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On Character
by Swami Krishnananda

Character is one's inward disposition necessitated in terms of the law of the Universal Presence of the Supreme Being at any given level of its expression in empirical life. The implementation of this law in outward behaviour is conduct. Hence one's character and conduct have to be assessed, not in the light of what a book has said, what a community or society considers as its tradition and culture, or even what all humanity in its human judgment of good and evil may regard as right, but in consonance with that principle of existence in accordance with whose requirements all life is one organism of indivisible interdependence of existence and value. It is the law of the higher level that decides the worth of the lower, and as long as any particular disposition or behaviour is in harmony with the factors that contribute to the completion or perfection of a personality in the direction of the level that is immediately higher in the gradational scheme of the Universe, that should be regarded as character, conduct, morality, ethics, or by whatever name we would like to designate that attitude or outlook of the individual. The Cosmic Form was revealed to Arjuna, the harmonious man, and not to Yudhishthira, the virtuous man.

When the higher understanding which is thoroughly convinced of the Sole Existence of the Absolute as the only Being and Reality possible, and everything sensed, known, willed or felt is only a spatiotemporal abstraction of partial aspects wrested out of their true context in the perfection of the whole, the mode of life of an individual can and has to be guided by the necessities of consciousness in its expressions through the levels of being, and not by the stereotyped standards of unchanging scriptural codes, the whimsical customs and traditional tracks of the divergent social groups of mankind which go along the beaten path of the demands of time, place, individual and social circumstances, as well as the brainwashing consequences of family and community beliefs driven into the mind right from childhood. Every passing need, whether physical, vital, mental, intellectual or social, whose neglect or abrogation and rejection in the name of the rule and law of the tradition-bound principles of people is likely to ruin the physical and psychological peace of an individual, or even hurl the individual to a rebirth for exacting a fulfilment of what is wilfully ignored and depressed with force, is to be considered a vital and wholesome and inextricable part of character and conduct justifiable in the eyes of the All-Seeing Universal Being, notwithstanding that the same may be looked upon as anathema by the blinded eyes of the social customs, rules and regulations of humankind which cannot rise to the level of an impersonal perception of the values of life.