One Year Course

Vedanta is an impersonal method of self inquiry. The first stage is listening with an open mind, setting aside your personal views. Listening without judgement is difficult but not impossible. If you find yourself deciding whether or not you like what you hear, you are not listening. There is nothing to like or dislike, only something to know. If you listen without prejudice, the words will make complete sense, but if you are only looking for an explanation of reality that fits your views, Vedanta is not for you. If you surrender to this process, you will succeed.

Lesson 12 - The Value of Values

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Hearing and reflecting on the teachings of Vedanta are the primary means of self knowledge, but you cannot hear or reflect properly if the mind is not prepared. Therefore, a secondary means of knowledge…the knowledge of values…is required.

Sadly, the modern spiritual world is averse to teaching values, much to its detriment, preferring instead to focus exclusively on the self, the ultimate value. But you cannot ignore the moral dimension of reality in your quest for freedom because values or lack thereof impact directly on the ability to understand and assimilate knowledge.

This important chapter is based on Swami Dayananda’s discussion of the values required for self inquiry presented in the Bhagavad Gita and other texts. I cannot claim authorship of it, although I think the discussion is enhanced by my edits.

Knowledge Requires Three Factors

For knowledge of any kind to take place, three factors are required: the knower, the object of knowledge and a means of knowledge. To know a sound, I - the knower - must be present. Second, the sound must happen and thirdly I need ears.

The first two factors are obvious but the third is not always obvious. If I am within the range of a sound and did not hear it I have to see if my ears are working. If I have my ears checked and they are functioning properly, the problem lies elsewhere. The only other possibility is my attention. If it was engaged elsewhere when the sound occurred, I will fail to hear the sound. For basic perceptual knowledge the sense organs are not enough. They need to be backed by attention.

Mind must be Prepared

When all factors, including an attentive mind, are present sometimes knowledge does not take place. For instance, if I really want to know the meaning of the theory of relativity and I attend a university class and attentively listen as a famous scientist explains formula E=MC2 yet fail to understand, it is because my mathematics background is insufficient. To solve the problem I need to bone up on my calculus, because my mind is not prepared to understand.

Words as a Means of Knowledge

For Vedanta to work the teacher needs to communicate the vision of non-duality and the inquirer’s mind must be prepared. Vedanta is a means of self knowledge whose words and sentences reveal the self. They can give indirect self knowledge if the self is beyond my field of perception and direct knowledge if it is within my field of experience. Since the subject matter of Vedanta is me and I am always and only experiencing me, words can give me direct self knowledge.

For the words to work the inquirer needs to understand them as the teacher understands them. Imprecise definitions don’t work because they are open to interpretation. Vedanta does not work if it is interpreted. The words of Vedanta carry precise meanings. To appreciate the intended meaning, unintended meanings must be eliminated. So the teaching establishes a context in which unintended meanings are removed. Without the proper context, self knowledge will not happen in the teaching situation. If words like unlimited, eternal, transcendental and samadhi are used but are not contextualized, they will only create confusion.

However, even if you have a teacher skilled in the methodology of teaching, one who can unfold the exact meaning of the words, and a dedicated inquirer who is seeking self knowledge, it will not happen unless the inquirer’s mind is prepared. Without a prepared mind Vedanta is like calculus for a person still working on the multiplication tables.

This does not mean that Vedanta cannot be understood, only that a prepared mind is required. Knowledge takes place only in the Subtle Body. If the conditions are favorable and knowledge does not take place there is an obstruction.

Values a Secondary Means for Self knowledge

Spiritual practices are useful for quieting the mind but they do not prepare the mind for Self-knowledge. One does not need to be a mature or morally sound person to breathe a certain way or twist one’s body into a yoga pose. A prepared mind reflects non-dual values and ethical attitudes. Values are the primary means to prepare the mind for inquiry. Specific practices are secondary. The knowledge of values is not self knowledge. It is a means and self knowledge is the end.

Self knowledge does not necessarily happen when the appropriate values are present, but it may happen. Without the right value structure, self knowledge will probably not happen and if it does, it will be basically useless.

Universal Values - Samanya Dharma

Because reality is non-dual there is only one person, awareness with three bodies. The implication of this statement in terms of values is obvious: you and I are one. If we are one spiritually, appearances created by Maya to the contrary notwithstanding, I should value you as I value myself. And since my actions reflect my values I should treat you like I treat myself. I treat myself well because I love myself and you deserve the same.

A behavioral norm based on the non-dual nature of reality is called a dharma or right action. How I do not want to be treated is called adharma, wrong action. I don’t lie to you because I don’t want you to lie to me. I don’t injure you because I don’t want you to injure me. Dharma and adharma are universal and stem from a common sense regard for one’s own interests. They vary slightly from culture to culture.

Situational Ethics - Visesa Dharma

Although dharmas and adharmas are more or less universal they are not absolute. The context that calls for a response plays an important role in determining how I behave. If I have a ruptured appendix I will surrender my value for non-injury and go under the knife without surrendering my general value for non-injury to others. Although my standards for behavior and attitude may not be subjective, my interpretation of these values is very likely to be. For example, I may strictly apply my value for truthfulness to the words of others but not so rigorously to my own.

Values cannot be dismissed, nor can they be contravened with impunity . A thief locks up his stolen property because he cannot escape the value for non-stealing. If he was not disturbed he would not hide his loot. Universal values are built in to the very fabric of creation and my mind is an integral part of it. Failure to live up to a value puts me in conflict with the world and with myself. It creates guilt and guilt is not an aid to self knowledge.

To assimilate the teachings of non-duality, I must follow dharma. If I understand that both good and bad actions are apparently real, then values are no longer a problem for me. However, this does not mean that my actions transcend dharma and adharma. It means that my actions in the apparent reality will be dharmic because I have nothing to gain or lose by violating dharma. Only when I imagine that the apparent reality does not exist is it possible for me to violate dharma, disturb my mind and the minds of others. A conflicted mind is not helpful. It produces counterproductive emotions: anger, sadness, regret, low self esteem and a sense of failure.

When my values are the same as those of others operating in my environment they cause no conflict, but if I am not willing to behave according the expectations of others I cannot expect others to behave according to mine. For example, although I have a value for non-injury, the number one universal value, and I do not like be criticized, yet if I criticize others, I will be conflicted. If the world expects me to be truthful…which it does…and I expect the world to be truthful…which I do…yet being truthful conflicts with a personal value for money, for example, I may lie to get or keep my money. I am quite happy to follow my personal values, but when they conflict with universal values there is scope for suffering because universal values do not go away when I override them to gain some passing comfort; they are built into the very fabric of my being.

In fact, my personal values are often the source of significant agitation irrespective the correctness of my behavior. My value for clean air or healthy food puts me at odds with the whole world because virtually everything these days is polluted. If I am particularly concerned with justice, which is based on the non-dual nature of reality, I will become agitated when someone treats me unfairly or even if I believe they might treat me unfairly. Spiritual values for truth, beauty and justice can cause as much mischief as petty worldly values.

The Knower – Doer Split

If I value truth but tell a lie, I feel guilty because I have created a split between the knower and the doer. For example, the knower goes on a diet but the doer has a second helping; the knower decides to get up early and go for a walk but the doer turns off the alarm. This angers the knower who starts to condemn me, making me feel useless and uncomfortable.

At the same time the disturbance hides the deeper reason for my actions. I never want what I want for the reason I think. An unconscious force is always at work. The situational things that I value are not valued for their own sake, only for how they make me feel…for a sense of security or pleasure or virtue. A vegetarian does not value vegetables for the vegetables sake but for the feeling that he or she is doing animals a favor. So what I really value is feeling comfortable with myself. If I understand this and appreciate the fact that there is an upside and a downside to every action, I am in a position to inquire directly into the self because the joy that comes from fulfilling any value, personal or universal, comes from it. Nonetheless, this analysis of values is intended to heal the knower-doer split and make inquiry workable.

Swami Dayananda says, “The source of a situational value is that I expect to feel good through exercising choice based on it. When I clearly see that a particular choice will make me suffer, I do not make that choice. Thus, when I become thoroughly convinced that acting contrary to a general value will result in suffering for me, my compliance with that value becomes choiceless, like the answer to the question, “do you want happiness or unhappiness? ” If speaking truth is a value for me, and I am completely convinced that non-truth brings suffering, there is no choice but to speak the truth. Speaking truth becomes natural, spontaneous and my partial value for a universal value has now become a well-assimilated personal value. ”

“When I want certain unassimilated universal values to become part of my value structure, I must exercise deliberation in following them until I am convinced of their value in terms of knowledge. When I am convinced, observing them becomes spontaneous. For the person with assimilated ethical values, life becomes very simple. No conflicts cloud the mind. For that one, the teaching of Vedanta is like the meeting of gas and fire. Knowledge ignites in a flash. ”

“For values to be valuable for me their upside and downside must be understood and not simply imposed from without in the form of religious or social dogma. Therefore Vedanta calls these values knowledge. The following values are interrelated and define a harmonious frame of mind in which knowledge can occur. Each term highlights a certain attitude, the value for which must be discovered personally, so that the attitude becomes a natural aspect of the inquirer’s frame of mind. ”

A ‘Better Person? ’

Vedanta is not self-improvement. An inquirer is not trying to become a perfect or better person because both good and not so good people suffer a sense of limitation and crave freedom. He or she is trying to realize his or her primary identity, the ever-free self, the non-experiencing witness of the person. Most approaches to enlightenment involve denial of the person, punishment of the person, transcendence of the person, or thoughtless transformation of the person, probably because making a person acceptable to his or her self is very difficult. But it is the person who wants freedom and it is the person that needs to seek it so we have to take the person into account.

Our discussion of values is challenging because it clearly states that we may be saddled with values that prevent us from inquiry, which is to say that we are not up to the mark spiritually, which in turn may make us think that we are not good people. The investigation of values is only intended to get our minds settled enough to discriminate, not improve us. However, in so far as a person is little more than his or her priorities and values, any change in one’s value structure amounts to a change in the (apparent) person. In general a good person is one whose thinking and actions conform to universal values and a bad person is one whose don’t. So if you have a feeling of inadequacy and low self esteem and want to be a better person, the following analysis of the moral dimension of reality will be useful, whether or not you are a seeker of freedom.

Understanding Values

1) Inquiry into Pride, Vanity, Conceit, Self Glorification

A simple, factual self-respectfulness is a good quality. However most of us have doubts about our adequacy. We secretly fear that we are not good enough and are unable to provide ourselves with the confidence we need to be happy with our lives. So we look to others to validate us. In order to gain validation we are often tempted to exaggerate our qualifications and accomplishments so that others will think we are special and glorify us. If I am completely certain about my talents and abilities I take them for granted and have no need for validation or support.

Demanding respect from others invites many disturbances because the one who asks for respect is not in control of the result. People give it for reasons only known to them. When their minds change, the validation is withdrawn and hurt arises. Any form of hurt is due to pride, an inflated ego, one that is excessively attached to what it thinks it knows, believes, possess or how it looks. For example, body conscious individuals who spend an inordinate amount of time grooming or calling attention to their bodies with expensive clothing, outlandish hairdos, tattoos and piercings often do so to attract attention they are incapable of giving themselves. Such egos, inflated by pride and vanity, invariably end up deflated. Often they waste time and energy trying to ‘save face’ or plotting revenge. Additionally, it is not always easy to determine another person’s true feelings. A person who lives by the opinions of others squanders his or her valuable mental resources and is not qualified for inquiry.

The Solution - Inquiry into Isvara

If I take time to analyze the factors involved, I will clearly see that demanding respect from others cannot bring comfort or satisfaction, even if I am a highly accomplished person. First, I should investigate the basis of the factors that motivate me to demand respect from the world. The answer is that I believe that I am the author of my actions, the producer and owner of my gifts and skills. But is this true? What did I actually create? It is clear that I did not create my body. I appeared here one fine day encased in a fleshy meat tube by no effort of my own. I did not create my sense of individuality either: it came along with the body and the world in which the body exists, a world that I definitely did not create. Certain tendencies…skills and abilities…sprouted from within me by no will of my own. I can utilize them but I cannot claim authorship of them. Whatever achievements I claim depended on opportunities that were provided by life itself. I did not cook them up. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. How I got there is a mystery.

If I am a reasonable person I should conclude that whatever talents, skills and gifts I enjoy are given by Isvara. I should appreciate them as such and make use of them…or not…without fanfare. They should speak for themselves. Whether or not they are noticed and appreciated by others should not concern me. A flower in a vacant lot in a slum blooms unnoticed for no other reason than it is its nature to bloom. Pride ceases to be important when I see that it is a false value that does not work.

Once I understand the psychology of pride I should remain alert and when it raises its ugly head I should examine my thinking dispassionately without a sense of guilt or self condemnation. Why do I care what people think? Because I feel inadequate. Is it true that I am inadequate? Will the attention of others remove my sense of inadequacy? Even when I am acknowledged by people, the sense of satisfaction it engenders does not last and I am forced to seek approval once more. When does it end? Is it reasonable to claim these things when it is clear that I did not create them? Is this whole samskara real? Who is this for? It is for my ego. Is my ego real? It is not even apparently real because it disappears when I look into it. Why do I invest so much energy in something that is not even real?

I cannot just drop my prideful ego but by meeting it head on, I see how pointless my expectations are and after some time, this samskara loses its power to disturb my mind. The habit of seeking approval eventually winds down and I become an uncomplicated person.

2) Pretension, Affectation

Pride is based on real accomplishments or abilities but pretension is self glorification without a cause. I want to give the impression that I am something I am not. If I dress like a prince and my bank account is overdrawn and I am dodging bill collectors, I am pretentious. If I claim to have a country estate in the south of France when I live in a rent controlled apartment in the ghetto, I am pretentious. If I can’t answer the doorbell without first tidying the living room for fear that someone might think I am a messy person or I cannot appear in public in a mis-matched outfit without my lipstick and every hair in place, I am a poseur. If I have done no meaningful spiritual work but wear orange robes, shave my head, carry a staff and wander around spiritual centers with a beatific smile pasted on my face to convince others of my mystic attainments, I am not a mahatma. I am a phony.

All unhealthy samskaras stem from the same basic reason, the understanding of which should never be far from my mind. It is: I do not feel good about myself. I cannot accept myself. I want to be different. I am so extroverted that I cannot see my own psychology and take responsibility for it so I rely on others to do what I should be doing for myself i. e. make me feel good. I need to impress people so they will validate me.

This is a particularly difficult problem because I don’t even have the satisfaction of knowing that what I am saying about myself is true. I am therefore committed to falsehood and find myself in direct conflict truth. This attitude is particularly vexatious because there is no way to compel others to respond favorably to my lies. Because I badly need others to respond and because at any time my lie may be exposed, I am subjected to a surfeit of stress. To make it work I need to be very alert, keep all my friends apart and have a very long memory. There is a belief that karma yoga…leaving the result to Isvara…works in this situation, but it doesn’t because karma yoga assumes that one’s values are in order. It does not get your values in order. It is not to be used to mask a psychological problem or manage an adharmic situation.

Obviously, a mind practicing untruth is too agitated to dispassionately inquire. It is telling me that I am unacceptable and Vedanta is telling me that I am acceptable both as a jiva and as awareness. So there is a glaring disconnect between what I am pursuing…validation for a part of my self that is not even real…and what say I want…freedom from the suffering produced by my identification with that unhealthy part.

The solution is to admit the problem, accept scripture’s idea of who I am and be willing to consider other’s views because they see what I don’t see about myself. Or I should have the confidence to discount their views because I know that they are projecting a false image on me owing to their own lack of clarity.

There is no learning and no growth for poseurs. I cannot solve even the basic problems of desire and anger if I am a proud, pretentious person. Without it I become a simple individual capable of honest self examination.

(3) Non-Injury

I have a value for non-injury because I do not want to be hurt. It is the same for all living beings. Non-injury is a nuanced value difficult to apply owing to the apparent nature of the world in which we live. Three categories of injury prevail: actions, words and thoughts. The most obvious expression of an injurious action is physical violence.

A common expression of non-injury favored by spiritual types is vegetarianism. The argument is: although life eats life, human beings are not in the same choiceless category as animals whose food is dictated by instinct. We are self conscious and endowed with free will and since there are many means of survival we are free to choose a non-ambulatory food source. Although plants are living beings they are not conscious as animals are so eating grains, fruits and vegetables is morally superior to killing conscious beings. Swami Dayananda, a great champion of vegetarianism, says, “To bring meat eating in line with dharma I would have to kill my prey bare handed without the assistance of weapons, thus exposing myself to the possibility of becoming some animal’s dinner. ”If I am not willing to do this I am little more than an unethical cowardly hypocrite “owing to an incompletely assimilated value for non-injury revealed by my failure to risk the possibility of suffering the same result. ”

For many, vegetarianism is sufficient as far as the value for non-injury is concerned, but the definition of non-injury includes two other types of karma: thoughts and words. Words should truthful and pleasing. White lies are OK in certain situations because compassion trumps honesty. Our sensitivity to physical violence needs to extend to include a careful consideration of the effects of our words on others and the effects of harmful thoughts on our own minds. You may think that your bad feelings are justified by the adharmic behavior of others but they do not punish the offender or make the situation right; they only serve to hurt your own mind.

It is a shame that since the Sixties, when hedonistic individualism became acceptable…if it feels good, do it!. . . society became increasingly disturbed and the traditions of civility, manners particularly, gradually declined. The solution to negative thoughts and actions is to develop an appreciation of the feelings of others because, considering the non-dual nature of reality, there are no others. ‘Others’ is only an idea in an ignorant mind. To develop such an appreciation I need to look beyond my own needs. Such an attitude is conducive to self inquiry in so far as both inner and outer conflict is not conducive to self inquiry.

The Psychology:When I feel small, inadequate and incapable of getting what I want I may resort to violence to achieve my ends.

The Solution:Develop an appreciation for the feelings of others.

(4) Accommodation, Commodiousness

To cheerfully and calmly accept any type of person or a given situation…not resigned indifference…is to be accommodating. It is based on a clear understanding that, owing to the law of karma, things cannot be different from the way they are. A person’s behavior is a consequence of his or her conditioning and is not subject to will power. People are incarnated to work out karma, not to please me. Situations are the result of all the factors in the dharma field and are beyond the control of individuals. It is foolish to like or dislike them. All successful relationships depend on one’s ability to accommodate to others. Similarly, I cannot be different from what I am and my situation is the result of my karma so I should cheerfully accommodate my apparent self, not desire it to be different or struggle to change its circumstances. Those who refuse to adjust to reality are constantly disturbed and unfit for inquiry.

To develop this important quality I should learn to appreciate variety, cultivate an attitude of diversity and constantly monitor my mind for a sense of dissatisfaction. When I find myself dissatisfied, I should reduce my expectations. It is helpful to see myself and everyone else as helpless fools…or inert objects. I have good relationships with inert objects because I expect nothing of such things. I suffer fools gladly because I know they cannot be otherwise.

The key to accommodation is to respond to and identify with the person, not to their actions. Understand that the person is the self temporarily bewitched by Maya. Try to remember that Isvara is behind an angry outburst, a fit of jealousy or a domineering action and appreciate the fact that if they have no control, I have even less. With this kind of understanding it is easy to become accommodative.

Mechanical reactions stifle accommodation. To be free to respond to the person I must act consciously, not react like a robot according to my vasanas. Swamiji again, “A reaction is a mechanical, non-deliberate behavior, a conditioned response borrowed from previous experiences, one not given prior sanction by my will. That is to say, it is a response which I do not measure against the value structure which I am trying to assimilate, but which I just allow to happen.

Reactions can go against all my wisdom and experience; these factors get relegated into the background and the reaction comes. I may have read all the scriptures of the world; I may be a great student of ethical systems; I may be a professional degree-holding giver of counsel to others, but when it comes to a reaction, my reaction will be just as mechanical as that of anyone else.

Therefore, until universal values become thoroughly assimilated providing a ground out of which right attitudes and actions spontaneously arise, I must consciously avoid reacting and deliberately choose my attitudes and actions. ”

Want to be a Saint?

If you are aiming for sainthood, non-injury and accommodation are the minimum requirements. Wisdom and scriptural knowledge are not necessary, only these values. Saints do not consciously hurt others with their words, thoughts or action. They accept people – good or bad – as they are and have an endless capacity for forgiveness and mercy. They respond to the person, not their actions, because they know that Isvara is the doer. This attitude expands the heart.

(5) Straightforwardness, Truthfulness

Alignment of thought, word and deed is straightforwardness. Saying one thing and doing another or doing something and saying something else is not conducive to peace of mind and inquiry. Straightforwardness not only includes truthful speech but thought and actions. Non-alignment fragments the person, subjecting him or her to a restless mind disturbed by many conflicts.

(6) Service to the Teacher

This is a tricky value that requires a lot of discrimination, particularly for Western individualists who, for good reason, are not used to the idea of surrender to anything. Service implies a frame of mind that constitutes surrender of will, subordination of likes and dislikes, a willingness to give without asking anything in return and a general attitude of respect. Service should not be given lightly and only given to a teacher of great integrity who does not ask for it…because he or she has no need for it. If a teacher demands surrender, he or she is not a true teacher and the student who ‘surrenders’ to such a person is asking for suffering. Only the student should benefit from the surrender.

Service is a state of mind that does not require physical action, only the willingness to act. In the ideal student teacher relationship there is no give and take as in other relationships. There is only giving on the part of the student. The teacher is a stand-in for the self and serves by providing an object of meditation for the student. If the teacher is established in the self as the self and has worked out all his or her personal issues, the opportunity to serve a teacher is the greatest blessing.

I was fortunate to have had a true teacher; the benefits were enormous. It was the highpoint of my life. My desire for freedom grew leaps and bounds because I could observe first hand a free being living free in samsara. I was asked to do very little except to be present and alert at all times and when I needed something, which was exceedingly rare, my teacher was there for me.

(7) Cleanliness

The value of external cleanliness and orderliness is obvious, in so far as it makes life pleasant and brings about attentiveness of mind. Dayananda again, “Even as everyday while I go about my business, a little dust settles on my skin, some dirt smudges my clothes, my desk becomes littered, my mind gathers dust in my transactions with people. Smudges of envy settle, a spot of exasperation lands, streaks of possessiveness appear and overall a fine dust of self-criticism, guilt and self-condemnation spreads. Each day, until my false identification with the mind dissolves and self knowledge arises, the mind must be cleaned. What is the detergent for the mind? It is applying the opposite thought. It should be applied even though my negative attitude seems justified by circumstances. ”

“A resentment settles in my mind even though I was legitimately wronged. Allowed to remain it can build up to hatred. So I deliberately look for reasons to like the person that harmed me. He is liked by others, loved by his wife, takes care of his children properly, gives to charity, goes to church on Sunday. When I look into any other person I will find love. I am capable of loving and everybody is capable of love. Even a rank criminal has within him the elements of love and sympathy. It may be that his capacity for love is so obscured that it only manifests in the sympathy he shows himself…when he accidentally bangs his thumb with a hammer, for example. But it is there to be discovered. Apparent or not, everyone has saintly qualities - compassion, mercy, love, harmlessness. Therefore, to clean the mind of resentment and various dislikes, which will solidify into hatred and other negative feelings, I should deliberately search for those things which indicate humaneness and saintliness. When you do so, attribute the bad things to wrong thinking, bad upbringing or a bad environment. Take it as a blessing that you are not in his shoes. With a similar background you would do the same things. Saintly qualities belong to the self and constitute human nature. Negative qualities are incidental; they come and go.

So when resentment, dislike and hatred towards someone arises, see the person behind the adharmic action from an opposite viewpoint and you will discover some sympathy or understanding. Your attitude should be accommodating. In this manner, any resentment, any hatred, is cleansed daily. ”

Selfishness is perhaps the most common impurity. When I discover that I am caught in non-consideration of the wants, needs and happiness of others, I should deliberately do an unselfish action. When a resolution to clean up unselfishness is backed by an action, it is hard for selfish vasana to perpetuate itself. There are many opportunities every day to put down what you are doing and give a helping hand.

Self-condemnation, like selfishness, is just an impure thought. When something does not go according to plan or I find myself in conflict with a universal value and a feeling of guilt, inadequacy and self-judgment arises I can counteract it by deliberately bringing self knowledge to mind, “I am whole and complete ever-pure awareness. ”

Here is a statement that should be spoken out loud every day that will help to root out negative thoughts about oneself. “The body-mind sense complex, the doer, which I think is me, cannot be condemned because all its parts are inert. They do their jobs automatically or at the behest of the mind. It is innocent. The mind is also innocent. It is only an ever-changing aggregate of thoughts in motion, programmed by vasanas which are born unconsciously out of unconscious actions and attitudes. It is only an insentient instrument. I cannot condemn it. I cannot condemn an impure thought because it belongs to ignorance, not to me. ”

Purifying guilt and regret alerts the mind to further transgressions of dharma. If I think I am the doer, regret will arise. If a particular thought is responsible, I am off the hook. Without the emotional disturbance I can address the ignorance that produced the thought.

Here is a mantra that should be chanted every day:“Desire does it. Desire is the Doer. I am not the Doer. Desire causes action . I do not cause action. Salutations to you, Desire. Anger does it. I don’t do it. My prostrations to you, Anger. Ignorance caused it. I am not ignorant. Obeisances to you, O Ignorance. ”It places the blame where it belongs and at the same time acknowledging the transgression frees the mind to contemplate on the self. If you are fear oriented, substitute the word fear for desire.

Another value that falls under this heading is chastity, which amounts to a respectful attitude toward the opposite sex, not lack of physical intimacy.

8)Jealousy and Envy

One of the most common and unreasonable impurities is jealousy, a pernicious form of duality. It exists because the world is vast, filled with millions of entities which provide myriad opportunities…real or imagined…for self demeaning comparative judgments. Jealousy and envy are transformed anger that usually leads to depression. They are produced by a sense of lack brought on by comparison to someone I think is superior in some way to me. It is unreal for this reason:I am never jealous of the whole person, only some aspect. He or she is more intelligent, beautiful, wealthy or popular than me. The fact that I would like to be like this person shows that there is some sympathy for him or her. The qualities that invoke jealousy cannot be separated from the complete person. Because the complete person, who is actually the self, can never be completely an object of envy, there is no real place for my bad feelings to attach themselves. Finally, it is also clear that there are certain things in that person that I do not want. Additionally, if I am honest, I will find that I too am not perfect and am the possessor of certain unenviable qualities, knowing which makes it difficult to judge others. If the shoe fits, wear it.

Jealousy is actually an unwarranted reaction to the apparent nature of reality. It is completely without merit. In other words, jealousy is a projection that masks an insufficient appreciation of my own nature and the abundance of good qualities that spring from it. A self realized person is never jealous because he or she is mindful of his or her fullness.

Although the Bible’s statement that God is ‘a jealous God’ means that when you know God you cannot love anything else, many people believe that God is a superbeing sitting somewhere else who is endowed with certain human qualities, one of which is jealousy. But God is not a person subject to any form of limitation. It is the creator and possessor of everything and, like an enlightened person, knows it is fullness itself. So jealousy and other emotions, positive and negative, do not apply to God.

When I feel jealousy I should apply the opposite thought and nip it in the bud lest it devolve into schadenfreude, delight in the misery of others, a truly despicable emotion. I should think, “I am happy for the good fortune of this person. I admire his or her good qualities. I am happy that he or she is happy.

Any negative feeling that is opposed to peace can be neutralized by applying the opposite thought. At first it may seem untruthful to think this way…after all I really don’t feel it!…but a deliberate daily practice will cleanse the mind and prepare it for self knowledge.

(9) Steadiness, Constancy, Perseverance

A consistent effort to achieve a stated goal is required for self knowledge because self knowledge is not partial knowledge, like worldly disciplines. It is absolute, the essence of all knowledge. Certain actions flow from my commitment to my goal and I should steadily perform them. Most of us are totally resolved at the beginning of any endeavor but we quickly lose interest when we are confronted with the enormity of the task and seize some pretext to opt out of the required dharmas. Steadiness, sometimes called devotion, implies an acute appreciation of the power of rajas and tamas, to distract and cause laziness. To give in to them is to generate a sense of guilt that will eventually paralyze the mind and lead to failure.

(10) Mastery of Mind

To value a controlled mind is to understand the way the mind thinks and to bring it in line with the way the self would think if it was a person living in the apparent reality. It means that although the mind is capricious I need not fulfill its fantasies and yield to its caprices. It means that I am the boss, not the mind.

There are four basic ways of thinking, three of which are necessary to understand and master if I want to prepare my mind for self knowledge.

1)Impulsive. Unexamined thoughts born of instincts dominate the mind. I do what I feel without thinking about it.

2)Mechanical. Thoughts of which I am conscious but have no power to control because they are produced by binding vasanas.

3)Deliberate. Thoughts subjected to discrimination that are accepted or dismissed with reference to my value structure.

4)Spontaneous. Without evaluation my thinking automatically conforms to universal values and my actions are always appropriate and timely. This kind of thinking only applies to those for whom self knowledge has destroyed binding vasanas and negated doership.

Spontaneous thought is not included in this value because it only applies to self-actualized individuals. If my thinking is impulsive, conditioned or deliberate I am not a master but by deliberate thinking the mind can be controlled. Relative mastery is simply alertness ( sattva) and involves deliberately submitting all thoughts and feelings to rational scrutiny and substituting the appropriate logic whenever ignorance-born mechanical thinking dominates the mind. If I am conscious of my mind I can learn from my mistakes and exercise choice over the way I think, allowing me to fulfill my commitments to my goal in the face of various distractions and to change my behavior so that it conforms with universal values.

In Chapter 3 control of mind, control of senses, and single-pointedness were listed as qualifications for inquiry. In this chapter we present them as values. Here, mind control is discipline over one’s thinking at the level where the thoughts arise, sense control indicates discretion at the level of the senses and single-pointedness is the consistent capacity to stick with the teachings in the face of unhelpful thought patterns…applying the opposite thought, for example. The first two make the mind capable of single-pointedness.

(11) Dispassion Toward Sense Objects

An extremely important value that amounts to existential maturity, dispassion was defined in chapter one as a clear appreciation of two hard to assimilate facts: (1) the joy I seek is not to be found in objects and (2) life is a zero-sum game. It strips false emotion created by my vasanas and presents the world as an objective fact to my mind. In chapter three it was presented as indifference to the results of my actions. If you are not clear about viragya please review these sources. Inquiry is second nature to a dispassionate mind.

(12)Renunciation, Austerity

It would be difficult to find a more spiritually useful value than renunciation. Postwar World War II prosperity has created societies chock to the brim with needy wanting creatures. I want what I want the way I want it and I want it NOW!This attitude, inspired by the wholesale spiritual emptiness of huge populations has produced an intensity and volume of disturbing thoughts that is unprecedented in human history. The solution: cultivate a value for renunciation. The holy mantra of the renunciate is, “Less is more. ”The less gross and subtle objects I crave and possess, the more peace I enjoy.

(13) Absence of Egoism

Because we are discussing the topic of values, absence of egoism is not the complete freedom from the sense of localized ‘I-ness’ afforded by self knowledge. It is simply recognition of difference between the ego and the self.

Pride is little more than ignorance of the relationship between the individual and the world. The individual is an ego, a conscious being, brought here to fulfill its destiny. Egoism is an idea of self, purely a notion of separateness. It is born of ignorance and is the capital with which I-ego begins life and which it spends liberally throughout. It amounts to little more than the groundless claim to ownership of various objects, talents and abilities that belong to Isvara, not to the apparent individual. For an understanding of this value refer to the analysis of pride above because pride and egoism are more or less synonymous

Swami Dayananda presents an interesting inquiry, contemplation on which will make the absurdity of egoism clear. He says, “Although I am graced by free will and have the power to choose my actions, I have no power over the result which is no more than a possibility among probabilities. The result of any act is the outcome of many circumstances, past and present, known and unknown, which operate in concert. If my strong skillful arm throws the winning pass in the final seconds of a football game there are too many material and circumstantial factors coming together for the win to be considered a matter of personal pride. I am creator neither of the football nor of my athletic body. Many experiences contributed to the development of the skill in the arm that threw the football. I am not responsible for the clearing of the pregame rainstorm so the event could take place or for the sharp earth tremor that occurred two seconds before I threw. Nor can I claim credit for the skill of my teammate who caught the winning pass. When pride and ego are examined they become so silly that humility really cannot be considered a virtue. Humility is simply understanding the world, including myself…because I am part of the world…just as it is. Absence of egoism allows me to appreciate all the wonderful opportunities that the world affords, opportunities that provide a source of learning and a chance to shed my ignorance. ”

(14) Appreciation of Time

The objects on which I depend for my happiness are obviously subject to time. To make samsara work for me I need to be willfully ignorant of this obvious fact. Ignorance of it prevents inquiry because it keeps me tied to objects. This value is little more than looking at the downside of the very process of life itself. Birth is wonderful perhaps, but it ceases to be so wonderful when you consider death. And the space between birth and death is no bed of roses either; we are all treated to various physical and psychological pains daily. Today you may be happy but tomorrow you may suffer. Time is a ravenous mouth, consuming everything, including pain. Nothing can done about it, so keep your goal in mind. Don’t fritter it away. Make conscious use of it to do what can be done. Become a master of time and hasten slowly.

(15) Absence of Ownership

This value is similar to absence of pride and absence of ego. Here is another clever analysis by Swami Dayananda. “A few years ago a young friend told me that he had brought a new place in Bombay, which he invited me to see. When we arrived at his house, I found myself looking at a seven-story structure. Since this young man has a relatively modest position I was surprised.

“You bought this!” I said,

“Not all of it,” he laughed, “I own a flat on the third floor”.

So we went to the third floor and he ushered me in saying, “This is mine. That is the flat I own”.

This was the first time I had heard of such an arrangement, so I was still puzzled.

“Do you own the land? I asked.

“No. ” he said, and explained that a co-operative management society owned the land. All he owned was one rather small flat – two rooms and a kitchen.

So I asked, “Do you own the floor? ”

“No. My floor is the ceiling of the fellow downstairs. ”

“Do you own the ceiling? ”

“No, the ceiling is the floor for the family upstairs. ”

“How about the walls? ”

“Well, the inner walls are shared with other flats. The outer wall, of course, belongs to the whole building as part of its structural support.

“So what do you own? ”

“Well, Swamiji, I own the space”.

Is the body mine? My mother can claim it in so far as it is made out of her flesh. The father can claim it in so far as it cannot come into being without his seed. It cannot survive without parents to take care of it. The family has a claim, the society too, the bank that keeps your money safe, for instance. Myriad creatures…bacteria of all ilk…air, fire, water and earth, the sun and moon, and so on…all have a claim. At best I am a trustee, a caretaker or a tourist taking up temporary residence as the karma for this incarnation plays out. Without the idea of ownership my relationship with objects becomes purely factual and in the absence of attachment my mind becomes settled and capable of inquiry. Isvara ‘owns’ it all.

Two positive values that correspond with absence of ownership are charity and generosity. Spiritual life is about giving not getting. The heart that gives, gathers.

(16) Absence of Excessive Attachment to Loved Ones

I am here to add value to the creation; the beings I love are meant to be loved by me. For the same reason that I own nothing and have created nothing, sticky attachment to loved ones is not justified. However, I should look after them in a caring and dispassionate manner.

(17) Sameness of Mind in all Circumstances

Based on an understanding of Isvara, this value is a variant of dispassion. It is a state of mind that does not swing between elation ( rajas) and depression (tamas). To achieve this state of mind I need to strip my projections from the objects, usually people, including myself, and view them factually. Once subjective feelings are reduced to fact, the mind assumes a stance that makes it easier to appreciate the vision of Vedanta. It is true that Vedanta reveals ‘facts’ to be mithya, apparent realities, but to understand what mithya means and free myself it, it is necessary to remove subjectivity.

(18) Unswerving Non-Dual Devotion to God

We refer to awareness as Isvara, God, not pure consciousness, in the discussion of values because values are only an issue for someone who does not know who they are, so the devotion mentioned here is not hard and fast self knowledge. It is an understanding that a jiva seeking freedom would do well to assume in so far as it produces the steadiness of mind mentioned in the last value.

It is karma yoga, an attitude of grateful acceptance brought about by seeing Isvara as the giver of the results of actions. Like inquiry, it frees the mind of projections and brings it in line with objective reality, making the assimilation of the teachings possible.

(19) Love of Solitude

Love of solitude is an obviously valuable value in so far as one cannot inquire when the mind is connected to and surrounded by other busy minds. Love of solitude is not escapism because the need to escape indicates an inability to face oneself. An activity that leaves you feeling incomplete when you cannot do it has become an escape. Love of solitude is a mind that enjoys being with itself and is the perfect environment for self inquiry.

(20) Absence of Craving for Company

A companion value to love of solitude. A quiet place in and of itself is not intrinsically good nor is the company of others is bad. Fear of people and craving company are not healthy values. The value touted here is a value for a happy, non-escaping mind that enjoys its own company.

21)Constant Practice of Self Knowledge

In every waking moment keeping in mind that all I really want in life is freedom and knowing that ignorance of reality obstructs my experience of freedom is the value indicated here. Furthermore, knowing beyond a doubt that self knowledge…knowledge of myself as awareness…is the only solution. This conviction should be so firm that samsaric goals goals…security, pleasure and virtue as discussed in chapter 1…do not turn my head. This value was discussed in the chapter on qualifications as a burning desire for liberation. When this value is assimilated, the next and final value is easy to understand.

(22) Resolution, Completion

Excessive rajas is the bane of spiritual life. While individuals with tamasic minds find it difficult to initiate projects, individuals with predominately scattered ( rajasic) minds find it difficult not to start projects and to complete projects. Unless you follow through on a resolution, your mind will become more and more disturbed as unfulfilled vasanas build up. So it is necessary to have a strong value for completing actions. To master this value do one thing at a time…no multitasking!Only when a given project is completed do I take up the next. In addition to karma yoga, it is necessary to investigate the source of my many needs and plethora of activities, identify it for what it is…a false idea of who I am…and neutralize it with the knowledge ‘I am whole and complete. Nothing that I do will change who I am. And once I am committed to liberation and understand the value of inquiry I must stick to my practice until I am free.

23) Precaution, Deliberation and Restraint

To correct the inclination to impulsively initiate projects, it is important to value caution. I should deliberately think things through, carefully considering the upside and the downside before jumping in with both feet. Once committed, I should work patiently. In the name of speed and the feeling “I am doing” rajasic individuals waste inordinate time and effort on unnecessary actions.


(1)Why are one’s values a means of knowledge for liberation?

(2)Why can words deliver direct knowledge of the self?

(3)Why can’t an inquirer simply read scripture and get liberation?

(4)Why are dharma and adharma universal?

(5)If I know that dharma and adharma are apparently real…a good as non-existent as far as the self is concerned…am I free to violate dharma?

(6)The teaching that the world does not exist opens the door to the abuse of dharma because it allows the doer to believe that that there are no consequences for adharmic behavior. What is the cause of this belief?

(7)In general guilt is a useless emotion, particularly in a person who is fundamentally dharmic. Why can it be a useful emotion?

(8)If my personal value for non-injury to animals causes agitation in light of society’s value for cheap meat, how should I remove the agitation without surrendering my value for non-injury?

(9)Why do dogmatic black and white values mitigate against inquiry?

(10)What particularly unhelpful emotion is caused by the knower-doer split: knowing the right action required in a given situation yet failing to act according to one’s knowledge?

(11)The ultimate purpose of Vedanta is to set one free from one’s personal identity, not to improve the person. However, until self knowledge is completely assimilated, an inquirer is a person who does not know who he is. How does an analysis of one’s values and the subsequent effort to conform to universal values make someone a better individual?

(12)Why are righteous people indifferent to the opinions of others?

(13)What causes a person to demand respect from others?

(14)Why does inquiry into Isvara remove pride, vanity, conceit and the tendency to self glorification?

(15)Although pride is a negative emotion, it is based on real talents, abilities and accomplishments. Pretentiousness and affectation, however, are not based on actual accomplishments. What is the common term for a pretentious person and why is such a person unqualified for inquiry?

(16)Non-injury in thought, word and deed is the highest value. How can a person who tends to injure others correct this tendency?

(17)Physical non-injury is a reasonably easy value to practice in so far as it is against the law and can result in severe consequences. Excessive value for this value may indicate a lack of value for which other kinds of non-injury and why?

(18)Provide a simple inquiry to correct the tendency to judge and criticize others.

(19)Why does it make sense to accommodate to the needs of others?

(20)Why does it make sense to accommodate to those parts of myself that I don’t like, pending the results of my spiritual practice?

(21)Why is values analysis, a fearless moral inventory, necessary for self inquiry?

(22)Why should an inquirer respond to the person, not to the person’s behavior?

(23)Why is surrender to the teacher both necessary and dangerous?

(24)What is the recommended practice for cleaning the mind?

(25)When do you know that the mind is pure?

(26)Jealousy and envy are based on low self esteem. What kind of thinking triggers them?

(27)Steady focus on the self and mastery of the mind are difficult because of which guna?

(28)List the five basic ways of thinking and the gunas associated with them.

(29)Why is compulsive thinking not included in the list above?

(30)Why is spontaneous thinking not included in the value for steadiness of mind?

(31)If discrimination is moksa, the essence of enlightenment, why is dispassion necessary?

(32)Why is a spirit of renunciation required for self knowledge?

(33)Egoism, like pride and arrogance, is claiming authorship and ownership of objects. How is it removed?

(34)What does it mean to say that an inquirer should be a master of time and how does it relate to a burning desire for freedom?

(35)Why is a love of solitude a virtue?

(34)What type of thinking does precaution and deliberation correct?


(1) Because knowledge is only assimilated by a pure mind. If the mind is disturbed because unhealthy values create conflict, it will not understand the teachings.

(2) Because the self is always present and always experienced.

(3) Because a person who doesn’t know who he is has no context for understanding the meaning of the worlds, which creates misunderstanding. The words used by Vedanta have precise meanings, which have to be unfolded according to the method of teaching, because they create a context which eliminates incorrect, vague and approximate meanings.

(4) Because reality is non-dual, there is only one self so what applies to one applies to all.

(5) Yes, but I won’t because I have nothing to gain by violating it.

(6) Superimposition, confusing the self, which is beyond dharma and adharma, with the doer who is always caught in the dharma/karma field.

(7) Because it may alert an individual to unconscious violations of dharma.

(8) Take the agitation as prasad and understand that dharmic values can cause as much agitation as adharmic values.

(9) Because they keep the individual locked in duality and keep him from appreciating the zero-sum nature of the apparent reality. Only when you understand that all values are mithya, can you appreciate the self as the highest value. A mind locked into a value position is incapable of discrimination. There is no clear line between a value and its opposite. Actions generated by adharmic values may produce dharmic outcomes and vice-versa.

(10) Guilt.

(11) It removes guilt, the primary cause of low self esteem. Tamasic and rajasic values cause guilt in a spiritual person because they conflict with the dharma of inquiry, causing loss of self confidence. Self confidence is an essential qualification for liberation. Conversely, living up to the highest values creates a strong sense of self worth.

(12) Because they live good values, they value themselves and consequently they do not need validation from others.

(13) An inflated sense of self worth brought about by a sense of inadequacy caused by the failure to do the right thing for one’s self.

(14) Because all one’s virtues belong to Isvara, not to jiva.

(15) A liar. Because liars are always anxious owing to a fear of fear exposure.

(16) Develop an appreciation for the feelings of others. (a) Ask yourself if you would enjoy being treated the way you treat others. (b) Only offer your opinion of others when it is requested and be sure your speech is pleasing and kind.

(17) Non-injury in word and thought. Because it is easier to practice physical non-injury. Exclusive focus on it amounts to denial of subtle ahimsa; thinking carefully about the impact of one’s words on others and on one’s own mind requires considerable restraint.

(18) “How would I feel if someone said to me what I am about to say to them?”

(19) Because everything we want in life comes from others.

(20) Because those parts were formed before I understood how to transform my apparent person with karma yoga.

(21) Because it converts mechanical reactions to people and events into conscious deliberate responses.

(22) Because negative actions are generally not deliberate. An inquirer should ‘hate’ the sin, not the sinner, because the sinner is the self under the spell of ignorance.

(23) It is necessary because an inquirer needs a teacher to gain the knowledge and to learn how to apply it. It is dangerous because the student can never be certain if the teacher will take advantage of his position.

(24) Applying the opposite thought.

(25) When you no longer have secrets. When you are not ashamed of your thoughts and can share them openly. An excessive sense of privacy usually masks a judgmental uncharitable mind and indicates low self esteem.

(26) Comparison.

(27) Rajas.

(28) (a) Impulsive (rajas), (b) mechanical (tamas), (c) comparative (rajas), (d) deliberate (sattva) and (e) spontaneous (sattva).

(29) Because a reasonably healthy mind is required for the means of knowledge to work. A compulsive mind cannot discriminate because there is no separation between the jiva and the mind. A compulsive mind is so obsessed with the object of its attention that it hides the jiva from itself and renders the jiva unfit for inquiry.

(30) Because is it only found in self actualized individuals. Self realized individuals needn’t calculate. Isvara speaks through them.

(31) Without dispassion, discrimination is impossible because desire for objects prevents discrimination and the assimilation of self knowledge.

(32) Because ignorance is hard-wired. It causes attachment to objects. If the inquirer is not willing to let go of the thoughts that bind him to objects he will not succeed.

(33) By contemplating on the nature of Isvara, the author and owner of everything.

(34) Time is short. One never knows when one will take one’s last breath. One should work intensely on one’s liberation.

(35) A mind connected to others is a noisy mind. A noisy mind is incapable of contemplation.

(34) Impulsive thinking.