We are happy to place before the readers the first Indian edition of this book which was
hitherto published by the Vedanta Society of New York. We thank the Society for
permitting us to bring this edition.
We have removed sections 5 and 6, and a chapter from section 3 originally present in the
We hope that this book will inspire many to instill healthy values in their lives.
Life as the source of all things is divine through and through, and therefore, the
fundamental problems of life can only be solved when we are able to discover our hidden
divinity, the center of life. In the topics dealt with in this book, the image of divinity of life
has been projected and the unity of thought, in spite of the diversity of subject-matter,
cannot escape the notice of the perceptive reader. There are many topics that are of
import to the spiritual seeker, whatever be his or her path. Broadly, they all point to a
scheme of holistic living, as opposed to modern living which is bereft of spiritual insight.
The erosion of positive, life-building values is a major problem facing the modern society.
The typical modern person is usually supposed to be irreverent and casual about the
deeper questions of life, and consequently is not exposed to “sane values” of life. The
holistic attitude of life can be cultivated; stability and integrity of life can be actualized
under different situations, if the main objective of a “healthy scheme” of life style is
sincerely pursued. There is an urgent need for all of us to develop a holistic view of life
and it is earnestly hoped that this humble work may evoke interest in that direction.
Most of the articles contained in this Miscellany were originally published in different
periodicals of the East and the West, during the period of 1966 through 1987. 1 am
grateful to the authorities of the periodicals concerned for their kind permission to include
the articles from their publications in this book.
In this second edition, I have incorporated three articles: “Divine Law”, “Mind and Its Two
Faces,” and “Theory of Creation Hindu View”, which were previously published else
where. The fourth article, “Worship”, is new.
In the present edition, all the articles of a kindred nature have been grouped under six
broad heads. The First Section shows how modern man is at the crossroads and depicts
his plight, bogged down as he is by the “secular life-style”. The Second Section stresses
the dire need for moral and spiritual values in life. How the “New Gospel” of Vedanta as
propounded by Swami Vivekananda comes to the rescue of modern man is elucidated in
Section Three. How Sri Ramakrishna and his disciples are today a beacon to man, can
be seen from Section Four. Section Five shows how Mahatma Gandhi in our own times,
exemplified the higher values in his life. And the Last Section is a bouquet of adventures
in spiritual life. Almost all the articles carry side-headings to indicate the evolution of
thoughts in them. And the main points of every article have been highlighted briefly (in
italics) before the commencement of the article.
I am extremely grateful to Swami Jyotirmayananda for his labour of love in the cause of
dissemination of Vedantic thoughts. As in the case of the previous book, Meditation on
Swami Vivekananda, our centenary publication, he acceded to my request to bring forth
the second edition of this book with a cheerful heart. I am grateful to Prof P. A. Hariharan
of the Ramakrishna Math Library, Chennai; Prof. C. S. Ramakrishnan, the former Jt.
Editor of the Vedanta Kesari; Sri K. P. Shivakumar, Asst. Editor, Yuva Bharati and
Vivekananda Kendra Patrika, Chennai, and Dr. Sajeev Rose, Reader-in-English,
Anandashram, Kanhangad, Kerala, for their singular and active cooperation at various
stages of the publication. I am also thankful to Uma (who stayed with us from 1977 to
1985), Prof J. N. Sarkar, Dora, Helen, and Sri Manohar Kamath, Director, Sharada
Press, Mangalore (South India). If any reader is really benefited by this book, and tries to
change his or her lifestyle, I shall consider my labour of love to be fruitful.
Spiritual Knowledge Encourages Values
Our age has been called the Age of Progress and the Age of Science, but it has also
been characterized as the Age of Tension, Anxiety, Depression, Violence, Crime and
Fear. As we reflect on it, we find our evils stem essentially from ignorance about the
spiritual dimensions of life. Secular knowledge does not give us Self-knowledge; it has
given us miraculous control over Nature, but has added practically nothing to control our
emotional life and social behavior. As a result, our life has been oriented to things. We
have every sort of possession except self-possession and every sort of security except
emotional and spiritual security. Spiritual knowledge encourages values that motivate
improvement in human worth. Spiritual insight enriches our subjective life, brings
harmony, and helps us to acquire some positive and enduring values in life.
Human Progress Based on Spiritual Growth
To most of us value is associated with “pay, promotion and pleasure”; man and his
integrity of character are not taken into account. In this atomic age, everything has
changed except our values of life. But time has come for a more practical use of our
moral and spiritual insight, and more enthusiasm to pursue “right conduct.” We are now
forced by circumstances to give up our old attitude of life and incorporate a new vision of
human progress based on spiritual growth. Albert-Szent-Gyorgyi, who was awarded the
Nobel Prize in 1937 for his discovery of Vitamin C says, Snakes can grow only by
bursting their skins. Moulting has to be a painful process and should it fail, the snake
would die. Mankind grows by bursting the outgrown skin of antiquated ideas, thinking,
and institutions.” Our habit of superficial thinking that is tied down to old conventions, is
what we have to slough off to survive.
Generate Ethical and Moral Culture
Our inner mind is shrinking due to lack of spiritual nourishment, while the outer life is
being overfed and over pampered. The meaninglessness of our secular lifestyle—its
single-minded pursuit of materialism—comes from our ignorance about the spiritual
dimensions of life. Progress does not mean only speed and comfort but also a sense of
direction, a sense of purpose which culminates in finding fulfillment in life. Human
progress, plainly, cannot be meaningful unless values enter into our every activity and
thought. Life is significant because it has the capacity for striving towards the ideal;
ideals are vital and valuable because they can make our life better, mind stronger and
outlook nobler. Life begins with values that derive not from pleasure and immediate
experience, but from wisdom transmitted to us from a long human heritage and honored
tradition. Information is not knowledge and knowledge is not wisdom. Knowledge must
rise to the level of wisdom to bring forth transformation of the personality. “Unless men
increase in wisdom as much as in knowledge, increase in knowledge will be increase of
sorrow” (Bertrand Russell, Impact of Science On Society, pp. 120-21).
Values emerge in actual life at all levels. The fundamental values of a true community are
those which keep the society together, bring harmony between the practical and the
spiritual, help cultivate the virtues of renunciation and service and make people humane,
cultured, and unselfish. The chief object of the society then, is to foster a spiritual
outlook and generate ethical and moral culture.
Civilization is material, and Culture spiritual; the former may be compared to the body
and the latter to the Soul. One gives happiness and the other peace. True culture is the
human izin factor in human life. Without spiritual outlook, there can be no high and
enduring culture. Culture and self-control are synonymous terms. The realm of culture is
the realm of values. A multitude of such cultured people in a society paves the way to
The Price of Wrong Conception of Life
It is our idea of life that determines our attitude in life, and again it is our conception of life
that sets the whole tone of our way of living. Conflicts between different life patterns,
different world-pictures, as well as different temperaments can be traced to the mental
constitutions and cultural background of people. We pay a heavy price for our wrong
conception of life. MI our troubles are due to this ignorance. The merits and weaknesses
of each civilization are rooted in that ignorance. Arnold Toynbee, a great historian of our
age, remarks, “The same Greek idea of man, which accounts for the Greek civilization’s
rise and culmination, is also the explanation for its strange and tragic fate. Hellenism
was betrayed by what was false within it ... this weakness of the Greek idea of man,
which was the ultimate cause of the breakdown of the Greek way of life in the fifth
century BC., was shown up when, later on, the Greek view encountered the Jewish view
in Southwest Asia and the ancient Asian view in India” (Toynbee, The Ancient
Mediterranean View of Man, pp. 3-4). A human being is the focus of all values; deep
study of man by the mystics of India has revealed an infinite vista of human possibilities.
Man is the epitome of the cosmos. “Man is the most representative being in the universe,
the microcosm, a small universe in himself,’ says Swami Vivekananda (Complete Works
Vol. 4, p. 47).
Self-knowledge, the Crowning Glory of Life
The central theme of Vedanta is monism—non-difference of the individual and the
Supreme Self in their essential nature. Man is divine. The Self of Vedanta is
“Self-luminous,” eternally pure and blissful. As the Self is not a created entity, it is
immutable, eternal, immortal and infinite. This Soul is the only source of all virtue,
happiness, peace, wisdom, power and knowledge. The crowning glory of life is
Self-knowledge, as all our bondage and suffering are due to ignorance, primarily of one’s
Spiritual Values Keep Us Stable
“In man, things which are not measurable are more important than those which are
measurable” (Alexis Carrel, Man the Unknown). Value-oriented culture must attach
maximum importance to unfolding the Soul-force through the spiritual disciplines of
self-control and morality. Hence right understanding is necessary for right living. Any
living—spiritual or secular—can never neglect the moral virtues. The Gita (16:1)
enumerates them. Truth, self-control, purity, renunciation, honesty, patience and
unselfishness are generally known as the fruits of the soul. These values will equip us to
experience peace, harmony and fulfillment. In times of trial and tribulation in life, these
spiritual values keep us stable, inspire us to wage the battle of life, and give us
fearlessness and self-confidence. Mere intellectual growth, unaccompanied by these
spiritual values, makes us egoistic, aggressive and victims of many human weaknesses.
“Unless above himself he erects himself how poor a thing is man.
Pragmatic Necessity of Having Spiritual Enlightenment
About the pragmatic necessity of having that spiritual enlightenment Toynbee remarks,
“In these circumstances, it might be forecast that, in the next chapter of the world’s
history, mankind would seek compensation for the loss of much of its political, economic
and perhaps even domestic freedom by putting more of its treasure into spiritual freedom”
(A Historian’s Approach to Religion, p. 244). He further states, “In a regimented world,
the realm of the spirit maybe freedom’s citadel’ (Ibid., p. 249). Toynbee exhorts us to
have a spiritual reorientation of our atomic civilization: “The time has come for us, in our
turn, to wrench ourselves out of the seventeenth-century mathematic physical line of
approach which we are still following, and to make a fresh start from the spiritual side.
This is now, once again, the more promising approach of the two if we are right in
expecting that, in the atomic age which opened in AD 1945, the spiritual field of activity,
not the physical one, is going to be the domain of freedom” (Ibid., pp. 286-7).
Healthy Values of Life Alone can transform Character
The world desperately wants value-oriented education, work numerate culture and lifestyle.
Awareness of the importance of the study of consciousness has been steadily growing
among the scholars of the modern world in view of its fundamental importance in he
solution of world problems. Without the transformation of human character, no enduring
peace is possible in spite of the tremendous growth of technology and sciences.
“Political action, social work, this-inn, that ology, are all incomplete, futile actions unless
accompanied by a new and elevated mode of awareness. In other words, the true
revolution is revelation” (John White, ed., The Highest State of Consciousness, p. ix).
Hence enduring happiness and peace will come to those who will be able to harness the
dormant potentiality of the divinity embedded in each human life. Healthy values of life are
those fruits of the Soul which alone can bring transformation of our character. A really
transmuted character is capable of enjoying the fruits of secular life.
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