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27 March, 2009

Value Systems for Positive Living


The world today presents two distinct classes of people.  One class is active, energetic, productive, prosperous.  The vast majority of the Western World seems to fall under this category.  With all their activity and achievement people of this class admit lack of inner peace and happiness.  They succumb to mental pressures and complain of stress and strain all through life.  The other class of persons is inactive, lethargic, unproductive and poor.  The east, particularly India, may fit into this category.  Though they be so their lives are relatively peaceful and happy.  It seems a strange paradox.  Prosperous countries with advanced education suffering the several ills of life like bitterness and battle, disharmony and divorce, suicide and homicide.  Whereas countries rift with illiteracy and penury enjoy relative contentment and peace.  The reason for such a paradox is loss of human values.  People are unaware of the fundamental values that mould human life.  Consequently, they live their lives without following these values.  They go by the bare animal instincts of acquisition, aggrandisement and enjoyment.  The present generation needs to revive, rehabilitate and re-establish its value systems.  Analyse and study the following basic values and graft them into the pattern of your life.

            The first and foremost human value focuses on action.  Action is the insignia of life.  None can live without performing action.  You are drawn into the world to act helplessly according to your vasans, inner temperament.  Yet if you choose to remain idle you lead yourself to putrefy and perish in the struggle for existence. 

            Action is your own creation.  You impose duties and responsibilities upon yourself.  Let them not lord over you.  You are your lord, ultimate master.  Not realising this, people turn pale at the thought of duty.  Become a mere machine of duty.  Get into a fever of doing.  Hurrying and worrying all the time.  Impassioned by your self-imposed duties and responsibilities in life you turn them into a frankenstein, threatening and harassing you.  You must take to work as a prince takes to sport. The most laborious work the turns into play.  Intense work undertaken thus is no work at all.  That should be your attitude to work, towards action.  You must learn to work dynamically, incessantly in this world while your mind remains calm and composed.  The great Swami Rama Tirtha made a classic statement as a guideline for mankind to follow -
-  Intense work is rest.

            Having launched action your next obligation is to give it a direction.  A direction based on higher values.  Analyse the nature of your work.  The reason and purpose of the activity you are engaged in.  The higher and nobler the ideal you set for your work the greater will be your achievement in life.  An ideal relates to some common cause, high goal above your ego centric desires in life.  Your ideal may be to serve society or humanity or all fellow beings.  Fix an ideal as high as you can but be realistic in your choice.  Let all your actions follow that ideal.  The ideal gives a positive direction to action.

            Work undertaken ina spirit of dedication to a high ideal is satisfying, entertaining, rewarding.  Without an ideal, your work turns ego centric and selfish.  It then becomes monotonous, fatiguing, retarding.  You become tired and weary of work.  You need a break.  You look forward for weekend and vacation.  You wait for Friday evenings and dread the thought of Monday mornings.  Human dignity revolves around a noble ideal in life. 

            Following an ideal set for yourself you live a life of Satyam.  Satyam means truth, you then lead a truthful, meaningful, purposeful life.  William Shakespeare highlights this quality in the last few lines of Polonius' advice to his son Leartus in the play 'Hamlet'.


            Positive living calls for not only action and direction in life but objectivity as well.  Objectivity means maintaining a spirit of detachment, an impersonal attitude towards the every ideal that you have set for yourself, towards your work as such.  Your motto in life should be to strive, to struggle not to succeed.  Work well accomplished is joy in itself.  Success or failure is immaterial.  Learn to adopt action to obligation.  Your business should confine to action alone.  Do not yearn for reward or merit accruing from it.  Not get entangled in the fruit of your action.

            Your duty lies in just being in the struggle.  Work on for work's sake.  Turn indifferent towards pleasure or pain, joy or sorrow, honour or dishonour that may accrue out of action.  Your life stays enriched by accomplishment of right action rather than outward success or progress.  Take up your work without an axe to grind.  Let your action merely fulfil your life's obligation.  Go about it in a spirit of detachment.  Follow the pattern of nature.  Like a river flows, tree yields fruit, cow gives milk.  Work then becomes a pleasure.  Pleasure or happiness lies in the garb of work.

            Action emanate either from your mind or intellect or a combination of both.  Mind consists of feelings and emotions.  Intellect reasons, discriminates, judges.  An action propelled by mere emotion without intellect's guidance is impulsive.  While an action arises out of reason and judgement, even an emotion supports it, is said to be 'objective'.   Objectivity, therefore, is determined by ones intellectual supervision over the minds likes and dislikes, desires and attachments.  A constant, concerted, conscious monitoring of life.  Thus when your intellect follows a set objective, goal or ideal beyond your selfish desire your action becomes objective.

            The world comprises three distinct categories of living creatures -- plant, animal and human.  Plant has no mind, feeling, emotion.  Animal has only a mind, feeling and emotion but no intellect.  It acts on impulse, feeling.  A human being possesses both mind and intellect.  He has feeling and emotion but reason and judgement as well.  His intellect reason and judges.  Overrides his impulse and feeling if they prove detrimental to his being.  Guides action towards the right direction in his life.  Plants merely exist.  Animals live impulsively.  Humans alone can conduct themselves with reason, understanding and judgement.  Work for an ideal above their self-centered interest in life.


            The sense organs of perception, comprise eye, ear, nose, tongue and skin.  Eye reaches for colour and form, ear for sound, nose for smell, tongue for taste and skin for touch.  These senses constantly gravitate to their respective sense objects.  Also, the objects tend to draw the senses towards them.  The human being is therefore, always subject to the pressure of sensual demand and worldly attraction.  His senses crave their enjoyment while the sense objects powerfully entice them. 

            Man never understands the tremendous power that senses wield.  The scriptures caution mankind of their devastating power.  How they topple even learned persons who are committed to the path of spirituality.  The problem arises when you ignore their power and indulge in the senses indiscriminately.  Later in life when the senses develop an addiction to the particular sense object, you find it impossible to withdraw.  You become victimised by your own senses. 

            The pleasures that the senses derive from the sense objects are ephemeral, fleeting, temporary.  All sensual enjoyments have a diminishing value.  Your pleasures in the senses decrease as they repeat their contact with objects.  And through overindulgence, you lose the pleasure completely.  You become neutralised to the particular enjoyment.  You derive no pleasure from it thereafter.  But you still continue to indulge because abstinence from it gives you displeasure.  You now contact that sense object not for any pleasure but to avoid displeasure.  Understand neutralisation by comparing your own experiences.  You are neutralised to the pleasure of breathing oxygen.  So are you neutralized to using your eyes and limbs.  And so on.  You gain no pleasure with them.  But without them you will be miserable.  Just as you will give anything away for a whiff of oxygen.  Yet, breathing continuously you claim no enjoyment out of it.  Thus are you neutralised to oxygen.  Similarly, to the use of your senses and limbs.  Now, to pick up sense objects from the external world and get neutralised to them as well tantamounts to madness.

            As a human being, you must live as a master, not a slave to the senses.  The vast majority of people in the world have enslaved themselves to the power of senses.  They dance to the tune of their senses. Sensual demands reduce them to mere puppets.  A fundamental value that every human must learn and live is to maintain suzerainty over his senses.  People round the world fall under two categories in their relation with senses.  One class of person only indulges indiscriminately in them.  They lose the pleasure of the senses as well as their objective in life. The second class, a small minority, keep away from the senses fearing them.  They remain frustrated, which impairs success and progress in their lives.  The right value is to deal with your senses from a position of authority.  Maintain a mastery over the senses at all times.  You then enjoy them as well as gain your objective in this world.


            Every human being's fundamental duty and responsibility is to realise the supreme Self in his lifetime.  He takes birth in this world for that purpose alone.  To find his identity with the real Self within.  The greatest ideal in life is your own Self, Atman, God.  Let your mind be attuned to the Self, while your body is engaged in work.  Your ego disappears.  The ideas of "I" and 'mine', vanish.  You become the greatest worker in the world when you consider yourself no worker.  Your duty and responsibility in this world is to work in the spirit of renunciation.  You generate peace, love, harmony in yourself and society.

            In the world today people either become attached and entangled in their work or escape from their obligatory duty and responsibility.  You ought not to run away from your obligation.  Action is inevitable.  You must perform your duty without ego centric desire or anxiety for fruit of action. Your intellect, must fix your clear obligation to yourself, your family, society, country, humanity and fellow beings.  Then carry them out to the best of your ability.

            Two broad principles governing human action are based on the attitudes of 'giving' and 'taking'.  Let the attitudes of taking prevail in a society.  Then that society becomes infested with selfish demand and desire, strain and stress, sorrow and suffering.  Whereas, a society with its members bent on giving rather than taking generates peace and happiness.  Victor Hugo in his classic novel 'Les Miserables' highlights this quality:  "Life is to give, not to take."  No man has the right to desire, demand from society.  He has only an obligation to give, to serve.  To cater to the welfare of one and all.  You serve the world, the world serves you.  Objects and beings stand in obeisance before you.  You become a master, no servant.

            Learn the art of giving.  You then gain peace and prosperity.  Observe a child that has the heart to give.  It keeps liberally offering its prized possessions to others.  Watch it carefully.  As it gives, its face beams with a smile.  Joy springs from its heart.  On the contrary a selfish, possessive child, never willing to part with anything, frets and frowns at everything.  So do you gain peace and happiness when you serve, give share with others.  The attitude of giving provides not only inner peace but material prosperity as well.  The more you give, the more you gain.  Those who aggrandise, accumulate, amass wealth lose their peace and eventually their prosperity.  It is a law of life.

            In physics, you notice a particular colour in an object when it gives that colour away.  Light consists of seven vigbyoric colours.  An object appears red when it absorbs, takes in, all other colours except red.  The object actually gives away red colour.  And it appears red.  What it concedes, it accedes.  The great sage Rama Tirtha says, "The way to gain anything is to lose it."  If you crave for anything, develop a clinging attachment for anything you do not get it, you lose it.  But when you learn to treat it dispassionately, relate to it with a spirit of detachment you attain it, you retain it.  In this world what you cling on to you lose, what you leave alone you gain.

            Gratitude stands out among the foremost human values.  A human being is so human being without gratitude.  William Shakespeare denounces ingratitude as man's worst evil.  In his play 'Julius Caesar', he condemns Brutus as a traitor because of his ingratitude towards his own benefactor, Caesar.  In 'King Lear', the king raves about this deadly trait of ingratitude in his daughters throughout the play.  A human being without gratitude is a rose within fragrance, a nightingale without song, a lake without water.

          The moment you are born, you are indebted for all that this world provides you.  You have a perfect supply of air and light, food and drink, temperature and pressure, respiratory and ailmentary systems -- all forces of nature seem to attend on your well - being.  Recognise these endless blessings showered upon you.  Be constantly aware of these provisions.  Be eternally grateful to Providence.  The lease you could do in return is to render your service to one and all. 

            Your sense of gratitude does not confine to nature's blessings alone.  It must reach out to every facet of your life in this world.  Life then becomes liveable and loveable.  Management must learn to be grateful to labour. So must labour be grateful to management.  Husband must be grateful to wife.  So must wife be grateful to husband.  Doctor to patient.  Patient to doctor.  Gratitude is the sap that sustains life.


            Unlike any other being, a human needs to set goals to achieve in a lifetime.  Other creatures are destined to live through a determined pattern of life. They have no choice of action.  Humans alone can choose their course of life.  They are privileged to set high ideals for themselves.  Then practise the fundamental values to attain them.  This portion sets out the highest human goals and ways to achieve them.

            Living creatures comprise plant, animal and human.  Of the three, plant is most dependent on the world.  A plant will perish if it does not have nourishment at its roots.  Its nourishment may be available some yards away but it cannot help itself to it.  A plant is wholly dependent upon its environment.  Unlike a plant, an animal is not totally victimised by the rigours of the external world.  It can adapt itself to an extent to different environs and living conditions.  An animal moves to conducive places for food and dwelling.  Birds are known to fly thousands of miles for that purpose.  Yet all these creatures enjoy a limited capacity to adopt themselves to the changing world.  A human alone commands greatest freedom.  He is least dependent upon the stern laws governing the world.  He harnesses nature by artificial means.  Conquers space and time by jet speed.  Overcomes diseases by medicine.  Complements natural food with synthetic products.  Does a host of other things.

            So you are blessed with great powers.  And yet you allow yourself to the persecuted by the changing world.  You suffer in the world because of your identification with body, mind and intellect.  Your interest and attention rests constantly upon your equipments.  You pursue their petty pleasures rather than the bliss of your real Self.  You are attached to your body, mind and intellect.  The law of attachment is:  As you think, so you become.  The world can affect your material equipments alone.  Not your Self.  Physical environment and condition affect your body.  Emotions sway your mind.  Ideologies play with your intellect.  But none of them can disturb the Self.  Self is supreme.  But your Self seems affected due to your unintelligent attachment to these material equipments.  Nothing can affect the Self.  Affect you.  Therefore, identify with your Self.  Realise your Self.  A Self-realised person remains ever-free, liberated, independent of this world.  Revels in absolute bliss of the Self within.

            Independence is a distinct sign of spiritual maturity.  As you advance spiritually you become more independent of the world around you.  To the extent you lack spiritual growth you become relatively dependent -- upon your body and perceptions, mind and emotions, intellect and thoughts -- for your peace and happiness.  All other creatures barring humans are denied spiritual edification.  Thus, they remain wholly dependent upon the world.  Independence is a human prerogative.  Aim and aspire to attain the goal of independence, self-sufficiency, liberation in life.

            A coconut provides a striking example of human liberation.  When a coconut is raw the kernel is attached to the shell.  Kernel and shell are together.  Break the shell kernel also breaks.  When the coconut is fully dry, the kernel dries up.  Kernel separates from the shell.  It sets itself free.  Clear from the shell.  Kernel then shakes within the shell like a rattle.  Now break the shell, the kernel does not break. It remains intact.  Unaffected, unimpaired, immaculate.  So it is with your true Self.  As long as you attach yourself with your body-mind-intellect, you will be affected by the ever changing world.  But when you detach yourself from your body-mind-intellect, stop identifying with them you remain unaffected, peaceful and happy.  You enjoy freedom, liberation, total independence.


            The ultimate goal of human existence is realisation of one's Self.  A state of ultimate satisfaction, fulfillment, reveling in absolute peace and bliss.  No physical pleasure, emotional joy or intellectual rapture can add to that supreme state.  Nothing in the world can enhance that infinite bliss.  A happiness that lies within your own Self.  Not anywhere else.  Arthur Schopenhauer rightly states, "It is difficult to find happiness in oneself but it is impossible to find it anywhere else."  Yet every one seeks it anywhere else.

            People pursue happiness in the external world.  Everywhere except the Self within.  A cripple in a wheel-chair believes that happiness lies in a pair of legs.  The one with legs craves for a vehicle to transport him around.  A vehicle owner yearns for a partner in life.  Thus he goes on……… a home, wealth, status, power.  Everyone chases the shadow of happiness ceaselessly.  The vain pursuers suffer mental agitation all through their unfulfilled desires.  The richest man in the world craves for more riches.  The most powerful seeks more power. The most knowledgeable longs for more knowledge.  None understands that true happiness lies within oneself.  As the famous English poet John Milton endorses:
The Mind can make a heaven out of hell and hell out of heaven. 

            Imagine  a dark spot appearing in a beautiful picture projected on a screen.  Try to remove the spot.  Wipe the screen.  Scrub it.  Wash it.  The spot will not go.  The spot happens to be on the lens of the projector.  Wipe the lens here, the spot is gone there!  The picture is clear.  Learn this simple lesson.  Remove desires within, your life is happy.

            The goal that every human must aspire for is knowledge of Self.  Humanity has lost its identity.  Knows not the real Self.  Spiritually ignorant people grope in darkness in this world.  Imagine a person moving around in the darkens of a room.  He will strike against corners ad corners, obstacles and obstructions and hurt himself.  As long as the room remains dark he will suffer from the breakable and damage.  Light is what the needs.  The moment there is light his suffering and sorrow end.  His life runs smooth and easy.

             Knowledge and ignorance related to this world differ only in degree, not in kind.  Like light and darkness.  Light and darkness also differ only in degree.  An electric light is bright with respect to the dull candle-light.  But the same electric light appears dull in the brilliance of sunlight.  In the ladder of knowledge the lower rung is considered ignorance, the higher rung knowledge.  Every bit of knowledge in the world is ignorance viewed from a higher plane of knowledge.  Therefore, all knowledge acquired in this world reduces itself to ignorance before the absolute knowledge of Self.  Knowledge of Self alone can remove all human suffering and sorrow in this world.

            The knowledge imparted in educational institutions is mere secular information stuffed into the minds of students.  The student becomes well-informed in the particular subject taught.  He turns intelligent in that subject.  But does no original thinking or enquiry.  His intellect still lacks development.  Herbert Spencer was an intellectual but no graduate from a university.  When asked if he was a voracious reader, he shot back, "No sir, if I were as big a reader as others, I would have been as big an ignoramus as others."  Real education lies in drawing the Self out of yourself.  Use your intellect to study, reflect, enquire and discover your own Self.

            Examine your own life.  Your Self pervades all your experiences.  In the entire span of your life you refer to self as "I".  I see, hear; I am happy, unhappy, I know, do not know etc. The same "I" pervades your waking, dream and deep-sleep states of consciousness.  When you are awake you declare, 'I am Gupta'.  In your dream, you assume a different personality.  You declare then, 'I am Thomas'.  In deep-sleep, 'I am nothing.'  Again, in various stages of your life you say, 'I am a child', 'I am a boy' …. A youth, man, old man.  These are all different and distinct from one another.  Each stays awhile and passes away.  They are all impermanent, transient, changing.  Yet you link them all with the constant, permanent, unchanging I'.  The I' never leaves you.  That is your real Self.  The supreme Reality.

            Your problem is that you do not remain with Self alone.  You qualify, modify, condition the Self every moment, Colour, stain, pollute the Self.  You say:  I am tall, short, I am happy, unhappy; I am bright, dull, never do you clinch the 'I' alone.  Never experience it in its pristine glory.  And yet, the stark truth is that you are the Self.  The Self alone.  You must realise this truth.  Drop all conditioning.  Gain knowledge of real Self.


            Love provides the melody of life.  Love means realising your oneness with the universe.  Identifying with your fellow beings.  Feeling united with one and all.  That is love.  With this sense of oneness you fall in harmony with nature, with the world.  But when you lack love, when you do not feel that oneness, consider yourself separate and distinct from the rest of the world, you fall out of harmony with everything, everybody, everywhere.

            True love is universal.  The modern concept of love is distorted.  Reduced to personal preferential attachment.  Reduced to personal preferential attachment.  In his famous novel 'The Vicar of Wakefield' Oliver Goldsmith speaks of love.

          "To thine own self be true,
          And it must follow, as the night the day
          Thou canst not then be false to any man."