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Thus Spoke Mahapragya - Vol.1: 23. Good Conduct

Published: 23.04.2011

Good Conduct

Thought, conduct and behaviour are like the three sides of a triangle. Man is a well-developed animal and what sets him aside from the rest of the animals is that he has the power to think. It is this power of thinking which has enabled his growth. The first characteristic of a man is his ability to 'think'. The second characteristic is 'Conduct'. Man thinks and based on the thoughts he decides a conduct for himself. He decides his duties, decides what is applicable and what is not applicable. What he should do and what he should not do. He decides what is in his favour and what is against him. Which behaviour of his would benefit the society and himself? Which behaviour doesn't provide any benefit to the society or himself? Based on this he decides his conduct. It is based on this, the scriptures of do's and don'ts are framed and a code of conduct developed.

Thought and Conduct are very personal. Behaviour is not personal and it is produced in response to others. A person is sitting and another person comes in front of him. What should be the response of the person who is sitting and based on it the conduct of behaviour comes into effect as to how one should behave? Whether the person should ask him to sit or ask him to go? Should the person look at him with respect or ignore him. These are all behaviour. Behaviour is towards others and it says “How should I behave or react to others?” Hence thought and conduct can be for one person alone, but in a behaviour at least two people are required.

From a relationship point of view, behaviour emerges as one of the top factors in influencing people. Which person has a good conduct? Which person thinks good would come later. However the first thing that comes to the mind is how the person's behaviour is? There are many instances where a person goes to meet another person. The person gave him the place but did not give him importance and ignored him. As a result the person would have left that place. It is very doubtful if he would ever come back to meet that person. Even if somebody wants to take him along, he would hesitate to go there and may even refuse.

People would always like to go to a person who has a good behaviour and shows warmth towards them. A person on the other hand who is not well behaved, people will hesitate or even refuse to go to him. In a society, the importance is first given to behaviour. It is only based on the behaviour that the 'conduct' and 'thought' come into one's mind. The first question that comes to the mind is “How does one behave?” There are some benchmarks which have been established. One can think over as to what constitutes a good behaviour.

The first characteristic of a behaviour is a person's sensitivity. Of the eight sensitive areas, one of them is hard and soft. A person would not like to sit on a hard surface unless he has no other choice. If he has a choice he would always prefer to sit on a soft surface. Everybody likes a kind-hearted and a well behaved person. When a person is observing another person experiencing hardship in his life and yet does not help that person, then he will be considered a heart-less person. Only a person who is sensitive towards others will involve himself in their hardship. A person's difficulty is his personal matter. Nobody can solve other's problems. Anathi Muni had a very serious health issue and his family members could not help him nor share his pain. Anathi Muni told King Shrenik “My parents tried to help me the best they could. Everybody tried to help me but nobody could share my pain.” This is the fact of life, and we must understand this very clearly that nobody can share our difficulties or pain or even own it.

However, there are exceptions. Bhanwarlalji Dugar was a well-known physician in Sardar Shahar. He was very sensitive, empathetic and always willing to help people. He not only treated the rich but also the poor with the same dedication. He even visited the huts of the poor people and treated them free of cost. He was a well-respected person in the society. He went to a poor man's hut to treat him and when he returned he had fever. Seth Samermal asked him “How did you get fever so suddenly?” He replied “I went to treat a patient and could not see his condition. Hence I took the poor man’s fever on me and the poor man is cured now.” Samermalji said to Bhanwarlalji “You still have a long way to go and lot of things to be accomplished. One should have empathy but there should be a limit to it. You should not risk something which will cost your life.”

This was an experiment of empathy through which a person took up the hardship of other on himself. One should not cross his limits and at the same time, he must be sensitive enough and should empathize with the poor and helpless people. One should show compassion to those who are in distress, want; and to those who are weak and helpless. They should think to help them by giving support to remove their sorrows and agonies. One should not ignore a person who is suffering from pain and go away saying that he has important work to attend. Should one give importance to work or humanitarian service? What should take the precedence? The answer is that one must give importance to humanitarian service and then to his personal work.

One can find lot of useful information in this context in Aagam literature. During those days the duties of people were defined based on this sensitivity. For a sadhu sadhvi it is defined very clearly. When a sadhu is traveling and if he comes to know that on the way there is another sadhu who is not well, he should go there to take care of him. If he changes his route to avoid it, there are well defined norms laid down for prayaschit (repentance). Empathy is very important. It serves as an important benchmark to measure a person. When somebody is in trouble or hardship and involving oneself in that persons difficulty and helping him to solve it, is called sympathy. One who does not empathizes or is sensitive to people, one cannot assess how much development of Ahimsa (non-violence) can happen within him. Where there is empathy in one's behaviour, it can attract and influence people tremendously. There are numerous examples where one has empathized and helped someone during his illness; the other person has always looked upon him with gratitude. This gratitude is shown to the person since he had helped him during his tough times.

One who sincerely believes that lot of issues can be solved with Ahimsa (non-violence)and then they must develop empathy, sensitivity towards others in their lives. If one does not empathize or is sensitive towards people then he must work towards developing it.

The second important characteristic of a good behaviour is - Pramodbhavana. It means ability to judge one's good qualities and supporting it. To him a person is not important, instead his good qualities that are important to him.

In a society where there is no importance of Pramodbhavana there would be lot of disputes and quarrel. Acharya Tulsi has written a lot on this and presents two examples of - Kekdavrutti (pulling each other down) and Pramodbhavana in front of us. In a society where there is lot of criticism and leg-pulling that society can never progress. Even if somebody tries to come forward, he would be pulled down immediately. In the sea, when the fisherman catches the fish, they keep those fish in a basket and cover it. The crabs which are left behind in the fishing net are kept in a separate basket and they are not covered. Somebody asked out of curiosity why the basket which contained the fish was covered and the basket which contained the crab was not covered. The fisherman replied “The fishes would jump and they would once again get inside the water, but the crabs cannot go. Even though the crabs have many legs when they try to go outside the basket, there would be other crabs pulling him from behind. Hence the crab can never get out of the basket. Hence there was no need for him to cover the basket.”

A society would develop and progress where there is Pramodbhavana. You have seen that when a sadhu arrives, a wave of happiness would flow down the people. Humanity, co-operation and compassion have a deep and coherent relationship. Two munis were supposed to come here. Mahashramanji asked Muni Veerendra Kumar to go to Gangashahar-Bikaner and bring along the muni's with them. If the muni had come directly to Ladnun, they would have to walk only five hundred kilometers. Since they had to follow the prescribed route, they had to walk almost eight-hundred kilometers. If one wants to say no, there are numerous reasons one can think of. Where there is empathy and Pramodbhavana this question doesn't arise at all. For any society or a group the most important thing is a good behaviour. Behaviour is a true reflection of one's personality. There are all kinds of behaviour bad, deceptive and treacherous. At times such behaviours will not come out that easily. However the fact is that truth cannot be hidden inside and it will come out and expose any form of mask or a camouflage at some point of time.

Sutras for good behaviour

Friendship with all, compassion for all, appreciating the good qualities, staying neutral or uninvolved.

How should a person be? How should his behaviour be? For a good behaviour there are benchmarks defined. From a spiritual view there are four parameters defined for this benchmark:

  • Maitri (friendship with all human beings)
  • Karuna (compassion for all)
  • Pramod Bhavana (appreciating the good work of all)
  • Madhyastha Bhavana (staying neutral or uninvolved)

These four parameters are sutras for a good behaviour. They are also the sutras of spiritualism. It is the spiritualism within that makes a behaviour pious. One whose desire for spiritualism is kindled, his behaviour will be good.

Acharya Shri was in Delhi. There was a program organized by Jainendraji in the Town Hall. He was a very eminent author. He was very sad and came to Acharya Shri. When Acharya enquired why he was sad. He replied “Acharya Shri. I have a problem. I want to invite many religious heads from different parts of country and assemble them under one roof. Now I am swamped with one request from all the religious heads about their seating position in the dais.” It is not surprising when so many religious heads come they would have such concerns.

Acharya Tulsi replied “Don't worry! This is very usual. Everybody expects a good behaviour.” Jainendraji replied “But what about their seating arrangement. How can I ensure that everybody is given the most prominent seating place?” Acharya Shri said “The solution is simple. I am going to sit on the floor.” The problem was solved. When Acharya Shri would sit on the floor, all the people who would gather there would also sit on the floor. When one has a broader perspective, one can easily seek the solution to all the problems. When one wants to sit on the dais the problem surfaces but when he decides to sit on the floor the problem is solved.

Lot of problems can be solved with a good behaviour. If one gives importance to this and focuses his energy on its development then lot of problems can be solved very easily and quickly. This good behaviour is possible when the adhyatma chetana (consciousness of self-realization) is there. One's behaviour could also conceal lot of things. A person could be different inside to what he appears outside. He could be cursing you from inside but externally he could be praising you. Maybe it is because of this that the words like flatterer or toady have come into existence. A person whose spiritual desire is kindled he would be the same, both internally and externally. He would not have a dual face.

There are four sutras of spiritualism which represent spiritualism. They are Maitri, Karuna, Pramod Bhavana and Madhyastha Bhavana. Today we discussed in detail about sensitivity and Pramod Bhavana. It is also important to know how to practice them. It should not be a temporary endeavor and one should make an attempt to make them everlasting and as part of their daily lives. This is possible through practice and Anupreksha (concentration of thought).

On a 31st January


End of Book

Sources

Mahapragya ne Kaha - Vol.1 Translated by:
Rakesh Kumar Jain Online Edition: 2011

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Page glossary
Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Aagam
  2. Acharya
  3. Acharya Tulsi
  4. Adhyatma
  5. Ahimsa
  6. Bhavana
  7. Chetana
  8. Concentration
  9. Consciousness
  10. Delhi
  11. Karuna
  12. Ladnun
  13. Madhyastha Bhavana
  14. Maitri
  15. Muni
  16. Munis
  17. Non-violence
  18. Pramod Bhavana
  19. Prayaschit
  20. Sadhu
  21. Sadhvi
  22. Shrenik
  23. Tulsi
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