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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Practical Psychology and Life Journey -2-

presented at a conference NIMHANS
By Sri NV Raghuram

-Full Paper-

* Human being has the freedom which the other species do not have. Freedom does not come with only one side of the coin it has both the good and bad which means human being can improve himself and can destroy himself. That is the reason human being also has a purpose rather responsibility for living. When we say he has responsibility it does not mean in the sense of pressure or burden but like a joyful play. He is not an isolated creature but he is part of the creation and the best part of it therefore he has the responsibility of the other creatures on the earth. This in Vedanta is called as ‘purushartha’, ‘/arthate iti purushah’/. Once this purushartha is understood then one can see that the society around him is for this purushartha the nature around him is for the sake of this purushartha and the whole development we see around can be for the sake of this purushartha.
** One may raise the question in what way is it different form the concept of good and bad, right and wrong, and sin and virtue. The concept of these pairs of opposites can not take us above the level of selfishness of a human being. Once this selfishness one can use his intelligence to take care of this selfishness and say that why should I care for others, they have to take care of themselves. You can be right and yet you can damage the other by your behavior. This is when two categories of people arise. One category is of those who think let other suffer, that is not my problem and let me enjoy and take what I can get. These are not bad people and they do also not have any bad intention. There is another category of people who say that I may be right through out but how can I enjoy when so many are suffering! If this category of people were not there, there is no question of higher wisdom. Many other thinkers stopped at this level where they defined what is good and what is bad. What is right and what is wrong in the name of spirituality. If Bhagavad-Gita is addressing this issue then Arjuna to whom Krishna is giving the message would have easily asked this question that whole life he has been good and has never done any thing intentionally or unintentionally also bad. But he is suffering in the battle field with agony which he expressed. On the other hand Duryodhana who has been all through his life has been bad and even when a chance is given to him to be good or even neutral he has been by self commitment bad. That shows the freedom of a human being has the possibility to become good or to become bad. Though there were elders and people of wisdom telling him that he should do otherwise he has continued to be bad. At the war Duryodhana did not suffer with mental agony and he was happy and ready to fight war. Now Arjuna required remedy for his problems and Duryodhana did not require any thing!
** This gives us several ideas about Gita. One is that, the person who is bad is happy but person whose behavior for whole life was good, he is unhappy. The person who did wicked namely Duryodhana, did not suffer mental agony and good person namely Arjuna appears that he is suffering mental agony!** It is not due to the god deeds and good behavior he suffers but because he is sensitive and this sensitivity is a growth and being insensitive is not growth. Therefore the discussion that goes on in Bhagavad-Gita is not about good and evil but it is about life far beyond right and wrong, good and evil etc. a moralistic life is not the final purpose of life. Moral can be subjected to questioning! If the life is limited to the educating or improving oneself from evil ways of living to good ways of life, it is not sufficient and in order to go from evil to good a spiritual text is not necessary, a moral code of conduct is good. The situation of Bhagavad-Gita shows that the sufferings of life do not stop by being good. We need to go beyond both and this is the higher dimension of life.
** Bhagavad-Gita is a text which gives this higher dimension of life which is called as Purushartha. With out this Purushartha for human being, self or ‘me’ becomes more important and he will try to work for fulfilling this. *
* Life or the creation is made up of variety which can be divided into two or more than two aspects, like day and night, good and bad, right and wrong mine and not mine etc. we always go for one and reject the other. The reality of life is that every thing here is short lived. Even our experiences are also short lived. The happiness that we think an object is giving us, is short lived and soon we start experiencing sorrow too. The day will convert slowly into night before you realize. Before we enjoy some one’s birth, a case of death is waiting for us round the corner. When the Upanishad sage says that life is like a droplet of water or the soap bubble, he does not mean that the life is short lived and therefore it is unreal or unimportant! The life becomes all the more important if we know that life is short lived. There is a more powerful logic to take life seriously and indulge more seriously if the life is short lived. Like the flower is short lived where as thorns are for ever. Live flower is short lived where as the plastic flower is there for ever. Therefore the plastic flower is no match for the real flower. The purpose of a sage to say that life is short lived is to indicate that even if you are seeking happiness here it will soon change and will become sorrow. They are only helping us to understand that soon you will loose and what you really do not want will come into your hands. There is no possibility that you can choose one and not have the other! Even if you are having comfort all the time soon you get used to the life of comfort and then the same comfort can not give you any happiness and you are now looking for some thing different and if that some thing different can to be there you will be miserable.
** Due to ignorance we always try to switch from one object to the other one situation to the other. The whole material world gives us so many alternatives and constant ideas that go for this or that so that it is happy or it is eternal!*

- to be continued...

1 comment:

sfauthor said...

Nice posting. Do you know about this edition of the Gita?