By Life Positive June 2000 Making a case for revival of universal human values and morality, Anil Bhatnagar argues that they are a reflection of the order prevailing in Nature and the universe VALUE-ADDED TRANSFORMATION • The ultimate happiness and prosperity can come from our being attuned to the universal principles. Our behavior and values that are not in harmony with the universal laws take us away from bliss, beauty, abundance-the primary qualities of the Latent Oneness.• You can reconnect yourself with the Latent Oneness by living in the present moment, for only in the ‘now’ can we take correct action, for the past is gone and the future has not arrived as yet.• Pause before responding to any situation, so that we respond consciously from our viveka and not from our negative pattern of habits.• Learn to be detached. Get rid of your attachment to money, to winning arguments, to your physical form, your assets, your people, and your past and to the notion that your ideas, actions, attitudes, values alone are right.• Develop a general reluctance to judging people and situations. Develop reluctance to resist or fight against anything.• Surrendering to life instead of trying to control it brings harmony within and without. Redefine your goals in terms of giving.• Look within. Going within more often to align yourself with your being through consciously watching your thoughts and actions.• Discover the values within by awareness of established timeless principles. Values cannot be cultivated or imposed for they are there within us; we only have to discover them and bring them forth. Values, in fact, stem from clear perception. A child who never used to wash his hands unless reminded by his parents, gave up this undesirable habit, once shown his unwashed hands swarming with bacteria under a microscope. Similarly, anyone who comes to understand the functioning of the invisible mechanism that operates the universe cannot think of breaking the laws of Nature.• Discover the purpose of your life. Each one of us is born for a unique purpose and hence is blessed with a unique set of traits and abilities. Once purpose and values are identified, a harmonious balance comes in life. We all have had instances of narrow escapes. God saves our life many times—for a purpose. And we need to discover that purpose and fulfill it.• Develop awareness of your values. Knowing our values is, in fact, knowing ourselves. When we uphold our values, we shall feel fulfilled.• Reexamine your definition of success. Our personal values are greatly influenced by how we perceive success. Once we perceive correctly what success is, the correct values often fall in place on their own. The fabric of society is held together by the standards of morality that we maintain and practice. Values are our personal set of beliefs about what is important, unimportant, right, wrong, good and bad. In other words, values are a kind of map in our minds of how things are or should be. Just as a map is not the territory, values are only our perception of the principles of nature that govern our lives or the universe, not the principles themselves. Throughout history, this world has seen individuals, families, societies and nations dying for want of values that sustain life—almost with the same certainty with which a plant dies for want of water. We can choose our values to be in harmony with the laws of the universe or to challenge them. Laws are fixed, so are the consequences of breaking them. We cannot break the laws of the universe; we can only break ourselves against them. The real asset of a nation is not its natural resources, but people with right values. Just as it is futile to fill a leaking bucket, it is futile to think of economic reforms and progress without relinking ourselves with our lost values. All over the world and more so in our country, what we need first and foremost are solutions that can be utilized on a wide scale and on a long-term basis for reestablishing moral values. Are values really on the decline in the contemporary world or is this a perception common to every age? ‘History is replete with instances of sons killing fathers to usurp power. Earlier, the news did not spread so far and so fast. Today, it does. As a result, we feel there is more crime and decline in values,’ says Bikram Uppal, a young executive with SAIL. However, others disagree. D.R. Karthikeyan, director-general, NHRC, says that deterioration in values is so fast and steep that it is perceivable year after year. Someone aptly summed up the situation thus: ‘Earlier, people would say: ‘How can we speak a lie-we have a family to look after.’ Today, they say: ‘How can we speak the truth-we have a family to support”. Indeed, the erosion of values is one of the major concerns of today’s society. Human beings are similar in every generation; it is probably the increasing stress, fast pace of life, keen competition and overvaulting ambition to achieve too much in too little time that has made today’s man seemingly less principled than his ancestors. This explains, but does not excuse us of responsibility for the widespread decline in values: even in today’s turmoil and stress, people of integrity are still around. Some of us consider it patriotic to deny that we are corrupt as a nation. Accepting, not ignoring reality is the first step to set it right. Lord Buddha said: ‘If you want to untie a knot, first learn how it came into being.’ WHY THIS DECLINE? Philosophical reasons: Identifying with the physical body. We think we are our bodies. With this belief begin all the attitudinal problems. It makes us feel that we are islands. When we see people dying, our ego rebels since it wants to continue. Continuance implies continuance of the body, which we identify with. The need for continuity breeds the need for security. Deep down we are eternal beings-omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent. In our search for pleasure, we become greedy. Greed gives rise to fears-of not being able to fulfill our needs. Fears give rise to the need for false psychological protection in beliefs. We have convinced ourselves that money is the solution to all our problems. However, money is only a manifestation of and flows from abundance, not vice versa. Prosperity is a vector. It has magnitude and direction. Most people focus only on the magnitude, not the direction it may take one’s life towards-happiness (if one is rich spiritually too) or misery, stress and insecurity (if one lacks inner purity). ‘When the heart is empty it collects things. And the one who dies rich lives in vain,’ said Jiddu Krishnamurti, Indian philosopher. Today, we are looking for happiness where it is not. Cut off from our inner being, there is a constant dependence on, and struggle for, external things for fulfillment. People, therefore, often amass wealth through unethical means but fail to remove their inner poverty. We fail to realize that the most precious things are those that money cannot buy. When one focuses one’s attention exclusively on external success, one may get there faster only to find that the one who was supposed to enjoy this success has already been lost somewhere on the way. It is in vogue these days to abort discussions and concerns regarding the degrading values in our society with the question: ‘Right according to whom?’ This may give us a transitory feeling of intellectual superiority, but deep within we all know that primary values like honesty, sincerity and commitment to family, society and humanity as a whole command respect wherever they exist. We may not be able to define honesty, but we know what it is. If values were so subjective, why would Mother Teresa have commanded such universal reverence? Why would a thief or a murderer be imprisoned? How these values are defined, interpreted and applied in real-life can be debated-but their intrinsic correctness is universally accepted. They are not so subjective that we cannot decide, for example, whether honesty is more desirable than dishonesty, or whether killing fellow humans for money should be punished. No society has ever respected cowardice over courage. Fairness, kindness, dignity, charity, integrity, honesty, concern for others, patience, empathy, compassion, justice, integrity and commitment are among the desirable primary values that have been accepted universally in every age. Values may be subjective, but not the principles of Nature. For example, Hitler was value-driven but not principle-driven. He followed certain personal values, which were out of step with the principles of nature. Psychological reasons: What inferences we draw from what we observe depends not on what actually transpires but on how we perceive or process it, which depends on our state of consciousness. A person who relies merely on the senses takes every event to be a result of sheer chance. He is bound to choose different values from the one who appreciates that there is an underlying interconnection and order in the events of our lives. The greatest tragedy of the modern world is that it has given us enough to live with but nothing to live for. Today, our purpose of life has become hazy. Existence has become more important than living. People today do not ask themselves what they feel concerned about and what they would like to dedicate their lives to; they ask which field has better ‘scope’. They seek to take decisions on the basis of what lies in the external world, instead of being driven from within. But unless we find a cause to live for, we are not fit to live. With increasing distances to commute to our workplaces and devoting more time to work, we are left with little time for ourselves, to acquire calm and s
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