If one looked at the law and its process from these lines, then one realises that it is no different from what the notion of ‘Karma’ is in the spiritual sphere.
Coronavirus/Covid-19 has jolted the world in many ways. There is no hustle and bustle. Almost the entire world is in a lockdown. People are confined to their houses. We are supposed to keep social distancing, look after our personal hygiene more vigorously with many ‘Dos’ and ‘Don’ts’. Coronavirus has changed our lifestyle in so many ways. There are fewer and fewer people on the street, and few vehicles on the road. That too for providing essential services. Those who couldn’t get time to read books have ample time to satiate this desire. Young couples, who were over busy in their respective work, are bridging communication gaps. Parents are spending quality time with their children – apart from these physical and emotional family bonding, humans have learnt another profound lesson.
In this grim scenario with dark clouds, positive thinkers can spot silver linings as well and turn that to the advantage of mankind. There is feeling that in the face of the threat of death, human beings have only begun to reflect seriously; the greedy heart is purified by the virus; the environment is no more polluted; the nature has proved that it is mightier than humans; the virus has reminded us that there is an Almighty and humans are just humans.
The virus is facilitating cultivation of good habits. It is making us realise that only by our love for each other, we shall be able to overcome this pandemic. In the process, we are recognising the needs of the poverty stricken and those who are rendered jobless. People are becoming philanthropic and are willing to help the needy. In fact, they are doing so in great measure. Humans have, thus, woken up to new reality–hate is diminishing, meanness is vanishing and love for each other as well as other creatures on this earth, including towards “Nature” is rising. Realisation has dawned that we have to pass this obstacle living by the words “this too shall pass”, we need to be able to make ourselves stronger, our minds tuned to this thinking, and this can only be possible if we are able to peacefully think, explore, experience and enlighten.
If I sum up this transition in one short sentence: WE ARE BECOMING SPIRITUAL:
Let me advert to the impact of this spirituality on legal profession. How this spirituality can bring reforms and make this profession a “noble” one, once again. For understanding the relevance and importance of spirituality in legal profession, we should first understand what is meant by spirituality. We know that the basic objective of any legal/judicial system is to decide disputes of the parties and, in the process, to impart “justice”. Legal profession helps judges in achieving this noble task of doing justice. Therefore, it also becomes important to understand as to what is the connect between justice and spirituality. So, let me discuss these two aspects, before proceeding further.
The essence of spirituality is distinct from religion and traditions. Spirituality is being true to oneself. It is a quest for ascertaining the truth. By increased touch with oneself, spirituality helps us to rise above our baser instincts, prejudices and it stereotypes everything. When we are true to ourselves, and we are constantly in touch with ourselves, it is easy for us to locate where the false inputs come from. Spirituality then is what mends the breach within ourselves.
Justice & Spirituality
Let us also understand the connect between spirituality and justice in general. Law and Spirituality are bound together at a fundamental level. Although law focuses on our separate bodies and spirituality focuses on that unseen which unites us, they are interactive and mutually dependent entities. Accordingly, one tends to find peace and happiness flourishing where law supports spirituality and where law, although carefully defined to protect the individual, is infused with an awareness of the individual’s concomitant spirituality (unity, oneness). On the other hand, one tends to find strife and warfare where law denies or is in conflict with spirituality, or where spirituality has lost its legal support.
Justice as an ideal has spiritual value, which expresses spiritual humanism, which is the ultimate goal of our civilisation. Justice is in fact the central theme of our Constitution. The Constitution promises social, economic and political justice to all citizens. It also envisages the establishment of an egalitarian society founded on liberty, equality and fraternity through the instrument of law.
This correlation of spirituality with justice itself is an indicator of its core value in the legal process.
The law enlists the rights and duties of the parties, we all know that it is there to come to the aid of those whose actions have propelled such a protection, and punishes those who have been the performers of misdeeds. The judgement is nothing but a reflection of one’s actions of the past that have made them come in front of the courtroom. If one looked at the law and its process from these lines, then one realises that it is no different, from what the notion of “Karma” is in the spiritual sphere.
Law has some limitations, sometimes it may not be possible to go to the root cause just by the Law, Law settles the dispute, and gives the judgement, Spirituality helps in going into the root cause. Spiritual practices such as Rajayoga meditation enrich the essence of humanity, imbibe in us empathy for all. It is well mentioned by the Jurists wing that Juris-prudence and Spiritual-prudence are keen disciplines. Both have a common aim: the promotion of truth and justice and the reduction of crime in the society. Both believe that people suffer because of their own evil actions. One calls it “crime” and the other calls it “sin”. So, both can unite their efforts in order to create a better society where people get social, economic and political justice.
The world has marched into a complex era which is fast paced, one which attributes happiness to transient material elements, where the simplicity of time spent with oneself has been overtaken by the complexity of life lived with gadgets, leaving no time spent alone to reflect on life, on the purpose of our existence, on this corporeal world, on giving our thoughts a rest, relaxing our physical self, concentrating on all those essentials that compose our being and meditating to realise that our own consciousness is infinite. If we understood spirituality as a way of life incorporating all these features, we realise that in today’s day and age, there is a need especially in the legal profession to incorporate this particular way of life–for sanity, for wisdom, for reasonableness, to be able to live a life with dignity, and for stability.
For our conscience to be able to assess the situation at hand and to be able to make our minds rational, we rely on spirituality. The basic spiritual values and the fundamental principles of the law which are enshrined in our Constitution are the same, but law gets refined and evolves into a more socially accepting guidelines in the interest of the society at large. Though the few similarities that they do share are:
- Equal justice – no one should be deprived of their rights which are to be equally distributed
- Respect – in spite of differences
- Love – as a basic guiding principle of social inclusiveness.
- Peace – as a fundamental base to nurture society.
- Equality – everyone is equal before GOD and the Law and so on.
Growing spiritually is to raise your values to a higher level and translate those higher values into action in all that you do. Values are spiritual skills that direct our energies to very higher levels of accomplishment.
The lawyer who argues passionately steps into the shoes of his client, paints the offence for the court. In such situations, in a profession where the life of the litigant rests in the hands of certain individuals, there is a need to understand the importance of the mind, a mind which can work rationally only if it’s in peace, can cogently form arguments only when its relaxed and able to concentrate on the vital aspects. This is where medication lends us a helping hand, where it shows us the path that ought to be taken, brings about a sense of tranquillity where the mind is able to reason and make us value the interminable reach of our consciousness. We need to use our conscience to aptly understand the rights and responsibilities, for which we require the subtleness and sensitivity in our conscience and this can only be developed and nurtured through spiritual prudence and practice of spiritual values and meditation like Rajayoga.
Lawyers are bound by Code of Ethics which is laid down for them, and has a statutory force. These ethical values which the legal profession is supposed to practice has inherent spiritual values. Like the law prescribes the rules for a smooth functioning of the society, when judges and lawyers imbibe spiritual values in enforcing these laws, we aim to achieve a better governed society. Spirituality says Sarvajan hitaya, Sarvajana Sukhaya and this is the basic spirit of the Judiciary but without compromising the rights of any individuals and a group. Hence, Spirituality and Judiciary should play a complementary and collaborative role to bring about peace and harmony in the society.
Justice A.K. Sikri is International Judge, Singapore International Commercial Court and a former judge of the Supreme Court of India. Views expressed are personal.