crdibility - leading ethical life -

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Tue Mar 10 01:17:07 CST 1998

On Wed, 25 Feb 1998, Gummuluru Murthy wrote:

> Namaste.
> 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.
> Credibility is one of the great virtues. A person who considers his/her
> word is sacred (to that individual) and goes to any extent to keep the
> word is considered a very reliable one. Philanthropists donate money
> for good causes and are considered model members of the society. Many
> Universities and hospitals are named after such people who donated money
> with long-range welfare of the human society in mind.
> But, are the humans in the above two examples any closer to
> Self-realization than one who has robbed banks, or committed crimes ? In
> the first example of credibility, the human is hanging on to a tenuous,
> artificial, unreal utterance of that individual and is prepared to go to
> any length to keep that word i.e. that person has not, in any way,
> realized the Truth or anywhere near the Truth. Such a person is egoistic.
> In the example of the philanthropist, the return which he/she gets is
> the name and fame which are artificial and are as far away from the Truth
> as one can be. Thus, while the human society gives high credence and respect
> to such individuals, from the viewpoint of the supreme Truth, these
> individuals are as much in darkness as can be.
> Now, if we consider what we call members on the "low end of the society"
> [e.g. robbers, people who commit crimes etc], although the society
> condemns them, they are not doomed from the viewpoint of the supreme
> Truth. Although the karma theory explains that these different levels of
> society members are the result of the good or bad karma by the jeeva in
> its "journey", it seems to me that their "path" to realization is
> unaffected and is independent of the status bestowed on them by the
> society. The only thing that determines whether the individual becomes
> immortal in this very life is the lack of desire (and I mean the genuine
> lack of desire mentally, physically or in any other way) in anything
> worldly. When all the desires that reside in the heart fall away, the
> mortal becomes immortal right here itself, as stated so emphatically in
> various upanishhads.
> 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 ?

The Vedas proclaim a dual path, that of karma and that of jnana.  Most
people are concerned with the first path and for those people various
actions and prohibitions are prescribed.  There is nothing wrong with
people performing those actions out of a desire for fame, wealth, children
etc. but even the Purva Mimamsakas recognized that it is better to do them
without desire, out of a sense of duty only.  Most of the other schools of
Vedanta also agree with this.

Shankaracharya goes one step further and denies _any_ kind of karma no
matter how high the motive can lead to Moksha.  In the Bhagavata Purana we
read of how because of his fondness for only little deer, King Bharat was
born again and again.  So Shankaracharya says full vairagya is the only way.
As you say, a person no matter how good his intentions is no better of
than a criminal without that detachment.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at>

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