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Doing Good to the World

"Atmano-mokshartham jagad-hitaya-cha." -- For the Liberation of oneself, and the welfare of the world.
This short arrangement of words by Swami Vivekananda contains great power of motivation, and points to definite method to reach our goal in life. It tells us that to realize our spiritual/divine nature should be our priority over 'charity' and 'service'. Much of its impact would get diluted if the sequence is not followed i. e. 'doing good to the world' gets precedence over realization of Self. Many charitable and philanthropic groups and individuals, brought up in today's humanitarian and scientific culture, tend to give more importance to the second half of the above mentioned Mantra of Swami Vivekananda.

'Doing good to the world', is a positive aim in itself, but may be the second best option. It can not lead a person to Final Freedom. In an attempt to reach the Everest lower peaks are easily conquered; but, if the aim is to scale a lower peak alone, the Everest will never be reached.

The person engaged in 'doing good to others' or 'improving ethical-moral fabric of the society' is inadvertently involved in glorifying the powers of sense-perception and self-importance, neglecting or denying the possibility of supra-sensory or divine achievements. He, as if, denies the existence of Everest itself! This is the main argument against, and danger in, glorifying the 'reason' of science, the main force behind modern day concept of social welfare state. No doubt, attempts to bring about scientific progress and human welfare are beneficial to the human race; no doubt, this trend of last three centuries has changed the world through its technological achievements, but as can be seen it has posed/created more problems than it could solve. Drug addiction, sexual perversion and many complicated ecological and international problems are a few examples that can be cited.

The chief reason why this occurs (or has occurred) is our inability of science to generate ethical-spiritual values, and to fathom the source of these values. It is argued that technological progress and materialistic advancement themselves shall bring values of love, compassion, and altruism in the society. As consumer goods can be produced aplenty, so can be the values, the scientists think. However, one clearly sees that this is not the case. For instance, science and technology has produced enough food for the society, but the pattern of food distribution exposes the weakness and limitations of scientific development. Hunger and want, mal-nourishment and starvation expose the fallacy of scientific claim of its rationality and superiority.

If, however, we go by the proper sequence of "For the Liberation (Freedom) of oneself, and the welfare of the world", this pitfall is avoided.

When total freedom -liberation- is kept as our goal, and attempts made accordingly, values of pure love and selflessness are generated as positive side-effects of this sadhana. Welfare of the world, though not an aim in itself, is a natural fragrance of this endeavour. Seeking liberation is not 'all or none' phenomenon; it is a gradual process of realizing the blissful essence of everything in and around us. Attempts to reach this highest stage brings about more and more perfected state of being and becoming. Individual is benefited along with the society and the world. The atmosphere is made conducive to reach the highest state of Bliss. The glory of Atman shines through the cultivated and cultured body-mind complex of the aspirant.

The source of values is Atman, the ever pure, ever free Reality. Values of morality and selflessness are born when an attempt is made to reach the stage of Freedom that reflects full glory of Atman (superconscious state). By necessity, now, the personality of the sadhaka becomes all pervasive and all encompassing. How can he then reject or breakaway from his own body and mind which are gradually finding expressions in and as others? How can he refuse food and help, concern and care (service, in short) to his own self that he starts seeing reflected in poor, miserable, and all others?
c s shah
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