'Freedays' are the 'gather our thoughts' days; Q&As; a general review of the week so far…
In trying times, or in times of doubt, it is generally a good idea to go back to basics; reminding oneself of priorities and to find actions which can be taken to reset the balance of life. Vedanta is full of 'sadhana' - daily practices and exercises which can keep us focused on the higher whilst dealing with the daily life functions.
What is the main purpose of life? From the spiritual perspective, it is to reach God; from the humanist (atheistic and agnostic) perspective, it is to be the very best human being we can be. Regardless of where one falls on the philosophical spectrum, it is pretty much accepted that there are basic values which cut across all points of view. It has to be said, also, (and cannot be denied by the 'nay' camp), that all ancient scriptures point to those very same values and whether one wishes to accept scripture or not, the common-sense nature of some writings simply cannot be ignored. Let us take Psalm 15 as an example. The King James version -
1Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill?
2 He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.
3 He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour.
4 In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoureth them that fear the Lord. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not.
5 He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved.
1 LORD, who will stay in your house?
2 He that is always:
· making no mistakes
· doing what is fair
· speaking in his heart what is true
3 He says nothing bad.
He does nothing wrong to his neighbours.
He does not call his brother a fool.
4 He does not like bad people,
but he does like the servants of the LORD.
He keeps his promises even when it costs a lot.
5 He does not lend money to get more money.
He does not take money to do what is not fair.
Nothing can ever move the man that does all this.
The first verse could be reworded as "What is a person like who would be of worth to the family/ society/nation and who rises above the standard?"
How would this look in Vedantic language?
1 Om/Bhagwan/oh Brahman, how might a mortal attain immortality?
2 Through right-living in their mortal state; seeking to perform actions well and in fairness whilst always adhering to the truth as best known at any given time and by ensuring that the understanding of truth is ever-expanded.
3 Such a one will guard the speech, speaking no wrong and keeping language appropriate to neighbour and family.
4 Such a one will beware and avoid the company of those who would bring darkness and sorrow to life; instead this one will seek the company of those who are on a similar path of goodness and with high values;
5 what money is held must be judiciously managed; not selfishly kept nor lavished unwittingly; neither ought this person to seek money of others for uses of debatable purpose (bribery, self indulgence, etc). For the mortal who can work on maintaining these values, steps are made towards immortality.
Thus, from this, we can outline three simple sadhana steps which may be applied daily and help us to keep our focus.
1 Be sure to keep updating one's knowledge in philosophy and all matters in which one is involved in order to minimise mistakes and maintain integrity
2 Speak fairly, wisely, and with the best words one can to all people. If people are not the same towards you, avoid their company; stay in the company of the like-minded.
3 The amount of wealth we have is not key; what is key is to use what we have well. Avoid those who would utilise unwise financial practices or indulge in the squandering of our own wealth.
It is worth noting that 'wealth' does not necessarily have to equate to simple coins and paper notes. It can be about any possessions which contain an intrinsic value - and that includes the very wisdom which is referred to in point number one. This points to another proverb… to be explored next Freeday!