Paying attention to wise instructions with regard to practical matters is part of good living. In the area of spirituality, however, freeing oneself of all Dos and Don’ts is necessary in order that the ego is prevented from continuing its involvement.

When people become somewhat serious and want to get a grip on their lives, they look around for being guided by Dos and Don’ts. Almost all books in the market that deal with the mind and life indulge in giving the reader instructions on what to do and what not to do. Religious preachers also indulge in that kind of presentation. The problem is that, while in purely practical matters such an approach can be rewarding, in the realm of spirituality those methods can be quite counter-productive because they would obstruct self-awareness. Is there a different approach for deepening the inner awareness? The following paragraphs deal with the difference between handling mundane matters and the esoteric ones.

If you listen to an Enlightened Master speak, you notice that the talk rarely rides on Dos and Don’ts. Such talks are not addressed to the Outer Self but to the Deeper Being so that the growing awareness in the listener gets charged, and there is nothing for the ego to hold on to. If you take notes during the talk, the Master usually discourages such a thing because the one that wants to gain something in the future is the Outer Self, the ego. The Masters’ talks are in the form of exposition that lights the way even as one listens – a matter of transformation in the very act of listening. They do not say anything about what one should or should not do. They describe the actuality and, sensing this during the listening, inner transformation takes place of its own accord. Some listeners, however, tend to cull out Dos and Don’ts even from such talks and try to practice them. Sooner or later they see the absurdity of that approach. People in whom awareness has advanced to some extent listen quietly to the Master and, riding on his words, enter the void within. The literal content of the Master’s words does not block them. Even while listening, they sense the intrinsic beauty of the inner silence. Deep mental peace reigns during the talk.

In contrast, one who values a moralizing speech is likely to feel very guilty if he does a Don’t and doesn’t do a Do! The self-imposed righteousness and the attempt to become an ideal person leads to inner conflict and can be quite stifling; it is the way of the ego and hence a destroyer. Freedom from it is not easy; it cannot come through any set of Dos and Don’ts. The growing inner awareness brings it along in its own way through making us a detached witness to ourselves.

When one listens to the Master, the non-verbal contact with the Inner Being is clear. It generates in us the ability to listen to the serene movement of life with the same detachment with which we listened to the Master’s talk. If there is that quiet non-resistant contact with life, there is a natural order in one’s behavior and Dos and Don’ts become unnecessary. The natural order ensures such kindness and compassion that whatever the person does will be automatically right in the sense that it augments harmony and well-being in him and in others. No megalomania or fanaticism can find a place in one’s mind under such conditions.

It is interesting to note the difference between the presentations of a moralizing preacher and a Master.

The preacher usually speaks from erudition and knowledge collected from books. He or she generally confines to the system to which that person is emotionally attached and quotes only from the scriptures belonging to that system. The talk centers on Dos and Don’ts and the associated moral codes. Such speakers indulge in expounding prescribed paths, methods and techniques to reach pre-determined, self-satisfying goals. They do not make it clear that all desires, whether for worldly things or for spiritual ones, arise from the same ego.

In contrast, Enlightened Masters speak from inner transformation and direct awareness which is non-verbal knowingness. When they quote from scriptures, as they may do occasionally, such scriptures span over several cultures and are not confined to any one system. Their talk generally moves outside of Dos and Don’ts and contain only pointers for reflection and self-knowing. There is no insistence on conformity. The fact that all desires arise from the same state of mind is made clear; that is, the lust for heaven is no different from the lust for money or for sex.

In some cases, however, the religious expositor (not the exploiter!) may merely narrate religious or spiritual stories and not indulge in giving directives. Such discourses are different from the preaching type and may help bring about self-awareness. The expositor’s talk can induce a reflective attitude in the listener. It does not rely on hope of reward or fear of punishment to prevail over the listener as does the preacher’s.

Having said all that, we have to look at the flipside of the matter too. In handling practical matters of daily life, Dos and Don’ts are absolutely necessary. Without them, one is likely to be wayward, inefficient, and even unwise. In contrast, when we turn inward and try to bring about a change with that approach, it becomes ineffective and, indeed, obstructive too. Discretion is the watchword. A non-interfering, quiet self-awareness is needed for spiritual growth while following wise Dos and Don’ts is the matter for keeping our practical life on even keel.

Now we look into five items, a kind of Dos and Don’ts, which can help us lead a practical life with confidence and equanimity.

The Five Wise Items:

Delegate and Relegate:
Sincere application to practical matters on hand, setting apart (‘delegate’) proper attention and time to them, followed by unconcern (‘relegate’) is what is implied in this. The important thing here is the ‘relegating’ part which can relieve the mind of unnecessary burden through the habit of thought.

Reflect and Reject:
Items that emotionally disturb the mind deserve this kind of treatment. It involves calm reflection and understanding what requires to be done practically, followed by rejection in the sense of not letting the thought vortices demand our attention with regard to the issue. Again, this prevents the mind from feeding on the item repeatedly as a matter of habitual neurology.

Accept and Act:
It is good to accept people and things as they are and adapt oneself to them. This prevents rancor building up in us and helps us develop rapport with life, no matter what it chooses to bring. Soon this accepting and adapting oneself to life becomes a source of peace. Acceptance is to be followed by action to see how matters can be improved, where necessary. A positive, constructive and optimistic approach is always healthy.

Weave it and Leave it:
Well-meaning aspirations - molded, fostered and kept clean (not sullied by thought) - set up a healthy current in one’s life. Such aspirations will be fulfilled on their own chronological time. The usual problem is the psychological time that corrupts the mind. If we understand what it means to wait without knowing when, it will be wonderful. In fact, there is then no waiting in the conventional sense of the word. This takes away the poison of psychological time. Once the aspirations are lovingly woven in a wholesome way in the interest of oneself and others, it is good to drop them into the bottomless abyss. They will sprout at the right time!

Unconditionally Unload, Unfold and so Explode!

Understanding this item requires self-awareness to the point of sensing how the habitual thought process accumulates poisonous garbage. Attention to this matter leads to unloading of all such garbage that would otherwise set up harmful offshoots in due course. Because of this unloading and the consequent clearing, Divine Essence unfolds from one’s deeper region submerging one in a state of progressive calmness. It furthers itself, making our consciousness expand limitlessly. That is the explosion. So, it is a matter of implosion followed by explosion. In that respect, it resembles a stupendous astronomical phenomenon, the Supernova!

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Author's Bio: 

Gopalakrishnan T. Chandrasekaran was born in Madras (now Chennai), India. He received his doctoral degree in Coastal Engineering from the North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, USA in 1978; served on the research and teaching faculty of the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, India, the North Carolina State University and the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research, Kuwait.
Aside from his professional involvements, he was interested in the philosophic issues of life for the last forty years or so. This led him to the messages of Ramana Maharishi, Lao Tzu, J Krishnamurthy, UG Krishnamurthy, Nisargadatta Maharaj, Eckhart Tolle, Marcus Aurelius and similar Masters. His book entitled “In Quest of the Deeper Self” is the outcome of his reflections on those and his wish to share the outcome with others.
Gopalakrishnan is a member of the International Association for Near Death Studies, Durham, NC, USA. He lives in Kodaikanal, a hill town in the southern part of India, with his wife Banumathy who also received her doctoral degree from the North Carolina State University, in Organic Chemistry. Now they are both retired and currently involved in developing a fruit farm at a village 20 km from their residence. They have a daughter and son who are both married and settled.