Each 'Choose-day' we will investigate the process by which we can reassess our activity and interaction with the world of plurality and become more congruent within our personality.
KINDLE LIFE. We continue exploring points raised by HH Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda-ji in the publication of this name. Remember, you can purchase, (very economically!), the book from Chinmaya Mission Publications or if you prefer, the Amazon Link. Thus you can read Gurudev's words directly and bring your own voice to the discussion.
We now take up chapter five - The Dual Path. We had seen last time that there is choice to be made when it comes to the material side of living. It is not that the material is a 'bad' thing. Just as the inert has no inherent power of joy, it equally has no inherent evil. Only Man's perception of the objects is what creates these conditions. Even the greatest prosperity does not guarantee anyone 'happiness'; often the cry goes up "no, but it makes things easier!" Really? Does it? The more that is obtained, the more which must be done to maintain and protect. Being 'rich' can be every bit as onerous as being 'poor'. Conversely, it is found that there those who, regardless of their financial standing, remain calm and content.
The individual who has found a deeper meaning in life, who has worked on the personality to bring about an appropriate attitude to the externals of living by applying personal discipline and adhering to the teachings of the shruti, is the one who lives happiest.
'Modern' man, though, has lost sight of this. The very idea of any form of 'shackle' upon the so-called freedoms of life is repellent. With each passing generation, the teachings and examples of the benefits are lost. The aptitude for deep and intelligent appreciation is dulled from lack of use and often we hear only scepticism and a recitation of the dogma of irreligiousness every bit is negative in its effects upon the individual as misguided usage of religious precepts is within the various faith systems.
Certainly there are some practices and behaviours which have been (and continue to be) put about by radical parts of different establishments which bring a poor name to 'religion'. To condemn the whole on the basis of the fraction, however, is akin to the hungry man rejecting a whole plateful of food due to only three kernels of rice having been burned.
Religion which pays proper and considered attention to the scriptures permits the individual to reach an informed and full understanding of the laws which can help that individual work on the inner personality, bringing inspiration, vision and an upliftment beyond anything the material world can offer. In taking on the disciplines prescribed, by following the guidance available, each individual can make the choice to reject the lower values of life. There is that word again! CHOICE. All too frequently, though, each will fall to the lesser. This has not changed throughout the millennia. The Rsis, the visionaries of countless centuries past who passed down the understandings of Vedanta, saw the condition of mankind and sought to provide the guidance to lift the people. They noted the tendency to take the choice of that which was most pleasant, which seemed the easier path. This path is called as प्रेय/preya. They point out to us that there is a path of good, called as श्रेय/shreya, in which we can make the choice to rise above ourselves and the shenanigans of Maya.
Thus it is that each of us is confronted with the choice of taking one or other of these paths. Preya, full of its enticements and fascinations, keeping the mind focused always to the external, and Shreya, providing solace, discipline, balance and internal focus. The first provides immediate gratification. The second can seem to delay benefits, it takes longer to ripen, as it were...and mankind is an impatient race.
There are those, though, who develop the necessary inner requirements for a better way of living. Such beings make the choice of shreya. They become the setters of the example of lasting peace and happiness. Each and every living individual can make this choice. It is never too late to change paths!