The question of how to live the values of life is not a new one faced only in modern times. It is as old as our scriptures. This is a weakness that every person faces in his life – the contradiction between his knowledge and his living.
We know so many things at even gross levels, e.g., on a cigarette packet it is mentioned that smoking is injurious to health, but a doctor himself goes on smoking while advising others not to do so. We know, but when it comes to living, we do just what we should not. When it comes to higher emotions and ideological values, the case becomes much more difficult. Now the question is, why does it happen this way?
For communication between two persons, the speaker and the listener, to take place, there is a need for active participation on the part of the listener. Just now, we heard a ‘Shanti Path’, a peace invocation: Sahaveeryam Karavaavahai – that means, “May we both put forth efforts together to understand, so that we will enjoy the fruit of knowledge”. Knowledge should not be barren or impotent. Knowledge must actually give us results. Now, having said this much, let us analyse:
Every person, when he lives his life, has some idea and some vision about life – whether he is conscious of it or not. But without some idea about himself and the world, he cannot live in this world. It is not possible. Now, there are different views or visions. Our life, behaviour and our living in this world, depend upon the vision that we have about this world and about our life.
One problem is that our vision itself is not clear nor is it high. Secondly, the values conveyed to us are mostly somebody else’s. We have not assimilated, we have no conviction and we do not see any purpose in it. So, if our vision is not clear or if the values are not our own and have been imposed on us, we cannot live them. Another point is – the earlier tendencies have become so deep rooted that habits have become our second nature and on the spur of the moment we again do the same thing. People say, “Swamiji, I know that I should not get angry, but when I get angry, I forget everything.”
I reply, “You forget everything and, therefore, get angry.” Remember, when you forget, you get angry. Only when you lose your balance, do accidents take place. It is not that we fall down and then lose balance. Emotions are so strong and overwhelming that we forget everything.
Now, coming back to the vision. In general, there are three types of vision.
1. I will start with an example. I have one physical body and it has got many parts or limbs. Even though I know that there are many parts or limbs for my visual perception, for my vision and understanding I know that all of it is one body and it is me. Thus, even though I see ‘many’ ness or differences, in my vision there is only oneness and, as a result of this understanding, I love each and every part of my body. There is no partiality in it even though I feel a backache is better than a headache when I get one ! When there is a vision of oneness, other values are very natural; that I love all parts of my body, I don’t want to injure any part of my body; I serve my body, beautify it and pamper it. If my finger goes into my eye, no punishment is given to the finger, i.e., forgiveness also is natural. The eye also does not have a feeling of hatred for the finger. That is also the reason why the mother loves her child – the child is her own flesh and blood. The Upanishad also says, “Putro vai Atma” – the child is your own Self and, even though you see the child as a different entity, you know that the child is not different from you and, therefore, love is natural.
No mother needs to be told to love her child, though it is necessary to be told to love your neighbour. In my child, my family, etc., I see oneness and, therefore, I am concerned about their welfare and I don’t want to hurt them in any manner. If they suffer, I suffer because their suffering is my suffering. So then, I will see that I love, serve, forgive – all these values follow. Now, if you expand your vision, even though you see the plurality not only of human beings but also of plants, trees, creepers, birds, animals, etc., you just imagine – if so much of oneness is there, there is so much of service, love, sacrifice, and forgiveness. Imagine that you are one with this entire universe (not that you have to imagine, you are actually one with this universe because, without the totality of the five elements, you cannot exist). So, I am already one with it. The life that is in me is the same life everywhere; it is only I who has created this distinction. So, now you see – when this vision of oneness is there, my style of living changes accordingly.
2. When my vision is that everything is different (visually everything is different), then the situation naturally will be that I will like one thing and dislike another; one person I will consider as mine and the other as not mine. So, if we hear that an earthquake has taken place or there is a flood or cyclone somewhere, we get worried only if a person known to us is there; otherwise, we are not bothered. When you see oneness in all differences, the life pattern is one; when you see everything as different, the life pattern changes because one thing is mine, another is yours and, therefore, I am concerned only with mine and have nothing to do with the other.
In crowded buses and trains, it is very interesting to watch – somebody gets a window seat and spreads out wide on the seat. He constantly looks out of the window because someone might ask him to move if he looks this side. Even if somebody requests him to move, he refuses. Suddenly when he spots a friend, he makes place. See, as long as he saw someone else there was no place. But the moment he saw his friend, there was place. He would make him sit on his lap also, if necessary. In oneness, there is love; in differences, I and mine, likes and dislikes are created.
3. The third type is the lowest: A finite little thing is taken as the whole – that alone is life. For some people, money is everything. Actually, money is only one aspect out of the many things of life. Money also has got a place, but if someone says that money is God and money is everything, then what happens? Only one part is taken for the whole. The result is that when money is lost, he is lost. Some people commit suicide because they don’t get a first class first. It is good to have it as a goal, but that doesn’t mean that you will get it every time. But if you consider that alone as the most important thing then it is not right. Such an attitude is the cause for frustration, disappointment and dejection.
So, one vision is seeing oneness in all differences, the other is seeing only differences, while the third is taking only one part to be the whole and getting exclusively attached to one thing – that’s how people become fanatics. All these wars are fought by fanatic people. People say that religion has created all problems. No, it is fanaticism that has created problems. If I love somebody and am ready to kill another person for that sake, it is exclusive attachment.
So, our life pattern, our responses – all these things depend upon our vision. And, how many people are there who really think thoroughly and deeply on it? I told you, everybody has got that vision, but we are not aware that we fall in this category. Only when examples are given do I realize that I fall in one of these categories.
The question, therefore, is – why are we not able to live these values?
Firstly, we do not have any deep thinking on this vision and, secondly, all these values which are told, are somebody else’s values, an imposition, and we have an aversion to something that we are told to do – like the opposition party in the Parliament. Just because it is a Government proposal, oppose it.
In logic, there are two to three methods.
The first one is where both the parties have different views but they discuss to arrive at the truth. Both of them agree that I will give up my view if we arrive at the truth. This is called a healthy discussion for arriving at the truth.
The second one is where there are two parties – they have their views and their idea is to win the argument, not to arrive at the truth.
The third type is – whatever is your view, I oppose it. If you ask him, “What is your view?” he says, “I don’t have any view but whatever you say is wrong.” There is a need for gaining the vision of oneness and understanding these values.
Nowadays we say, especially in our country, the condition has become so bad that without money nothing moves. So, a peon sitting outside the office, when asked by a visitor if the officer is inside, stretches his hand. The visitor puts some money in it and only then he gets an answer, “Yes, he is inside”. Then he is told to go and tell the officer that the visitor wants to see him. He stretches the other hand. If you ask him why he does that when he is being paid, he says that the salary is for sitting on the stool ! He is only a representative of all such people right up to the top. In such a situation, anybody who talks of values is considered mad.
Honesty and truthfulness have no meaning at all, because a person who is honest gets nothing. Only dishonest people get everything. This is the thinking of the people of India. I tell you one thing – if I have respect for honesty and I am not able to live up to it, it is a minor problem. But if I say honesty is no longer a value, then it is more dangerous because then there is no limit to where I can fall down. We say that all these values are impractical in today’s world. One person came to me and said, “Swamiji, what is this? I am so honest, but I never get anything and the other person is so dishonest and corrupt, but he gets everything.”
I said, “Who stopped you from becoming corrupt? Why don’t you also take bribes?”
He said, “Nobody gave me !”
Now, your honesty is not honesty; your truthfulness is no truthfulness.
Please think carefully. Is it true that honesty and truthfulness have no value in present day life? Superficially, it will appear that people do not respect honesty or truthfulness, but it is not true. Everybody respects it very much, but respects it in someone else, that is the only difference. That is why when you want to employ a servant in your house; you want a sincere, honest, hardworking person. We want to know where he worked earlier, etc. A person may earn more money by any means but he wants his treasurer to be very honest. How do the gamblers and smugglers succeed? Because their entire network depends upon honesty. In that dishonest business they are very honest. These values are not lost, because we respect them in others. Now, if only every person tries to become that, it will be wonderful.
So, please know one thing clearly – these values are eternal. Any prosperity, peace or happiness will come only when we follow these values. Do we not get that happiness because for me money is what is important and not honesty if I cannot get money? This means that honesty is meant for getting money. I value money, not honesty. So that is why we are not able to love these values. A value must be lived for its own sake. I must be truthful because truthful I must be. But I want to be truthful so that I may get something – that is wrong.
So, no vision – number one ; values are imposed on us and we cannot live somebody else’s values ; and thirdly, we do not have the conviction, and superficially, it appears that these values have lost their content and utility today. But I tell you, any prosperity that is there depends upon these values. Secondly, when you live the immoral and corrupt way, there are always agitations in your mind and also fear. But when we are truthful we are fearless. Moreover, these values are lived not for someone else’s sake, but for our own sake. If you understand this much, your life will be most wonderful and when you are like that, your children will also be like that. What you are, children are most likely to be like that. The child will be exposed to a particular kind of atmosphere and learn.
There is another problem because parents are living double standards in life. They live one kind of life, but they want the child to be different. It does not happen like that. You don’t want to be unhappy and you don’t want your child also to be unhappy and, therefore, it is necessary that we have the right values and also expose the child to those values and that kind of atmosphere.
I do not know whether bringing up a child is a science or an art – I think it is both, because it has got a science of its own and you have to do it in an artistic manner. It is a very subtle thing because teaching I tell you is the most difficult art. Any other art is not that difficult – even in painting you can draw a little and tomorrow you can continue, but when you are teaching somebody, even at that time the mind is not available – it is distracted. So when you try to continue from where you left the previous day, the student says, “‘What did you say yesterday?’ He has already forgotten.
And when you say, “What? You have forgotten what I said yesterday?”
He replies, ‘You only said that we should not carry the memories of the past.!”
Every day the slate is clean. A painter’s canvas does not protest, but a student’s mind does. It goes on protesting, it goes on forgetting. So how does one teach? The best way of teaching is living the values. When we live that and when they observe it then only is teaching possible. That is why in the Geeta , it is said, “Yadyadacharati Shreshtah tattaddevetero janah” – Whatever a great one does or demonstrates, all other people only follow that.
It is never said, “Whatever a great man says, people follow.” If that was the case, the world would have been different. We never follow what somebody says – only what is lived by him. There is a story that you might have read or heard. A mother took her child to a Mahatma. The child was addicted to eating chocolates, toffees, etc., so much that he was spoiling his teeth. She told the Mahatma, “Please tell him. My telling him has had no effect.”
The Mahatma said, “Come after one month.” She went away and after one month brought the child again. The Mahatma took the child near him, spoke to him and told him, “Don’t eat chocolates like this, you will spoil your teeth.”
The child promised, “I will not eat now.”
The mother said, “If you had to tell him only this much, why did you ask me to come after one month?”
The Mahatma replied, “The simple reason is, I was also eating chocolates till then ! So, if I had told him at that time, it would have lacked conviction.” It is true that if I don’t do a thing and tell others to do it, it does not have any conviction, no force. What is the difference between the ordinary person and extraordinary person? The great man is able to live what he understands and what he says, while the other person knows a lot, but he is not able to live it – that’s all.
Now, we come to the children. People are getting very anxious about their children and their future, but they don’t take care of the present. Without taking care of the present, we cannot take care of the future. Nowadays, there is another peculiar thinking: I am taking good care of my child. I am sending him to the best school. Best school means, the most expensive! We are spending a lot of money on the children but not in the children. Another thing is that, because of industrial civilization, both the husband and the wife go to work and if any lady says that she is not working, people are surprised. This is because working has come to mean only, ‘working in the office’. So, a housewife has an inferiority complex. Making money is more important than making a man. That is modern thinking. People think that making a child is nothing as compared to making money.
We do not say that you don’t work, that you don’t earn money; but if it is at the expense of your child, you will have to suffer in the future. Such a child has no sense of belonging, no love, etc. Later, we cannot blame him if he turns out to be a devil. Without culture, man is like a vulture! You know what is the nature of a vulture. It flies very very high in the sky, but its eyes are always on the worms and insects on the earth and it comes down to catch them. Similarly, materially we may fly very very high, but you know, the corruption in high places is much more than anywhere else. They may fly high, but their minds are on little things of life. If you take a video of these parties where big people get drunk, you will know. If you have given a lot of money to your child, but no values, he will destroy your money in no time.
Therefore, You and Yours – in this value clarification, if only the vision is clear, all other things come naturally because they become only an expression of that one vision. So, if the question is, why are we not able to live the values, I have given you the reasons. We have made some kind of analysis. Your child is not different from you and you are not different from your child. Therefore, what you are, your child will be. Now you have to decide what you want yourself to be and your child to be, because the choice is yours.
In our Vedanta, we never impose anything on anybody. In the Bhagawad Geeta also, Lord Krishna taught Arjuna everything and then said, “I have told you everything. Now, Yatechhasi tathaa kuru – You do as you please.”