29.3: FOUR CHARACTER TYPES P.3
Three Questions pertaining to INTELLECT
(Verse nos. 30,31,32 of the Gita Ch.18)
Did the individual develop a good intellect which comprehends what must be done and what must not be done, what should be feared and what should not be feared, what binds and what elevates?
Was his intellect confused without knowing how to decide between right and wrong?
Was his intellect totally wrapped up in a cloud of misconceptions and looked upon right as wrong and vice versa?
What is safe for the soul, what is dangerous, is not always clear to the average intellect. What is to be feared and shunned, what is to be embraced by the will, what binds the spirit of man and what sets it free -- all this creates a dilemma between ‘involvement in action’ (= pravRtti) and the ‘attitude of abstention’ (= nivRtti) from action, from which the intellect never redeems itself. nivRtti is the attitude of 'not mine' (= na mama) and a consequent laying down of the Trust deposited in us by God. This redeposit of the Trust in God's hands is called 'nyAsa'. When it is well done it is 'sannyAsa' (the prefix ‘sat’ indicating ‘well-done’). The Trust is all His, never ours. It includes our wealth, our property, our body, our mind, our intellect, our will, in fact everything we may call ours. The proper 'nyAsa' removes both the reflection (in our intellect) and the reflecting medium (our intellect) and then, only the Subject remains. It is on this foundation of 'nivRtti' that all our involvement in the world has to take place. The rules and regulations of society and religion are accordingly made so that when the time for total nivRtti comes, we are ready 'with no regrets' either in the mind or in terms of habits and tendencies. That is why the attitude has always to be right, even in our 'secular' activities, right from the beginning. The attitude of the intellect has to be one of 'vairAgya' (meaning, non-attachment) -- which is not to be branded negatively as renunciation and dispassion, but the positive attitude of putting everything in its place, or, in other words, giving everything only its due, neither more nor less. It is the attitude which can observe and analyze oneself critically.
The average intellect, however, is steeped in its ego and ego-generated desire and therefore constantly stumbles into inconsistent decisions, born of its own nature, not necessarily consciously. It is prejudiced by its own preconceived notions and strong biases. Because of its tendency to focus on data that only confirm its own likes and dislikes, it makes serious mistakes in judgement. The ignorant, the dull-natured, is, in addition, incorrigible in its ignorance, considers the opposite of law as law, and wrong as right. All things are understood, or, to be precise, misunderstood, by this intellect in its own dull light. The individual secular intelligence should aspire to get into communion with the supreme cosmic intelligence, shed its fear of the spiritual and indeed should become subordinate to it. It should shred its habit of 'thinking' its own ‘strategic’ way to right action, guided by an indiscrete moment of anger or disgust or by an intellectual flash of wounded vanity. This is the teaching of the Upanishads.
Three Questions pertaining to WILL-POWER
(Verse Nos. 33.34, 35 of the Gita Ch.18)
Did the individual have a steadfast will-power, fixed in unshaken faith and piety?
Did he have his will-power stained whereby one held to the ego for the sake of life and gains?
Did he have the will wedded to sorrow, folly, despair, misery and a path of least resistance?
Here the word used by the Gita is dhRti, which means, steadiness or firmness of mind. If this hold of the mind is vehement on the side of the vital ego, that becomes the root cause of all sin and wrong-doing. Then the will uses its hold and power only to satisfy the ego which in turn is satisfied only by exercising its proprietary rights on the effects of its actions. This leads on to a complacency that the decisions made are correct and leads further on to a continuation of the same style of exercise of will -- again the obedience to the egoistic ends and a further descent down the vortex of samsAra – the birth-death syndrome, punarapi jananam, punarapi maraNam ( = birth again and death again). Of course if the will is weak enough not even to hold on to its own selfish aspirations, it takes the path of least resistance and lives with a permanent hang-over of an aversion to any change or progress or self-correction. It is then wedded to fancies of the present and future and dissipates its vitality through grief about the past and fear about the future. Its anticipations of gloom and doom can be contagious. Only a constancy of endeavor and purpose can lead to notable achievements in life. This fortitude does not succumb to cheap slogans; instead it has an alert eye on long-term consequences.
Three Questions pertaining to HAPPINESS
(Verse Nos. 37, 38, 39 of the Gita Ch.18)
Did the individual have that attitude to pleasure or happiness which did not care for the initial unhappiness knowing full well that it will lead to ultimate happiness?
Did he have the attitude to happiness which wanted instantaneous pleasure that finally ended up with the disgust and disappointment of unhappiness?
Was he simply satisfied with the dull inertial happiness of sleep, stupor, laziness, error and sin?
Every one is certainly after happiness and all our activities are motivated by the pursuit of happiness. But all the debate and discussion is about what is happiness. The scriptures say that happiness is not to be sought outside. The Upanishads are never tired of declaring that happiness is one's natural state of being. If you start chasing it you become unhappy. The moment you think happiness is outside you, you have implanted the seeds of unhappiness in your mind. The unhappiness is not in the absence of things, but it is in our wanting them and searching for it. This is not a cynical way of looking at things, but it is a positive assertion. Looking for pleasure in the material sense as an end-in-itself leads to real unhappiness. Happiness, pleasure, bliss are always with us in the initial state. Whenever we want something, we move from this initial state. When our want is fulfilled, we go back to our initial state. Therefore happiness is not what was given to us by the thing we thought we obtained, but it is our natural state. Unhappiness arises out of grief, fear or delusion. Grief is always about a happening in the past. We are unhappy of something which we had and which we have now lost; it could be money, possessions, kith and kin, peace, anything. We think we had it; actually it was not ours, it was His. This misplaced vision makes us grieve about our past. Sometimes we are unhappy because we are fearful of the future. What will happen if I lose what I have now? What will happen if nobody comes to my rescue? What will happen if I die? -- all this is fear about the future. In between the past (which creates grief) and the future (which creates fear) there is the present in which we are deluded by our present attachments. The delusion caused by attachment is the reason for the dilemmas into which we always land ourselves: whether we take this alternative or that, both being important for us because each is interlinked with something in which we have placed our attachment. We are attached to the present. We do not want the present happiness to become the past. That is delusion, for it cannot be so. Present happiness will surely pass and become the past. On the other hand, we think sometimes that the present unhappiness will continue in the future; and that is also a delusion. The happiness given by the senses carries along with it the bitterness of disappointment when the pleasure does not continue, the satiety of fulfillment because we know the pleasure will cave down the next moment, and sometimes also a disgust born out of the satiety. The flimsy happiness obtained by sense-indulgence, arising out of changing appetites of the flesh and the mind, is a fleeting joy, whereas the joy arising out of an inner self-control and a sense of perfection is permanent. One's sleep also looks like happiness. But it is born out of inertia and ignorance. This happiness is totally oblivious to the higher calls of Man. The only happiness that is not transient is the state of being the Self. It is pure and unsullied. We are told by the Seers that the state of samAdhi (= yogic trance)is like this.