Thursday, April 12, 2007
Dharma is the essential nature of anything. The Sun's dharma is to shine. The fact that it illumines both good and evil is neither in its control nor its concern. As part of Ishwara's order its diktat is to shine, and thereby enable life to take place on earth and enable the infinite numbers of jivas to exhaust their karmas.
Similarly the Earth, the rains, the rivers, the cows, - all have a given place in Order that is Ishwara. Everything has a role, a sanctity, a purpose.
Part of this very same order is the "free will" that is accorded to a human. This gives the individual the ability to choose his action and thereby chart his course.
Where there is choice there is its mirror-image - conflict. Shall i do this? or that? What parameters should i use to decide what is right?
Making the right choice, Taking the right decision - is what dharma is all about.
Any decision i make using my free will that is untainted by my binding desires and attachments is nothing other than the Divine will. And this action of mine is not mine but Thine/Ishwara's -
hence - "Thy will be done"
I am running late for the most important interview of my life. And my car passes by a person lying on the road in agony. A simple right wrong analysis will dictate that the right thing to do, the dharmic action, the Will of the Divine, would be for me as His intrument, forgo my preoccupation with my life and help out this person in distress. Unfortunately life seldom throws at us such situations involving black and white right and wrong choices. Most of life is gray.
I can choose A or B but I find my intellect has good answers for both A and B.
This usually has to do with different roles I am called to play. And both A and B are justifiable to me depending on which role is of paramount importance to me at that point in time.
Compounding the problem is the fact that our egocentric desires and attachments are so deep rooted that it is almost impossible for us to decipher whether our actions are indeed free of our own subconscious attachments, arising from the inexhaustible vasanas(impressions) from prior innumerable births.
No other epic epitomizes this more graphically than the Mahabharata. Bhishma was an embodiment of dharma. But he was fighting on the side of adharma. He was a mute spectator to draupadi's ordeal in the court. Why? Because he was bound by his word. So in making a choice
between what was ethical for his people and what was ethical for him as a person he had to choose. And the choices he made dictated the course of history. When a mahapurusha like Bhishma had difficulty intepreting dharma, do we mortals even stand a chance. What recourse do we have?
Well, I should make every effort to align my free-will in such a way that it has as little a
taint of my ragadvesha - desires/attachments. And if i am still not sure, then i should resort to advice from persons who are themselves free of ragadveshas - the wonderful multitude of mahapurushas who grace us by their teachings and presence. If even this is not feasible or helpful then the only thing to do is pray - pray to the very Order, the very Author of Dharma, that whatever i do let it be what is right, what is just, what is fair, what is in keeping with His Will and His Way.
"O Lord, Grant me the strength to change the things i can, and the serenity to accept the things i cannot, and the wisdom to know the difference"
In this are born the seeds of the only true solution to the issue of dharma - surrender. Hence alone does Lord Krishna exhort us weary souls-
Sarva-dhaman parityajna mam ekam saranam vraja ahm tvan sarva- papebhyo moksayisyami ma suchah
While one can spend a great deal of time on the meaning of this paramount verse from the Gita, the essence in the context of dharma is this - it is impossible for a jiva, bound as he is by ragadvesha - to be in perfect alignment with dharma by self-effort alone. This is because of avidya or Maya. One has to transcend avidya i.e. attain knowledge about one's true nature being nondifferent from Ishwara. Once i know I am poornam, I am whole, I am fulfilled. Anything more i do from that point is an expression of my fulfillment an extension of my sense of being Whole, and hence is nothing other than Divinity expressing itself. And that and only that ultimately is what is truly "dharmic"
And how do i get there? "sharanam" - Surrender.
Surrender my ego at the altar of wisdom.
As the ego dies so do concepts of right,wrong,good,evil.
Wisdom is thus the sole sanctifier.
Pranams to all
May the blessings of Lord Shiva ever guide us towards auspiciousness.
Shri Gurubhyo namah