Swamiji in Prague/Czech Republic: planting a peace tree and lecturing
On 1 December 2008, under the auspices of the Mayor of Prague, Mr. Pavel Bem the planting of a World Peace Tree took place at Vysehrad, Prague in Czech Republic.
The Peace Tree was planted by His Holiness Swami Maheshwarananda, Petr Stepanek – councilor of Prague for ecology, Svata Karasek - evangelic priest, Vladimir Sanka – vice-president of Muslim communities, Rabbi Michael Duschinsky, Petr Vachler – producer and scenarist, Roman Fuksa – president of Prague’s Yoga in Daily Life Society and Petr Vacek - actor and ecologist, who moderated the whole event.
Miloslava Havelkova, director of National cultural monument Vysehrad thanked the organizers for deciding to plant the tree on Vysehrad and she explained that this venue is the most precious place of the whole Vysehrad – a so-called royal acropolis, where also the first Czech king Vratislav resided in The Middle Ages.
Sváa Karásek pronounced the prayer: "Lord, Father of Life, in front of Thee we bow all, who have gathered from different communities, and we realize that Peace is a great thing – towards which we have to make small steps in our everyday lives. This tree reminds us that Peace needs to grow through us and through our deeds and words. This is neither the first time nor the last time that we have met together, so make a path out of these meetings, path towards peace and be with us. Amen."
Vladimír Sáòka: "Peace is a value without which no man can live to the fullest. Islam and other monotheistic religions have embodied peace in its teachings. The word Islam is derived from the root "salama". From the very same root comes the word "salám" that stands for peace."
Petr Štìpánek: "This particular linden tree has been cultivated out of the "Semtín linden", a memorable tree that stood for more than 200 years between Sobotka and the castle of Kost. In 1989 the crown of the tree broke and in 2000 the tree collapsed. But thanks to the Rescue program of genetics of memorable trees administred by the Research institute of Silva Tarouci we are today able to plant a tree that is genetically identical with the old one – in a way a reincarnation of the original tree. Over the "Semtínska linden tree" there were numerous wars since 1728, when it was planted and we hope that at least as many years of peace will fill the life of its offspring."
Michael Duschinsky: "The tree as a symbol goes back far more than 200 years, it reaches the origin of life and it is the symbol of the continuity of life. Every man is a tree if he has roots and grows upwards. Without roots it means without the unity that was at the time of Creation, we only raise our hands up towards the future. But the roots mean peace."
Petr Vachler: "My message is short: less concrete, more trees."
Petr Vacek: "I think a peace has a chance – at least it so happened a few times in history."
Swami Maheshwarananda: "I am glad to see our future culture here – our children. They will have a duty to take care of this tree in future. Brothers and sisters, the paths are different, but the goal is one – God, love, unity. There is only one religion, one peace, one truth and one nature. Vedas say that all creatures are God’s incarnation and that all creation comes from one God. Therefore this tree also lives, has a soul, feels thirst and hunger, cold and hot. I am very happy, that we have planted a Peace Tree today in Prague and I would like to thank everyone who contributed to this. I am also very happy that Czech media have so warm attitude towards ecology and positive things. What you write and say now can help the peace in the world. I wish from my heart that this tree stands here for peace for a very long time. We all are its witnesses and especially the children, who are here – they are a hope of future peace."
All dignitaries together planted the tree, and hundreds of participants of this event wished it a long and healthy life in peace by a touch of their hand.
A day earlier, on Sunday 30 November 2008, His Holiness Swami Maheshwarananda gave a public lecture in Czech capital, Prague. The audience was vast, over 1200 visitors in the Lucerna Hall and 480 webcast viewers from more than 80 countries world wide. The topic of the lecture was Anahata Chakra – an energy centre of the heart.
Opening the lecture, His Holiness first greeted His Excellency, the Ambassador of India to the Czech Republic, D. P. Srivastava and briefly recollected his many visits to the Czech Republic over the past 35 years. He joked that he visits Czech Republic more often than India.
Swamiji explained how authentic yoga wisdom passes from master to disciple. In this way the original yoga teachings, which according to mythology originated from Lord Shiva, have been preserved until today. He highlighted the need for practical knowledge and a living tradition: "When there will be no more Masters on the Earth, only theory will remain. But one gram of practice is worth so much more than even tons of theory."
Then Swamiji briefly introduced kundalini yoga: the science of energy centers and energy channels in the body. Afterwards, Swamiji focused on the lecture’s main topic – the Anahata chakra, or heart centre. He explained that love is a basic need of all living beings – not just humans but all 8.4 million kinds of living beings that are described by traditional Hindu philosophy. And there is the only one true love: divine and universal.
God placed love, compassion, happiness and satisfaction into every heart, but it depends on inner purity and openness of a human, how much it shows. In this context Swamiji mentioned Hinduism as an example of a very open religion, built on principles of tolerance and understanding.
Later in his lecture, Swamiji drew a distinction between two kinds of love. First, there is material love which is connected with a desire to possess, and which leads to jealousy and selfishness. This kind of love emanates from a lower energy centre in a body which is called Svadhisthana Chakra. In contrast, the true universal and divine love, which is unconditional and selfless, resides in the heart.
According to Swamiji, yoga teachings bring a message of hope that can improve today’s society: "Peace begins in one’s own heart, happiness begins in own heart. When we are happy, we can make others happy also. This increases our own happiness. In this way, we create a happy family and a happy society. Yoga in Daily Life means to live a positive life full of tolerance, forgiveness and respect, 24 hours a day. Let your love be love for all, let your happiness be for all and let your wisdom be there for all. Then you are real yogis."
At the end of the lecture, Swamiji invited the audience to spend a short moment in self-reflection and recommended that they work on themselves by means of Yoga in Daily Life techniques.