The need to refine our behaviour
The Definition of Culture
Talks by Swami Tejomayananda
What we need to do is to control discipline and refine our behavior in that human being. In the human being, Nature has released its control and said, ” Now you are blessed with an intellect. You have the faculty of reason and discrimination; therefore, you can choose and know what is good for you and live accordingly”. If a person can live like this, it is good; if not he becomes even worse than an animal.
In order to refine the person, to prevent Prakriti from turning into Vikriti, what we need is Samskriti or culture. Mere education or rising to higher positions, gaining money gaining more money and power, would not necessarily make one a cultured person. One’s mind may yet remain animalistic.
Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa used to say that our minds are you like that of a vulture. A vulture flies very high in the sky, but where our is his eyes? They are on the dead body lying on the ground. The moment he sees the dead body he sweeps down to eat it! We are also like that. A person may fly to a very “high” position of political, economic, or financial power; and others may even be prostrating to him. But where is his mind? This is, as we say, “corruption in high places”. So when our minds is like that of a vulture fixed on low, base things, we need culture in order to fly high, not only materially, but morally and spiritually as well. Then the mind rises to true spiritual heights.
It is difficult to explain what culture is, and it cannot be taught through discourses. As Swamiji (Swami Chinmayananda) says , culture cannot be taught, but it can be caught ( by the children)”. Just as children automatically “pick up” whichever language is spoken at home without being taught, culture is also “picked up” the same way. If we constantly instruct the children on do’s and dont’s, yet we ourselves live differently, they will not follow our instructions. Example always speaks louder then words, this is why culture cannot be taught merely by words.
Living life based on noble values is the most important point concerning culture. Why do we need values? Why do we need to respect them and live by them? Because in the human being, that is every danger of his nature transgressing its limits and becoming a perversion. This is what we see in the world today; greed for money, power, and position. No one knows what will happen next. Yet we cannot just blame the political leaders, because these tendencies are in our minds as well and we act accordingly. It is just that one who has more power will terrorize more, that is all.
We find this same behavior in some school children also, for some of them are monster-like in creating troubles for others. Concerning the worst-behaved child in the classroom, a teacher once said, “What is great about him is his attendance record at school is hundred percent”. The teacher is thinking to herself, “Stay home at least one day, please !” But no, he attends every day, and every day he creates problems!
There are bullies in the classroom as well as in world politics, and it shows the absence of something – the absence of refinement. One may be rich, a well-educated scholar, or a politically powerful person; but he may not have the refinement of character which we call Samskriti. The beauty of the person does not lie in his physical, educational, or other capabilities; but in but in his culture which expresses itself every moment in his day-to-day life.