credibility - leading ethical life -

Anand Hudli anandhudli at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed Feb 25 11:01:13 CST 1998

Gummuluru Murthy wrote:
>Although there are some humans who are unethical, most humans, by and
>large, lead a life of virtue with "high" ethical values. The purpose
>of this short article is to argue that a person leading what the human
>society calls an "ethical" life is as far from Self-realization as one
>who does not. I give some examples.
>Then, isn't "yasassu", desire for fame that is there in the so-called
>ethical members of the society condemnable ? We often see "volunteers"
>working hard to a good cause. Aren't they identifying too much with the
>cause and hence aren't they developing vAsanAs which are as hideous as
>that of a person committing a momentary "serious" crime ?

 We hear of sattva, rajas, and tamas guNas from many sources,
 especially the Giitaa. Although from the viewpoint of a jnaanii,
 all the three guNas are of no use in Self-realization, it makes
 no sense to deny the effect of these guNas in day-to-day life
 and in the context of Self-realization as well.

 tamo guNa leads to delusion, obsession with trivial things, crime,
 etc. rajo guNa leads to unnecessary exertion/activity,
 desire for material
 wealth, etc. Sattva guNa brings out what are generally considered
 "noble" qualities and virtues in a person. The Giitaa explains the
 characteristics of these three guNas elaborately.

 An aspirant for Self-realization should conquer the tamas with
 the rajas and then conquer rajas with the help of Sattva. It is
 Sattva that has the capacity to lead one to jnaana, not rajas, not
 tamas. However, one should not become too attached to Sattva to
 the extent that it becomes an obstacle for Self-realization.
 A story comes to my mind.

 Once a person was traveling back home from a distant place. He had
 to pass through a forest on the way. In the forest, he was spotted
 by three robbers, who then captured him. One robber said, "Let us
 grab all the belongings of this man and kill him right now." The
 second robber said, " No. Let us take him hostage and follow him
 home. Then we can loot his home and kill him too."
 The third robber said, " No. It is not good to kill or rob him.
 Let us just accompany him through this forest and make sure he gets
 home safely."  In this argument among themselves, the third robber
 finally won. He walked with the man up to his home, making sure that
 no harm came to him on the way.

 The three robbers here are the three guNas. They are robbers because
 they rob us of discrimination (viveka). But, as the story suggests,
 tamas, the first robber is the most dangerous. He demanded
 immediate death. Rajas, the second robber, is dangerous too, but
 not as dangerous as the first one. The man could have hoped for
 at least some chance of escaping death, even if the second robber
 had his way.  Sattva, the third robber, is the "best" robber,
 because it helps us reach our destination.
 But upon reaching our home (destination), we have to give up the
 company of the best robber too.

 In conclusion, it is right, desirable, commendable (not condemnable)
 to strive for and cultivate qualities and virtues that Sattva
 stands for. At the same time, we should not become too attached to
 the results of Sattva. Such attachment is an indication of building
 up of the ego. A philanthropist  has a good chance for Self
 realization if he/she realizes that fame will not guarantee Self
 realization. He should sincerely seek out a Guru and learn the
 secrets of Atma-vidyaa. A criminal, on the other hand, has
 little chance because of the constant agitation of the mind and
 delusion. He can only be saved, if out of sheer luck, the grace of
 a great soul falls on him.


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