Tag Archives: altruism

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Krishna and Arjuna

THE BLESSED LORD SAID:

Fearlessness, purity; of heart, persistence in the yoga of knowledge, generosity, self-control, nonviolence, gentleness, candor, integrity, disengagement, joy in the study of the scriptures, compassion for all beings, modesty, patience, a tranquil mind, dignity, kindness, courage, a benevolent, loving heart—these are the qualities of men born with divine traits, Arjuna.

Hypocrisy, insolence, anger, cruelty, ignorance, conceit—these, Arjuna, are the qualities of men with demonic traits.  The divine traits lead to freedom: the demonic, to suffering and bondage.  But do not be concerned, Arjuna: the traits you have are divine.

The demonic and the divine are the two kinds of men in this world.  The divine I have told you about; now learn about the demonic.

Demonic men do not realize what should and what should not be done; there is no purity of heart, no virtue, no truth inside them.  They say that life is an accident caused by sexual desire, that the universe has no moral order, no truth, no God.  Clinging to this stupid belief, drawn into cruelty and malice, they become lost souls and, at last, enemies of the whole world.  Driven by insatiable lusts, drunk on the arrogance of power, hypocritical, deluded, their actions foul with self-seeking.  Tormented by a vast anxiety that continues until their death, convince that the gratification of desire is life’s sole aim, bound by a hundred shackles of hope, enslaved by their greed, they squander their time dishonestly piling up mountains of wealth.

“Today I got this desire, and tomorrow I will get that one; all these riches are mine, and soon I will have even more.  “Already I have killed these enemies, and soon I will kill the rest; I am the lord, the enjoyer, successful, happy, and strong.  “Noble, and rich, and famous.  Who on earth is my equal?  I will worship, give alms, and rejoice.”  Thus think these ignorant fools.  Bewildered by endless thinking, entangled in the net of delusion, addicted to desire, they plunge into the foulest of hells.  Self-centered, stubborn, filled with all the insolence of wealth, they go through the outward forms of worship, but their hearts are elsewhere.  Clinging to the I-sense, to power, to arrogance, lust, and rage, they hate me, denying my presence in their own and in others’ bodies.

Through all the cycles of birth and death, I hurl these depraved, cruel, and hate-filled men into demonic wombs.  Trapped in demonic wombs, deluded in birth after birth, they never reach me, Arjuna, but sink to the lowest state.  This is the soul-destroying threefold entrance to hell: desire, anger, and greed.  Every man should avoid them.  The man who refuses to enter these three gates into darkness does what is best for himself and attains the ultimate goal.

But the man who rejects the scriptures, chasing his own desires, cannot attain the goal of true joy or true success.  Therefore, guided by the scriptures, know what to do and not do; first and understand their injunctions, then act uprightly in the world.

— The Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 16 (transl. Stephen Mitchell)

(image source: Cover illustration of “Bhagavad-Gita as it is”)

Divine traits and Demonic traits

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Thomas Merton

The mature person realizes that life affirms itself most, not in acquiring things, but in giving time, efforts, strength, intelligence, and love to others. Here a different kind of dialectic of life and death begins to appear. The living drive, the vital satisfaction, by “ending” its trend to self-satisfaction and redirecting itself to and for others, transcends itself. It “dies” insofar as the ego is concerned, for the self is deprived of the immediate satisfactions which it could claim without being contested. Now it renounces these things, in order to give to others. Hence, life “dies” to itself in order to give itself away and thus affirms itself more maturely, more fruitfully, and more completely. We live in order to die to ourselves and give everything to others. …This “dying” to self in order to give to others is nothing more or less than a higher and more special affirmation of life. Such dying is the fruit of life, the evidence of mature and productive living. It is, in fact, the end or the goal of life.

— Thomas Merton – Love and Living (p. 102.)

(image source: http://www.newcastle.anglican.org)

Life Affirms Itself In Giving

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Strong in the rain
Strong in the wind
Strong against the summer heat and snow
He is healthy and robust
Unselfish
He never loses his temper
Nor the quiet smile on his lips
He eats four go of unpolished rice
Miso and a few vegetables a day
He does not consider himself
In whatever occurs…his understanding
Comes from observation and experience
And he never loses sight of things
He lives in a little thatched-roof hut
In a field in the shadows of a pine tree grove
If there is a sick child in the east
He goes there to nurse the child
If there’s a tired mother in the west
He goes to her and carries her sheaves
If someone is near death in the south
He goes and says, “Don’t be afraid”
If there’s strife and lawsuits in the north
He demands that the people put an end to their pettiness
He weeps at the time of drought
He plods about at a loss during the cold summer
Everyone calls him “Blockhead”
No one sings his praises
Or takes him to heart…

That is the sort of person
I want to be

— Kenji Miyazawa – Strong In The Rain (Ame ni mo Makezu)

Strong In The Rain