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Awareness Cannot Break Dharma
Ruth: I have a question. In Ram’s talks he says that compulsions are caused by Isvara and that you are not responsible – he quotes Duryodhana from the Bhagavad Gita saying that he just can’t help what he is doing. Ram also says to just have compassion for it and accept it and that you can’t change it. If that’s the case then are such acts in violation of dharma?
Sundari: This depends who is asking the question as, of course, as awareness you cannot violate dharma. However, as the jiva, whether enlightened or not, you are subject to the gunas even though as a jivanmukta you are free of them. Nonetheless, eternal vigilance is required because rajas and tamas being the sneaky devils they are can still cause trouble for the jiva, but not for awareness, of course. Moksa is not about perfecting the person, it is freedom from the person AND freedom for the person. It is a both/and not an either/or because the jiva never leaves the apparent reality; moksa is for the jiva as the self is already free. So yes, one has to accept one’s conditioning with dispassion because Isvara gave it you and it is pointless fighting it.
There is a saying in the scriptures that the best kind of sannyasi is the one who totally ignores their vasanas and does not seek to change them because they know they are not real and not self. However, this addresses people who lived in a different culture and at a different time. For the average person today, freedom means understanding your conditioning in the light of self-knowledge and doing what is right for you. Following dharma means non-injury to yourself and all “others” because if you do not do this you will suffer. This means taking the appropriate action to clean up your act so that your life is congruent with dharma.
Failure to do this causes agitation (rajas/tamas): lack of peace (sattva).
This is why we stress the need to render the binding vasanas non-binding as an essential part of self-actualisation. Without doing this it will be very difficult to be free of the person and for the person to be free because the vasanas cause agitation through adharmic action (or non-action). It is all about peace of mind. If you can maintain sattva without rendering your binding vasanas non-binding and never break dharma, well and good. But it is highly unlikely. One has to use common sense because obviously there are things about your character (conditioning) that you will not be able to change. As it is all Isvara, as long as you do not identify with it and observe it as the self with great dispassion sattva can be maintained. But if it leads to agitation dharma is not being followed.
Dharma is a very tricky issue because it is different for everyone. What is dharmic for one person is adharmic for another because dharma depends on what is right for you. There are three basic types of dharma: (1) samanya dharma is universal values, in other words, the laws that govern the dharma field and apply to everyone. This is also called Svadharma with a big “S”; (2) visesa dharma, how the individual interprets these universal laws and applies them to their personal life; and (3) svadharma with a small “s” which is the individual’s conditioning, or vasana load. The individual jiva needs to act in accordance with his or her inborn nature (conditioning) or they will not be following dharma.
But this does not mean that gives one licence to harm yourself or others. Duryodhana was acting in accordance with his nature and in accordance with the dharma of a warrior but he was driven by greed – desire – so he was also breaking dharma by cheating, which is what caused the war. But Ramji is right, we need to have compassion for this side of ourselves because we all have a Duryodhana inside us, it is just rajas and tamas. He was not doing anything, the vasanas were doing him, as they do with everyone.
~ Om, Sundari