The Practicality of the Vow of Moral Life in Sant Mat, by Don Howard
The Practicality of the Vow of Moral Life in Sant Mat,
by Don Howard
From the title, ‘The Practicality of the Vow of Moral Life in Sant Mat,’ we could just as easily ask why morals are for individual happiness or family happiness or even a harmonious society? Although, we may see this question of ‘why morality’ within the small confines of practitioners of Sant Mat; the fact is an essential component of a fully functional society, family or individual.
The fact is morality is not only practical but is indispensable for a functional socicty. On the micro-level of the individual, morality is the beginning of any chance for happiness in life. It allows for a smooth and harmonious life.
Non-violence is the cornerstone of morality as all forms of immorality are a kind of violence, even if the violence is only to oneself as may be the case with the killing of animals, or the more moderate use of alcohol or drugs.
Violence begins in the family and all parents should strive to avoid physical violence between parent and child as well as between both parents. On a more subtle level violence can take the form of verbal abuse. While this does not mean a parent will not correct their children’s behavior it also means that a parent will not in anger say hurtfully words to their children. Studies have shown that children whose parents physically abused them are likely as parents to physically abuse their own children. This cycle of bad samskaras is hard to end. Only through the grace of an accomplished master such as Shri Santsevi Ji can such destructive cycles be broken.
Such violence on the family level often translates to other forms of violence outside the family and thus ultimately, wars are born. So this basic tenet of individual non-violence has tremendous practical utility. On the macro-scale of nations it would translate into fewer criminals and the possibility of no wars.
In the West, where alcohol has traditionally been used for hundreds of years, it is not being perceived as destructive by most individuals. They reason; what harm can a few sips of wine a day have. And for many, this platitude is true. The United States statistics on alcohol abuse tell another story. “The economic cost to society from alcohol and drug abuse was estimated to be $246 billion in 1992. The cost of alcohol abuse is estimated to be $148 billion, whereas the cost of drug abuse and dependence was estimated at $98 billion”. (National Institute on Drug Abuse). These costs are related to: health consequences and their effects on the health care system; criminal behavior, either as a means of individual support; participation in the drug trade or violence and job loss; financial destitution and subsequent reliance on society’s safety nets.
In raw numbers: currently, nearly 14 million Americans — 1 in every 13 adults abuses alcohol or alcoholic preparations. Several million more adults engage in risky drinking patterns that could lead to alcohol problems. By some reports, nearly 10% of the population has alcohol or drug problems. In addition, approximately 53 percent of men and women in the United States report that one or more of their close relatives have a drinking problem.
So while 12 in 13 people can drink alcohol without becoming alcoholic, the other one in 13 creates total chaos. And that 1 in 13 negatively affects nearly half of the non-alcoholic population. The amount of suffering is unbelievable. Considering the tremendous financial and mental suffering, it is unbelievable that any sane society would allow alcohol to be available at all.
So while abstinence from alcohol is a moral imperative in Sant Mat, its practical significance is of an even greater imperative.
Fidelity to one’s partner is another cornerstone of happiness and social harmony. There are some severe penalties for breaches of this kind of resolution, such as becoming infected by sexually transmitted disease like AIDS. But the real damage is at the family level, and ultimately at the level of integrity of the social fabric of any society. In The United States, infidelity often leads to divorce. When there are children involved, the research has shown that they are severely psychologically impacted. This impact researchers have found to be often life long. Also, children of divorced parents are much more likely to divorce. The dysfunctional behavior is ‘learned’ from their parents. These children grow up largely not trusting in any type of long-term relationships. In a very real sense they were betrayed by their parents; and that betrayal is projected into all future relationships. The ultimate outcome of over half of all American marriages ending in divorce is a breakdown of the entire social fabric. Again, on a purely practical level, American society should be pouring in resources on salvaging the American family. Santmat through its ageless wisdom has known the truth about fidelity and its reasons for being practiced, and this is only one small portion of the reasons for fidelity in marriage.
Lying and theft are two of the more obvious moral imperatives of Sant Mat. Even a simple person can see the destructive result of chronic lying or of habitual thievery. These activities impede any kind of real social functioning. When commerce is guided by mistrust and deceit, only ‘Tamas’ can result. On a practical level I have seen export companies which seem content to only make one sale to American firms and then, the American firms never do business again because they were deceived and delivered inferior products. So who really benefited? The answer is one and, especially, not the exporter, whose bad reputation will surely spread — eventually, resulting in no one wanting to purchase his products.
Finally, for a practitioner of Santmat, in addition to the above, what further value is there for living a moral life? As a Sadhak makes progress, the necessity of a moral life increases. As the Sadhak begins to acquire ‘Sidhis’ and as his thoughts begin having tremendous power, moral behavior is essential. This is and has been a major impediment for many Sadhaks. That is, they were not leading totally moral lives and as they gained power they simply misused those powers, and in the end, they would have been better off not undertaking sadhana. It is a very difficult path as we reach higher levels of consciousness, and without Guru and a moral life, it will simply be impossible to make further progress.
Finally, we will be unable to lead a moral life if we do not follow a Guru who also leads a moral life. In Sadguru Maharshi Santsevi Paramhansji we find the very embodiment of morality. For my fifteen years of following him, each visit is sweeter and I find in him the perfect example of the morality which Sant Mat expounds. Although, said least, it is most important that we have the grace and guidance of a holy Guru if we wish to achieve a truly moral life. Only by the grace of such a teacher as Sadguru Maharshi Santsevi Paramhansji will we be able to achieve that high moral water-mark required to make progress towards the Divine. We owe full supreme thanks to His Holiness Sadguru Maharshi Santsevi Paramhansji for such guidance and for the grace he showers upon us. ////////