Silo, a thinker, philosopher and a guide, was born in Argentina. He produced a current of thought that affirmed human being as a central value in the times wherein money, prestige and self centredness are becoming the conducting thread of life. This value was the essence of New Humanism that he propagated.(www.silo.net)
I came across his thoughts through a lecture by one of his followers, named Pablo Vergara, around 1979. It was the time when i realized that my life was completely occupied with repetitive routine of life for the sole purpose of survival. In the midst of this routine, i went on questioning myself whether i was born only to survive or if there was a higher purpose and meaning to my life. The contact with Pablo Vergara taught me the essence of Silo's message that life had a meaning. He told me that meaning of life becomes clear to the extent i learn to overcome suffering in the way i was living.
I met Silo personally a few times in India and in Rome. He had once a lunch at my house around 1980, along with several members of the Community For Human Development. When he addressed a public meeting of over 10000 people at Chowpatty in Mumbai on 1st nov 1981(see the picture above). I had the privilege to translate his talk at Chowpatty in Hindi.
Net effect of this involvement was that my life was more and more getting interested in understanding what was happening to my internal world. Great part of this internalization came through my meetings with Fernando, who came in India after Pablo left. Besides personal interaction with Fernando, i felt the deep impact of Silo's teachings in the seminars and retreats he took on Self-knowledge, based on the book of the same title.
Self-Liberation was a book of systematic internal work on oneself that took one to great questioning, insight and comprehension of how to resolve and come out of one's conflict ridden internal landscape.
The Scope of my life became deeper as i went on reading again and again Silo's book of internal experiences called "Inner Look" which describes the phinomenom of the force and life, its passage expansion, the dicoveries it reveals and the meaning it gives to life.
The scope of life became larger, expansive and applicable to the world that surrounds me when we went on discussing more and more the contents of the book called "The Internal Landscape". Those contemplations changed my way of looking at world and the life. It made me more responsible for bettering the world i was born in. I understood what it is to give direction to life and to show to others a unitive way of life that lays stress on treating others in the way one himself likes to be treated.
Everything was explained in terms of a set of 12 principles* and The Path* as Silo's messege. In essence it taught that our personal happiness is essentially included in happiness of others as a way of life.
At larger level, it emphasized on a world without war(WwW) and without violence. Silo emphasized that violence emanates from discrimination, inequality and injustice in the world around us.
In 1995 World Without War (WwW) initiated a World March for Peace and Non-violence in which there was massive participation when the march came to India. Here my colleague Rukaiya Joshi and me, along with many other active members, inspired me to work with colleges through National Service Scheme(NSS.nic.in) in the peace march.
The Humanist Movement is based on a current of thought known as New Humanism, or Universal Humanism. This current can be found expressed in Silo’s works and in those of the diverse organisms who are inspired by him.
Silo's thoughts were prevalent in more or less degree in over 110 countries of the world and I always felt as part of a larger world.
The Principles and The path attached separately.
Here are the tenets, shown by Silo, on choosing the path on way to a good life
* If you believe that your life will end with death, nothing that you think, feel, or do has any meaning. Everything will end with incoherence and disintegration.
* If you believe that your life does not end with death, you must bring into agreement what you think with what you feel and what you do. All must advance toward coherence, toward unity.
* If you are indifferent to the pain and suffering of others, none of the help that you ask for will find justification.
* If you are not indifferent to the pain and suffering of others, in order to help them you must bring your thoughts, feelings, and actions into agreement.
* Learn to treat others in the way that you want to be treated.
* Learn to surpass pain and suffering in yourself, in those close to you, and in human society.
* Learn to resist the violence that is within you and outside of you.
* Learn to recognize the signs of the sacred within you and around you.
* Do not let your life pass by without asking yourself, "Who am I?"
* Do not let your life pass by without asking yourself, "Where am I going?"
* Do not let a day pass by without giving an answer to yourself about who you are.
* Do not let a day pass by without giving an answer to yourself about where you are going.
* Do not let a great joy pass without giving thanks internally.
* Do not let a great sadness pass without calling into your interior for the joy that you have saved there.
* Do not imagine that you are alone in your village, in your city, on the Earth, or among the infinite worlds.
* Do not imagine that you are enchained to this time and this space.
* Do not imagine that in your death loneliness will become eternal.
Different is the attitude toward life and things when inner revelation strikes like lightning.
Following the steps slowly, meditating on what has been said and what has yet to be said, you may convert the non-meaning into meaning. It is not indifferent what you do with your life. Your life, subject to laws, is open to possibilities among which you can choose. I do not speak to you of liberty. I speak to you of liberation, of movement, of process. I do not speak to you of liberty as something static, but of liberating yourself step-by-step, as those who approach their city become liberated from the road already traveled. Thus, "what one must do" depends not upon distant, incomprehensible, and conventional morals, but upon laws: laws of life, of light, of evolution.
Here are the “Principles” which can help you in your search for internal unity:
1. To go against the evolution of things is to go against yourself.
2. When you force something toward an end, you produce the contrary.
3. Do not oppose a great force. Retreat until it weakens, then advance with resolution.
4. Things are well when they move together, not in isolation.
5. If day and night, summer and winter are well with you, you have surpassed the contradictions.
6. If you pursue pleasure, you enchain yourself to suffering. But as long as you do not harm your health, enjoy without inhibition when the opportunity presents itself.
7. If you pursue an end, you enchain yourself. If everything you do is realized as though it were an end in itself, you liberate yourself.
8. You will make your conflicts disappear when you understand them in their ultimate root, not when you want to resolve them.
9. When you harm others you remain enchained, but if you do not harm anyone you can freely do whatever you want.
10. When you treat others as you want them to treat you, you liberate yourself.
11. It does not matter in which faction events have placed you. What matters is that you comprehend that you have not chosen any faction.
12. Contradictory or unifying actions accumulate within you. If you repeat your acts of internal unity, nothing can detain you.
How Silo's Thoughts influenced my life
Around the year 1979, i was living as an average man struggling in different ways to earn, to succeed in whatever i did and to survive. There were thousands around me who lived the same pattern of life. I thought, struggling to survive was a normal way of life and there was nothing wrong in living to make two ends meet. I did not see anything wrong in making no difference to this vast world whether i live, die or was not born at all. I never thought that life had a meaning and that an ordinary man like me can make difference to the world.
It was around 1979 that i came across Silo's thoughts through a roadside pamphlet that said, "Life Has a Meaning". I had a meeting with the man Pablo Vergara who distributed this pamphlet and gave a talk in Indo-American society at fort, Mumbai. What he explained made me think for the first time that life can not be a mere routine, like moving in circles all the time, getting exhausted only to sleep and to repeat the process till the end of life.
That is how i was introduced to Silo's thoughts, who said that we have a potential to evolve, to be different and to make a difference to the world that surrounds us, before life ends. That thought inspired me to listen, to study, to meditate and to work with possibilities within myself, to trigger a change in more than one sense.
I realized that there were hundreds like me who thought similarly. They were also eager to see a new light that beacons them towards becoming a change agent for themselves and for the others, in a very positive way. More i studied, more i taught others, more i began to get clarified about how to make sense out of living- whether it be in living to earn, build a family or in relating to the neighbourhood to give a message for change of life-, more i feel fulfilled and satisfied.
Soon i was noticed as one who made a difference in what i did. For years, after my integration with Humanist Movement, i have been spreading the message of meaning of life in various ways. I was becoming a reference, an orientor and a guide. Today i reflect on passage of my life with joy, exuberance and a sense that shows the way on how to convert meaninglessness of life into meaning.
If i was granted a wish, i would like to be reborn to continue this work until the last of the human being is liberated.
Memoir prepared commonly by Humanist friends for presentation on a plaque
We, who have etched this expression on wood, are among those who have been directly taught and oriented by you or have known you from close quarters or are your contemporaries or are your first generation of followers.
It is once in an era that, out of a great reverence for Life, a man gives rise to a new thought pattern in favor of life in which human being is kept in center, is honored as maker of his destiny , shaper of history and is elevated to position of the creator.
Silo, you were the man who did this worldwide with your doctrine of New Humanism. You did this through establishment of The school, its various disciplines and series of movements like, Silo's Message, the Humanist Movement, The Community , Convergence of Cultures, The Humanist Party, World Without War, The center for Humanist Studies and with books like InnerLook, Internal Landscape, Self Liberation,Wings of Lion, etc, to mention a few . Non-violence essentially remained as a non-negotiable conducting thread of your doctrine and its way of working .
Silo, we are privileged to have lived during your life time in your orientation or in influence of your thoughts, expressions and manifestations.
You taught that life gets meaning to the extent that we lose sense of otherness of the other in the world that surrounds us . In behavioral terms it meant leading a life beyond personal interest .
Those who have been in direct touch with you and those who were inspired to give new direction to their life in tune with your teachings, see in you a firm proponent and a harbinger of centrality of human beings in all walks of life.
They have seen you as a prophet of human victory, as a synthesizer of thoughts and concepts from complexity to simplicity, a great visualizer of dignity of human being and his potential in times to come, a guide for future of human destiny and for meaning of life.
You were a brilliant and inspired visionary who had the ability to interpret the meaning of the chaos and rapid changes that are redirecting the compass of our contemporary culture.
Silo we saw you as a spiritual, intellectual, and cultural mystic whose passion was to awaken people to activism of what is profound within each of us.
The Humanists of India
Note:- This memo was prepared on 20.07.2016, was circulated and read together with many members. However the plaque could not be prepared. Therefore this remains as a valuable recitation of common sentiments.