September (from Essays in Life and Eternity)
1. Religion is the Practice of Philosophy
Philosophy is the rational foundation of religion, and religion is the practice of philosophy. The development of the religious consciousness in the human individual is the enhancement of dimension in experience achieved through the series of the degrees in which man adjusts himself with the universe. The centrality of this consciousness which occupies the position of the Soul of the Universe may be said to be a reasonable concept of the Almighty God. One’s most intense longing, when it reaches its maximum, may well also be regarded as a symptom of God calling through one of His operations in creation. The universe is a total action, and entirely individual actions may not fit into its structure. Here is evidently the central message of the Bhagavadgita. The way to salvation is proclaimed as a fourfold endeavour through work, devotion, concentration and knowledge, cognition, emotion, volition and reason, which are the principal operating faculties of human nature, corresponding to the manner in which religious exercise and spiritual practice in a sense of man’s endeavouring to rise above himself towards Godhead takes place. Spiritual life is not, as wrongly supposed, different from secular life, nor are the so-called secular needs divested of their spiritual meaning.
2. The Only Duty in Life
Mankind, today, with all its appurtenances of knowledge and experience gained through the historical movement of several thousands of years on this Earth, can be said to have learned no lesson at all as to where its true blessedness lies or what are the mistakes that it is daily committing in its life at every moment of time. Humanity’s blunders in its entirely empirical-oriented sense-ground perception of the values of life are as it has been briefly outlined above. If the human individual persists in this kind of thinking and acting inwardly as well as outwardly, such a life of the human individual cannot but be designated as a cauldron of hell-fire, which, unfortunately, to the bound individual, appears to be a highly satisfactory state of affairs, because of its dictum, as the poet well said in this context, “It is better to reign in hell than serve in heaven.” The hope of mankind is not going to be in the continuance of this state of affairs even though it may go on through millions of years of human history. Every soul has to engage itself throughout its career in life. This is the final duty inseparable from man’s aspiration, nay, the only duty in life.
3. A Human Being Transcends the Diversity of the Physical Limbs
Since Spirit is universal—because non-universality would make it perishable—the presence of the Spirit in anything is, in fact, the Universal Existence being immanent in the particular. Spirituality, or religion, a designation that has generally been applied to signify the higher values of life, consists, then, in the measure of awareness of the extent to which the Universal Principle inhabits locations of any kind. The human body, the family, the community, the province, the nation, or the world as a whole stands before us as an example of the operation of the Universal in different degrees of particularity. Human individuality, physically speaking, is all anatomy and physiology, a combination of physical and chemical properties cohering into the pattern of a whole, with vitality pervading the whole system, so that the human being is not just bone and flesh and it transcends the diversity of the physical limbs. This is common knowledge, and it becomes clear when one investigates into the fact of man remaining a whole as a self-identical entity even if some limbs of the body are to be taken away by medical operation.
4. A Universal Independent of Particulars
Philosophers, many a time, have found it difficult to imagine the existence of a universal independent of particulars. This difficulty arises because it is wrongly assumed that the universal is an abstraction, a conceptual generalisation arising from some common features seen in particulars, such as the universal principle of horseness seen to be present in each individual case of a horse. But the Universal need not be a quality depending upon an isolated individual as a substance. The Universal is not like the greenness seen in all leaves or the redness seen in roses. That is to say, the Universal is not a quality of a substance other than itself. Such a nominalism of outlook in the definition of the Universal can arise only if one is completely oblivious of the fact that even the awareness of there being such things as particulars would not be possible unless there is a prior element of consciousness-grasp which knows all the particulars in a single act of attention, proving thereby that such a consciousness is larger in dimension than the particulars, is immanent in them, by which immanence it knows them, and is also transcendent to them due to which it is none of the particulars.
5. It is the Support Behind All Diversity
The meditation of life, then, is the gradual establishment of wholeness in the midst of particulars, in every level, in every stage, in every degree of evolution. Grandly has it been proclaimed by the Bhagavadgita, in a majestic epic fashion, that the Universal, designated as Brahman, has hands and feet everywhere, has eyes, faces and heads everywhere, and it exists enveloping everything. It is the illuminator of all the sense organs, but in itself it is none of them. It is the support behind all diversity, but it cannot be identified with any one of these. It is the reality behind appearances. Being above substances and qualities, relations and modifications, it cannot be said to have any attributes, though no quality or attribute can subsist without it being there as the basic substratum. It is inside and outside all things; but it has itself no inside and outside. Being the foundation for all movement and activity, it cannot be characterised by any movement or activity. Being the very Seer and Knower, as the basic Subject, it cannot be seen, heard or even thought by the mind. Being endless and infinite, it is everywhere like a limitless expanse; but as the Self of everything, nothing can be nearer than its presence.
6. Unless there is Space to Create, there Cannot be Creation
As we have in the field of modern astronomy and physics the theories of the Big Bang and related descriptions of the cause of the universe, the scriptures delineate the process in which one can consider the universe as having evolved from the state of an original ubiquitous continuum, into greater and greater diversified forms and more and more externalised shapes. The affirmation mostly centres round the enunciation that the Supreme Being was engaged in tapas, which is the original concentration of the Universal Consciousness in a cosmic act of willing and deciding to be something logically differentiated from its own pure being. Unless there is space to create, there cannot be creation, and unless there is time to create, there would not be creation even then. The beginning of creation implies, therefore, the projection of space and time in a blend of instantaneous, co-eval and co-eternal mutual participation. Space-time is the fundamental base, the matrix of creation. The Will of the Absolute becomes an intensely powerful vibration into which the space-time complex reduces itself; that is to say, what is known as space-time is itself an unending sea of omnipresent vibration.
7. Adhidaiva Divinities are Countless in Number
The tripartite arrangement of the Universal Being into the subjective, objective and the principle of an intermediary consciousness, namely, adhyatma, adhibhuta and adhidaiva, raises also the question of the whole range of theological enunciations, since the adhidaiva is the divinity that controls the subjective and the objective sides of experience—adhyatma and adhibhuta—and at the same time rises above them in an instantaneous act of transcendence by not belonging either to the subjective or the objective side, though immanently present in both the sides, without which there cannot be a conscious relation between the subject and the object. The descent, or may we say ascent, of the hierarchy of subject-object relations in the history of the creation of the universe may be said to be constituted of an infinite series of degrees of lesser and larger dimensions, the relation becoming grosser and more inscrutable as the degrees come downwards in descent and enlarging in greater and greater perspicuity and transcendence as the degrees ascend towards the Absolute. Inasmuch as these degrees of ascent and descent are spread out everywhere in the universe, differing in quantity and quality in accordance with the corresponding degree of inclusiveness and transparency obtaining between the subjective and objective sides, it appears that these adhidaiva divinities are countless in number and these are, in fact, the many gods of popular religious worship.
8. Are there Really Many Gods?
Are there really many gods? The answer is yes, and no. There are many gods, because there are many degrees of the subject-object relation obtaining successively in a sequential order of the manifestation of the universe, and these being transcendentally operative powers beyond the subject and the object, they are verily gods, the shining ones, the conscious relation without which perception or knowledge would be impossible. But, in fact, the gods are not many, since their manifoldness is just a nomenclature designating the levels of consciousness through which the Absolute descends in terms of several subject-object relations in the story of creation. The Indian religious perspective visualises, adores and worships many a god, the god of the house or the family, the god of the village or the community, the god of the town, the god of the nation, the god of war, and the god of peace, and so on, because these concepts of many divinities follow automatically from the concept of there being many superphysical causes behind the multitudinous variety of events and occurrences in the world of nature.
9. The Higher Reason is the True Philosopher
The ratiocinating, discriminating, deciding, and logically judging faculty is at the higher level and is known as the buddhi, or the pure understanding. It is this faculty that draws conclusions on a consideration of pros and cons of situations by inference, either deductively or inductively. This is the realm of reason which has a dual aspect, namely, the lower and the higher. The lower reason, which is the one that mostly operates in all human individuals, is that operation which just collects the reports and evidences supplied by the mind through the sense organs, arranges them into a pattern of wholeness and passes a judgment on the nature of these sensory evidences. This would mean that the judgment of the lower reason is not qualitatively different from the reports of the sense organs, and its judgment is virtually the judgment of the sense organs arranged into a system of apparent collectivity, totality uniqueness and unity. But, the higher reason is something like an ambassador operating between the consciousness of human individuality and the possibilities ranging beyond the individual and its operations. The higher reason is the true philosopher and repository of the wisdom of life.
10. The Absolute is Realised in a State of Universal Selfhood
The individualities of created beings vary according to the several species or genera into whose mould the individualities are cast. According to the traditional Indian concept, these created species of beings run to eighty-four lakhs (8,400,000) in number, in which series the human being is said to occupy the topmost position, almost completing the purpose of nature in its scheme of evolution. The general arrangement of things in the evolutionary process is considered to be a gradual ascent from mineral to plant, from plant to animal, and from animal to man. This does not, however, mean that there are five categories separated as if in watertight compartments, for there is a countless variety even in this fivefold classification—varieties in the mineral constitution, varieties in the plant and vegetable kingdom, varieties in the animal kingdom and in the different kinds of subhuman species, and varieties even at the human level. The number, eighty-four lakhs, perhaps, would give a good picture of the tremendous specifications in almost unthinkable types of differentiation in the structure of individuality. Indeed nature’s work is not complete until the Absolute is realised in a state of Universal Selfhood.
11. God and Brute Crossed at One Point
The evolution of consciousness does not end with man, really. Man may be described as the image of God only figuratively but not truly, for there has to be a further ascent in the process of evolution from man to superman, a stage which acts as a link between man and the ultimate Godhead. Indications of the higher category of levels of life, beyond the human state, are available in the positive statements recorded in the Upanishads to the effect that above even the best of human beings there are the levels of the realms of the Pitrs, Gandharvas, Devas, the higher gods of the heavens, the perfected ones almost converging in the stages of Virat, Hiranyagarbha, Ishvara and Brahman. That is to say, man has to evolve further on and he at present occupies a place somewhat midway between god and brute crossed at one point. The restlessness, the finitude, the consciousness of limitation from every side, the incessant and resistless longings for expansion of one’s suzerainty in larger dimensions of space and endless life in time, nay, even the compulsions of being born and dying, announce in loud voice that man is far from the expected perfection to be reached in nature’s scheme of evolution, and there is a long way higher up, from man to Godman, and from Godman to God Himself.
12. Knowledge Rises as a Whole as an Inclusiveness
Knowledge is not always derived through sense-perception alone in the manner of a correspondence between the perception and the object. There has to be a sort of coherence of the different particulars connected with the knowledge process, and utility is not always the test of right knowledge. Pragmatism is not a workable doctrine in realms of human aspiration and philosophical deduction, which may not see the utilitarian theory as fitting well with the immutability characteristic of right knowledge. Utility does not bring out well the organic structure of knowledge, which is not just a linear relationship temporarily obtaining as an external relation between the subject and the object. Knowledge rises as a whole, as an inclusiveness, and not as a spatio-temporal ‘otherness’ of the object in its relation to the subject of perception. If the object is a reality alien to the subjective consciousness, there would be no knowledge of the object in an integral fashion. Knowledge and its object cannot be dovetailed as two different things in an artificial way. There has to be a vital unity between the two, so that the object may become the real content of knowledge.
13. Tantra Sadhana
A specialty of practice through Tantra is that there is no specific injunction towards a rejection of the outer for the sake of the inner, the material for the sake of the spiritual, or a considering of every joy in life as an evil to be eradicated wholesale. To the Tantra, the things of the world, the material forms of perception, are not really obstacles, and the desire for them cannot be overcame by rejecting the desire itself. Everything in the world, the world itself in its entirety, is a passage to perfection when its manifestations are viewed in their proper context and spirit. The visible is a way to the invisible. Human desires arise on account of the unintelligent attitude that man develops towards any desire, and there is a fear of desire since its pressure seems to be mastering him rather than himself being its controller arid director. The fact that the object is inseparably related to the subject, because the object is just the other pole of which the subject is one phase, is highlighted in Tantric forms of meditation. Thus comes the great dictum of the Tantra, that desire can be overcome only by desire, even as the object can be overcome only by the object. The other aspect of this principle held by the Tantra is that ‘that by which one falls is also that by which one rises’.
14. The Stuff of the World is Consciousness
It is the theory of relativity that actually shook the world of science from its very roots, which, while it accepted that matter and energy are inter-convertible (E=mc2), rose up to the necessity to investigate the very structure of space and time in its relation to gravitation. The relativity position is difficult to explain in a few words, but suffice it to say that it discovered that space is not like a sheet spread out in a three-dimensional fashion, and time is not just linear motion. Space and time go together to constitute what may be called space-time and form a four-dimensional continuum, very uncomfortably breaking down all the rules, laws and regulations of the three-dimensional world of common perception. Even the space-time continuum should not be regarded as a substance somewhat like a tangible something. Rather, the space-time of relativity is a conceptual field of mathematical point-events, reducing staggeringly the whole world to the nature of a universal mind-stuff. “The stuff of the world is consciousness,” said Arthur Eddington, and “God is a cosmic mathematical Thought,” said James Jeans. We have gone very far from the rural conception of a farmer’s field of harvest and plantation to the field of universal relativity, which looks more like God thinking His own Thought, rather than anything else, if we could be permitted to employ this phrase which we cannot avoid one day or the other.
15. Things in the World are called Actual Occasions
The interconnectedness of phenomena in the so-called events of the world taking place not in space or in time, but in a four-dimensional space-time continuum, was taken up with its more advanced implications for consideration by Alfred North Whitehead. In his Philosophy of Organism, Whitehead arrived at the conclusion that there are no set causes producing set effects, but anything can be an effect or a cause in a symmetrical manner of action and reaction, since the world as it is discovered by the theory of relativity is an organism with its parts integrally related to it. Cause and effect are continuous, the absence of which continuity would sever any possible relation between cause and effect. Things in the world are called ‘actual occasions’, the potential concentrated points of force whose very existence as well as structure are conditioned by the existence and structure of other ‘actual occasions’ which fill the cosmos as its constituents. The world is not a solid substance but is more like a field of law and order, an idea of total inclusiveness, a system of internal give-and-take policy obtaining among the individualities known as ‘actual occasions’, transforming the location of individuals into a fluid movement of a liquefied connection, as it were, with everything else also in the world.
16. The Perception of Primary Qualities
The specially religious import of modern physical science is highlighted also in the system of Samuel Alexander, which he purports to explain in his book entitled “Space, Time and Deity”. According to Alexander, space-time is the matrix of all things, the very substance of the universe, a clue that he gathers from the Theory of Relativity. The space-time matrix causes motion and force, and brings about the three-dimensional picture of what are known as primary qualities, like length, breadth and height, substance, volume and content. The perception of these primary qualities happens to be through the secondary qualities arising as a sort of action-reaction process obtaining between the object of perception, namely, a primary quality and the perceiving mind. To cite an instance, a leaf looks green in colour not because there is such a thing called greenness in nature itself, but because of an abstraction of properties automatically taking place in the internal structure of the leaf excluding all other characteristics in nature apart from what looks like green. So is the case with other colours and forms of objects.
17. The Atman is Consciousness Itself
The Upanishads hold that the waking consciousness is a whole by itself and constitutes a transparent activity of the mind, as contrasted with the states of dream and sleep. To the Upanishads, the mind by itself is not self-conscious and it is illumined by the true self within, the Atman, which is the only thing that is finally conscious; verily, the Atman is consciousness itself. Its consciousness permeates the entire physical system in the waking condition and even the body then appears to be conscious, as we can feel a sensation of awareness, in waking, when we touch the body, or when we experience ourselves as a whole body in that state. The waking state of consciousness is occupied with perception of objects and storing within itself impressions of the forms of perception. These impressions remain, like the repeated impressions created on the same receiving film of a photographic camera, as impressions piled one over the other as a large mass of chaotic accumulation of potentialities of perception which are driven into the subconscious level when active perception takes place through waking consciousness. The waking, dreaming and deep sleep states are herein explained as conditions of the mind-stuff.
18. To be Truly God is an Art
The human individual is ostensibly concerned with the true nature of things; it loves the world of truth as distinct from the realm of untruth—stages of which have been briefly noticed in our earlier findings—but there is also the love of system, symmetry, order, pattern and beauty which satisfies the mind deeply. While truth attracts our admiration, awe and wonder, beauty evokes a sense of composure, sobriety and inner delight. All kinds of art come under the study of aesthetics. There are indeed many arts: kinds of expertness in methodical presentation to the point of perfection. Good writing is an art, good administration is an art, maintenance of good health is an art, being always happy within is an art, to live harmoniously with one’s atmosphere or environment is an art, to think logically is an art, to be truly good is an art. All things that ‘satisfy’ are embodied in art. The greatest arts, supreme objects of aesthetic enjoyment are, to state them in an ascending order of importance, architecture and sculpture; drawing and painting; music, dance and drama; and, above all, literature.
19. People Make the Law to Administer People
The word ‘society’, for all outward look, would just mean nothing more than a group of people come together on account of their common ideology, cultural values, religious outlook and kindred characteristics which unite them as a bond commonly linking them into the pattern of a whole. The question is: Does society consist of individual personalities, as human beings, or does it consist of the bond mentioned, which is ideational? A society of people can be there even if their constituent members happen to live geographically away from one another, but even a group of people sitting in a single room may not form a society if among them there is nothing to call a common cause. Actually, the common cause is what can be called society, and not merely the persons. A large number of people travelling in a railway compartment do not necessarily form a society. What then is society? A society can constitute itself into an administrative organisation, such as a government, and frame laws and rules to restrain and order the life and conduct of people. Who makes the law to administer whom? It is clear that people make the law to administer people.
20. The Term ‘Moksha’ Describes the Final Aim of All Things
What are the needs of people? One may say that they are social, economic and political security. But, this would be to look at things only from the peripheral level. Ancient Indian thought, recorded in the scriptural texts, such as the Smritis, Epics and Puranas, which have gone into great detail in this field of investigation, has classified the basic requirement in terms of what are known as dharma, artha, kama and moksha. Here is a standing example of the great intuition of the early seers into the essentials of human life. The four aims stated exhaust the entire area of human aspiration and performance. The term ‘moksha’ describes the final aim of all things. The resistless asking, characterising all living beings in a variety of ways, has to end somewhere, sometime. There cannot be only asking without the chance of fulfilling it. An endless asking for wider dimensions which can be seen working vigorously in every living being, and most perspicaciously in human nature, has to have its origin nowhere except in the very consciousness and the very life principle of all beings.
21. Man Lives to Strive Towards the Attainment of Moksha
Man lives, finally, to strive towards the attainment of moksha. Nevertheless, the aspiring human individual involved in the shackle of body and mind has to pay some attention to what exactly is to be done while actually involved in this manner. The physical body has its material needs and the mind has its emotional calls. The working for moksha is also to take into account these lesser psychophysical requirements. The physical needs come under the realm of artha, including material possessions necessary for the survival of the physical body. Food, clothing and shelter are the barest minimum necessary for the continuance of life. Everyone has the right to live, even as everyone has a duty to achieve ultimate freedom. Further, a phenomenon presented as a content of experience should be considered as real enough to call for concerted attention. That the body is not the soul does not preclude the necessity to pay due attention to the demands of the body, for even a phenomenon not finally real assumes a reality to the extent it is received and accepted into the constitution of consciousness.
22. The Experience of Meditation
The consciousness which earlier was locked up within the physical body begins to peep through the apertures of the localised individuality, and beholds itself in persons and things beyond the limits of the single body to which it was shackled. There is then a sense of power felt within, a feeling of control over outer conditions, and a satisfaction that one has obtained what is required to be obtained, done what is to be done, and known what is to be known. The sense organs begin to loosen their clutches over the body and, loosening themselves from their bodily locations, relate themselves to the divinities behind their operations, becoming thereby channels of the flow of super-physical forces that enter the personality of the meditating individual. The sun and the moon and the stars, the very sky, and all space and time, slowly open up the secret of their really not being situated in large physical distances and of their internal intimacy and organic connection with the very spot and the very personality of the meditating individual.
23. Dharma in Fact, is God in Action
Dharma is the law that grants freedom and also restrains freedom at the same time. While it is necessary to give freedom to everyone, it is also necessary to limit everyone’s freedom to the extent to which everyone else also needs freedom equally. Society has to cohere into a harmonious blending of all its parts in the requisite proportion of emphasis on each particular part. Since unity appears to be the law of all things, there has to be some principle of action that insists on its introduction, in the manner necessary, amidst the diversity of isolated things and human beings apparently divided among themselves. Physical gravitation, chemical coherence, physiological health, mental sanity, emotional balance, and logical consistency, are various forms of the working of the unity of all life. This principle, this rule of the cohesion of divided parts into the pattern of perfection, is dharma, which inexorably works everywhere, and, at all times. Dharma, in fact, is God in action, the Absolute revealing itself in and through its manifestations by degrees of concrescence and division. Nothing worth the while, political solidarity, social peace or personal happiness, can be achieved without the sanction of dharma, which is an impersonal law of equity and justice, not to be confused with any form of cult, creed, faith or religion.
24. If Everyone Tells only Untruth, It would Lose its Purpose
It was held by thinkers like Immanuel Kant that there is also another way in which we can ascertain what is right or proper. Assume, for a while, if you would like everyone in the world to behave in the same way as you, and watch the consequences of such a proposition. Would a thief like that everyone in the world should also be a thief? In that case, theft would lose its meaning, because the significance of theft is in that there are some people in the world who are not thieves. If everyone tells only untruth, it would lose its purpose. Untruth seems to succeed because there are some persons in the world who speak the truth. If everyone is equally violent in respect of everyone else, the purpose of violence would be defeated. When a conduct, behaviour or intention cannot be permitted to be adopted by everyone in the world, such a policy should be regarded as contrary to the expected norms of ethics and morality. Kant also held a third principle as important in this case, namely, the ‘imperative’ character of the impulsion in people to do what is right and just and an inward abhorrence automatically arising in oneself to do what is improper and unjust.
25. What is the Meaning of the Greatest Happiness?
The hedonistic and utilitarian doctrines of ethics which make out that the quantum and kind of happiness available to the largest number of persons is the principle of ethical goodness, or that the extent of utility in life is what determines conduct, have a flaw in their doctrines. What does one mean by saying that the largest number of people should have the greatest happiness? How many people are we to include within this largest number? Perhaps, the entirety of the human species in the world. But is it possible to imagine a state of affairs where every human being in the world is equally happy? Secondly, what is the meaning of ‘the greatest happiness’? Where does one reach its limit? It is clear that the happiness of the mind is superior to the pleasures of the body, an obvious fact which does not require an explanation. But, is not the joy of the spirit greater than even mental satisfaction? Where do we actually land ourselves in our computation of the greatest form of happiness? It is the famous opinion of the Upanishad that, supposing there is a ruler of the whole Earth, uncontested by anyone, youthful, healthy, educated and cultured, good and loved by all people—if such a person can be imagined to be existing at any time—the happiness of such a person would be one unit of happiness.
26. The Greatest of All Services
The well-known programme revolving round the dictum, “Love thy neighbour as thyself,” has far-reaching implications. Why should one love one’s neighbour? The Vedanta philosophy would give the answer: “Because thy neighbour is thy own self.” The responsibility of a person to another person, who is here called the neighbour, depends on the extent to which one recognises in the person of another the essence of one’s own self. Those who render the greatest service to mankind are people who do not merely behold in front of them a multitude of persons and feel a social obligation or a political necessity to be considerate and serviceful to them, but those in whom a deeper impulse is welling up to see their own selves in all. The spiritual leaders of mankind alone can render the greatest service to people in terms of their very souls, while the common social-welfare projects can touch only the fringe of humanity’s needs. To serve the body with food, clothing, shelter and medical attention is indeed good, but a better service would be to educate people and make them confident in themselves with the recognition of the dignity of man as an emblem of divinity. To work for the salvation of the soul is the greatest of all services. The saints and sages, with their powerful thoughts and concentrated feelings, render a service which cannot be seen with the physical eyes.
27. The First in the Kingdom of God
The civic duty of man is a basic common sense consideration that one should have to the environment of people and the world, and it is good to be always friendly with the community around. Not only that, it would be better to be kind and serviceful to persons in the vicinity. If charity begins at home, love and service also start in the immediate neighbourhood. Goodness of behaviour is more a quality of outlook than a quantitative reach of one’s actions to distant corners of the world. To be qualitatively good in respect of even one person would speak more gloriously of that source of service than to be just quantitatively philanthropic to a large number of individuals. Goodness does not require any announcement in public, it does not seek recognition, not even a word of thanks, for, “Is not the least one in this world going to be recognised as the first in the kingdom of God?” Civic obligations arise from human nature itself. They spring from the very needs of human make-up which has connections with different kinds of facility that is expected to be received from the world. The brute man, the vegetable man, the animal man, and the truly human man are classifications possible even at the human level.
28. Work Everyone Must
In civic body or society it is obligatory that everyone should contribute something to the survival and welfare of that body, and no one can remain idle, doing nothing. Work everyone must. The participation of the person in the form of service to society is naturally graded according to the station in which the person is placed in society. The circumstances of one’s life, one’s knowledge and capacity, will decide the quality and the extent to which such a service would be expected by the society to which one belongs. Society lives by the mutual coordination of its constituents, as a fabric of cloth is what it is because of the threads that go to form it. Since no single individual can be said to have the ability to contribute individually everything that the society would need, the ancient system of law has laid down that each one should share with the social set-up the highest possibility of which one is capable. Analysing the requirements of society as consisting of the necessary ways and means of maintaining and administering society, the law-givers in terms of the social order spelt out such needs as the fourfold blend of directing power, executive power, commercial power and manpower, known in Sanskrit as Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Sudra, representing wisdom, administration, trade and work, respectively.
29. Nature, the First and Immediate Neighbour
Civic duties also include ecological considerations and the obligation to protect nature in its originality and purity. Let mountains stand, let rivers flow, let trees grow, let fresh air blow, and let no one interfere with their freedom, freshness and innocence. Polluting air with smoke and dust, vitiating water by dumping waste and dirt on it, destroying living trees which are responsible for the strength of the ground on which they stand and are also responsible for rainfall in the suitable season, are civic offences on the part of man. Throwing garbage on open ground is prohibitory to commonweal and health of people. Is not nature the first and immediate neighbour whom one has to love as one’s own self? Life survives by the principle of economy it maintains in itself. Life is a system of harmony without excess in any of its features. Economic conditions do not exhaust themselves merely in gold and silver, land and property. Economy is the principle of the conservation of life and energy, the proper maintenance of balance in its internally adjusted parts. As more than the normal or less than the normal needs of the body may turn it sick and make it droop in weakness, so can the mind lose its power and become ill by either excessive activity or inactivity.
30. The One Soul Permeating All Life
It is the gospel of the Bhagavadgita that has lifted the dignity of labour and social welfare work above its ordinary meaning generally limited to the physical and empirical circumference of society. While the Bhagavadgita emphasises the need to work as an obligatory call on each and every person, it also enlightens us as to why we should work at all. The reason is not just the material comforts of social existence but a higher demand from the spiritual side of human nature which in a state of insight beholds the one soul permeating all life and the need to present oneself before others in the light of a presence in others of that which is present in oneself also. Work, then, becomes a larger requirement on the part of man than merely a social necessity. The Gita exhorts us to work and serve as a Superman does, nay, as God Himself operates in creation. We are told that the Creator projected beings together with a compulsion for sacrifice (sahayajna), an impulse to share with others what one has, even as one would wish to share for oneself something of what others have, in a mutual give-and-take system of cooperation, inasmuch as everyone may have something which may be the need of another and no one can have all things that one may require in life.