How we try to live
The headline of the moral code by which we try to live as individuals and as a Society is ‘do as you would be done by’. This summarises the message contained in an ancient teaching known as theSome thirty years ago, leaders of the Society asked the Shankaracharya to say more about Sanatan Dharma, so that we could develop our work for the benefit of the general public.
The Shankaracharya replied:
Sanatan Dharma is not bound by space and time, or division of the human race at all. It is for the human race as a whole. All religions are supported on the basic idea of Sanatan Dharma.
The basic concept of Sanatan Dharma has been summed up in ten principles:
- Have confidence and patience. If there is no confidence, there can’t be patience. These two are united and individuals should develop them together.
- Have tolerance and forgiveness. This means having consideration, and giving pardon and being tolerant of all the difficulties and awkwardness and faults of others, so that you provide them with space, and in due course, when they see there is no reaction, they may learn something better which you hold very dear to yourself.
- Have self-control. The senses are very fast, and if the mind is turbulent, receiving impressions from different sources, it is quite probable that sensual hunger and thirst may be inflamed because of the beautiful things being seen in the world. So every individual needs to have some control over their sensory appetite and expressions.
- Take only what you deserve and consider everyone else equally deserving. So, do not take anything extra all that you accumulate extra is theft. You steal from the universe and you deprive other people. So do not keep anything more than what should be equally available to everybody else.
- Be pure of body and mind. One has to learn to clean one’s body, one’s mind and one’s heart, and for that one has to find a system through a teacher.
- Moderation in all things. There is a natural course of use of the senses, and those can be regulated. The rules are prescribed in every tradition, and from these one has to learn how to use one’s senses within those limitations. One does not curb the use of the senses but regulates them. The curbing of excessive use will then take place naturally.
- Have discriminating intelligence. Our minds are capable of discrimination or reason, and we are expected to use our intellect and find out the causes of things and use them as necessity may arise.
- Search for knowledge. One has to acquire true knowledge.
- Be truthful. There is only one truth about an aspect, there can’t be two different truths about the same subject. So truth is important not only for people in highly developed and cultured society; the need is everywhere; but somehow people like to serve their own ends through their own concept of truth.
- Be free from anger. One should never get agitated under any circumstances. There may be occasions when a hard line is very necessary, usually for the sake of education, but taking a hard line is not necessarily getting agitated. One can tell the difference between righteous agitation or wrong agitation. If one is wrongly agitated one cannot take right action, so this has to be avoided.
The Shankaracharya added:
These ten factors are for all human beings. The meaning of Sanatan is that the root of this concept has no end or beginning it was not started by any particular man, and it will never end whatever happens. As long as human beings exist these concepts will prevail.
There is a Sanskrit shloka which says that if one learns to understand that one is part of this universe, and one has equal status with everyone else, then give to others what you would like given to you - what pleases you should be made available for the pleasure of others - or ‘do as you would be done by’. This sums up the concept of Sanatan Dharma - it is not a religion, it is a concept for humanity.