Found in Mandukya Upanishad – 12 Verses on AUM,
such a wonderful video presentation of our One playing as many:
Brightest, most brightening responsibility
Heart- and world-brightening
To be oblivious of all harm
is not it
Neither to be forgiving
feeling wise because of correcting
But to never accuse in the first place
because we really cannot remember
what drives them or us
to feel so lost and needy
No aggressiveness is a threat
Why fight back any illusion
“Are you listening to me, sir?”
“Have a happy new year!”
“ . . . ”
It doesn’t have to be
that instantly miraculous
and “we” cannot control
any seeming harm “they”
are here to afflict
Just bless and bless some more
and many seeds shall sprout
for a brighter and brighter world
And if this life leaves much to be desired, you be the living life yourself.
Many will be transfixed with your indecipherably glowing winsomeness (winsome comes from the Old English wynn, which means “pleasure, delight”, so etymologically a winning smile is not a facial expression that wins us over, but one exuding such goodness that we are filled with joy; see [here]).
Many more will seem to be rejecting you.
Neither matters all that much.
Stay gently devoted to being this living life. There can be no lack of joy when our mystically open hearts see in all the One we love.
Ὁ δὲ καρπὸς τοῦ Πνεύματός ἐστιν ἀγάπη, χαρά, εἰρήνη, μακροθυμία, χρηστότης, ἀγαθωσύνη, πίστις, πρᾳότης, ἐγκράτεια· κατὰ τῶν τοιούτων οὐκ ἔστι νόμος.
– Προς Γαλάτας 5,22-23. The original text in Hellenistic Greek.
But the fruit that the Spirit produces is ripe with unconditional love, joy, peace, longsuffering, virtuous usefulness, kindness, living in accord with faith, gentleness, self-discipline based on sacred awareness. The depth of such behaviours cannot be measured; no law can stand against them.
– Galatians 5:22-23. Etymologically analytic translation by Leon Hieros.
First [here please],
and then [Cecilia here].
Once for all, then, a short precept is given thee: Love, and do what thou wilt: whether thou hold thy peace, through love hold thy peace; whether thou cry out, through love cry out; whether thou correct, through love correct; whether thou spare, through love do thou spare: let the root of love be within, of this root can nothing spring but what is good.
From St. Augustin’s Seventh Homily on the First Epistle of John (1 John IV. 4–12)
Well, first of all, your observation that the teaching seems to be directed towards the ego or separate self… In a way, you’re right, because awareness is not in need of any teaching.
[Low, knowing laughter in the audience]
So… the teaching is… is…
If there were no separate self, if in other words there were no suffering, there would be no teaching. The teaching arises in response to… basically in response to our suffering. That is, in response to the one who suffers.
So yes, the teaching is directed towards the one who suffers, so what is important, is not whether the teaching is directed to awareness, or to the separate self; it’s “Does the teaching take the apparently separate self directly to its source? Or does it perpetuate the separate self by giving it various activities and practices to do?”
And then your real question, which was about
“What is the place of ethics?”
… ahm… and,
“Does it matter, the way we live our life, or our lifestyle choices?”
… or –is that right–
“What relation do they have to the non-dual teaching?”
What is traditionally called “enlightenment” is the recognition of our essential nature, the recognition of our being as it is.
But that is not the ultimate goal of the path. It is a step on the path.
The ultimate goal –if we can call it a “goal”– is (first to recognize the nature of our essential self, and then) to live the implications of that recognition, in all realms of our life. And our enlightenment, our self-realization, cannot be considered complete, until this recognition is at least stable to a relatively high degree, in all realms of our life.
Now. None of us are perfect, so none of us can say that every aspect of our life has been one hundred percent colonized by this understanding. But a person who claims enlightenment, or claims to have recognized the nature of their own being, but acts unkindly towards others –other people, or animals– I think in that case, the recognition of their own being is… it may have taken place, but it hasn’t yet begun to really permeate their entire bodymind.
So, the answer is, ethics, the way we lead our lives, our lifestyle choices, are important.
I consider kindness one of the highest virtues.
Just kindness; is an inevitable and natural outcome, or consequence, of this understanding.
Because we feel,
we don’t just understand and know,
but we feel, that we share our being.
So what we do to another, we literally do to ourselves.
Now, who would willingly do something
unkind, or unjust, or unloving to themselves?
So… This is why many of you have heard me quote Saint Augustine before. This is why, when somebody asked Saint Augustine exactly the same question that you have me asked me about ethics and morality, he said,
“Love, and do whatever you want”.
By “Love”, of course, as we said earlier, he meant,
Feel that you share your being,
with all people, all animals, and all things.
And as long as you act in accordance with that understanding,
you can do anything you want. Because anything you do
will simply bring that understanding out into the community.
You will share that understanding and express it.
So, I would…
Whenever you find yourself at a crossroads in your life
–either a major crossroads or just a small junction, where
you have two options: “Shall I do this? Or shall I do that?”–
Pause, and first go to your deepest understanding; go to your deepest… love.
Stand there, and then make the decision that best expresses that understanding.
Now. Even if, down the road,
you look back and you think,
I made the wrong decision,
nevertheless your intention to make the decision
that is an expression of love and understanding,
will be sufficient. Your intention will keep you safe.
And sometimes, it requires courage.
Because the decision that we make
on behalf of love or understanding,
is not always the comfortable decision.
Sometimes it may place us in a situation that is difficult, or uncomfortable.
And the tendency is always to go for the more comfortable option; and that’s
where you have to be really… really established in love and understanding,
and to really let that guide your behaviour. Irrespective of the consequences.
I’m going to do this because I feel it is right.
It is an expression of truth, and love.
And I’m going to do it irrespective of the consequences.
Rupert Spira transcribed by Leon Hieros
Sadhana – The Realisation of Life is a breathtaking collection of spiritual discourses given by Rabindranath Tagore to the boys in his school, in Bolpur, West Bengal. A repository of the timeless wisdom of the East, Sadhana is one of the most profound books on spirituality that you will ever read! We highly recommend it as a starter book to any seeker of spiritual wisdom.
Compiled and translated by Tagore from his Bengali lectures, the book consists of eight essays, in which Tagore answers some of the most profound questions of life: Why did God create this world? Why would a Perfect Being, instead of remaining eternally concentrated in Himself, go through the trouble of manifesting the Universe? Why does evil exist? Do love and beauty have a purpose?
True deliverance of man is the deliverance from ignorance. It is not in destroying anything that is positive and real, but that which is negative, which obstructs our vision of truth.
– Rabindranath Tagore in Sadhana
Tagore masterfully brings the spiritual truths behind these profound questions to light, with his lucid explanations of the Sanskrit verses of the Upanishads (Indian spiritual texts dating to ~800 B.C.) and the eternal teachings of Lord Jesus and Buddha.
Sadhana is one of those rare books that need to be read slowly, as each sentence contains an immense amount of wisdom to be digested!
In the end, Tagore’s captivating and rational explanations will leave you feeling breathless, exhilarated and brimming with peace, happiness and joy, as you become aware of the tremendous unifying force behind this immensely diverse and awe-inspiring Creation!
Here is a beautiful sample of one of the many profound passages found in this book:
Where a man tries to raise himself to eminence by pushing and jostling all others, to achieve a distinction by which he prides himself to be more than everybody else, there he is alienated from that Spirit.
We have a glimpse of the same truth in the teachings of Jesus when he says, “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of Heaven” – which implies that whatever we treasure for ourselves separates us from others; our possessions are our limitations.
He who is bent upon accumulating riches is unable, with his ego continually bulging, to pass through the gates of comprehension of the spiritual world, which is the world of perfect harmony; he is shut up within the narrow walls of his limited acquisitions.
Hence the spirit of the teachings of Upanishad is: In order to find him you must embrace all. In the pursuit of wealth you really give up everything to gain a few things, and that is not the way to attain him who is completeness.
– Excerpted from the first chapter of Rabindranath Tagore’s book Sadhana – The Realisation of Life.
The opening sentences of Tagore’s preface:
Perhaps it is well for me to explain that the subject-matter of the papers published in this book has not been philosophically treated, nor has it been approached from the scholar’s point of view. The writer has been brought up in a family where texts of the Upanishads are used in daily worship; and he has had before him the example of his father, who lived his long life in the closest communion with God, while not neglecting his duties to the world, or allowing his keen interest in all human affairs to suffer any abatement.
My name’s Andrew. My question is, if you could please retrace the situation of pure Awareness in the face of injustice, or someone being obnoxious, or a workplace bullying situation, assuming that John Smith is playing King Lear, but with full awareness that he is still John Smith.
If we find our self in a situation such as you describe, where we’re witnessing obnoxious behaviour, unjust behaviour, unkind behaviour, bullying in the workplace, dishonesty…
The outrage that we feel, doesn’t arise on behalf of a separate self.
The outrage that we feel arises on behalf of the love and intelligence that is inherent in pure Awareness.
So, sometimes people –I’m not suggesting this of you– sometimes people misunderstand the Non-dual teaching, and presume that, imagine that if one were fully established in one’s true nature, one would witness a circumstance such as this, and just smile peacefully, and blandly, and not have any response.
Well, that is one possibility. It’s true, that we may simply not get involved.
But it is by no means the only conclusion that would express the Non-dual understanding. We are just as likely to feel a sense of outrage –to a greater or lesser extent– because we feel that something that is absolutely true, is being violated.
For instance, someone being bullied would be an example of that; the understanding that we share our being, that we are the same as the other, is being violated in this act of violence from one person to another. And the outrage that we feel in the face of this behaviour, doesn’t arise on behalf of a personal self who is being diminished or undermined by the situation. On the contrary, the separate self is not present in our reaction; our reaction comes from love, and intelligence, and the sense of shared being. So, our outrage in that situation would be a practical response that comes from our Non-dual understanding. But it is a practical response tailored to a very particular situation.
How we express that outrage, varies both from person to person and from situation to situation. Some people… Ahm… You may try, to begin with, to reason with the person concerned… If reason doesn’t work, you may increase the volume (if plain reason is not sufficient to make them see the error in their behaviour); you may have to increase the volume or the intensity of your response, to such an extent (going to the other end of the spectrum now), very occasionally, force may be necessary. That would be an extreme situation, obviously. It’s unlikely to require physical force, though it may do, but it’s more likely to require verbal force, to begin with, and depending on the response you get… So you tailor your response to the situation.
So what is important is not our actual response,
but where our response comes from;
on whose behalf does our outrage arise.
Is it arising from the sense of a personal self who feels
diminished, or insulted, or disrespected, or ignored…
These would be personal emotions; emotions that arise on behalf of a
personal self who feels that they are not being valued as they should be.
Those are personal feelings.
And if those personal feelings arise,
instead of addressing the one that seems to trigger those feelings, we should
immediately turn around and address the self who feels diminished by them.
But in the case that you give…
outrage is not arising on behalf of a self that has been disrespected or ignored,
your outrage is arising on behalf of love and intelligence, and it should be fully expressed, however you as an individual bodymind feel is appropriate in the situation.
So, it may include… supporting someone to address the workplace issues…
… or, if necessary, seeking legal support…
Absolutely; all of the above; yes.
Yes. So at a very practical level…
Yes. And very practical, and… although the…
your feeling of outrage comes from the same place always,
you feel that something that is absolutely true, universally true,
has been violated, or is being violated, by this person in this situation,
nevertheless the way you express that outrage, could vary enormously,
depending on the situation.
And that is where your sensitivity
and your knowledge of the situation
is required to enable you to respond
And which, as you say, may include legal advice; it may involve an intervention with the person; you may decide not to intervene with the person, but go to their superior, or their employer… All sorts of… all sorts of… ahm…
There are many, many possibilities, but they would all be an expression of this same feeling that something fundamentally true, universally true, for all people, at all times, is being violated.
And it is your… your intervention in the situation as a bodymind…
You stand, at that moment,
or for love;
or for justice.
And you don’t take…
Your action is not based on a personal sense of a self.
Your personal self just…
You’re not aware of your personal self.
You are just acting as required; in the situation.
With no sense of the consequences for you as a person.
I don’t mean by that, that you would
put yourself in physical danger,
but you’re not thinking of yourself.
You’re thinking of bringing
love and justice and intelligence
to bear in this situation.
Rupert Spira transcribed by Leon Hieros