Divine Qualities (Part 6)

Uprightness (continued)

Sant Jnaneshvar offers two more interpretations of arjava.

An upright mental attitude: An upright person does not bear a grudge against anyone. His mental attitude is as straight as the sweep of the wind, leaving him free from desire and doubt. He does not hold his mind on a leash, nor does he leave it absolutely free. Indeed, his is the ideal state. We need to leash the mind for a long time, until it is sufficiently disciplined and begins to act as our friend.

A disciplined sensory system: An upright person's sense organs are pure and free from deceit. An undisciplined mind and senses act as our enemy and deceive us into desiring sense pleasure, making us believe that it is the goal of life. With his senses controlled, a man of Knowledge remains unmoved in the face of desire. Sri Krishna prescribes sense control as the preliminary discipline to get rid of desires. (Bhagavad Gita, 3.41)

Some Aids to the Cultivation of Uprightness

Uprightness being a divine quality, cultivation of it amounts to ironing out the kinks in our character, strengthening our will, and manifesting the divinity within us. The following are some important aids to this end.

Having an ideal: According to a well-known Indian adage, even a fool does not take up anything without a purpose. Uprightness has a noble purpose: realization of our true Self. This supreme ideal makes cultivation of noble virtues a rewarding challenge. An ideal held before us serves as a reference point for our spiritual journey with which we can judge our thoughts and actions, and avoid the pitfalls of the journey by correcting our course. Swami Vivekananda explains the importance of having an ideal: "Unfortunately in this life, the vast majority of persons are groping through this dark life without any ideal at all. If a man with an ideal makes a thousand mistakes, I am sure that the man without an ideal makes fifty-thousand. Therefore, it is better to have an ideal."

Taking care of the means: Work is not an end in itself, but only a means to purification of mind and manifestation of divinity. When we forget this and strive only for the end, losing sight of the means, often the end justifies the means. Such an attitude does not help us cultivate uprightness. In his illuminating lecture "Work and Its Secret," Swami Vivekananda assures us: "Let us perfect the means; the end will take care of itself." And what follows is more significant: "For the world can be good and pure only if our lives are good and pure. It is an effect and we are the means. Therefore, let us purify ourselves. Let us make ourselves perfect."

Doing work as worship: Augmenting our good impressions by noble thoughts and deeds is an important step towards purification of mind. When performed with concentration of mind, work gives us an opportunity to observe the vagaries of the mind. Trying not to be distracted by mental gyrations is a good exercise in training the mind and strengthening our will power. Says Swami Vivekananda: "When you are doing any work, do not think of anything beyond. Do it as worship, as the highest worship, and devote your whole life to it for the time being." "Whatever you do, devote your whole mind, heart and soul to it. I once met a great sannyasin who cleansed his brass cooking utensils, making them shine like gold, with as much care and attention as he bestowed on his worship and meditation."

Part 7

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