Honest life

Posted: 28/06/2013 in Routine

Behold the universe in the glory of God: and in all that lives and moves on Earth. Leaving the transient, find joy in the Eternal. Set not your heart on another’s possession.

Nonstealing

The third yama is asteya, neither stealing, nor coveting nor entering into debt. We all know what stealing is. But now let’s define covetousness. It could well be defined as owning something mentally and emotionally but not actually owning it physically. This is not good. It puts a hidden psychological strain on all parties concerned and brings up the lower emotions from the tala chakras. It must be avoided at all cost. Coveting is desiring things that are not your own. Coveting leads to jealousy, and it leads to stealing. The first impulse toward stealing is coveting, wanting. If you can control the impulse to covet, then you will not steal. Coveting is mental stealing.

Of course, stealing must never ever happen. Even a penny, a peso, a rupee, a lira or a yen should not be misappropriated or stolen. Defaulting on debts is also a form of stealing. But avoiding debt in principle does not mean that one cannot buy things on credit or through other contractual arrangements. It does mean that payments must be made at the expected time, that credit be given in trust and be eliminated when the time has expired, that contracts be honored to the satisfaction of all parties concerned. Running one’s affairs on other peoples’ money must be restrained. To control this is the sadhana ofasteyaBrahmacharis and sannyasins, of course, must scrupulously obey these restraints relating to debt, stealing and covetousness. These are certainly not in their code of living.

To perfect asteya, we must practice dana, charity, the third niyama; we must take the dashama bhaga vrata, promising to tithe, pay dashamamsha, to our favorite religious organization and, on top of that, give creatively, without thought of reward. Stealing is selfishness. Giving is unselfishness. Any lapse of asteya is corrected by dana.

It is important to realize that one cannot simply obey the yamas without actively practicing the niyamas. To restrain one’s current tendencies successfully, each must be replaced by a positive observance. For each of the yamas, there is a positive replacement of doing something else. Theniyamas must totally overshadow the qualities controlled by the yamas for the perfect person to emerge. It is also important to remember that doing what should not be done — and not doing what should be done — does have its consequences. These can be many, depending upon the evolution of the soul of each individual; but all such acts bring about the lowering of consciousness into the instinctive nature, and inevitable suffering is the result. Each Hindu guru has his own ways of mitigating the negative karmasthat result as a consequence of not living up to the high ideals of these precepts. But the world is also a guru, in a sense, and its devotees learn by their own mistakes, often repeating the same lessons many, many times.

Debt, Gambling And Grief

I was asked, “Is borrowing money to finance one’s business in accord with the yama of nonstealing? When can you use other peoples’ money and when should you not?” When the creditors start calling you for their money back, sending demand notices indicating that they only extended you thirty days’, sixty days’ or ninety days’ credit, then if you fail to pay, or pay only a quarter or half of it just to keep them at arm’s length because you still need their money to keep doing what you are doing, this is a violation of thisyama.

There are several kinds of debt that are disallowed by this yama. One is spending beyond your means and accumulating bills you can’t pay. We are reminded of Tirukural verse 478 which says that the way to avoid poverty is to spend within your means: “A small income is no cause for failure, provided expenditures do not exceed it.” We can see that false wealth, or the mere appearance of wealth, is using other peoples’ money, either against their will or by paying a premium price for it. Many people today are addicted to abusing credit. It’s like being addicted to the drug opium. People addicted to O.P.M. — other people’s money — compulsively spend beyond their means. They don’t even think twice about handing over their last credit card to pay for that $500 sari after all the other credit cards have been “maxed out.” When the bill arrives, it gets added to the stack of other bills that can’t possibly be paid.

Another kind of debt is contracting resources beyond your ability to pay back the loan. This is depending on a frail, uncertain future. Opportunities may occur to pay the debt, but then again they may not. The desire was so great for the commodity which caused the debt that a chance was taken. Essentially, this is gambling with someone else’s money; and it is no way to run one’s life.

Gambling and speculation are also forms of entering into debt. Speculation could be a proper form of acquiring wealth if one has the wealth to maintain the same standard of living he is accustomed to even if the speculation failed. Much of business is speculation; and high-risk speculations do come along occasionally; but one should never risk more than one can afford to lose.

Gambling is different, because the games are fun, a means of entertainment and releasing stress; though even in the casinos one should not gamble more than he could afford to lose. However, unlike speculation, when one is in the excitement of gambling and begins to lose, the greed and desire to win it all back arises, and the flustered gambler may risk his and his family’s wealth and well-being. Stress builds. The disastrous consequences of gambling were admonished in the oldest scripture, the Rig Veda, in the famous fourteen-verse “Gambler’s Lament” (10.34. VE, P. 501). Verse ten summarizes: “Abandoned, the wife of the gambler grieves. Grieved, too, is his mother, as he wanders vaguely. Afraid and in debt, ever greedy for money, he steals in the night to the home of another.” This is not fun; nor is it entertainment.

These are the grave concerns behind our sutra that prohibits gambling for my shishyas: “Siva’s devotees are forbidden to indulge in gambling or games of chance with payment or risk, even through others or for employment. Gambling erodes society, assuring the loss of many for the gain of a few”(sutra 76). Everyone really knows that the secret to winning at gambling is to own a casino.

Compulsive gambling and reckless, unfounded speculation are like stealing from your own family, risking the family wealth. More than that, it is stealing from yourself, because the remorse felt when an inevitable loss comes could cause a loss of faith in your abilities and your judgment. And if the loss affects the other members of the family, their estimation and respect and confidence in your good judgment goes way down.

Many people justify stealing by saying that life is unfair and therefore it’s OK to take from the rich. They feel it’s OK to steal from a rich corporation, for example: “They will never miss it, and we need it more.” Financial speculation can easily slide into unfair maneuvering, where a person is actually stealing from a small or large company, thereby making it fail. The credibility of the person will go down, and businesses will beware of this speculative investor who would bring a company to ruin to fatten his own pockets. Entering into debt is a modern convenience and a modern temptation. But this convenience must be honored within the time allotted. If you are paying a higher interest rate because of late or partial payments, you have abused your credit and your creditors.

At the Global Forum for Human Survival in 1990 in Moscow, the participants began worrying about the kids, the next generation. “What are they going to think of us?” they asked. Is it fair to fulfill a need now, spoil the environment and hand the bill over to the next generation? No, it is not. This is another form of stealing. We can’t say, “We have to have chlorofluorocarbons now, and the next generation has to face the consequences.” The yamas and niyamas are thus not just a personal matter but also a national, communal and global matter. Yes, this takes asteya and all the restraints and observances to another dimension.

Sexual Purity

B rahmacharya, sexual purity, is a very important restraint among the ancient Saivite ethical principles known as yamas and niyamas, because it sets the pattern for one’s entire life. Following this principle, the vital energies are used before marriage in study rather than in sexual fantasy, e-pornography, masturbation, necking, petting or sexual intercourse. After marriage, the vital energies are concentrated on business, livelihood, fulfilling one’s duties, serving the community, improving oneself and one’s family, and performing sadhana. For those who do not believe in God, Gods, guru or the path to enlightenment, this is a difficult restraint to fulfill, and such people tend to be promiscuous when single and therefore unfaithful in marriage.

The rewards for maintaining this restraint are many. Those who practicebrahmacharya before marriage and apply its principles throughout married life are free from encumbrances — mentally, emotionally and physically. They get a good start on life, have long-lasting, mature family relationships, and their children are emotionally sound, mentally firm and physically strong.

Those who are promiscuous and unreligious are susceptible to impulses of anger, have undefined fears, experience jealousy and the other instinctive emotions. The doors of the higher world are open to them, but the doors of the lower world are also open. Even the virgin brahmachari who believes firmly in God, Gods, guru and the path to enlightenment and has a strict family must be watched and carefully guided to maintain his brahmacharya.Without this careful attention, the virginity may easily be lost.

Brahmacharya for the monastic means complete sexual abstinence and is, of course, an understood requirement to maintain this position in life. This applies as well to any single individual who has taken the celibacy vow, known as brahmacharya vrata. If brahmacharya is compromised by thebrahmachari, he must face the consequences and reaffirm his original intent. Having lost faith in himself because of breaking his vrata, his self-confidence must be rebuilt.

It should be perfectly clear that it is totally unacceptable for men or women who have taken up the celibate monastic life to live a double standard and surround themselves with those of the opposite sex — be they fellow ashramites, personal aides, secretaries or close devotees — or with their former family. Nowadays there are pseudo-sannyasins who are married and call themselves swamis, but, if pressed, they might admit that they are simply yoga teachers dressed in orange robes, bearing the title “swami” to attract the attention of the uninformed public for commercial reasons.

There is great power in the practice of brahmacharya, literally “Godly conduct.” Containing the sacred fluids within the body builds up a bank account through the years that makes the realization of God on the path to enlightenment a reality within the life of the individual who is single. Whenbrahmacharya is broken through sexual intercourse, this power goes away. It just goes away.

Brahmacharya In Family Life

The observance of brahmacharya is perhaps the most essential aspect of a sound, spiritual culture. This is why in Saivism, boys and girls are taught the importance of remaining celibate until they are married. This creates healthy individuals, physically, emotionally and spiritually, generation after generation. There is a mystical reason. In virgin boys and girls, the psychicnadis, the astral nerve currents that extend out into and through their aura, have small hooks at the end. When a boy and girl marry, the hooks straighten out and the nadis are tied one to another, and they actually grow together. If the first sexual experience is premarital and virginity is broken, the hooks at the end of the nadis also straighten out, but there is nothing to grow onto if the partners do not marry. Then, when either partner marries someone else, the relationship is never as close as when a virgin boy and girl marry, because their nadis don’t grow together in the same way. In cases such as this, they feel the need for intellectual stimuli and emotional stimuli to keep the marriage going.

Youth ask, “How should we regard members of the opposite sex?” Do not look at members of the opposite sex with any idea of sex or lust in mind. Do not indulge in admiring those of the opposite sex, or seeing one as more beautiful than another. Boys must foster the inner attitude that all young women are their sisters and all older women are their mother. Girls must foster the inner attitude that all young men are their brothers and all older men are their father. Do not attend movies that depict the base instincts of humans, nor read books or magazines of this nature. Above all, avoid pornography on the Internet, on TV and in any other media.

To be successful in brahmacharya, one naturally wants to avoid arousing the sex instincts. This is done by understanding and avoiding the eight successive phases: fantasy, glorification, flirtation, lustful glances, secret love talk, amorous longing, rendezvous and finally intercourse. Be very careful to mix only with good company — those who think and speak in a cultured way — so that the mind and emotions are not led astray and vital energies needed for study used up. Get plenty of physical exercise. This is very important, because exercise sublimates your instinctive drives and directs excess energy and the flow of blood into all parts of the body.

Brahmacharya means sexual continence, as was observed by Mahatma Gandhi in his later years and by other great souls throughout life. There is another form of sexual purity, though not truly brahmacharya, followed by faithful family people who have a normal sex life while raising a family. They are working toward the stage when they will take their brahmacharya vrata after sixty years of age. Thereafter they would live together as brother and sister, sleeping in separate bedrooms. During their married life, they control the forces of lust and regulate instinctive energies and thus prepare to take that vrata. But if they are unfaithful, flirtatious and loose in their thinking through life, they will not be inclined to take the vrata in later life.

Faithfulness in marriage means fidelity and much more. It includes mental faithfulness, non-flirtatiousness and modesty toward the opposite sex. A married man, for instance, should not hire a secretary who is more magnetic or more beautiful than his wife. Metaphysically, in the perfect family relationship, man and wife are, in a sense, creating a one nervous system for their joint spiritual progress, and all of their nadis are growing together over the years. If they break that faithfulness, they break the psychic, soul connections that are developing for their personal inner achievements. If one or the other of the partners does have an affair, this creates a psychic tug and pull on the nerve system of both spouses that will continue until the affair ends and long afterwards. Therefore, the principle of the containment of the sexual force and mental and emotional impulses is the spirit ofbrahmacharya, both for the single and married person.

Rules for Serious People

For virtuous individuals who marry, their experiences with their partner are, again, free from lustful fantasies; and emotional involvement is only with their spouse. Yes, a normal sex life should be had between husband and wife, and no one else should be included in either one’s mind or emotions. Never hugging, touching another’s spouse or exciting the emotions; always dressing modestly, not in a sexually arousing way; not viewing sexually oriented or pornographic videos; not telling dirty jokes — all of these simple customs are traditional ways of upholding sexual purity. The yama ofbrahmacharya works in concert with asteya, nonstealing. Stealing or coveting another’s spouse, even mentally, creates a force that, once generated, is difficult to stop.

In this day and age, when promiscuity is a way of life, there is great strength in married couples’ understanding and applying the principles of sexual purity. If they obey these principles and are on the path of enlightenment, they will again become celibate later in life, as they were when they were young. These principles persist through life, and when their children are raised and the forces naturally become quiet, around age sixty, husband and wife take the brahmacharya vrata, live in separate rooms and prepare themselves for greater spiritual experiences.

Married persons uphold sexual purity by observing the eightfold celibacy toward everyone but their spouse. These are ideals for serious, spiritual people. For those who have nothing to do with spirituality, these laws are meaningless. We are assuming a situation of a couple where everything they do and all that happens in their life is oriented toward spiritual life and spiritual goals and, therefore, these principles do apply. For sexual purity, individuals must believe firmly in the path to enlightenment. They must have faith in higher powers than themselves. Without this, sexual purity is nearly impossible.

One of the fastest ways to destroy the stability of families and societies is through promiscuity, mental and/or physical, and the best way to maintain stability is through self-control. The world today has become increasingly unstable because of the mental, physical, emotional license that people have given to themselves. The generation that follows an era of promiscuity has a dearth of examples to follow and are even more unstable than their parents were when they began their promiscuous living. Stability for human society is based on morality, and morality is based on harnessing and controlling sexuality. The principles of brahmacharya should be learned well before puberty, so that the sexual feelings the young person then begins to experience are free of mental fantasies and emotional involvement. Once established in a young person, this control is expected to be carried out all through life. When a virgin boy and girl marry, they transfer the love they have for their parents to one another. The boy’s attachment to his mother is transferred to his wife, and the girl’s attachment to her father is transferred to her husband. She now becomes the mother. He now becomes the father. This does not mean they love their parents any less. This is why the parents have to be in good shape, to create the next generation of stable families. This is their dharmic duty. If they don’t do it, they create all kinds of uncomely karmas for themselves to be faced at a later time.

Patience

The fifth yama, patience, or kshama, is as essential to the spiritual path as the spiritual path is to itself. Impatience is a sign of desirousness to fulfill unfulfilled desires, having no time for any interruptions or delays from anything that seems irrelevant to what one really wants to accomplish.

We must restrain our desires by regulating our life with daily worship and meditation. Daily worship and meditation are difficult to accomplish without a break in continuity. However, impatience and frustration come automatically in continuity, day after day, often at the same time — being impatient before breakfast because it is not served on time, feeling intolerant and abusive with children because they are not behaving as adults, and on and on. Everything has its timing and its regularity in life. Focusing on living in the eternity of the moment overcomes impatience. It produces the feeling that one has nothing to do, no future to work toward and no past to rely on. This excellent spiritual practice can be performed now and again during the day by anyone.

Patience is having the power of acceptance, accepting people, accepting events as they are happening. One of the great spiritual powers that people can have is to accept things as they are. That forestalls impatience and intolerance. Acceptance is developed in a person by understanding the law of karma and in seeing God Siva and His work everywhere, accepting the perfection of the timing of the creation, preservation and absorption of the entire universe. Acceptance does not mean being resigned to one’s situation and avoiding challenges. We know that we ourselves created our own situation, our own challenges, in a former time by sending forth our energies, thoughts, words and deeds. As these energies, on their cycle-back, manifest through people, happenings and circumstances, we must patiently deal with the situation, not fight it or try to avoid it or be discouraged because of it. This is kshama in the raw. This is pure kshama. Patience cannot be acquired in depth in any other way. This is why meditation upon the truths of the Sanatana Dharma is so important.

It is also extremely important to maintain patience with oneself — especially with oneself. Many people are masters of the fachade of being patient with others but take their frustrations out on themselves. This can be corrected and must be corrected for spiritual unfoldment to continue through an unbroken routine of daily worship and meditation and a yearly routine of attending festivals and of pilgrimage, tirthayatra.

Most people today are intolerant with one another and impatient with their circumstances. This breeds an irreverent attitude. Nothing is sacred to them, nothing holy. But through daily exercising anger, malice and the other lower emotions, they do, without knowing, invoke the demonic forces of the Narakaloka. Then they must suffer the backlash: have nightmares, confusions, separations and even perform heinous acts. Let all people of the world restrain themselves and be patient through the practice of daily worship and meditation, which retroactively invokes the divine forces from the Devaloka. May a great peace pervade the planet as the well-earned result of these practices.

The next time you find yourself becoming impatient, just stop for a moment and remember that you are on the upward path, now facing a rare opportunity to take one more step upward by overcoming these feelings, putting all that you have previously learned into practice. One does not progress on the spiritual path by words, ideas or unused knowledge. Memorized precepts, shlokas, all the shoulds and should-nots, are good, but unless used they will not propel you one inch further than you already are. It is putting what you have learned into practice in these moments of experiencing impatience and controlling it through command of your spiritual will, that moves you forward. These steps forward can never be retracted. When a test comes, prevail.

Sadhakas and sannyasins must be perfect in kshama, forbearing with people and patient under all circumstances, as they have harnessed their karmas of this life and the lives before, compressed them to be experienced in this one lifetime. There is no cause for them, if they are to succeed, to harbor intolerance or experience any kind of impatience with people or circumstances. Their instinctive, intellectual nature should be caught up in daily devotion, unreserved worship, meditation and deep self-inquiry. Therefore, the practice, niyama, that mitigates intolerance is devotion, Ishvarapujana, cultivating devotion through daily worship and meditation.

Steadfastness

The sixth yama is dhriti, steadfastness. To be steadfast, you have to use your willpower. Willpower is developed easily in a person who has an adequate memory and good reasoning faculties. To be steadfast as we go through life, we must have a purpose, a plan, persistence and push. Then nothing is impossible within the circumference of our prarabdha karmas.

It is impossible to be steadfast if we are not obeying the other restraints that the rishis of the Himalayas laid down for us as the fruits of their wisdom. All of these restraints build character, and dhriti, steadfastness, rests on the foundation of good character. Character — the ability to “act with care” — is built slowly, over time, with the help of relatives, preceptors and good-hearted friends. Observe those who are steadfast. You will learn from them. Observe those who are not, and they, too, will teach you. They will teach what you should not do. To be indecisive and changeable is not how we should be on the path to enlightenment, nor to be successful in any other pursuit. Nonperseverance and fear must be overcome, and much effort is required to accomplish this. Daily sadhana, preferably under a guru’sguidance, is suggested here to develop a spiritual will and intellect.

In the Shandilya Upanishad (UPM, P. 173-174), dhriti has been described as preserving firmness of mind during the period of gain or loss of relatives. This implies that during times of sorrow, difficult karmas, loss and temptation, when in mental pain and anguish, feeling alone and neglected, we can persevere, be decisive and bring forth the dhriti strength within us and thus prevail. One translator of the Varuha Upanishad used the wordcourage to translate dhriti. Courageous and fearless people who are just and honest prevail over all karmas — benevolent, terrible and confused. This virtue is much like the monk’s vow of humility, part of which is enduring hardship with equanimity, ease of mind, which means not panicking. TheTirukural reminds us, “It is the nature of asceticism to patiently endure hardship and to not harm living creatures” (261). And we can say that dhritiitself is a “hard ship” — a ship that can endure and persevere on its course even when tossed about on the waves of a turbulent sea.

Some might wonder why it is good to passively endure hardship. To persevere through hardship one must understand, as all Hindus do, that any hardship coming to us we ourselves participated in setting into motion in the past. To endure hardship and rise above it in consciousness is to overcome that karma forever. To resent hardship, to fight it, is to have it return later at a most inconvenient time.

An essential part of steadfastness is overcoming changeableness. Changeableness means indecision, not being decisive, changing one’s mind after making a deliberate, positive decision. Changing one’s mind can be a positive thing, but making a firm, well-considered decision and not following it through would gain one the reputation of not being dependable, even of being weak-minded. No one wants a reputation like this.

How can we discriminate between this and the strength of a person who changes his or her mind in wisdom because of changes of circumstance? A person who is changeable is fickle and unsure of himself, changing without purpose or reason. Dhriti, steadfastness, describes the mind that is willing to change for mature reasons based on new information but holds steady to its determinations through thick and thin in the absence of such good reasons. Its decisions are based on wise discrimination. A person who is patient and truthful, who would not harm others by thought, word or deed and who is compassionate and honest has the strong nature of one who is firm in dhriti,steadfastness. He is the prevailer over obstacles. One firm in dhriti can be leaned upon by others, depended upon. He is charitable, has faith in God, Gods and guru, worships daily and manifests in his life a spiritual will and intellect. In relaxed moments he experiences santosha, contentment, not being preoccupied by feelings of responsibility, duty or things left undone.

The spiritual path is a long, enduring process. It does not reach fruition in a year or two years. The spiritual path brings lots of ups and downs, and the greatest challenges will come to the greatest souls. With this in mind, it becomes clear that steadiness and perseverance are absolutely essential on the spiritual path.

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Comments
  1. mike says:

    Nice

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