Living One’s Values
Q: I have read a good deal. I also have convictions. Yet to put these values into practice is my problem.
A: This was exactly Arjuna’s problem in the Bhagavad Gita. The Lord advised him: Recognize your real enemies; they are desire and anger, born of a passionate nature. Knowing your enemies will enable you to destroy them. Knowing your weaknesses, you will make efforts to discard them. Once your locate a dead rat in your wardrobe, which is emitting a foul odor, you will promptly pick it up by the tail and throw it as far away as possible.
Our scriptures have laid down a clear-cut procedure. The threefold practice consists of listening (sravana), reflecting (manana) and meditating (nididhyasana). Listening is not in one ear and out the other. It is attentive listening to discourses on our great scriptures. Then you must deeply reflect on the ideas heard, and finally you must meditate to make what you have learned real to you.
Frequently people tell me that they have gone through the Gita many times. I tell them: “Let the Gita go through you – at least once! It will do you more good.” Not just hearing or reading, but absorbing the great ideas contained in the scriptures, assimilating them, and living the values expressed therein, will produce a radiance in the life of an individual.
Proper understanding and correct attitudes are important. For example, we often meet the allegation that Hinduism is a world-negating religion meant only for the recluse. The spirit of Hinduism is not understood by those who say this. Wealth is not taboo for the seeker, but the constant craving for wealth is. Property is not prohibited, but one is urged to use it in the service of society.
The Vedantic concept of renunciation has nothing to do with ‘have’ or ‘have-not’ in the physical sense; instead, it means an attitude of non-attachment. The classical example in our ancient scriptures is that of King Janaka, living in the luxury of a palace, but still considered such a great saint and sage that great aspirants sought him for guidance.
If you ask me “How do I start Meditation and giving up attachment?” – my answer is, “just start”. “When?” – “Now”. Today is the best day. A better day may not come.