Dharma 20th August 1999 (Auroville) - Dharma 201

What I said last time was only an introduction, because the subject is very vast. Maybe I may need one day, not now, to give twenty talks on this subject. One day, after some time. But I thought I will give at least one more talk, so that you enter into the subject more properly. So let us revise first what we said last time. Basically I told you about the meaning of Dharma, which is: That which holds; that which makes for stability. Secondly, I told you how people have aspired for stability, that is, what is the relevance of Dharma. Why people look for stability, how and why? Then, I gave you the example of Buddha. He had lived a life of luxury for many, many years, three decades nearly and suddenly he sees four sights: the sight of a sick man, of the old man, of the dead man and of a hermit; four sights. And all these sights gave him the experience of impermanence: the healthy man becomes sick, the young man becomes old, the living man becomes dead and a man, who is attached to the world suddenly, turns to a hermitage to become a hermit to wander about in search. As a result, there was awakened in the heart of Buddha the real pursuit of Permanence. And Permanence is that which stabilizes. It is the pursuit of Dharma.

Then I spoke of Descartes, and we said that lie was gripped with doubt, and doubt always makes you unstable, and there is a tremendous urge in human beings to overcome this instability, and therefore there is a search for certainty. Certainty is a resting place; your mind, your thoughts rest in certainty. The third thing I spoke to you about was Immortality. And I said that the Vedic search − if you read the Vedas you will find there is a constant search for Immortality. The experience of mortality is an experience of instability. It gives you a feeling that something is missing. Suddenly something is snapped, arrested, and you feel uncomfortable about it. I gave you the examples of Ruru and Priyamvada − Love and Death; the story of Savitri: the death occurs and then there is a tremendous movement towards immortality. And I said how Sri Aurobindo has given to the story of Savitri a tremendous dimension. The whole of Savitri is a cry of Immortality. I spoke of Dharma, pursuit of Dharma, as pursuit of Immortality, pursuit of Certainty, and pursuit of Permanence. In a sense all the three are interchangeable.

Then I told you the difference between animals and men, and I said that the main difference is that animals have no pursuit, they may have many other pursuits, but they have no pursuit for Dharma. They do not look for these three things. Human beings have this pursuit. So, one distinguishing feature of human being from all other animals or creatures is the pursuit of Dharma.

And third thing I told you was that this pursuit of Dharma begins with the distinction between two words: "Is" and "Ought". Every human being at a certain stage feels the stirring of ought – transcends what is presented and feels that there is something else, which is not here, but which should be brought out, should be brought down, should be manifested. I gave you the example of a short story of a small girl who was rescued and a fat lady who comes to visit that house and criticises this small girl and the small girl says: "How would you feel if I had to tell you what you have told about me". This is the starting point of 'ought'. Meaning: you ought not to do this. The starting point of Dharma is this basic point. You know Jesus Christ has given a very short formula: Do unto others what you want others to do unto you. Do to others what you want others to do for you. It is a very simple but very powerful statement. And that is the starting point of `ought'. Normally human beings want the best things for themselves from others, but not necessary from ourselves to the others. But when you begin to experience that we should do unto others what you want others to do unto yourselves, this will be the sign that now you have started the movement towards Dharma, automatically. This is the starting point. There is something which you want to happen which is not happening.

And then, fourthly, I told you the concept of rita. There was a discovery in the most ancient times that if you make a progression from what you are to what ought to be, it is a long process of progression. As you move forward, what you ought to find out now and when it is realized, you again find that this is not enough, there is still a further `ought', and when that is realized, you find there is a still a further `ought', and when you go there you find a further `ought', and if you go on, and you reach up to the climax. The climax of course is: Certainty, Immortality, Permanence. That is the climax. As you move forward, there is as it were a kind of a guiding line, some string that all the time pulls you upwards. That string which pulls you upwards, upwards and upwards is discovered by the Vedic Rishis and they gave it the name: Rita.  

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