The Soul Qualities
That Make Man God-like (2)

Excerpts from God Talks with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita
by Paramahansa Yogananda

10. Noninjury (ahimsa)

Noninjury is extolled in the Hindu scriptures. One of the Ten Commandments in the Bible is: "Thou shalt not kill." (Exodus 20:13) The prohibition refers to the wanton destruction of any of God's creatures: human beings, animals, plants. But the universal economy is so arranged that man cannot live without "killing" vegetables for food. Eskimos cannot live without eating seal meat. When it is an urgent matter of survival, a man is justified in saving his own more valuable life by lolling fish and animals, which are lesser manifestations of Divinity. Each day millions of bacteria perish in man's body. No one can drink any liquid or breathe the air without destroying many microscopic forms of life (and sometimes such organisms respond in kind). (…)


11. Truth (satya)

Truth is the foundation stone of the universe. "The worlds are built on truth," says the Mahabharata. Men and civilizations stand or fall according to their attitude toward truth.

An honest person is spontaneously admired by all right-thinking men. The Hindu scriptures, however, point out that a devotee whose ideal is truth should always exercise judgment and common sense before speaking. It is not enough merely to tell the truth; one's words should also be sweet, healing, and beneficial to others. Hurtful statements, however accurate, are usually better left unsaid. Many a heart has been broken and many a life wrecked by truths spoken by others inopportunely. A sage carefully watches his speech, lest he wound those who are not yet ready to hear and profit by his veracious observations. The Vedas mention three kinds of truth. All values pertaining to man and Nature are relative truths (vyavaharika). These influence human beings during the waking state (jagrat), which is essentially changeful, ever in flux. (…)

By honoring the principle of truth in his thoughts, speech, and actions, a devotee puts himself in tune with creation and with the Creator. To a greater or lesser extent, all persons who meet such a saint are uplifted by his harmonious vibrations. The true man of God is freed from the painful dualities and contradictions of relativity and is fit, at last, to enter the final refuge of Absolute Truth.


12. Absence of Wrath (akrodha)

Absence of wrath is the quickest way to peace of mind. Anger is caused by the obstruction of one's desires. A desireless man has no anger. One who does not expect anything from others but who looks to God for all fulfillments cannot feel wrath toward his fellow men or disappointment in them. A sage is content in the knowledge that the Lord is running the universe, and never considers that anything has been done amiss. He is free from rage, animosity, and resentment.

This is a world of relativity, and saints sometimes adapt their actions to circumstances. They may make a bold or even ferocious display of righteous indignation if such conduct seems likely to deter evil men from injuring innocent persons. But sages feel no hate toward anyone, however wicked and ignorant. A man of Self-realization may simulate wrath for a long or short period of time and then return in an instant to his usual calm and benevolence. (…)


13. Renunciation (tyaga)

Renunciation is the wise path trod by the devotee who willingly gives up the lesser for the greater. He relinquishes passing sense pleasures for the sake of eternal joys. Renunciation is not an end in itself, but clears the ground for the manifestation of soul qualities. No one should fear the rigors of self-denial; the spiritual blessings that following are great and incomparable.

To engage in actions without desire for their fruit is true tyaga. God the Divine Renunciant, for He carries on all the activities of the universe without attachment to them. Anyone aspiring to Self-realization—whether he be a monastic or a householder—must act and live for the Lord, without being emotionally involved in His drama of creation.


14. Peace (shanti)

Peace is a divine quality. A true yogi, one united to "the peace of God, which passeth all understanding," is like a lovely rose, spreading around him the fragrance of tranquility and harmony.

is the nature of God

Everything in the phenomenal world displays activity and changefulness, but tranquility is the nature of God. Man as a soul has within himself that same nature of calmness. When in his consciousness he In level and still the three mental states of upheaval—the waves of sorrow and gladness and the dips of indifference between them—he perceives within himself the placid ocean of spiritual soul-calmness expanding into the boundless sea of tranquility in Spirit.


15. Absence of Fault-finding and Calumny (apaisunam)

Absence of fault-finding hastens one's spiritual evolution by freeing the mind from concentration on the weaknesses of others to focus wholly on the full-time job of bettering oneself. A person who, like a detective, is busy observing the shortcomings of others gets a false conviction of superiority— either that he himself is free from those blemishes or is otherwise qualified to appraise others. A critical person rarely perfects his own life.

A habitual critic is like a fly that sits on the moral sores of others. A true devotee, like a bee, sips the honey of good qualities from the hearts of his companions. Jesus said: "Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother. Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye." (Matthew 7:1-5) (…)

Jesus advised the would-be executioners of an adulteress, when they were about to stone her: "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." (John 8:7) The accusers, remembering their own transgressions, slunk away. Greathearted persons are ever ready, like Christ, to free the sinner by love and to spare condemnation.


16. Compassion toward all beings (daya)

Compassion toward all beings is necessary for divine realization, for God Himself is overflowing with this quality. Those with a tender heart can put themselves in the place of others, feel their suffering, and try to alleviate it. By daya the law of "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" and the stern exactions of karma are modified.

If the Lord did not show mercy and give special amnesties and divine paroles from sin. His erring children would suffer indefinitely, life after weary life. Provided a man tries by self-discipline to remove the mountainous load of his past errors, God comes to the rescue.

When He feels that His child is sufficiently repentant of his offenses, destroys the age-old darkness of sin instantaneously by manifesting the liberating light of His presence. (…)


17. Noncovetousness, Absence of Greed (aloluptvam)

Noncovetousness, absence of greed is possessed by one who has mastered his senses and hence harbors no desires for gross pleasures and material objects. Absence of greed and envy are characteristic of true devotees, those whose minds are absorbed in inner joys. In comparison, the world has nothing to offer.


18. Gentleness (mardavam)

Gentleness is characterized by spiritual patience. God is ever gentle with His erring children and, unoffended, remains quiet when they revile or ignore Him. All men who are in divine attunement are kind and forbearing. A gentle person attracts friends on earth and also, more importantly, attracts the Lord, the Friend of All Friends. A spiritually patient man does not feel ill will toward anyone, even the lost evil.


19. Modesty (hri)

Modesty is the power to feel shame at any wrongdoing and to be willing to correct oneself. A complacent man is immodest and develops a superiority complex. Devotees who exaggerate their spiritual attainments desist from a deep search for Self-realization. A humble seeker wins the attention of the shy and modest Almighty God.

Scriptures teach that modesty about one's body is a special ornament to women. But when I see some of the coarseness displayed between young boys and girls today, I say modesty is a quality much needed by both sexes. Brazen behavior attracts wrong companions who satisfy their lust and then forsake the one they have wrongly used. The purity of modesty will attract its own virtuous kind. (…)

The real devotee is always modest, aspiring to attain God by removing all his mortal imperfections through following the advice of his guru or other spiritual superiors. (…)


20. Absence of Restlessness (achapalam)

Absence of restlessness enables one to avoid physical and mental roamings and useless activities. Nervousness and restlessness are usually caused by constant indulgence in sense pleasures or by habitual negative thoughts or by emotional problems or by "driving" traits like worldly ambition.

Restlessness is absent in God's nature; the devotee should learn to abhor mental and moral fickleness. He should keep his mind busy not with aimless occupations but with spiritual activities.

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