Tuesday, June 23, 2009

SECTION 4 – More About Value Application

Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad-Gita tells us about harmonious action – which is action based on the universal values. Do we have to be taught these values?
You tell me, do have to be taught that you want others to be kind to you? No! You already have the knowledge of what kind of behaviour you want from others towards you –
  • You want others to tell you the truth
  • You want others to respect you
  • You want them to be kind to you
  • You want them to not steal from you
  • You want them to forgive you when you make mistakes or hurt them
  • …………………………The list is long

    You have full knowledge of what you want from others. That knowledge becomes the norm for your interaction with others. So '
    Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You'.When you enjoy yourself at the cost of others, you will only bring pain upon yourself – this follows naturally, because the others are not different from you – they also belong to the Lord's family, as much as you.
Take Responsibility for Your ActionsLord Krishna gives a clear message – 'Take responsibility for your action' and the result will come from the laws that govern actions. These laws are maintained by the law-giver who is the all-knowledge, all-intelligent Lord.
Lord's Krishna tells us a secret which we don't normally know… about the laws governing our deliberate action. The result of a deliberate action is two-fold. One is the SEEN RESULT and the others is an UNSEEN RESULT. The seen result is the result you perceive. For example if you hit a ball with a bat, it will move a particular distance.
The UNSEEN RESULT is the result for a deliberate action, in keeping with its impact on the society. So if your action benefits the society, you earn credits – called as PUNYA – which will translate into a comfortable situation for you now or later. If your action harms society in any way, you earn penalty points – called PAAPA- which will translate itself into a painful situation for you now or later.
ACTIONS based on universal values ALWAYS take into account the impact on society – and so value-based actions will always earn punya for you. And actions which are purely based on your likes and dislikes and which do not take the universal values into account will bring disaster for you in the form of :-
ConflictsUnhappiness and painBroken relationshipsLoss in self-confidenceInstablityWeakness of character – the inability to say 'no' to wrong choicesIncapacity to motivate othersPAAPA – an unseen result which will translate into a painful situation for you
So a value-based decision is always the right decision.
When to apply values?
Now comes the question, when should we apply values? The answer is100% of the time.
Let us understand the criteria for applying values at all times. The basic criteria is that in
every decision the totality or society should not be the loser.You can have good or bad options in every decision. So what are good options?1. Personal Gain and Society Gain (GOOD)
2. Personal Loss and Society Gain (GOOD)
3. Personal Loss and Society Loss (BAD)
Why do we say that no. 2 is a good option even though we may face some kind of personal loss? This is because
we are an integral part of the society in which we live – so if the society gains there is some gain in it for me also. Also because I am a part of the society, if I gain at the cost of society it has to cause loss for me – certainly I will earn penalty points … so no 3. Is a bad option.When Ram was chosen to become the next king, Kaikayee was happy with the decision. She was thinking that Ram is the eldest son/capable son and according to family tradition he should be the next king – (she was thinking what is good for the family).
Then, Manthra gave her opinion that 'you should decide based on what is good for you (personally) and for your son, Bharat; even if it is bad for all other family members including your husband'.
So now Kaikayi was faced with :-1. Personal Loss and Family's gain – if Rama became King
2. Personal Gain and Family's loss – if Bharat became the king
We all know that she chose 2 – bringing untold loss to the entire family. Even today nobody will name their daughter Kaikayi because nobody respects Kaikayi because of her decision.
When two universal values are applicable what should we do ?
We should prioritize the one which brings gain to the society (totality). For example: Your friend repeatedly destroys the school property, because he is angry with the teacher. You advise him not do so. He repeats the action again. When the teacher asks who did it, what should you do? Here the value for friendship is pitted against the value for honesty which will save the school property and help your friend to get out his destructive nature. However if you follow the value for honesty you might lose your friend
.Here it is correct to prioritize the value for honesty over the value for friendship, even though it will bring you a personal loss of friendship, because the school will gain.
For example
a doctor has to cut a tumor in his patient's body – here the doctor is faced with the having to go against the value of ahimsa (non-violence or non-hurtfulness). He looks at the larger gain of the patient's health.
So he prioritizes the value for life over the value for ahimsa. We will not say here that he broke the value of ahimsa. Rather we will say that he priortizes the value for life.
So this is Lord Krishna's message that for your actions to be in harmony with God, Yourself and society, let them be in keeping with the universal values – also called as dharma.
What should be the attitude towards the actions then?Actions can be categorized as
1. Actions for personal material benefits
2. Actions for sake of duty which gives benefits to all
3. Atoning actions
4. Prohibited actions
Lord Krishna says you can do actions for your personal material benefit – no problem – but take care that you follow dharma. Don't take to adharma for your personal benefit because it will bring you much pain.
Lord Krishna points out that the best action is the action which is done as a duty – because you recognize that it is called upon you to do, in the role that you are playing in society – so you simply do it, whether you like it or not. For example, your main role is that of a student. What is expected of you in that role? To study to the best of your ability. Then that is the action you must do…. That is your duty, that is your responsibility … that is your kartavya karma in the given situation and you must do that irrespective of whether you like it or not. It will strengthen your will-power and improve your discriminative capacities and give you punya and keep you away from adharma. Not only that it will benefit others – make your family and teachers happy. If you accept that the Lord exists, then do your daily duty-based actions as a worship unto the Lord, recognizing that it is by the Lord's Grace alone that you have the intelligence and capacity to perform your duties.
Atoning actions are those actions you do to make up for some hurting actions or something wrong that you have done. For example, you may have spread some malicious gossip about a friend out of jealousy. That is himsa (violence) which has caused hurt to your friend. You make up for it. This is must be done. It will remove the feeling of guilt that we have. Religious atoning actions include prayers, charity, bathing in holy waters etc.
Prohibited actions are actions like drinking, smoking and drugs, stealing etc. You don't have to wait for an auspicious moment to stop them!! Stop straight away!!
When you do actions may you do them with sincerity, with full commitment, enjoying the action and let it be for the good of all. Those actions which are your duty, may you perform them without shirking from them or trying to escape from them. Thus your actions will be harmonious with life.
Honesty is telling the truth.
· Honesty is straightforward conduct.
· Honesty is being sincere, truthful, trustworthy, honorable, fair, genuine, and loyal with integrity.
Honest, trusting teenagers:
· Tell the truth despite consequences
· Voice their opinion in a kind, thoughtful way
· "Tell on" someone only when necessary
· Show and share their feelings
· Know their classmates and teachers care and want the best for them
· Feel and react without guilt
· Express themselves positively as well as critically
You are being honest when you ...
· Do your own homework
· Tell a friend the truth
· Explain the real reason you didn't turn in your homework
· Keep your eyes on your own paper
· Clean up your room after making a promise
· Give the cashier the extra money she gave you by mistake
· Write a report in your own words instead of copying
· Admit you made the mistake
· Keep a friend's secret
· Turn in a wallet full of money that you found
Be honest with yourself
Accept responsibility for your own actions; don't blame others.
· Be honest about your feelings.
· Face issues as they arise.
· If you are considering lying, try to think of the consequences.
· When confronted with a situation, think of others.
True / False?
I am truthful, sincere, and straightforward.
I don't lie, cheat, or steal.
I don't intentionally mislead others.
I think I am/am not an honest person because _________________________________

Q. How Many lies do you get to tell before you are a liar?
Q. One girl in the teen discussion said she doesn't count little lies as lies. How do you feel about that idea?
Q. People often rationalize their own dishonesty by saying, "That's the way the world is, so why should I be different?" What do you think of this reasoning?
Om Tat Sat

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Section 3 - Values The Life Center

Earlier you saw that the truth about you is that your are happiness and you are goodness … that is what natural to you. Let this truth manifest in your actions and your responses.
Lord Krishna advises Arjuna, an important principle to follow with reference to action. He says, "Yoga Karmasu Kaushalam". Let there be VIVEKA – or discrimination or discretion in your life. Discrimination with reference to what?
With reference to action BE PROACTIVE - may you discriminate between :-
1. Right action and wrong action – and always act in keeping with the universal values
2. What is within your Circle of Control and what is not – and act in your Circle of Control
3. Good Habits and Bad Habits – and choose Good Habits
4. Right attitudes to action and wrong ones – and choose the right attitudes
BE PROACTIVE IN ACTIONS – Life is about making choices
Our daily life is about making choices every moment. Right from the moment you get up, you are making choices – from your toothpaste onwards to what you will wear to what branch of study you will take to what kind of job you will apply for.
Chariot Imagery (Ratha Kalpana)
Imagine a man driving a chariot drawn by four beautiful white horses along a path. The man is holding the reins of the horses. Suddenly the horses get distracted and neigh loudly as though frightened and begins to run swiftly. The man pulls the reins of the horses and makes them slow down. Now they come to a fork in the road. One leads to a beautiful city with all possible entertainment and fun called “Pleasure & Power”. The other leads to the great University of Takshashila.

The driver stops. He has to make choice – which path should he take. One path leads to all that appears good. The other path leads to the good (shreyas) . One path leads to the pleasant (preyas). The other path leads to the good. Which path should he take? Shreyas or Preyas?

The driver, the Charioteer is unsure. He looks at the owner who is sitting behind. He waits for instruction from the owner. The driver has to listen to the owner – do what the owner wants. What will the owner choose? The path leading to the pleasant or the path leading to the good?

That is the power of choice that is put before us in our life.

Look at the example above – we can liken it to our life. Our body is like a chariot. The horses are the senses that are seeking enjoyment. It is the senses that give us information of the world - sights, sounds, smells, tastes, touch. And then the mind gets excited and can send the senses surging forward without any consideration for the consequences. I get the smell of pizza and I must have it NOW – without even considering if I can afford it, I order for it. On the other hand the mind can be like good reins for the horses of the senses and check the senses. Who pulls the reins. The driver or intellect has the reins of the mind in his hand and he can pull them and check the horses. The driver is the one who is in the seat and he can easily make out the pros and cons of moving on the path. Yet on his own he cannot make a decision. He has to get the orders from the owner, the individual, who makes the final choice of which path to take at any point in our journey of life. The path is the desires that impel us along or experiences of life that we gain. The fork in the path is the choice between the pleasant and the good.

So in life we must make GOOD CHOICES. GOOD CHOICES with references to our actions, our responses to situations, even our attitudes and thinking. Let us first what is a GOOD choice with reference to action.

Obviously a choice is BAD if it brings with it conflicts, pain, loss of self-confidence, disrespect of others, sense of insecurity and instability, weakness in our personality, incapacity to motivate and lead others and breaks in relationships.

Conversely a choice is good when it brings with it :-

  • Increase in self-confidence and self-respect
  • Increase in sense of security and stability
  • Strength of character – the ability to say ‘NO’ to what is wrong
  • POWER – the capacity to motivate and lead others to choices that will benefit them in the long run
  • Improved relationships
  • Respect of others
  • Happiness with oneself

    Yet when we make choices, we make them on the basis of what we like or dislike rather than how that choice will ACTUALLY BENEFIT me. In fact mostly our choices are based on our LIFE CENTERs.
    How will we know what is our life center? By asking yourself what do I spend most of my time thinking about? What are your choices based on? Do you think of your studies the most? Then studies are your life-center. Do you think of your friends most of the time – what you will do together with them, what they said to you, what you want to say to them etc … then it means friends are your life center

    They each have their good points and their bad points – but they are all incomplete in one way or another. And if you center your life on them – they will make a mess of your life – as we will see
    There’s nothing better than belonging to a great group of friends and nothing worse than feeling like an outcaste

    However if you base your own sense of identity on having friends, being accepted and being popular, you may end up compromising your values or changing them every weekend, so as to be acceptable to your friends! In Mahabharata we see the plight of Karna, who was friend-centered. Karna took Duryodhana to be his friend. Duryodhana did not value dharma. Duryodhana valued power over everything and for the sake of power he was willing to usurp the kingdom from his own first cousins, with whom he had grown up since childhood. Duryodhana was ready to fight a war with them. Even after Karna came to know that Pandavas were his brothers, Karna, was ready to fight with them and go against dharma, because of his priority for his friendship with Duryodhana.

    As teenagers we think our friendships are forever – many times they are – but as we move into college, graduate, get jobs we form new relationships – other things begin to occupy our time – our family, our job.

    So make as many friends as you can, but don’t build your life on them. It’s an unstable foundation. Friendships become meaningful when you are centered in values – your friends will respect you and even people you don’t care about will come to you
    Sometimes we see the world through the lens of possessions or ‘stuff’.

    Ours is a materialistic world – it teaches us that the most successful person is the person who has the maximum number of possessions. So we have to have the fastest car, the nicest clothes, the latest stereo, the best hairstyle, and many other things that are supposed to bring us happiness. Look at the foolishness of being after the best things – our concept of best keeps changing – as soon as it changes we have to again run after the new ‘best’ thing!!! Panting all the time. Again we get BORED with whatever we have. For a little time it amuses us and then we get bored. We seem to need a new thing all the time, because we get bored.

    Possessions also come in the form of title and accomplishments such as monitor, lead in the school-play, student leader, chief editor etc.

    Titles and accomplishments are great because they help us to bring out the best talent in us. They also help us to accomplish our goals. Nor is there anything wrong in enjoying our possessions. But we can’t center our life on things - because none of them have lasting value. If our sense of well-being comes from things that don’t have lasting value, our sense of well-being also cannot be lasting.

    Where should our confidence come from? From knowing that I am good basically and that goodness can never be wiped out. With confidence I develop my capacity to express my goodness through being more loving, more sharing, more giving, more capable of keeping my commitments and showing genuine respect for others.. If our confidence comes from the quantity of the things we own… then it will go….afterall , he who dies with the most toys …. Still dies.
    There was a successful businessman who had put all his money in sending his goods and all his personal belongings like car etc on a ship, because he was moving to a foreign country. Suddenly he got news that the ship in which he had sent all this, had sunk because of a storm. He had all the earnings of his life, all that he had carefully collected.

    If his confidence depended on his possessions he would lose all his confidence. However if his confidence was based onhis paradigm of himself being good, his knowledge of his own abilities and his capacity to bounce back he will not lose his sense of identity and have to as ‘Who am I’.

    Listen to what one teen told me
    I have been so ambitious and so school-centered that I haven’t enjoyed my school life. It has not only been unhealthy for me – but it has been selfish, because all I care about was me and my achievements.

    When in class 9, already I was working as hard as a college student. I wanted to be a brain surgeon, just because it was the hardest things I could think of. I would get up at six every morning all through school and not go to bed before 2 am in order to achieve.
    I felt teachers and peers expected it of me. They would always be surprised if I didn’t get perfect grades. My parents tried to loosen me up, but my own expectations were as great as that of my teachers and my peers.

    I realise now that I could have accomplished what I wanted without trying so hard and I could have had a good time doing it.

    Healthy Balance means that you can still have time to spend with your parents and friends, pursue your hobbies, exercise.
    Ramesh was the son of very busy business executive. Ramesh excelled in his studies and always won a prize for best student. He always wanted his father to come for the Prize Giving function when he would receive his many awards. But his father could never make it, because he would be out of station or have an important business meeting. Initially Ramesh was very unhappy, he would be miserable and feel like his father did not care for him. Slowly he began to understand that his father cared for him alright – only he was a busy person. So Ramesh would be happy when his mother came and when he returned home he would show his father his awards, when he knew his father had enough time.
    Sports-centered - With a career threatening injury, you have to build your confidence again from scratch. The same goes for hobbies and interests, such as dance, debate, drama, music or clubs.

    Sometimes we can even become enemy-centered, and build our lives around hating a group, a person, or an idea.
    The biggest example we have is Hitler – Hitler was obsessed by his hatred for Jews. He influenced a whole nation and became instrumental for the brutal murder of hundreds of thousands of innocent Jews. His actions became responsible for World War II.
    What a warped center this one is. It brings destruction to oneself and to everyone else.

    We can certainly strive to become excellent in something like dance or debate. We can strive to develop outstanding relationships with our friends and parents. But we can’t base our entire existence on it. As you see, all these and more life-centers do not provide the stability that we need in our lives.
    By now you may be thinking is there any center that actually works. Yes there is. It is the laws that given human interaction – which is universal values such as love, peace, commitment, honesty, respect, responsibility, service, forgiveness, hard-work, patience, courage and dozens more. We are all familiar with the law of gravity. Throw a ball in the air and it HAS to come down. It is a natural law or principle. Just as there are principles or laws that govern the physical world, there are laws that rule the human world.

    Being principles or laws, they apply equally to all – they are not Hindu or Muslim or Chinese or American. They apply to rich, poor, famous, infamous, male, female. They cant be bought or sold either.
    Universal Values like kindness, honesty, commitment, responsibility, forgiveness, respect is what you want from others towards you. You certainly want others to be kind to you. You want others to be honest with you and to keep their commitments. You want them to b reponsible. You want them to respect you and forgive you for your mistakes. So they become the basis for your behaviour with others.

    Look at this drawing. These are the things that matter to you in your life. They form the basis of what you like and dislike. They could easily be the center of your life meaning you could make decisions based on them.

    For example your close friend gets angry with the teacher and breaks a desk at school in your presence. The teacher asks who broke the desk. You keep quiet and speak to him privately asking him not to do this. Next time, he does the same thing again in your presence. Again teacher asks who did this? You again refuse to say anything.

    Are you friend-centered or value centered? If you are value-centered what would your decision be and why?

    When your life is centered around values, all your decisions pertaining to school, work, your possession, sports and hobbies, friends, enemies, heroes, yourself, parents are made on the basis of values.
    Values NEVER fail.

It takes faith to live on values, especially when you see others, even those who are close to you, get ahead in life by lying, cheating, indulging, manipulating and serving only themselves. It is true that people do seem to get ahead by breaking values – but it is only a temporary gain.
Take the value of honesty. If you are a big liar, you may be able to get by for a while, even for a few years. But you cannot find a liar who has achieved success over a long period of time. The truth is impossible to break the law. We will only break ourselves. If you doubt it – take of your shirt and rub your back against the bark of an old neem tree. You don’t rub the tree – nothing happens to the tree – but the tree rubs you and you will not be able to wear your shirt for 10 days!

Values never fail you. They will never talk behind your back. They don’t get up and move away. They don’t suffer from career-ending injuries. They don’t play favourities based on friendship, skin color, gender, wealth or looks.
Good choices allow you to do the right thing at the right time. One of the most important ingredients of a good choice is that it has its based in the universal values. So when you have a decision to make, always make sure that you make them in keeping with the universal values.
We do not follow values because our parents tell us to, or because our teachers tell us, or because society tells us – we follow values automatically without being told to do so when we understand
1. what we gain by following them
2. what we lose or the harm done to us by not following them

Om Tat Sat

Section 2 - Understanding God

1.1.1 You Are Part of the whole universe
You are a part of the whole universe. There are so many ways of understanding this basic fact. Look around you… what do you see… all kind of life and inert objects.. countless species of ants, bugs, insects, worms, caterpillars, snakes, frogs, different species of birds, animals, plants, shrubs, trees, bushes … animals and humans … it is mind-boggling how many different species of life-forms we have on our beautiful planet earth. Each and every species of life-forms have their own bodies, sense-organs of action and perception and minds … in varying degress of development. Each of the life-forms we encounter on earth has its own food, and type of shelter. And YOU are very much a part of this teeming species of life-forms.
There is something common in all the life-forms and that is that they all have life. So do you. Ants have eyes, insects have eyes, animals have eyes, reptiles have eyes … and so have you. Like all the other life-forms, you have sense organs of action – for movement. Like the other life-forms you also eat, digest, circulate what you need to different parts of your body and evacuate what you don’t need. Like the other life forms want to live and grow, so too you want to live and grow.
If you look into what each of these life-forms is made of, you find it is all common – we are all made of minerals, protien, vitamins, fat, water… etc. If you break down into our chemical components you will find the all the life forms on this beautiful planet are made of the same basic chemicals combined in different ways… carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen …. Etc. If you break up further, you find that all the beings are made of molecules … and molecules are nothing but energy fields.
So you are not an alienated isolated being … isolated or separate from fellow human beings … or from the rest of the universe. THIS IS A FACT. THIS IS THE TRUTH. You are very much a part of the whole universe of life-forms and inert objects. Understand God
Now let us understand one thing … you are a part of the universe… TRUE … yet did you create this universe? Did you create the food for all the beings in the universe? Did you create the various objects of enjoyment and experience for all the beings of this universe?
Obviously the answer is NO.
Look at the world… it provides each of the teeming millions of life-forms the appropriate food needed to sustain and maintain it. It provides whatever is required for each life-form to multiply. For food to grow we need water. For water we need the rains. For the rains we need seasons…… there is a grand design… a grand intelligence at work - a whole web of intelligent cause and effect …. We should ask ourselves who is the giver?
The Giver is who we call as GOD … Ishwara… Bhagavan. You may say ‘I don’t believe in God’. The truth is you don’t believe in your own concept of God. You have your own concept of who is God and you don’t believe in that. That is all.
Keep your mind open and allow yourself to enquire into what is the nature of God.
Who is God? (Swami Dayananda)
When I look at the world, I find a scheme of things enjoying a certain order. Whenever there is an assembly, made up of a number of components put together intelligently, serving a certain purpose, we call that assembly a creation. When things are not put together chaotically - like one’s throwing things in a garbage can - but put together in a meaningful way, such that all things become total, that single total entity is called a creation. The chair on which you are sitting is a creation. A chair is an assembly, consisting of a number of components put together meaningfully and serving a certain purpose and therefore it is a creation. Similarly, a car is an intelligent assembly; it consists of a number of components such as engine, radiator, tires, gears and so on. A heap of these components would not make a car. When they are intelligently assembled such that the engine is where it should be and the wheels are where they should be, what should be moving moves and what should be stationery is so, there you have an assembly to serve the purpose is designed for. Thus a car is a creation. A clock is a creation. Your shirt is a creation. A nucleus is a creation. A solar system is a creation. All the laws o nature are creation.

This physical body is a creation, a marvelous creation. You look at any part of the body and you will be convinced of this fact. These arms have the right number of joints, otherwise they would not be able to perform the functions they are performing now. Eyes, ears, heart, legs - these are not ordinary designs. Look at the function of the heart. It is a simple pump that continuously performs its function for a number of years. It takes a great deal of engineering and a great deal of money to make an artificial heart.

Thus the more we think the more we see the meaningful order in the creation. I find that everything is a marvel when I look into it. Every cell is a marvel. Even the man-made things such as rockets, computers etc. are marvels and I have been given an intellect to discover and enjoy the marvels.

The Creator Must be Omniscient and Omnipotent
Thus, this world is an intelligent assembly, serving a definite purpose and therefore it is a creation. It is an intelligent creation, which implies knowledge. the maker of a given thing must have the knowledge of the thing. Whether it is a pot or a cloth or a bread, you must know all about it before you can make it. Whether it turns out to be the way you wanted it depends upon your experience, skill, resources etc., but you must necessarily know about it before you start making it.

The logic is that the creator of a given thing has the knowledge of that thing. The creator of a pot has the knowledge of the pot. When we extend this logic to the creation of the universe, it can be said; that the creator of everything must have knowledge of everything. He must be Omniscient.

Over an above the knowledge; the creator must also have the skill and energy to create. So, the creator of the universe must have all the power and skill to create everything. In other words, the creator must be Omnipotent.

Once we accept that there is a creator for this universe, then it follows that the creator must be Omniscient and Omnipotent. And the knowledge and skill always rest in a conscious being and so the creator of the universe must be a conscious being who must be Omniscient and Omnipotent.

Where is God?
Now a question naturally arises with respect to the creator. Where is this creator? It is quite clear that the creator is not here nor anywhere around and therefore we assign him a place that is beyond our reach, beyond the reach of our eyes, ears and thoughts. We call that place the heaven, where our sense perception, our inference, our presumption have no access. Some people call it Vaikuntha, some call it kailasaa. Let us call it heaven. And where is it? Up there. That is why people look up, throw their arms up when they pray to God. No one ever looks down while addressing God.

Now a question arises, if God in heaven created this world, who created Heaven? We have to say God. Since heaven is also a part of creation, it could not have been thre before creation, so the next question is: Where was God before the creation of heaven?

The question remains unanswered and that is part of one’s problem too because one is as good as one’s understanding.

The Maker and the Material are One.
The question as to where God is, does not get answered unless we look at the whole thing as the Vedas do. When we inquire into the creation and its cause, we should not confine ourselves to a part, but should look at the whole. We cannot get the right answers if we ask the wrong questions, because the answer is always in keeping with the question and so, if we ask the right question, there will be a right answer.

When we inquire into the nature of the cause for creation, we find there must be two causes for any creation: the maker and the material. the maker, the one who is responsible for creation, is called the efficient cause or nimmita-karana.

And there also must be some material out which any given thing can be created. For creation of a pot for example, such as clay or copper or brass, out of which the pot is made. For baking bread, there must be a baker and also the flour out of which the bread can be baked. With reference to the creation of the universe if the Lord, God is the maker, the efficient cause, the question is : What is the material out of which God created this world? When we are inquiring into the nature of the cause of the creation, we must take into account the material also.

Where did the Lord find the material? Here, we must also bear in mind that both space and time are part of the creation and so, before creation, there is nothing outside the creation because ‘outside’ is a concept in space which is not yet created. Therefore, there is nothing outside the Lord before creation and so the material should also be within the Lord. That is why he is called the Lord. Therefore not only is the Lord the maker, but He is the material too.
tasmaad vaa etasmat akasha sambhutah (Taittiriya Upanishad 2.1.1) - from the Lord that is this self, akasa the space was born. From the space was born air, from air was born fire; from fire, water; from water, earth was born. Vedas give us this model of the five elements for the creation of the world. The world is nothing but these five elements and their combinations.

While explaining how the maker and the material of this universe are one, the Vedas give us the illustration of a spider. yathornanaabhih srhate grnhate ca (Mundaka Upanishad 1.1.7) just as a spider creates a (web) and withdraws it too. The spider is the efficient cause of the web because it has the intelligence and the skill to create the web. It chooses the right place for the web where it would not be swept away by the lady of the house and where it can get its prey. This shows the spider has intelligence. And the material for the web is the secretion of a gland which it finds within itself. So too, the Lord, the Intelligent, Conscious Being projects this creation and withdraws it unto Himself at the time of dissolution.

It is like your own dream. In the dream, you are the maker of the dream world, and you are also the material cause for the dream manifestation. From the stand-point of the material cause, the universe which consists of both known and unknown, is a manifestation of the Lord.

In the dream you are the maker of the dream world. You are a knowledgeable person endowed with the capacity (sakti) to make that dream world. And being not separate from the material that is necessary for the dream world, you pervade the entire dream world. The dream space is you, because the effect is always sustained by the material. Your shirt, for instance, is sustained by the fabric; it cannot be independent of the fabric. You cannot even imagine a shirt minus some fabric. That is an astounding fact. This is true with reference to any one thing. You can’t think of a building without thinking of the materials that have gone into it. When you see this kind of a situation, one thing becomes clear - no object can be independent of the material of which it is made. Even though the object is named differently from the material - shirt and cotton - spelled differently, and understood differently, at the same time, the two objects referred to by two different words really refer to one substance alone. that is cotton. We can go further and say that cotton is but fibers, the fibers are molecules, molecules are atoms, atoms are particles and so on. Everything is sustained by something else. At the particle level it becomes a concept.

Therefore we see that an effect is not separate from its material cause. In understanding the Lord we use the dream example to assimilate that fact that the Lord is not separate from all there is. In the dream, the world is sustained by me; I am the cause for the dream world, dream space, dream time, and so on. I pervade every one of them. It is only because I am the material cause that I pervade the dream world, otherwise I’ll be like the pot-maker who is elsewhere. When you buy a pot and bring it home the pot-maker does not come home with you, because he has not made the pot out of himself. the material is separate from him. When you bring the pot you can’t leave the material, whereas you can leave the maker behind. Between the maker and the material there is a separation.

When we are talking of the total, however, there is no separation. The material cause being yourself in the dream, you pervade the whole world there. Space, time, stars etc have come out of you. If that is understood, the Lord can be understood as the one who is manifest here in the form of space, time and everything that is empirically experienced by you. This empirical reality means ‘this is a chair’, ‘this is a microphone’ etc for all of us. This entire universe which is empirically real, is a manifestation of the Lord who is Bhagavaan.

Lord is to be understood, not believed
The lord is not a matter for belief. He is a matter for understanding. This world is not a matter for belief because you perceive it. Therefore Lord is also not something to be believed. It is a challenge to understand him. If the Lord in heaven, not within the range of your perception or inference, then He becomes a matter of belief. In that case you simply accept what you are told without asking questions. But the Lord of the Hindus is not a matter for belief. Hindus do not simply believe in God, they understand God. That is the reason why Hindus even worship space. There are temples in India that worship the five elements.
You don’t require a particular altar to invoke the Lord. You can invoke Him anywhere because what is it that is not the Lord? The whole Order is the Lord, all the laws are the Lord.
We are objective when we are alive to the reality. We are talking about what is and so there is no question of belief. We can see that gold is different from copper and that is different from lead because each metal has its own atomic weight, its own physical and other properties. But a physicist knows that all of them are nothing but energy, quanta of energy. That is not a belief. If someone says, ‘I don’t see that’, then that person may have to believe, but that is not a belief that one has to live with and die with. What we have here is belief pending discovery. There is something to be understood. we understand the difference and at the same time, understand the non-difference, something more than meets the eye. that is the vision of the Veda that this whole universe is non-separate from the Lord because He is the efficient cause as well as the material cause. Since the Lord is everything, he is all the names, all the forms and therefore we can invoke Him in any name, any form. This is the mature way of looking at the worship of God. We can pray to Him in any language because He is Omniscient and therefore should know all languages.
You and God
So now tell me since God is the material cause of the universe and everything in the universe is an effect … and an effect has no separate existence from its cause – then since the universe cannot have a separate existence from God and you are very much a part of the universe as well, do you have a SEPARATE existence from God?
Your body is not separate from God. It is a manifestation of knowledge … God’s All-Knowledge… It is powered by energy … whose energy … God’s energy. Your mind is pervaded by intelligent Order – God’s intelligent Order. Every cell of your body is GOD … just as every wave is nothing but its cause water.
This is the reality … this is the truth … that you are totally connected to God.. That you can never be away from God. You may know it, or you may not know it … still this is the truth. Even before the law of gravity was discovered, it still existed. So too irrespective of whether you know it or not the FACT THAT YOU ARE NEVER SEPARATE FROM GOD exists.
So you have a connection to that ALL-INTELLIGENT ALL KNOWLEDABLE ALL POWERFUL Being … once you know that, it makes all the difference.
Because you do have a relationship with God. In fact your relationship with God is your first relationship. When you came into this world, you did not choose your parents. It was given to you. By Whom? By The Lord. So your first relationship is with the Lord who pervades you. Then comes every other relationship. So if you are in harmony with the Lord, you will be in harmony with everything – because Lord is everything.
So how to have a good relationship with the Lord? How to be in harmony with the Lord?
Lord Krishna tells us that it by applying the principle of YOGA . So Lord Krishna talks about the ATTITUDE with
1. reference to our actions (yogah karmasu kaushalam – discrimination with reference to our actions) and
2. our response to the result of our actions(samatvam yoga ucyate – eveness of mind or composure with reference to various situations pleasant and unpleasant - the result of our actions).

You are a part and parcel of the society in which you are placed by God. Every member of that society is connected to God, every member of that society has no separate existence from God. So when you relate to society in terms of your actions and responses … see the connection of yourself to society through God … and honour that relationship.
Is it possible for you to hurt your hand – or for that matter any limb of your body? No. This world is in reality ONE alone. Everybody is member of this ONE God Family. So our actions and our responses need to take this fact into account.
We will see how, in the next session.
VERSES to learn by-heart – Chapter 7.4 – 7.14 11.5-11.14

Section 1 - You Are Happiness

1.1 Be In Harmony With God, Yourself and Society
The Bhagavad Gita teaches us about BEING IN HARMONY with God, Oneself and Society.
To be in HARMONY means to be free of conflicts and pain. So Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad-Gita teaches us about being free from conflicts and pain in our relationship with God, ourself and society - how? By showing us a way to live our life such that we become free of conflicts and pain.
Our way of life is usally based on the habits we learned in our families, our understanding of ourself and others. If our understanding of ourself and of others is off the mark, then our way of life will bring us conflicts and pain.
Let us understand how our understanding of ourself and others can affect us.

Our responses depend on what we see
If you see an old woman, you would perhaps offer to help her cross the street.
If you see a young woman, you would not try to help her cross the road – you might just talk to her.

The way we look at ourself or others is called as a paradigm. The problem with paradigms is that WHAT YOU SEE IS WHAT YOU GET.

Paradigms are like glasses. When you have incomplete paradigms about yourself or life in general, it is like wearing glasses with a wrong prescription. That lens affects how you see everything else.
So we should ask ourself is the way I am looking at myself helping me or hurting me?
In Mahabharata there is a story told. Duryodhana the eldest of the Kauravas, was complaining to Krishna about how bad people are, how they never respect us, how they act impolitely and rudely etc etc. Duryodhana gives a long list of complaints against the people. So Lord Krishna calls both Duryodhana and Yudhistira, the eldest of the Pandavas together. He tells Duryodhana that you go into Hastinapur and find one good man for me. He tells Yudhisthira that you go to Hastinapura and find one bad man for me. Both of them go to do what they have been told. Both return empty handed. Duryodhana was not able to find one good person and Yudhisthira was not able to find one bad person. Duryodhana reported to Lord Krishna, that I was not able to find one good person – whoever I found as good, I always found something bad was there in that person. Yudhishtira reported that I was not able to find one bad person – whoever was bad, I found that there were some good qualities in that person.

See the irony! Both of them had gone to Hastinapura – the place was the same – yet because of their outlook, their paradigm being different, each came back empty-handed. Yudhishtira’s paradigm helped him to see the good in others. And Duryodhana’s paradigm never helped him to see good in anyone.

Duryodhana could have turned to Lord Krishna and told him that ‘You are a good man’. But he did not. At least if he did not find Lord Krishna a good person, he could have said ‘I am a good fellow – you can have me’. But he did not see himself either as a good person. And so he could not find a single good person in the whole of Hastinapur.

So see how powerful paradigms can be. If you have decent, wholesome and meaningful paradigms of yourself and the world that is what you will see and that is what you will relate to and live your life accordingly. You see and relate to others using your mind, so it is important to keep your mind clean and fill it with noble paradigms.
Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad-Gita tells us the greatest secret .. that HAPPINESS & GOODNESS is the secret about you.

Like a sandalwood stick is fragrant by nature. It is natural for sandalwood to be fragrant. Sandalwood gives out fragrance. So too goodness is the truth about you. Goodness is natural to you.
There is a law in nature that everything likes to/ wants to get back to its own nature. For example, water’s natural state is to be at room-temperature. You have gone to a hill station in the monsoon..
To Kedarnath say … and early morning the waiter brings you a hot cup of coffee. You think you will brush your teeth and come in 5 minutes. You leave it on the tray. When you come back after 5 minutes … what has happened to the hot water? …. It has come back to its own nature … which is room temperature.

Now what is that we want all the time? We want to be happy. And we want to be happy all the time. That itself proves that happiness is our natural state.
Nobody wants sadness. Sadness is like a foreign body in the body. When a foreign particle gets into your eyes how hard your eye tries to get rid of it by watering. So too when we are sad … sadness is foreign to us … we want to get rid of it as quickly as possible … and we strive hard to get back to being happy. Which shows us that happiness is our natural state.
And where there is happiness there is goodness.

Then why is it that people do not act out of their goodness? Because they do not perceive themselves as good. We saw earlier that it is your paradigm about yourself that makes you what you are.

Again let us see the example of sandalwood. Sandalwood is naturally fragrant. Yet when it is left in water for a long time, it begins to stink. IN association with something other than itself, like water – it begins to stink – that is because the outer layer begins to decay and rot and that rot gives out a stink. Now when you rub the sandalwood for sometime, the rot goes away and again the natural fragrance of the sandalwood comes out. The sandalwood never lost its fragrance. The fragrance never went away – it was only hidden by the rot.

So also goodness is the truth about you. Like Gold is bright and has natural brightness – so too GOODNESS is natural to you, GOODNESS is the truth about you.
1.1.1 Self-Growth is Inside Out
What is the purpose of life then? The purpose of life is to GROW to BE THE GOOD PERSON THAT YOU ARE. How?
Thinking NOBLE and GREAT thoughts
Our growth as a person is about bringing out our goodness through our actions, words and deeds.
You can have different goals like ‘I want to be a cricketer’, I want to be a scientist, I want to be a computer engineer, I want to be a doctor, I want to be a pilot – in achieving each of these goals you never lose sight of being a good person, a good human being. How? By bringing out the goodness in yourself. I want to be a good human being who could be a cricketer, or a scientist or a computer engineer, or a doctor, or a teacher, or an engine driver, or an electrician, or a plumber, or a musician, or an artist etc.

So in the journey of your life it is important how you look at yourself. If you look at yourself as GOOD, you will find yourself being good.

SELF-GROWTH is INSIDE-OUT not outside-in.

Solutions begin inside and travel outside.
If you want to have a happy relationships with your parents, be the kind of person who they can trust – be responsible for your actions.
If you want more friend and if you want to be trusted, be trustworthy.

Change Begins With You
If you want to make a change in your life, the place to begin is yourself, not with your parents, your brothers and sisters, your teachers, your friends etc.
All change begins with you. Nobody can stop you when you want to change. Self-growth is inside out. Not outside in.
When I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world.
As I grew older and wiser I realised the world would not change.
And decided to shorten my sights somewhat and change only my country. But it too seemed immovable.
As I entered my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I sought to change only my family, those closest to me, but alas they would have none of it.
And now here I lie on my death bed and realize (perhaps for the first time) that if only I’d changed myself first, then by example I may have influenced my family and with their encouragement and support I may have bettered my country, and who knows I may have changed the world

This is the first message of LORD KRISHNA in the Bhagavad-Gita, that YOU ARE HAPPINESS and GOODNESS … so ALLOW THE GOODNESS to EXPRESS THROUGH YOUR THOUGHTS, WORDS and DEEDS. Your self-growth is INSIDE-OUT not OUTSIDE-IN.
Bhagavad-Gita Verses to Learn By-heart:
2.14 – 2.28
13. 7-13.916.1-16.3