Third stage is where you have a distinction between good and bad and there also we distinguish three stages. When one is pleasant and good, pleasant and not good, pleasant for others unpleasant for you and yet good for you and it may be that you like it but it is not conducive to the happiness of others; until you come to a point where you say that, that is conducive to the maximum happiness to the maximum number of people is really good. And for doing it, you may sacrifice your pleasure or your good then you come to another stage, where you say that pleasure is not the only way by which you can decide whether it is good or not. There is something like pursuit of knowledge. If something is better for gaining knowledge even though it may not be pleasant, it is good for you and that which simply gives you pleasure is not good for you that which develops your character is better then that which does not.
Then you come to a still higher stage, where what you call dharma and adharma becomes a very important problem even in lower stages. It is a very complex subject that what is dharma and what is adharma, where you arrive at a distinction between something that is good because of its consequences and something that is good because it is good in itself. We are told speak the truth. It is a very simple proposition, speak the truth and if somebody says that why should we speak the truth? Very often, the answer is that truth is good in itself. The consequences of speaking the truth may not be pleasant but truth is good in itself therefore, you must speak the truth. Honesty is good why, because it is good in itself. I must do my duty, why? Because duty is for its own sake, whether its pleasant for you or not, whether its pleasant for others or not. Your duty is what is prescribed to you and it is good because it is good in itself.
That which is not good in itself, is very often considered to be adharma. That which is good in itself is called dharma. This is one view dharma and very often it is found that which is prescribed as dharma is more difficult to practice than that which is adharma. Consider the situation where an individual faces alternatives some of which are part of dharma, some of which are part of adharma, but the consciousness moves towards adharma by natural inclination. At a lower stage there is a choice for that adharma but one does not know it is adharma. But now at this higher stage you are aware that this is adharma and this is dharma and you are told that you should choose dharma instead of adharma. Very often, in experience you will find a person who chooses adharma says, ‘I am freely choosing adharma.’ He uses the word I am free. One who is drinking says that ‘let me drink, it is my freedom, it’s my choice. I want to drink.’ And he feels freedom in choosing drink against not drinking. Both are alternatives before him but he feels psychologically that he feels freedom when he chooses this and not choosing the other one. Sometimes he might even make an effort to choose the dharma against the adharma. But like Dhuryodhana he says dharmam jaanami na chame pravritti, adharman javami na chame nivtritti. He says that I know what is dharma but I have no inclination for it. I know what is adharma but I can’t come out of it, I don’t have nivrittri from it. I know what dharma is but have no pravritti, I have no inclination towards it. I repeat the words, I know what is adharma but I cannot come out of it, I am so inclined towards it that when both are presented to me I automatically choose this. Why not, this is the important point. He feels freedom in choosing adharma against dharma and when you tell him that you choose dharma, he says that don’t compel me. Do not bind my freedom; my freedom is what I want to do.
At a higher level of experience you find and this is the most important experience in human life. Somebody is drinking and doctor says, ‘look, it is ruining your health, so you realize that drinking is bad really. It is adharma, I will not do it, he really does not want to do it. But whenever he sees the glass full of liquor he is tempted to it and then he takes it. He does not choose it; he takes it because the inclination is so great. It is here that he feels that he is compelled to take it. Here he does not say that I am free to take it. He experiences that although he does not want to drink he is feeling compulsion to do it, so now he does not claim that he is free to take it but he claims a compulsion. This is a new stage.
In the certain stage of consciousness that which you do not like, which you do not want, yet you feel such an attraction towards it that you want it and you feel you are compelled to take it. This is called in English language passion; you cannot avoid it although you may not approve of it. It is called passion because you become passive to it. That impulsion is so great that you become completely passive to it and you are unable to exercise your will that is why you feel that you are not free, you are compelled. Then you ask a question can I be free from this compulsion?