CHENNAI: Life is difficult. Many situations upset us, and we wonder how we can remain ethical in the face of these daily challenges. We must choose how to deal with these situations. At each moment we are confronted with choices between right and wrong. For example, we are surrounded by people in our home, at work, and in the community. Whenever there are other people involved, there are bound to be situations where others are doing things with which we disagree.
Everyone is trying to live out his or her own life, and sometimes there are clashes between what others want and what we want. Some people may be violent, and others may be untruthful. Some people may be greedy and selfish, while others may try to take advantage of us. As we walk down the pathway of life, we encounter all sorts of people.
Walking the spiritual path is like walking on a razor’s edge because we have to navigate through all these difficult situations and still maintain our spiritual values and principles. There are many pitfalls along the way into which one can fall. Although the spiritual path is straight and narrow, if followed it leads directly to self-knowledge and god-realisation.
Some people are still slaves to their passions. They do not try to improve themselves by developing ethical virtues. They may hurt others or be untruthful, egotistical, or selfish. They have not yet realised the value of ethical living and of purifying themselves to take steps back to god.
Until they tread the spiritual path they remain unaware of the consequences of leading an unethical life. Every day we encounter such people. Without a reason to change their ways, they keep doing things that are harmful to themselves and to others.
On the other hand, we who are walking on the spiritual path are trying to perfect our ethical way of living. We are trying to be nonviolent, truthful, pure, humble, and selfless. Our challenge is to act virtuously even in the face of people who sting us like scorpions.
It is difficult to remain nonviolent in the face of violence. It is difficult to remain truthful in the face of untruth. It is difficult to remain humble in the face of ego. It is difficult to remain selfless in the face of selfishness.
It is difficult to remain pure in the face of impurity. Each day we are faced with challenges.
We need to be like a tree that can grow strong in the soil despite the elements around it. When a young tree is planted, a small fence or wooden stakes are planted around it to keep it safe from animals or winds that can knock it down. We need a small fence around ourselves so our budding spiritual growth can flourish. In this way, it will not be knocked down by winds that keep us from our goal. Within that fence, we need to be nourished by the nutrients of meditation and ethical living.
We should stay focused on these activities so no outside elements can deter us from growing spiritually. Thus, we can remain safe from falling prey to negative characteristics. If people try to knock us down from being nonviolent, truthful, pure, humble, and selfless, or try to distract us from our meditations, we should remain firm.
God sees everything that we and others do. All is recorded in our karmic accounts. Why should we delay our own progress and add to our own karma through our thoughts, words, and deeds because of what others have done? No matter what happens, we should not give up our goodness.