Virtue, Compassion and Nonviolence in Spiritual Life


by Jayaram V

There will be a time when you have to struggle to cultivate virtues, but a point will come in your life when most of the ideal behavior that you want to reflect in you becomes spontaneous and natural. If you are struggling to be good, kind, or gentle, know that you have not yet overcome your weaknesses. Each virtue must be a spontaneous expression of your personality and consciousness, in which there should be no struggle, no pretense, and no duplicity. You cannot practice virtues unvirtuously, pretentiously, or intermittently. This is the truth.

All virtues are interconnected. You cannot practice them in isolation. For example, without right thinking, right knowledge, and right awareness, you can perform right actions or stay true to yourself. If you genuinely love, that love manifests in various aspects of your life. If you are truthful, it becomes variously reflected in your thinking and behavior. You may speak truth now and lie later, but that does not make you a genuinely truthful person.

Some people do not feel compassion at all. Few months ago there was a report in the newspapers that a doctor from the US hunted a wild lion with arrows and killed it. Many people were outraged by the incident, but some felt that the life of the lion was not that important. Compassion is an expression of the humanity in you. It is a god like quality and the only hope for the survival of human species in an otherwise brutally competitive world. If you do not spontaneously feel compassion for the suffering of any, know that you have hardened your heart and made yourself vulnerable to negative emotions.

In today's world, nonviolence is one of the most misused words. Nonviolence is the highest virtue, not a political slogan, or something that you practice only at the dinner table. We have a seasoned politician, who publicly advocates the use of drones and other military options to kill enemies, but at the same time declares himself a true admirer of Mahatma Gandhi and his policy of nonviolence. That is playing with words to sound good or look good.

The point is not that you should not use weapons and military options to deal with the problem of conflict and extreme violence, but to declare yourself a practitioner of nonviolence, when you are not. At least you must be truthful, and not pretend to be someone which you are not. In fact, you cannot be truthful without being honest, compassionate, contended and peaceful. All these qualities are interrelated. It is why in our scripture you are advised to practice virtues for the all-round transformation of your personality. You cannot practice them on piecemeal basis. If you want to practice nonviolence, you must also practice truthfulness, non-stealing, and non-covetousness. Only then you can accomplish true self-transformation

People may practice nonviolence for various reasons, but they must be genuine and their motive must be a spontaneous outcome of their higher nature. Whether you eat vegetarian food or avoid aggressive behavior, it must arise from the tenderness of your heart, friendliness, compassion, love and spirituality. If you have the predominance of spiritual purity (sattva), you will be nonviolent without effort. You will be spontaneous in expressing your compassion, love, and friendliness towards all life forms. You will have the Buddha Nature firmly established in you.

This is the truth. From all-round virtue, love, compassion, honesty, integrity, truthfulness, friendliness, and nonviolence automatically flow. From perspective virtuous, right living, compassion is even more important than nonviolence. If you have compassion, you will naturally be friendly, gentle, peaceful, cheerful, and nonviolent.

Bhagavadgita Translation and Commentary by Jayaram V Avaialbe in USA/UK/DE/FR/ES/IT/NL/PL/SC/JP/CA/AU

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