Thursday, 23rd March 2017
What a pleasure this book is to read; it reminds us of the importance and advantages of celebrating and sharing diversity within the multi-cultural and multi faith society of Britain in the 21st century. Unfortunately, all too often we take this diversity for granted.
It is very illuminating to find someone who can share his personal life journey of living diversity on a daily basis in such an honest and authentic manner while threading through the text a sophisticated, thoughtful, integral and a complex analysis of the key issues of our time: including family and community relationships, equalities legislation, diet and health, politics, the media, organizational life and religious belief.
The personal experience of being a "minority" person - of having to "fit in" - of assimilation and settlement in three continents is mixed beautifully with a wide range of informative views, fascinating facts and figures, useful resource information and pertinent quotes from a wide range of sources including reports, lectures and academic research. We are left in no doubt of the importance of embracing and celebrating diversity and the advantages it can offer to every part of society, and to our own lives if only we take it seriously and adapt our actions, mindset and behaviors accordingly.
Atul suggests challenging actions we can take for ourselves to support our own development and growth. How many of us are brave enough to take up his invitation on p31 to put ourselves in a situation where we are prepared to experience being in a minority, to walk in the shoes of others, to really acquire the insight and empathy needed to improve and inform our own understanding and authentic living of diversity? This may be a hard step, but one we must take if we are to build peace and prosperity for ourselves and those around us.
This book provides a fascinating and sensitive perspective on major issues within our society from a Jain pluralistic perspective and mindset. This is a perspective heard less frequently than many others within Britain today; therefore this is a book to be read and shared by anyone wishing to gain a fuller understanding of a wider range of cultures and experiences than those usually available.
I value the wonderful concept of relativity or many-pointedness (anekanta) in the Jain religion - a vital insight for the success of a pluralistic society such as UK of the 21st century. Atul's book is a shining example of anekanta in practice and I hope will raise the awareness and sensitivity of his readers to the beauty and vitality of his Jain culture and religion. He shares his religion refreshingly and crucially as a "sustainable way of living", never as a dogma or means of defense or attack on anyone else. As Atul models in this book Jainism sees, respects and responds to the entire eco system - encouraging the greatest respect, awareness, responsibility and accountability to every aspect of life and to every living being. I believe that Jainism will become more known and influential in the west as environmental and sustainable issues become more and more central and integral to our lives. Atul's book is a key contribution to introducing Jainism to the Western mainstream.
I recommend this book highly to you; it is thoughtful and at times challenging, provocative even, but always sensitive, intelligent and informative.
Lynne Sedgmore CBE
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