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.
Continuing with our basics chapters out of the Kindle Life text, we reach chapter thirteen. Gurudev has titled this FUNDAMENTALS OF LIVING. This post opens with a full quote of the first paragraph in this chapter.
There is nothing wrong with our times. it is a wonderful era of glorious achievements. Yet man, sitting in the midst of plenty and prosperity, is undergoing stress and strain and can find no peace or happiness in life. The religious masters studied this sad paradox and discovered that man's mental make-up was the cause of all trouble. They also provided a remedy by prescribing certain fundamental values and virtues of life. These, when practiced and lived, enable man to master his mind and mastery of the mind is mastery of the world.
Quite the closing statement there! The more we learn of Vedantic principles and techniques, the rationale behind them, the more the truth of such a claim becomes apparent. Understand, too, that master of the world here in now way related to domination of the material world, but the conquering of the inner world and thus the improvement of relationship with the external, whereby it no longer holds sway over our concept of happiness.
The values and rules mentioned are the essential qualities that all Mankind would recognise, no matter the geographical or cultural background point of reference. It was mentioned in yesterday's discussion on the bindu of OM that virtually all cultures utilise the concept of a 'singularity', from which all emerges and returns, but that the interpretation of it varied. The same holds true here. The basic values are the same, but their interpretation and utilisation may vary according to need of age, place and the type of community to which they are being applied.
Whilst there are undoubted cultural differences, when peeled back to absolute basics of what constitutes 'decent behaviour' we find three things; each individual is expected to engender a level of self-control (brahmachaarya), to cause no harm if at all possible (ahimsaa), and to exercise fullest honesty (satyam). Note that each of the disciplines mentioned pertain to each of the physical, mental (emotional) and intellectual components of our being.
Traditionally, even cultures which must necessarily use slaughter in order to feed themselves, have developed a level of minimum harm, taking only what is required and ensuring due reverence and full use; (think of the thankfulness of the Native American 'brave' to the spirit of his prey as an example).
Things go wrong, both at individual and societal level, when the physical aspect becomes dominant; when the desire for sense gratification takes hold. When we live only to satisfy all our varied sensory desires, we lose ourselves in passion and we spiral down into our animal nature, leaving behind any semblance of rational thinking and behaviour. Justifications, excuses, lies, avoidance - all are used to cover up the lack of moral fibre. We see example of this all around us in the 21st Century; mass media ensures inundation of the senses, retail constantly puts out lures, expectation of "want it and want it now" is so much a part of society, and to stand immune against the onslaught requires considered inner resolve. The 'medicine' according to Vedanta is brahmachaarya.
This is to live with self-control. It means knowing that we exist in a physical structure which has needs to be met; it means attending to needs, permitting a moderate level of enjoyment. It does NOT mean total denial (as has often been wrongly interpreted). The world is there for our enjoyment and when done with appropriate consideration, with moderation, it brings rewards. All that is required, in this 'prescription' is the we know our senses for what they are and that we ensure we are master of them rather than them becoming our masters. Here again the text is quoted directly;
Enjoy the world but let not the world enjoy you. You may eat food, let not the food eat you. You may drink, but let not the drink drink you.
A common misconception is that self-control pertains to total abstinence from sex. Spiritual students are called 'brahmachaarins' and certainly the expectation is of celibacy for them. In the general populace, however, this would be wrong. Brahmachaarya can most certainly mean celibacy, but more correctly it means to retain mastery of self in all things - so, for example, to talk too much, to listen to radio or watch television to excess or to consume more than is required for body to function would be to break brahachaarya. In falling short of this standard, a person becomes enslaved to the senses, to the environment and its events.
Ahimsaa is another of the human disciplines which gets misinterpreted. It does not mean 'non-killing' or 'non-injury' at the physical level. Certainly wherever possible these are to be avoided. However, there are circumstances which may arise in which we may have to undertake an apparently cruel act in order to actually serve love and compassion - a prime example of this would be the putting of an animal out of misery if it has become sick or injured beyond our ability to heal it. Ahimsaa, then must be understood as a discipline at mental level, for it means 'non-harm' by intention. When the intention is sent out into physical application, it is brahmachaarya which monitors it. Conversely, when engaged physically, we must not lose sight of our intention. Pure intention of love and kindness, even when requiring an apparently cruel act will not reflect negatively on the karma account of the individual.
The third discipline is satyam. Truthfulness seems like a given. It is an extremely difficult element to apply. One can live honestly in terms of the external world, but for satyam to be implemented as it ought, it means to be honest down to the very essence of one's being. Living up to the desirable ideals at all levels is one of the greatest challenges for any human being. This gets the shortest paragraph...only because each must take this into themselves. No words can expand on this - each must search within. Do you meet your own measure?