Six virtues & Mumukshuthwam - By Sai baba
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(selected from Sutra Vahini)
There are six virtues - Sama, Dama, Uparathi, Thithiksha, Sraddha and Samaadhaana.
Sama means mind-control. This is very hard to achieve. The mind can cause bondage; it can also confer liberation. It is an amalgam of Rajasic and Thamasic modes, the passionate and dull attitudes. It is easily polluted. It relishes in hiding the real nature of things and casting on them the forms and values which it desires. So, the activities of the mind have to be regulated.
The mind has two characteristics. The first is: it runs behind the senses; whatever sense the mind follows helplessly, it is inviting disaster. When a pot of water becomes empty, we need not infer that it has leaked away through ten holes; one hole is enough to make it empty. So too, among the senses, even if one is not under control, one will be thrown into bondage. Therefore, every sense has to be mastered.
The second characteristic of the mind is: The potency of the mind can be promoted by good practices like Dhyana, Japa, Bhajana and Puja. With the strength and skill thus reinforced, the mind can help the world or harm it. So, the mental power gained by such Sadhana has to be turned away from wrong paths and controlled by Sama. The senses have to be directed by the principle of intelligence, the Buddhi. They must be released from the hold the mind has on them. Then spiritual progress can be attained.
Manas or Mind is but a bundle of thoughts, a complex of wants and wishes. As soon as a thought, a desire or a wish raises its head from the mind, Buddhi must probe into its value and validity - is it good or bad, will it help or hinder, where will this lead or end. If the mind does not submit to this probe, it will land itself in the path of ruin. If it does and obeys the intelligence, it can move along the right path.
Man has three chief instruments for uplifting himself: Intelligence, Mind and the Senses. When the mind gets enslaved by the senses, man gets entangled and bound. The same mind, when it is regulated by the intellect, can make man aware of his Reality, the Atma. This is why the mind is reputed to cause either bondage or liberation.
Now, for the second of the six virtues: Dama. Dama means keeping the body and the senses under control. This can be achieved only by Sadhana or spiritual exercise and not by any other means. One has to avoid spending precious time in useless pursuits. One has to be ever vigilant. One has to engage the senses of perception and of action and the body in congenial but noble tasks which would keep them busy. There should be no chance for thamas or sloth to creep in. And, every act must also promote the good of others. While confining oneself to activities which reflect one's natural duties (Swadharma), it is possible to sublimate them into Sadhana for the body and the senses.
The third qualification with which one has to be equipped is Uparathi. This implies a state of mind which is above and beyond all dualities such as joy and grief, liking and disliking, good and bad, praise and blame, which agitate and affect the common man. But, these universal experiences can be overcome or negated by means of spiritual exercises or intellectual inquiry. Man can escape from these opposites and dualities and attain balance and stability. Uparathi can be achieved, if one is careful, while engaged in day-to-day living, to avoid entanglement with and bondage to differences and distinctions. One should free oneself from identification with castes like Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaisya and Sudra, or clans like Gotras, or conditions like boyhood, youth, adult and old age, or genders like masculine and feminine. When he succeeds in discarding these and is firmly established in the Atmic Reality alone, he has really achieved Uparathi.
Do not look at the world as the world with a worldly eye. Look upon it with the eye of Atma, as the projection of Paramatma. That can make one cross the horizon of dualities into the region of the One. The One is experienced as many, because of the forms and names man has imposed on it. That is the result of the mind playing its game. Uparathi promotes inner exploration, Nivrithi, not outer enquiry and activity, Pravrithi. Along Nivrithi lies the Path of Jnana (Intellectual Inquiry); along Pravathi lies the Path of Karma (Dedicated Activity).
The sacred activities like rituals and sacrifices (Karma) laid down in the Vedas cannot confer liberation from bondage to birth and death, Moksha. They help only to cleanse the Consciousness. It is said that they raise man to Heaven; but Heaven too is but a bond. It does not promise eternal freedom. The freedom which makes one aware of the Truth, of his own Truth, can be gained only through Sravana (Listening to the Guru), Manana (Ruminating over what has been so listened to) and Nididhyasana (Meditating on its validity and significance). Only those who have detached their minds from desire can benefit from the Guru. Others cannot profit from the guidance. Those who expect and look forward to the fruits of their actions can engage in them until their consciousness is cleansed. After that, their actions are of no value. So, one must be ever conscious of the Atma, as pervading and penetrating everything, so that attraction and repulsion, the duality complex, cannot affect him.
The fourth qualification is Thithiksha. This is the attitude of forbearance, which refuses to be affected or pained when afflicted with sorrow and loss, and the ingratitude and wickedness of others. In fact, one is happy and calm, for one knows that these are the results of one's own actions now recoiling on him, and one looks upon those who caused the misery as friends and well-wishers. One does not retaliate nor does he wish ill for them. One bears all the blows patiently, and gladly.
The natural reactions of a person, whoever he may be, when someone injures him is to injure in return, when someone causes harm to do harm and when someone insults him to insult back by some means or other. But, this is the characteristic of the Pravrithi path - the path of objective involvement. Those who seek the inner path of sublimation and purification, the Nivrithi path have to avoid such reaction. Returning injury for injury, harm for harm or insult for insult only adds to the Karmic burden, which has to be endured and eliminated in future lives. This burden is termed Aagaami or lineal. One cannot escape the task of undergoing the consequences of one's thought, word and deed in due course. Paying evil for evil can never lighten the weight of Karma; it will only become heavier. It might confer immediate relief and contentment, but it cannot but make the person suffer later. Thithiksha, therefore, instructs man to do good to the person who injures him.
The fifth among the virtues to be cultivated is Sraddha. Sraddha means unwavering faith in the sacred scriptures or sastras and in the moral codes they contain as well as in the Atma and the Guru. Faith is the sign of Sraddha. Gurus are worth worshipping. They show us the path of fulfilment, the Sreyomarga. The sastras are designed to ensure the peace and prosperity of the world and the spiritual perfection of mankind. They have before them this great aim. They show the way to its realisation. So, one must place faith in such holy sastras, Gurus, and elders. The Gurus, on their part, must instruct people only in the knowledge of the One Atma that is immanent in all Beings, [Sarva jivaat-maikya Jnana]. He who has Sraddha will achieve this Jnana. They must themselves have full faith in it and live according to that faith without the slightest deviation.
The sixth qualification is Samaadhaana. One has to be irrefutably convinced that what the sastras make known and what the Guru teaches are both one and the same. One's intellect must rest upon and draw inspiration from the Atma, at all times and under all circumstances. The aspirant for spiritual progress must be attached only to the unchanging universal Consciousness. All actions of his should have as their goal: the Joy of God. He must place implicit faith in the Sastraic dictum: "All living beings are amsas [facets, fractions] of Iswara [God]." In order to confirm this faith and strengthen it, one must look upon all beings as equal. The above sixth form, termed Sadhana Sampath, is the Treasure of Spiritual Struggle.
Next, we shall consider Mumukshuthwam - the longing for Moksha or Liberation. This longing cannot arise from either riches or from the scholarship that may be won at great expense of money. Nor can it emerge from wealth or progeny, or rites and rituals recommended in the scriptures or acts of charity, for Moksha [liberation from grief and acquisition of bliss] can come only from the conquest of Ajnana [ignorance]. A person might master all the sastras along with all the learned commentaries written on them by experts; he might propitiate all the gods by performing the prescribed modes of worship and ceremonies; but these cannot grant the boon of Liberation. These are all motivated to earn benefits and boons, other than the supreme knowledge [Jnana]. Success in the path of knowledge alone can confer salvation. A person might have every article needed for cooking a meal but, if fire is not available, how can the meal be prepared? So too, if Atma Jnana [Awareness of Atma as the only Reality] is not won, Liberation if it is declared that one can attain Mukti or Liberation if he bathes in the waters of sacred rivers, what shall we say of the fish and other aquatic species that spend all their lives in the rivers! If it is believed that spending years in mountain caves will lead to Liberation, what do mice, what do wild beasts attain? If, by means of ascetic practices like eating roots and tubers and chewing leaves for sustenance of the body, one can attain Liberation, must goats who feed on leaves and pigs that dig out tubers also attain Liberation? When plastering the entire body with ash is hailed as asceticism, can dogs and donkeys which roll on ash heaps claim Liberation? These beliefs and practices are signs of poor understanding. One must concentrate on achieving Atma Jnana, the Awareness of the Eternal Universal Atmic Reality.
The word Atha, with which the very first Sutra begins, means "thereafter" and, after the inquiry into its implications, it has been found that it involves the acquisition of these four attainments - Viveka, Vairagya, the Six Virtues and the Yearning for Liberation.
The next word too is Athah, the tha being soft, instead of being stressed as in the first word. Athah means "for this reason". The inquiry has therefore to be made: for which reason? For the reason that neither the examination of the texts of the Sastras, nor the performance of rites and rituals, nor through the study of material objects, nor by the process of learning from the example of other men, can the awareness of the Supreme, the Brahmam, be secured. Because objects and individuals, rites and activities are transitory. They suffer from decay and destruction. They can at best help the cleansing of the mind, that is all. Karma cannot liberate one from the basic ignorance, or award the awareness of the reality as Brahmam. One has to be conscious of this limitation, in order to win the right of inquiry into the mystery of the Brahmam, the source and core of the Cosmos.
This, the very first Sutra stresses on one lesson: He who devotes his life to earn the knowledge of the Atma that is his self, must possess holy virtues, and they must mould his conduct and contacts sacrosanct. For, no knowledge can be higher than virtuous character. Character is power, really speaking. For the person who has dedicated his years to the acquisition of higher learning, ever-good character is an indispensable qualification. Every religion emphasises the same need, not as a special credal condition, but as the basis of spiritual life and conduct itself. Those who lead lives on these lines can never come to harm. They will be endowed with sacred merit.
Virtues are the most effective means for purifying the inner consciousness of man, at all levels. For, they prompt the person to discover what to do and how to do. Only those who have earned good destiny can claim their excellence in discrimination. And, adherence to this determination is the raft which can take man across the ocean of flux and fear, the Bhava Sagara. The man of virtues has a place in the region of the liberated. Whatever the residual activity a person has perforce to engage himself in, the impact of that activity will not impinge on him, provided he is a man of virtue. He can merge in Brahmam, the embodiment of Supreme Bliss.
A person might have performed a variety of Vedic rites and sacrifices; he might even be expounding the contents of a variety of sacred scriptures he has mastered; he might be a person endowed with prosperity, owning vast wealth and heaps of grain; he might teach the Vedas and their complementary disciplines with due exposition of meanings; but, if such people have no moral character, they have no place where Brahmam is taught or learnt. This is the lesson this Sutra conveys.
For, the stage of equanimity so essential for spiritual progress can be gained only when the intellect is cleansed of the blot of deluding attachments and involvements. Devoid of that serenity, the intellect or Buddhi cannot proceed on the trail of Brahmam. Why? The term Virtue is only another name for the 'intelligence' that follows the promptings of the Atma, the Self which is our Reality. Only he who has such virtue can win the awareness of the Atma, the Truth. And, once that awareness is gained he can not more be caught in delusion or desire; they cannot touch him any longer.
Desire and bondage to the objects desired and the plans to secure them are the attributes of the individualised selves, not of the Self or Atma resident in the body. The sense of me and mine, and the emotions of lust and anger originate in the body-mind complex. Only when this complex is conquered and outgrown can true virtue emanate and manifest.
The sense of 'doer' and 'enjoyer' of 'agentship' might appear to affect the Atma but they are not part of the genuine nature of the Atma. Things get mirrored and produce images but the mirror is not tarnished or even affected thereby. It remains as clear as it was. So, too, the man of virtue might be subjected to some contaminating activities due to back-log of acts in previous lives, but they cannot mar or obstruct his present nature or activities. The Jivi or Individual has as his genuine basic attributes: purity, serenity and joy. He is ebullient with these qualities.
A bird in flight in the depths of the sky needs two wings; a person moving on the earth below needs two legs to carry him forward; an aspirant eager to attain the Mansion of Moksha, the Abode of Freedom, needs Renunciation and Wisdom, renunciation of worldly desires and wisdom to become aware of the Atma. When a bird has but one wing, it cannot rise up into the sky, can it? In the same manner, if man has only renunciation or wisdom, he cannot attain the Supreme self, Brahmam. The sense of 'mine' is the bond of deluding attachment. How long can one cling to what he fondles as mine? Some day, he has to give up all he has and leave, alone and empty handed. This is the inescapable destiny.
One has to give up such assumed relationships and artificial attachments through rigorous analysis of their nature and give them up as quickly as possible. This is what the world teaches as the lesson of renunciation. Attachment breeds fear and egotism. Only the unwise would yield to such worldly fancies. The wise can never bow to the blandishments of objective desire. All is momentary, momentary. All is transient, transient. So, they seek to identify the everlasting Truth, and adhere to the immortal virtues that the Atma represents. These are the real men of virtue, the candidates worthy to attain Brahmam. - Sathya Sai Baba - selected from Sutra Vahini
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Six virtues & Mumukshuthwam - By Sai baba