Ethical Culture – Morality

ethical culture, moral values

Ethics is a system of moral principles or the rules of conduct. It is the branch of philosophy dealing with human values. It shows the rightness and wrongness of certain actions, and the goodness and badness of certain motives. It teaches us to lad a moral, upright, righteous, virtuous and honorable life.

Go through the Shlokas 7th and 8th, Fourth Discourse, of The Bhagavadgita, Sri Krishna says to Arjuna, “Whenever there is decay of righteousness, and there is exaltation of unrighteousness, then I Myself come forth. For the protection of the good, for the destruction of evil-doers, for the sake of firmly establishing righteousness, I am born from age to age.” It shows us clearly that Bhagwan, the Supreme Being, favours those human beings who are moral, upright, righteous and virtuous. And the Supreme dislikes the evil-doers. Therefore, if one wants god’s protection and help, one must lead a moral life.

“Ethics is Reverence for Life,” says Albert Schweitzer. Albert Schweitzer was a modern world famous saint, who exhibited in his life extraordinary qualities of head combined with those of heart. He was both good and great. He was highly religious. His intellect and his religion were not confined merely to thinking and talking. He lived his life in accordance with his beliefs and thoughts. He studied medicine and served humanity as a doctor. He was honored in his own life-time on his 81st birthday. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 1952. He died at the age of 90 on September 4, 1965. The phrase Reverence for Life came to his mind while he was on a boat trip. He was searching for a universal concept of Ethics. Schweitzer made the phrase the basic tenet of his ethical philosophy. He wrote, “Reverence for Life is my fundamental principle of morality. Good consists in maintaining, assisting and enhancing Life; and to destroy, harm or hinder Life is evil.” Every human being wants to go on living. He owe to all the same care and respect that we wish for ourselves. Not criticism but constructive attitude is needed. The essential element in civilization is the ethical perfecting of the individual as well as society. Only a humanity that is striving for ethical ends can benefit from material progress. By respect for Life we become religious in a way that is alive. Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing and are happy while doing it, you will be successful. Peace of mind can come only if our lives are in harmony with the Moral Principles and Values. Our society is deteriorating because values like honesty, compassion, helpfulness, simplicity and non-violence are disappearing. Non-violence is not only the absence of violence but it is the presence of an all-embracing love for humanity. One must seek happiness in the joy of duty which is nobly done. Henry Ford stated, “To do more for the others than the others do for you is another way of judging how successful you are.” Through rediscovering the Values in our life we can resolve our inner conflicts and can be helpful in maintain our relationships not only at home but also in society.

[Read: Be Religious]

The visible side of our personality matters, of course; but it can play only a limited role. The invisible side lies much deeper. For all practical purposes, our invisible personality lies in our unseen convictions, principles – the sum total of our samskaras. The real personality of a human being is not merely what he or she physically appears to be. The real personality is the inner core of a person – his or her principles or lack of it. It is one’s philosophy of life. The real beauty of a person can only be felt when we come in contact with that person.

Personal Ethics has three essential dimensions, aspects or facets – 1. Discipline 2. Development 3. Dedication. Discipline aims at the control of the negative passions the waste the time, energy and money. Development is enrichment of personality. It is positive and multidimensional. Dedication consists in the offering of the disciplined and developed Personality to the service of others. The life of a disciplined, developed and dedicated human being is a message for others to follow. The perfume of flowers blows not against the wind, nor does the fragrance of sandalwood and jasmine, but the fragrance of the virtuous blows even against the wind. The virtuous person is respected and loved everywhere and by all.

Once the Self-Realization or God-Realization or Enlightenment or Illumination dawns, a person attains completeness and there is no more emptiness or void in his or her life. Then the frenzy to collect objects and relationships ceases. Having experienced one’s own absoluteness, the desire to either hoard or to give up vanishes, and one attains an inner divine wealth. Spiritual Intelligence expands the horizon. It attunes one to a larger circle of awareness. Spirituality evolved people possess a sense of universal oneness. It invokes a sense of oneness with all forms of Life. It brings ethics and morality in thoughts and actions. Human evolution has two steps – (a) from being somebody to being nobody; and (b) from being nobody to being everybody. Oneness is our constitutional necessity. The struggle to find oneness is what we call ethics, morality or virtue. The more ignorant, the more unenlightened, the more unethical the person, the more he or she thinks that he or she is separate from the rest of the universe. The more ignorant the man, the more ideas he possesses – that are an expression of this separateness. But we find that, as knowledge comes, man grows, morality is evolved, and the idea of non-separateness begins. Whether we understand it or not, we are impelled by The Power Behind to become unselfish. That is the foundation of all morality. It is the quintessence of all ethics, preached in any language, or in any religion, or by any prophet in the world. “Be thou unselfish”, “Not I but thou” – that is the background of all ethical codes. And what is meant by this is the recognition of non-individuality – that you are a part of me, and I of you; the recognition that in hurting you I hurt myself; and in helping you I help myself. These principles find expression in the lives of saints or heroes, who are gigantic moral men. Their strength is manifested in their morality and purity. They can stand alone; they can beat back the surging tide of selfishness and immorality. Ethics is a Unity Force. It teaches co-existence and mutual-aid. It teaches us to live and let live. It teaches us to co-operate. It teaches non-violence. It teaches non-judgmental love and impartial service. It bestows peace, progress, happiness and joy. We are all interdependent. And each one of us is a unique individual with a special talent sent to this world to play one’s own part. This Truth of “interdependence and uniqueness of the individuals” gives birth to a need and the willingness for co-existence and mutual-aid. Humanity is One – this understanding makes the individuals moral, virtuous, patient and co-operative. And those who fail to understand this Truth, misuse their freedom and become wicked, selfish and immoral. They lack the good and divine qualities of patience, tolerance, love and service. They become ambitious and violent. They are filled with egoism and vice. In case, the awareness about This Basic Truth dawns, there is no need for the dead principles. There is a thin line between having a principle and having an understanding. The outcome might be the same and yet the difference is huge. One comes out of the tight and narrow consciousness of a slave; the other out of a free human being, who is courageous enough to deal with any situation in the best possible way and in an intelligent, authentic and original manner.

[Read: God-Realization Or Self-Realization]

No society can remain intact without Ethics. The edifice of a family, or a society or a nation or the Humanity as a Whole – stands on Ethics or Morality.

Vide Shlokas 1 to 3 of the Sixteenth Discourse of The Bhagavadgita for the moral and divine properties of a virtuous person. And for the immoral and anti-divine properties of a wicked person, one may go through the Shlokas 4 to 24 of the Sixteenth Discourse of The Bhagavadgita. The Sixteenth Discourse of The Bhagavadgita deals with the Ethics.

The respect that you gain through virtue is very different from the respect you gain through position. The respect you gain because you are unselfish and moral person is genuine; it lasts long. Therefore, follow the Moral Compass that points always in the same direction, regardless of fashion, trend or circumstances. The Universal Principles of peace, love, service, toleration, patience, kindness and self-control etc. that govern the spiritual and moral life are the same in all religions. The values, that emphasize the Oneness of all humanity, improve the quality of our life.

All evils are only expressions of the ignorance regarding the spiritual and moral oneness of life. A narrow vision is divisive, a broad vision is expansive, but a spiritual and moral vision is all-inclusive.

Good times will come only when there is goodness in society. Goodness is living beyond merely the material concerns. It comes from Understanding the significance of human values of co-existence and co-operation. Let us spread the thoughts that empower Universal Oneness of Life.

Try your best to treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself.

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