. I was strangely pleased if not fully comprehending the significance. Now, more than a quarter of a century later, I am beginning to understand just what it means to be a "lover of humanity." And to what commitments such an individual is enjoined.
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Narayana Guru and Nataraja Guru, as indeed all "proper" Gurus, identified directly with humanity as the identified with humanity's creator. The two were recognized as corollaries, as inseparable as the individual with his/her creator. ("Love thy humanity as thyself" was as valid an injunction for the 20th century human as "Love thy neighbor as thyself" was for the 1st century human.) Just as they refer "back-wards" to their own teacher, so they acknowledge former masters or sages as proponents or examples of this dynamic relationship.

Thus, the human microcosm and macrocosm became in their person’s dynamic bi-polarities - to use the language of dialectics - to be taken always and inevitably together.

When contemplating the precious dialectics of this mystical yet ever-regenerating union flowing inexorably through time, the Guru once told me he could not repress a sense of ecstasy coursing through him.

Through the years, in my work as world citizen, I have found few fellow "lovers of humanity."

Many acknowledge humanity's existence and proclaim its right to survive and prevail, but that is not the same as loving it. To love is to be willing to die for one's love. There are millions to die for their country or maybe their religion, though that is less evident. Nationalism is the 20th century religion, the later day "golden calf" around which humans gather in worship and love. But die for humanity? For planet earth? Who or what is threatening it? We are not being attacked from outer space.... yet. And though the insect world seems to be deadly and hardy enough to out-survive the human race, still we are holding our own it appears.

Yet the threat to humanity itself has become increasingly apparent since 1945. Just as humanity has not only endangered other species on its home planet but forever eliminated them in its crude and thoughtless expansion so it is today endangering itself by itself with the unthinkable potential of eliminating itself entirely at least from earth.

When Nataraja Guru was teaching at the International School in Geneva in the late 40' s he used to listen to the daily broadcasts of the United Nations' debates. It became soon apparent to him he said, that what was missing was a representative of humanity itself at the UN. Among all those state delegates, no one "loved" humanity enough to place humanity's interests above those of his particular nation.
Then later, when I met him for the first time on the S. S. America in 1950 going from Europe to the United States he told me that renouncing U. S. nationality was equivalent to an Indian taking a vow of Sannyasin both being required for a direct affiliation with humanity’s wisdom heritage. My claim to world citizenship, he added, was nothing more or less than a manifestation of wisdom-seeking. I immediately rebelled against this ludicrous notion that I was seeking wisdom rather than a political solution to the nation-state's dilemma of war making. " If you are a true wisdom-seeker." he said, sensing my rejection, "you will have to test my claim to be a Guru or wisdom teacher. How else can you find out whether it is valid or not? On the other hand, if wisdom does not interest you, you will simply run away."
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As I was in the "wilderness" of intellectual depression at that precise moment secretly I would have listened to the devil himself if he had promised to teach me wisdom. Besides I had enough confidence in my own value structure and intelligence to be able to discern a true teacher from a phony. Inconsistencies would eventually reveal themselves. I told myself besides the obvious fact that deeds and words had to equate.

The fulfilling lesson I have learned since then is that the maturing of wisdom in one goes side by side with the capacity to love. This again may seem banal to the reader yet upon reflection, the relationship between knowledge and love has, to my mind, not been realized fully by many otherwise qualified teachers.
Nataraja Guru's statement that I was a "lover of humanity," came only after I had traveled to India to sit at his feet, as it were, as a wisdom disciple. Though I was at that time only a humble disciple, the mere fact of recognition of his Guru hood, therefore the "existence" of Wisdom itself, confirmed in his mind that my claim to world citizenship and thus membership in Humanity as such, qualified me as its "lover."

The religious world has difficulty with "humanity." Inclusive humanity confronts exclusive religion head-on. What the former affirms by its very existence the latter denies by its partiality. While God is affirmed as sole creator and ultimate sovereign by religion. His creation is denied in its entirety. Jesus Christ, for example, it is written, gave two commandments to his followers: Love God and love thy neighbor (as thyself). He did not admonish them to "love humanity." It wasn't until the 19th century that a latter-day prophet, Bahaullah, stated boldly that " The world is one country and mankind its citizens." To this revolutionary notion he added, "Let not a man glory in that he loves his country; let him rather glory in this, that he loves his kind."

In commemorating Nataraja Guru's birthday, we implicitly are recognizing a " lover of humanity." We are thereby acknowledging humanity's existence and in turn our own vital and vitalizing kinship with it as a "being" in itself.

Humanity's "birth” is recent, concurrent with the worldwide communications network. The "baby" is demanding our attention, our resources and ... our love. Eventually and we trust soon, historically speaking, it must become "reasonable," accepting to abide by the Creator's already established rules.

Nataraja Guru, with Narayana Guru preceding him and Guru Nitya following him, as all Gurus and saviors before them, manifest these divine rules for the good of all and the general good of our Mother/Father: Humanity itself.

Let us dedicate ourselves anew, as “Lovers of Humanity" for in that divine lover is both our communal and personal "salvation."