Virtues and Sins

Selections from THE ABSOLUTE LAW OF KARMA by PANDIT SHRIRAM SHARMA ACHARYA

VIRTUES AND SINS

The qualitative assessment of good and evil is always relative. On the scale of virtue you will find persons, who belong to a grade lower than yours, those who are in the same grade as your own; and others who have a much higher grade than yours. Suppose you are studying in a college. You may consider the persons with the highest character (Satoguni) studying in a class senior to your own, your classmates as students of the intermediate class (Rajoguni) and the juniors, being educated in the lower class (Tamoguni). However, as mentioned earlier, this relationship of moral status is relative. For instance, in comparison to a bandit, a thief is more virtuous (has more Satogun), because the latter is more humane. Compared to both the thief and the dacoit, a labourer has more Satogun. A social reformer would have more Satogun than a common man, and a spiritual teacher more than that of the social worker. Thus, on the scale of Satogun, a spiritual teacher stands at a much higher level than a bandit, but he is graded lower than enlightened, liberated soul whose Silent Presence is the greatest of sermons. It does not mean that the dacoit is the most degraded soul. He is better than animal.

The superiority of spiritual status of a person is measured by the number of people being ethically benefited by his altruistic deeds. On the lowest level, a self-centered person acts only for the welfare of his own family. A dacoit does not rob members of his family. A thief does not commit theft in the house of a friend. For a social worker, welfare activities are confined to a particular class or community. The spiritual teacher works for enlightenment of all human beings. The enlightened souls see all living beings, as manifestations of God, be it man or beast, plant or animal. In a nutshell, in the process of progressive evolution, before attaining self-realization, all living beings are at different stages of conscious awakening. Everyone lives with lack of one virtue or the other. When all impurities are removed, nothing can stop a person from reaching the ultimate state of liberation from cycles of birth and death. This is the ultimate goal of human existence.

Taken together, virtues in this world are far in excess of vices. No doubt, immorality is also there, but morality is much more prevalent. There is more enlightenment than ignorance in this world. There are bad people everywhere in the world, but they have more virtues than vices in them. We should keep in sight only the goodness of the world, enjoy the beauty of the virtuous and work for enhancement of these virtues.

Nature has made a provision of day and night to teach us how to behave in the world. During the day we keep awake, take advantage of the sunlight for working and prefer to live in an illuminated place, than in darkness. Light gives us the advantage of acquiring knowledge through sight. When darkness of night descends, we go to sleep or, if required to work, use artificial light. Because of the natural structure of eyes, man intrinsically prefers to live in an illuminated environment. Light makes our perspective illuminated. In the light we clearly see objects as they are and dispel our ignorance about them. It shows that we should ignore the dark side of the world and become more enlightened by preferring to look only at the brighter aspects of human personalities i.e. virtues.

We should make an endeavour to enjoy, imbibe and encourage only the virtuous traits in a person. It does not mean that we close our eyes to the blemishes. Be aware of the vices but do not get involved in them. There is that well known story of Rishi Dattatreya. As long as he continued to compare the bright and dark aspects of life he remained troubled and unhappy. When he concentrated only on the positive aspects of creation, he found that in this world all living creatures were sacred and adorable. He realized that he could learn something from each of them. It is said that he acquired his spiritual insights from twenty-four beings (teachers). Amongst these were insignificant creatures like dog, cat, jackal, spider, fly, vulture, crow etc. He felt that no animate being was despicable, that each one had within it, the soul, which is a spark of that Super-Being, and that each was a link in the spiraling chain of evolution. When we make ourselves receptive to virtues, the field of vision changes. Shortcomings are overlapped by excellence, wickedness by goodness and prevalence of unhappiness by abundance of things of joy. The world that we earlier thought to be full of wicked people now appears rich with decent, well-mannered, altruistic and aspiring persons.

Each individual has his own personal perspective of people, places, things and events. On account of the confusion of perspective, one finds the world bad, whereas the other sees only goodness in it. Throw away the cobwebs of your old biased perspectives. Use your third eye of wisdom to see through the illusions of your old world. Let your present wicked world (Kaliyug) destroy itself and in its place create your own Golden Age (Satyug) in your inner psyche. Stop being deluded by the darkness of the world (Tamogun) and focus your vision at the brightness (Satogun). You will find the world changing into heaven. When you change your field of vision, you will find your disobedient son/ daughter changing into an obedient one. Your worst enemies, quarrelsome wife and hypocritical neighbours will appear totally different. Actually, the factor of negativity in the character or behaviour of a person is usually very small.

Antagonism in the mind of the observer magnifies it manifold. Suppose your husband or wife does not behave as per your expectations because of preoccupation or some other valid reason; when you are not aware of it, you are likely to take it as an affront and become resentful or angry. With the anger, the evil traits lying dormant in the inner recesses of your mind become activated and produce negative mental image of the subject. Darkness makes out a monster out of a bush. Similarly, anger, due to distortion caused by inner turbulence, produces a defiant, disobedient, disrespectful picture of an otherwise simple, innocent person who receives a harsh punishment for a small lapse. On the other hand, this unjust reaction also infuriates the recipient of the undeserved treatment. The counter-reacting angry person too begins to see wickedness, foolishness, cruelty and many other negative traits in the other person. On repetition of such trivial incidents, the two imaginary ghost personalities continue to grow and their confrontations convert two simple – hearted warmly related persons into bitter antagonists.

On many occasions, I have succeeded in reconciling the differences between bitter adversaries by making them understand the triviality of the root cause, which had made a mountain out of a molehill. Such situations arise because of gap in communication. With mutual understanding, sharing of feelings and objective analysis of each other’s expectations, behaviour and psychological background, ninety percent of estrangements can be amicably resolved. In fact the factors responsible for such estrangements are very minor. We may compare their incidence with the quantity of salt in our food. Salt and pepper themselves are distasteful, but a small quantity of these makes food palatable. Occasional cooling off of warmth in close relationships is required to break the monotony of life. Given mutual trust, we bounce back into the relationship with deeper understanding and warmth. It has already been discussed that on human birth, the soul brings with it many imperfections and traits of its past lives including its embodiments in sub-human species.

The newly born human child is very little qualified to live amongst human beings. It falls asleep anytime during the day, keeps awake during nights, soils the clothes and makes loud hues and cries for its biological needs of fondling, food and water. Nevertheless, neither these baby-tantrums disturb the household, nor does addition of one more member make the house unlivable. On the contrary, the innocent and immature child becomes a means of entertainment for the family. The morally less evolved persons of the society should be treated in the same way.

For evolutionary soul growth, it is the duty of each enlightened soul to work for the progress of other persons, who are at lower stages of soul-growth and encourage them, to work for their own upliftment. Wickedness will always be there in this world. There is no reason to be afraid of it. Whosoever is desirous of self-enlightenment should learn to face and overcome the disturbances caused by the wicked. It is necessary to restrain the evil and prevent the beastly traits from polluting humane values. Flies have to be kept away from sweets. The efficiency of one’s karmas is demonstrated in preventing spread of sinful traits in the society. A great deal of caution is required in this endeavour. It is like walking on the razor’s edge. This truly is yog-the skill in works- equanimity in the face of all provocations.

What should be our course of action in this world to eliminate evil? The Sun sets an example worth emulating. Its light dispels the darkness. Its heat forms the clouds; clouds bring down rain and cool the heat. When we take food, hunger goes by itself and when we follow laws of health, weakness is removed without much effort. In order to remove ignorance, try to acquire knowledge. For making the world free of evil, we should work for proliferation of virtues. The proper way for eradication of disease is to educate the masses about the significance of laws of hygiene and health. The sick do need the medicines, but hospitals cannot cure the entire society. Law enforcement machinery works like a hospital for the wicked- the morally sick. It takes care of only contingencies. Law cannot remove the root causes of societal ills.

It is not possible to eradicate evil by violence. Violent opposition would only incite a stronger counter reaction. A surgeon does not act like a butcher. He makes a precise incision. Instead of direct confrontation, blabbing, showing resentment, expressing helplessness, follow the positive path of forgiveness, reformation and love. According to a philosopher, “A word of love creates much greater impact than a blow on the head”. Everyone has more or less goodness in him. Make an effort to identify your own virtues and make them more effective in life. Also find out the virtues in the other person and try to encourage him to more and more cultivate these virtues. Do not fight your battle in the darkness of ignorance. Make your battlefield illuminated. Do not be disheartened by the spread of immorality. Counter it by promoting morality.

The only way to remove evil from this world is to encourage goodness. Remove the air from the bottle by filling it with water. Do not associate with evil. Why should you like to collect the garbage (evil)? Let others do this dirty job. Your work is to disinfect the rot. Why should you do skinning of dead animals (finding faults of the evildoers)? Assume the more dignified role of a teacher. Remember! In this world quite a few persons have a faultfinding attitude. Perhaps there are more persons inclined to punish the guilty than are necessary. When a child teases another one, quite a few of his companions slap him on the cheek. But how many in this world are prepared to give free food and clothes to a needy child? Let the evildoers suffer the consequences of their misdeeds. Take the venerated seat of the mother, who feeds the infant by the extract of her own blood; who suffers in cold but shields the child in her bosom. Like a learned teacher, distribute the wisdom acquired by you amongst the immature, ignorant and way lost people. The glorious path of reformation is not easy to follow. People may make you suffer, insult you, make fun of you. They may even regard you as a crackbrain, may oppose you and create hurdles in your work for no rhyme or reason. Be least apprehensive about such persons. Do not deviate from your path. The number of such habitual faultfinders is always insignificant. Against hundreds of appreciators of your good work, the number of denunciators will be very small. Their antagonism, too, will come to you as a token of Divine Grace. It would provide you opportunities for introspection and corrective action. This will charge you with higher potency energy for speedy progress.

You might have understood that significance of persons, events and objects, which come in our lives in this ever-changing materiel world, is momentary and illusory. Therefore material objects and relationships are not worthy of blind pursuit for their acquisition or attachment thereto. Such detached attitude would in no way discourage us in performance of our duties. On the contrary, only on being detached to the material world, we can pay attention to our progress without worry. It is a great misconception to regard this world as full of misery. World is full of things of beauty and joy. Had it not been so, the free, spotless, illumined blissful soul, which is spark of the Supreme, would not have chosen it as its abode. Unhappiness is nothing but absence of happiness. Unhappiness means abandoning a highway and wandering way lost through the thicket of thorny bushes. As discussed earlier, mostly the unhappiness, antagonism, enmity, distress and conflict faced by us is illusory and people are not as wicked as we assume them to be. If we clean our minds of prejudices and throw away our coloured glasses, things will appear in their true colours.

The mirror of the world reflects happiness for the virtuous and the optimist, and unhappiness for the pessimistic evildoer. As soon as we change our field of vision, see the virtues only and resolve to convert the unvirtuous with love, the entire world showers us with petals of love. You become a recipient of uninterrupted blessings from the liberated souls of the invisible heavenly world. The glaring and burning blaze of the hot summer changes into the soothing light of the full moon. His creation is full of beauty and joy. When you look for happiness, each particle of nature is prepared to give you peace and joy. Your mind can give you the taste of dishes from a king’s palace in your own dry morsel of bread. True, in the human experience there is some unhappiness in this world, but it can be tolerated. It underscores the importance of happiness. Whatever is wicked is meant to test your endurance and accelerate the pace of your self-evolution. Without a system of examination, how could one differentiate between a learned person and a rustic illiterate?

In a nutshell, being inert, this material world is incapable of giving us pleasure or pain. The world is a mirror reflecting the beauty or ugliness of your own mind. When the philosopher calls this world “An existence in virtual reality”, it is implied that one sees the world according to one’s own state of mind. It is like the many blind persons giving their description about the shape of an elephant after feeling only a part of animal’s body. You can change your world by changing your environment. Project your brotherliness, benevolence, love, sympathy and optimism and you will find it reflected back to you as a world full of bliss like the Biblical Garden of Eden.

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