You have asked me, dear one, What is an ‘appropriate’ action? It is indeed a difficult query. Appropriateness carries within itself the freedom of choice, of being able to say yes or no; Appropriateness carries within itself the responsibility of acting in harmony with the end purpose; Appropriateness exudes the concern for the welfare and happiness of all that are affected by the action; Appropriateness is the fine application of truth and rationality to the problems facing us from day to day, whether big or small; Appropriateness is the way of discriminating, the task of discerning what is in tune with destiny or dharma, with an urge to evolve into one’s highest possibility; Appropriateness is to do what is just right, at the right time, in the right measure, with the right spirit, in the right way and for the right effect; Appropriateness is what shall be ultimately judged right even when the action has long been forgotten or receded into oblivion from the public memory; Appropriateness relates not only to the motivation, intent or the philosophy underlying each action but also to the process, to the methods employed and to the results and consequences of the action in question; To act appropriately is indeed to walk on the path of virtue, on the road of cardinal values.
By Dada Shambhushivananda
A cursory glance at the history of ethical dilemmas of each age reveal that ‘moral issues’ have been couched and imprisoned within the bounds of a sub-culture, religion or a prevalent belief system of a particular age. What is considered good or bad; right or wrong; appropriate or inappropriate; legal or illegal; legitimate or illegitimate; acceptable or unacceptable; bearable or unbearable; just or unjust; equitable or inequitable; moral or immoral and therefore, welcome or unwelcome, have all been conditioned by changing values of each time, place and the group psychology. The punishment for the deviations or violation of normal norms has often been harassment, a blatant rejection, expulsion, persecution and sometimes, even death. The thresholds of “ethical boundaries” have often been solely interpreted by the power brokers and forces responsible for preserving the status-quo. What is treated as wrong and kept in the periphery in one age may be venerated as the core value in another age and brought in the nucleus of social power. Thus, human history is replete with examples of the shifting character of moral norms.
Each creature is endowed with certain pra’na-dharma, an innate characteristic. At the root of it lies its existential challenge. Each living creature is also confronted with certain developmental options and choice of its Desideratum. The future of moral-ism in human affairs lies in saving it from its pre-mature death by pulling it away from relative conditioning and ascribing it a cardinal character. If a moral option robs any creature of its existential right or serves to stop its “growth” or detract it away from the Cosmic desideratum, it can be considered that brand of moral-ism as belonging to “moral trash” and may end up being thrown into the dustbin of moral distractions.
In the ultimate, the defining characteristic of “moral-ism” is that particular discriminating faculty which propels humans to embrace the unison with their Highest Consciousness. Anything that serves to widen our gap between “us” and “our highest nature” is dogma and anything that brings us, individually and collectively, closer to our desideratum is innately moral. Further more, anything that aids our march towards our common desideratum may be included as a part of our tool-kit of morality.
Morality can never be considered as an absolute virtue. It is that relative truth which allows us to live in harmony with the rest of creation while enabling and goading us to unite with our highest nature; self actualization, merger with A’tman, Cosmic Consciousness.
Some of the conflicts in the world today are about fight for economic justice, fight against dogmas, fight against psuedo-culture and fight for culturing sustainable life styles. Ugly wars, environmental crisis, poverty amidst plenty, denial of freedoms, self-centered politics, religious dogmas, misuse of arts, science and technology are all raising moral and ethical dilemmas. While there is never an easy answer to moral dilemmas, it is important to remember that moral justification of our actions should be judged from a universal perspective and not by a mere convenience of a group interest. A neohumanist perspective would treat every creature with the same compassion as is reserved for those sitting on the seat of justice. Our highest consciousness alone is the ultimate judge of our moral and immoral actions. If our stances and actions bring us, individually and collectively, closer to our Cosmic desideratum, it can be adjudged as moral, otherwise they may have to be declared as falling short of neohumanist morality.