Morality : Virtuous Conduct
By Upadhyaya Guptisagarji Muni
Moral or good conduct is like a true friend; all other virtues are born moral conduct. Our moral conduct is like a mother-forever our well-wisher. Moral conduct is dharma, is unblemished fame in the world. Therefore, I bow to moral conduct with my whole being.
It won't be an exaggeration if we say that flowers fill the path of a moral man, the air is purer around him, and that his fame travels beyond space and time. It won't be an exaggeration because virtuous conduct has power to it. Worthy men are attracted to such a man, just as elephants are attracted to watering places and bumblebees to a garden of roses. They come because they find utter peace and bliss in being near a moral man. If you go near flowers you inhale their fragrance; if you go near sugarcane you taste its sweetness; of you go to the forests where saffron grows, the aroma suffuse you with his piety. Moral conduct breeds all other virtues. It is enlightening, fame enhancing, joyous and peace giving. As said earlier, it promotes your welfare like a mother.
A divine being was once exiled from his celestial abode. The other divine bodies came to see him off. They said to him, "You are lucky indeed to be expelled to a place like Bharat. The wealth of moral conduct is in great abundance there." The divine beings sang in chorus, "those who are sent to Bharat (India) are fortunate indeed - rather, such beings are more fortunate than us divines!"
Since virtues are worshipped in the virtuous and not his physical being, Lord Brahma gave two bags to the exiled Deva, and said, "Hang one so it hangs on your heart; this contains the seeds of good conduct, self-control and truth. Wherever you go, spread these seeds. Distribute these virtues to all. In the second bag there are a few bad things. Fill it with other bad items like discontent etc. Pick them up wherever you see them. When you return, the first bag should be empty and the other bag full." The Deva's friends advised him to remember what he was told by Lord Brahma. They advises him to bring moral light to the mortal world so that the honour of celestial beings remained high in the eyes of man. They advised him to desist from anything which was not virtuous.
The Deva grew lethargic the moment he entered the mortal world. In the celestial world there was no sleep. The Deva fell asleep under a shady tree. As he turned on his side, the two bags changed places. When he woke up he started distributing all the bad things which were in the bag. He also started filling the other bag with evil things; thus the seeds of virtuous conduct, self-control and truth were burried. That's what we all seem to be doing today. In our minds born pure, we collect whatever ill-doing we find, and we bury deep all the virtues with which we are born.
Since we no longer have virtuous conduct, our eyes, blinded by evil, are unable to see goodness. On the other hand, it seems even our bodily pores are capable of spotting and grabbing whatever is bad. Our eyes are bespectacled. We would rather criticise others and not look deep into our own inner self. We have forgotten that virtuous conduct is the sole means to attain our true path, and thus attain moral recognition.
A man is worshipped because of his virtuous conduct. We don't worship those who have high positions. Do crows ever become royal swans or eagles by sitting on high building?
Virtues are worshipped everywhere. Your lineage is useless here. The world bows to Vasudeva Sri Krishna but not to his father, Vasudeva. That's why it is said by our sages:
Moral conduct gives you all other virtues like inner wealth, fearlessness, piety, intelligence, learning, methodology, concentration etc. Virtuous conduct promotes the world's welfare - a virtuous man wishes that 'others live so he may live' Virtuous conduct, therefore, is the compounded manifestation of the five principles of Panchsheel preached by Lord Mahavira.
There are more human beings on earth - each day the population spreads like the very mouth of the demon, Sursa. Yet there are few who are truly moral. It won't be out of place here to mention the basic principles of moral conduct.
To know truth is to know all. If you do not recognise truth you harm yourself. To discuss truth is not so simple. Yet truth is easily understood. To express in mind, words and deeds only what promotes human welfare and what is right, is truth. Literal truth is not everything in life. Truth should also be practical. What we say and what we do should not be different.
Non-Violence : Truth's Expression
If truth is a concept, non violence is its manifestation. The one who has virtuous conduct walks the path of non-violence in mind, word and deed. Such a man knows that physical killing is not the only kind of killing you do. To hurt some one through harsh words, humiliate a helpless human, to address him as 'Tu' is also to take away his dignity - a form of killing. When we cannot give life, we have no right to take it. How shameful that a violent man, in order to preserve his own life, kills numerous beings. The non-vegetarian 'animal' called man does this by his food habits - his consumption of others' life to keep himself alive.
The seeker who internalises non-violence as a value promotes world peace and solidarity. Non-violence is truly divine. Wherever a non-violent man dwells even animals become vegetarians. They start living together in peace. Moral conduct itself leads to boundless goodwill.
Moral conduct is so precious it us that every one wishes to be near a man of such conduct. We do not wish to be near a ruthless libertine; only once in a while do we go near him and only because of some selfish aim.
We Need Morality
Virtuous conduct illuminates our minds. Eventually we attain immortality. It grants us divinity which leads to salvation, the highest beatitude, peace and welfare. Why does then man follow the path of foul conduct? Why does he not follow morality?
The answers are well-known. Virtuous conduct is not possible without a virtuous temperament. Our temperaments are normally tainted with lust, anger, narrow concerns, and greed. All these are man's real enemies. They destroy our innate goodness. They pollute our thinking, warp our perceptions. We are then unable to see truth. To have correct perception, we must have a highly developed moral sense.
Conduct is Dharma
The one who follows virtuous conduct never knows grief. His humility destroys infamy; his hard work destroys failure; his moral conduct destroys his fallibility. The virtuous man is venerated. Ants find their way to butter no matter where you hide or hang it; similarly no matter how you try to hurt a man of virtuous conduct harm will not come to him. You yourself will be exposed eventually. People, like ants, will find him - his fragrance of good conduct will lead them to him.
Our character is only a synthesis and expression of our inner morality. Whatever is inside and outside us is our character; we are assessed according to our deeds. We should constantly weed out the evil in us by self scrutiny. We should improve ourselves steadily. Just as illness not treated becomes fatal, and a small fire not extinguished reduces a whole building to ashes, similarly a tiny flaw in our character takes away from us our human grandeur. Our virtues are like ozone, a small hole in them can cause a lot of harm. A small flaw in the seeker's character ruins his entire sadhana.
Some say that we are born flawed. Just as flowers come with thorns and light with shade, similarly good and bad elements exist in man's character. Though what they say is not wrong, it is not the entire logical truth. Flowers and thorns have an organic relationship; their togetherness is their total existence. But flaws and evil in human nature are not natural; flaws are our reactions (Vibhav). They are unnatural action, not normal. Such action can only bring pain. A man can rise again to climb a mountain after his failure to do so earlier, but a man who falls from grace by losing character, cannot regain his good name or respect. People shall stare at him wherever he may go. Feeling insulted, such a man beings to disintegrate.
The learned Pandit Ashadhar says in Dharmamrit:
We suffer only once when we die, but when we die morally we suffer life upon life.
There are two similar sounding words in Sanskrit: (Vrit) and (Vit). The first means character or conduct, the second means wealth or money. Money comes and goes but character is there to stay - it is the most constant and dependable wealth in this world. We must protect it with all our might. If money goes every thing is not lost, but if character goes we are destroyed.
Mahatma Gandhi advocated the sane policy. He said, ' If we do not pay attention to character building, our effort to move forward will be a futile exercise.' The power of Sita's conduct turned her pyre in (into) to a cool bed during her agnipariksha; Draupadi's garment was so unending that Duhshasan nearly fainted pulling it. His arrogance was shattered to pieces.
A man of virtuous conduct lives on a minimal intake of breath; he does not die of a heart attack or other fatal diseases because he does not do anything which is harmful to life. He does not cheat, for example, or insult others. He does not court infamy through loose action. A libertine or a person whose conduct is not virtuous is more prone to heart attacks. Such a man does not last long; he is like a bad coin. Therefore, endeavour until your very last breath to be a person of virtuous conduct. In order to learn what moral conduct is, seek the company of the saintly.
Just as roses reduce the bad smell of cow dung, and saffron scents the dung around it, similarly the proximity of a virtuous man reinforces your own good conduct. Good conduct and the company of the virtuous are complementary to each other. Virtuous conduct will become possible if the pollution caused by ruthless living is halted. If we do not live a virtuous life our possessions will be like a corpse. Morality cannot be enforced by law; we learn it through a change of heart or through a change of heart or through proper instruction. Right conduct refines our life. A seed can grow to be a fruit - laden tree, but if you burn the seed it will not produce even a leaf. A single seed of a virtuous act goes far into the future. Therefore, suffocation and desperations born of wrong conduct can only be cured only by the panacea of moral living.
Society's Strength : Morality
Your moral conduct is beneficial to all and not just to you; it is beneficial to your family, your social milieu, village and nation - to the entire human world. A nation's true power Pies in its number of moral people, rather that in the number of nuclear weapons it possesses. The real aim of education is not to create literacy but to teach right conduct. Literacy without morality makes you a demon. The basic difference between a man and a demon is that moral action makes man divine, and immoral action makes man a demon.
If you are convinced about the power of morality, you can learn to be moral, you can learn virtuous conduct. You don't have to be handsome, rich or powerful to walk the moral path. You need only a clean mind, a sound intellect and a correct outlook to enable you to live selflessly and with detachment.
So come! Let's try each day with an utter utterly calm but determined mind to lead a moral life. Let's try wholeheartedly to have a clean mind and sound thinking - both of which are akin to having divine wealth!
Source -: "Inner Light" Authored By Upadhyaya Gupti Sagar Muni,
Translated by Dr. Sunita Jain
Mail to : Ahimsa Foundation