“They believe that to gratify the senses unto the end of life is the prime necessity of human civilization. Thus there is no end to their anxiety. Being bound by hundreds and thousands of desires, by lust and anger, they secure money by illegal means for sense gratification.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 16.11-12)
“Religion is the way of the past. In primitive times, when man didn’t know any better, they made up stories about there being a higher power. They needed a way to comfort themselves, to explain the unexplainable. That’s what these different deities are, a product of the imagination. Science is the way of progress. That’s why so many people are rejecting established religion today. They are more evolved.”
The rejection of religious principles is known as adharma in Sanskrit. The word is a simple negation. Dharma is the way of life. It is duty, righteousness, religion, or religiosity, depending on the context of the discussion. Ultimately, dharma is what defines the individual, it is the essential characteristic. Therefore adharma is never the proper way, even if the short-term visuals say otherwise. Adharma is not sustainable.
1. Do liars prefer being lied to?
There are different religions practiced around the world and throughout history, but it is safe to say that four basic qualities are common to them all. Cleanliness, austerity, compassion and honesty. Vedic culture has four corresponding restrictions for attaining these qualities: avoid meat eating, gambling, intoxication, and illicit sex.
Taking just one of the qualities, we see that the reverse is not beneficial. In adharma, dishonesty is allowed. Not that a person has to be truthful one hundred percent of the time in dharma, but in most situations it is proper to tell the truth.
Adharma pays no attention to duty and honor, so if lying should occur, it is no big deal. At least that is the conclusion based on mental speculation. Yet the people who lie quite often expect honesty from others. They do not like to be cheated by others. If the airlines weren’t honest about the stated destinations of flights, who would board them? If the press started making up stories to further an agenda, who would trust anything they had to say?
2. Do thieves prefer being stolen from?
Kama, or lust, is the guiding force when adharma is followed. That is to say the satisfaction of the senses is placed first in priority. This can be seen in something as basic as eating too many slices of pizza when sitting down for dinner. In the more extreme cases, there is theft at the largest scale, for products worth millions of dollars, for the purpose of enjoying.
Yet would the thieves prefer being stolen from? Stealing is changing possession, after all. This means that the thieves must have things that belong to them. Would they like it if others were to steal? This is a violation of property.
3. Do murderers prefer being killed?
As theft is the violation of property, murder is the violation of life. If the kama drives a person too far, they will not stop at killing to get what they want. This is how the trafficking of illegal drugs becomes so dangerous, to the point that the state intervenes. The person taking another’s life would not like if it if the same were done to them.
4. Do artists prefer losing attribution for their work?
A person spends a significant amount of time working on a painting. A considerable effort, but the output was worth it. The artist is proud of the finished product. Would they then like it if someone came along and removed the attribution? The person is a stranger to the scene; they didn’t actually see the painting process. They conclude that the finished work was due to randomness. A bunch of chemicals collided and the result was the painting.
Those who are staunch followers of adharma behave similarly. They see the work of the greatest artist all around them and they subsequently remove the proper attribution. On basic principles alone, dharma is the proper way. Moreover, the authority figures who push that way of life have their stature increase. That is to say the people who teach dharma should be trusted for guidance in other aspects of life.
The greatest teacher is also the original artist. The line between dharma and adharma can be complicated, and so sometimes He steps in to clear doubts. Such was the case on the battlefield of Kurukshetra. There Krishna explained that those who are demoniac, being driven by lust, go to the extreme of even illegal means to satisfy their senses.
Those who follow dharma not only respect others, but certainly also the person most worthy of respect, the Supreme Lord. That dharma is applicable to every time period and every age, though the exact means of implementation may vary. In this age of quarrel and hypocrisy, the Kali-yuga, the dharma is the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Dharma for pious and sane,
Adharma impossible to sustain.
Since thief certain behavior to expect,
Their own acquired property to respect.
Liars many dishonest words conceive,
But hope not from others to receive.
Ways of piety intricate and complicated,
God teaching, like on battlefield demonstrated.
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