Application - that is what 'Workings-days' are about!
The Narada Bhakti Sutra is our guide for a while… the nature of Love (with the capital 'ell') and a full exploration of it. As always, you are encouraged to seek out the full text from Chinmaya Publications (links in side-bar); but for those who prefer e-readers, this version is recommended. Whilst awareness and interest can be raised by these posts on AV-blog, they cannot substitute for a thorough reading and contemplation...and practice!
Chapter Eight; Section 2 - Obstacles and Remedies; Cultivate Devotion. Having pointed out that after thought must come action, what are some attitudes and values which can create the favourable conditions for living the Life Divine?
Ahimsaa-satya-shaucha-dayaastik-yaadi-chaaritryaani paripaala-niiyaani ||78||
Virtues like non-injury to others, truthfulness, cleanliness, compassion, faith in the Lord etc. should be consistently cultivated.
Without right thinking (vichaara), right conduct (aachaara) is not possible. The virtues of conduct can only be cultivated if the intellect has taken up proper enquiry and prepared the mind of the seeker. Aachaara of an individual can be changed and beautified only through vichaara. It is worth noting, though, that if the aachaara is lacking, then the vichaara will also become dulled and less fruitful. It's a two-way thing.
Those who succumb to vaasanas - those deeply planted grooves our the jiiva's history - and live according to desires and instincts are likely to find that it not only affects their life, but their thinking capacity also. It becomes 'too hard'. There is an awareness that perhaps there is a better way to live life, but the cycle of self-destruction has its vice-like grip and intelligent thinking is soon submerged again. Let us not even talk in terms of the Divine at this point. We all are familiar with the problems caused in society by poor behaviour patterns; often these are centred around the very activities which can bring the communities together, but for one reason or another, control is lost. There are the obvious things of drink and drugs and excess food and such like, but there many subtle and much more individual 'hooks' also. Secret little lusts which may not affect others, but certainly ruins us when it comes to living as fully-fledge human beings. Even the best of us will have something which distracts us from the path of total spiritual commitment.
Neither are the virtues highlighted here by the Guru particular to one group of people, or nation. These are universal. The make for a better society, regardless of whether one has spiritual desires or not. This is why these are the rules which are used in counselling the world-over - one does not have to have a faith in God as such; but a faith in the highest human standards is equal to it.
For our purposes here, however, it is being made clear that to unfold spiritually, one must 'clean up one's act'. Ahimsa is not simply about 'non-kill' but is about non-intention of harm. If we have a sour and uncharitable thought about anyone, we are, by intent, causing harm. Thus the call to ahimsa is about control of our thoughts and turning them only to Love. Satyam is also not simply about 'telling the truth' - always desirable - but about being congruent within one's personality. To cheat ourselves is the worst kind of lack of truth there is. We must 'come clean' about what distracts us and seek to eradicate this warp within us. Only then can we begin to properly understand others and their plight. Compassion is something which can come naturally to some, but for others, there is work to be done. Only when we automatically and instinctively feel the pain of another and reach out to assist in whatever way we can, without thought for ourselves or any return, can we truly be compassionate.
Then, as spiritual seekers, we must at all times find ways to sit in and with spirit. Reading scriptures or other inspirational works, utilising prayer and meditation and singing the praises of our Beloved… here we can be as creative as we wish.
Carrying out the actions can help to focus the mind; but if the mind is not strong, the actions will become weaker and fall away also. At the bottom of all this is the Will, the 'sankalpa shakti'; power of determination to become the change we wish to see in the world.