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Speaker: The question is, ‘Each one of us has his or her own value system, how is it possible to judge people? How is possible to declare that one system is superior to others ? Can there be a universal system or is each one of us entitled to have his or her own particular personal system of values?’ Let us understand.
What are values? What do we mean by values? All right, without going too much into the word, what do you mean when you say something is valuable to you?
Speaker: Important. You give it importance. Right? So, when you say that such and such are my values, in fact, you are saying that you are giving importance to such things in your life. Right? I give importance to this. Now, give me examples of few such values. Yes. Give me examples of the few things which you value.
Listener 1: Parents.
Speaker: Parents. All right
Listener 2: Education.
Speaker: Education and…
Listener 3: Friends.
Speaker: Friends and …. when you say these are my values, what do you usually mean? What are usually your values? Things like truth, truth is valuable. It is part of my value system to speak of truth. I give a lot of value to freedom, then somebody will say discipline is a part of my values. Respect to elders is a part of my values. Right?
The question is now two fold – One, where did these values come from? When I say these are my values, are they really ‘my’ values? When I say these are my personal values, I give great importance to these things in my life. Do I really give importance? From where did I get these values? That is the first question.
Second question is, do I really understand what I mean when I say for me parents are valuable, truth is valuable, freedom is valuable? Do I really understand what I mean by all that. Who will help me to answer the first part of the questions? Where do we get these values from?
Listeners: From our surroundings.
Speaker: From our surroundings. As are your surroundings, so would be your values. Surroundings give thoughts to you and these values are basically thoughts. Are we really justified in saying that these are our values? Are we really justified in saying that these are our values, if the values are coming from the surroundings? Tell me.
There is a recorder, lets say an audio recorder and the recorder is recording all the voices that are coming from the surroundings. Does the recorder have any right to say that these are my voices? The recorder will keep playing, keep repeating those voices. Won’t it? Does the recorder have any right to say that these are my voices, if the voices are coming from the surroundings?
If our values are all coming from the surroundings, is it really intelligent of us to say these are ‘my’ values?
Being born in a particular family, you would say that I respect animal life a lot. I respect all animal life, so I am a pure vegetarian. Being born in another family, you have been taking meat since childhood, so this part is not at all part of your values. Now, is the first fellow justified in saying that respect to all life, including animal life, is the part of his values , is it really his value or something that came to him from the house that he is born in, from the religion, from his parents? Is it his value? Really. But the fellow will be very very adamant. He will say no, these are my values.Now if the same child were to be born in another family that was meat eating, would the child still value a vegetarian diet? Would he still value? No, then he would say that these are not the part of my values.
Such are our values and that is why our values differ from person to person, family to family, city to city, religion to religion, country to country. Because as the surroundings change, values also change. So much so that if you move out of this country and go to another country, soon you will find that your values are also changing.
In India, a general sense of social chaos, public indiscipline is alright. The same Indians when they move abroad, they start giving great value to orderly public life. They would dare not break the traffic rules. They would follow all the injunctions which are to be followed. They are now giving importance to these things. So the values have changed. They have imbibed new values. Values definitely come from surroundings. They are not at all our values.
An intelligent man realizes that. The intelligent man does not quickly start singing, ‘my values, my values’. He does not quickly form opinions. He very well knows where all opinions come from. He is alert. He will say, ‘what right do I have to call something external as my own, if I do that, I am stupid’. Getting it?
So that is the first part. What we call as our values are usually not at all our values. Somebody else gives them to us, right since childhood and because we are dependent upon others,we have no option. We take that in. Mistakenly, we start calling it our value. That is the first part.
Second part, do we really understand what we call as values. Do we really understand? For all the difference that we find in values between persons, between communities, between countries, a few values seems to be quiet common. For example, most communities, most cultures, most religion will say that we value love. More or less, every community finds it valuable to give respect to elders.Truth is considered valuable by most people, doesn’t matter which country, which religion, which time. So these look like shared values. These look like pretty common values.
But do we understand these? How many of us really know what is truth? When we say that we must be loving, how many of us really understand love? When we say give respect to elders, do we really understand what is meant by elders? Or is it just about age? Do we really understand what is respect? So even those values that seem like independent from time and surroundings, that seem like universal, even there we do not know what we are calling as valuable. We just call something valuable without knowing what it is.
Love is great, love is God, love is very important but what is love that I do not know. But it must be something wonderful. It is a part of my values, my responsibilities, to be respectful towards elders. Alright son, please tell me what is meant by responsibilities, what is meant by elders, what is meant by respect? Sir, that I don not know. Quite wonderful. What are you doing? I am being respectful. What is that? That I do not know. What is respect ? I do not know.Wonderful.
Forget about being intelligent, is it sane of us? You understand sanity. A normal healthy functioning mind that is not mad. Is it even sane of us to profess values of this kind where we do not even understand what we are professing? And there are religions and cultures and we give importance to so many things. We give importance for example, to donations, to forgiveness. We keep valuing these things without understanding what forgiveness is. We do not know what charity is. But we will say give something to the poor, donate money, clothes or food, without understanding what is really meant by helping. But we will say, ‘it is the part of my values’. Do you really understand what it means to help somebody? And its easy, not that it requires some doctorate to understand the basic things.
Love, truth, simplicity, help, respect, they are basics, fundamentals. They are to be easily understood. We all have the capacity to understand. But do we really understand? We don’t understand.
What do we do? We fight. We say, ‘my values versus your values’ and ‘my values are better than your values’. Its like you are carrying a valuable ‘A’ and somebody else is carrying valuable ‘B’. You do not what ‘A’ is, he does not know what ‘B’ is. But the two of you are fighting whether ‘A’ is greater than ‘B’. This side is the ‘A’ side. This side is the ‘B’ side. They are shouting, ‘A’ is great, ‘A’ is god, ‘A’ is wonderful, glory to A’. This side is shouting ‘B zindabad’. You ask them, ‘what is A?’. ‘That we do not know’.’What is B?’. ‘We never thought about that’. ‘But B is great’. ‘What is B?’ ‘That we don’t know’. ‘What is A?’ ‘Why should we know’. Is it sufficient that ‘A’ should be good? For you ‘A’ is just a word ‘A’, just a sound ‘A’. For this side what is ‘B’? ‘Just B’. ‘B is great’. It is like worshiping the image of somebody, without knowing that somebody. Are you getting it? We do not know.
There is a third thing as well. We said there are two questions involved, there is a third question involved as well. Whenever you say that I value something, it also implies that you do not value its opposite. Are you getting it? If you say that I value renunciation, then you mean that you do not value consumption. Clear. If you say that I value non – violence, I value peace, there must be only peace.Then it also means that you do not value war, conflict, strike.
Valuing one thing automatically means that you do not value the opposite, remember life is the sum total of all these. The moment you say I value something you have discarded half of life. Because life is A+ A'( A complement). B+B’ (B complement). That is how you come to the universal set. You have set B, what would be B plus B complement? The universal set.That is life.
The moment you say I value something you have rejected half of the life by saying that I do not value it.
If you say, let take the example that we just take, peace.I value peace and peace and let there be no war,then you would be leading a very luke-warm life because war is as important as peace. In life peace has its place and war also has its rightful place.The one who says that I value only peace will miss half of life.The one who says that I value only war will also miss half of life.You have to value peace and you also must value war. You must value coming close. You must also value going away.
What ever you value, its opposite is equally valuable because life is the sum total of all opposites.
Good and bad, white and black.You value white now what will happen to black. Would you like a world in which there would be no black? But you say no I value only white. And there are some people who value only one color. Have you seen those monks who keep going walking in only one color. Some body is wearing saffron, some white. Would you like to spend your life wearing clothes of just one colour? Would it be good? Life is wonderful when you will be free to wear Black one day, White the next day, Saffron today, Green tomorrow. Right. Something sweet today, some salty tomorrow.
Some total of all the opposites is what makes life rich, interesting. By valuing something we reject the half of the life.
Are you understanding this?
By valuing one thing you reject its opposites and by this you reject half of life.
When you say I value my parents, you are automatically saying that you do not value others as much as your parents. So by valuing two people or three people within your family, in the way you have rejected the rest of the universe. I value my country and it is certain that you will not value all that which is not within your country. It may be beautiful but you will not value which is not in your country. Getting it? You have rejected beauty. You have rejected half of what is possible to you and than you are torn.You value your wife, your mother is angry.You value your mother, your wife is angry. Because such are our values. Valuing one thing automatically implies not valuing something else. Life is both wife and mother. Otherwise you are torn, you know that very well. Pull towards this side and pull towards that side.
You are watching a cricket match -India verse Pakistan .One Pakistani bowler is bowling beautifully, lovely in swingers and beautifully placed.You cannot even clap because you value only India. He is showing excellent skills, beautiful bowling, you are not even able to clap.The western world might be making beautiful movies but you will not be able to appreciate them because you value only Hindi movies.You don’t even bother to look at what the rest world is making. That is what values do. They cut you away,divide your world into half. If I asked you today that how many of you really know the great artistic pieces made by international artist, you will not know.
So why not just be free of values? So why not live a total life? Let me give an example, from this moment itself as I am speaking to you, if you are listening to me through your values, you will not be able to listen. Because you will be agreeing them only with that which matches with your values.You will not be able to listen to me in totality. The values will block your hearing, block your listening. Suddenly you will become hesitated because values will come in between. There is me , there is you but there will not be contact. No totality.
That’s what values do to you. They make you leave a half life. A divided life, a broken life, a fractured life. Why have values at all? What is the needs for values? Why can’t you just be? You are intelligent being, see what the situations is and do what is right?
You need values to decide what is right and what is wrong? Why do you need values to guide you? Your own intelligence is sufficient. An adult, a mature individual does not need values. The light of his own mind is sufficient. At least begin with questioning your values. See from they are coming from. Start from there.
All of us carry a tremendous load of values. No body is here who does not carry values.There is nobody here who does not have concept of what is good in life.You will say marriage is important in life, money is important in life.This is important in life, success is important in life, all these are values. Success is a great value.Family is a value.
We all have values and those values are dictating the course of life. So why not ask ourselves from where are these values coming and what are they doing to my life? Before I run after money, before I run after success, before I run after marriage and family and all that the society says, must I not first ask myself or should I start running after thing, without understanding it. I must first ask myself what is money and who told me that money is important? When I was born at that time I was not carrying money. Surely somebody told me that money is a very important thing. Surely somebody told me that religion is the most important thing. Surely, somebody told me that I should go after success. Can I find out? Can I look into my own eyes and see what is the matter really? But you will not do that.We must do that. We must investigate values? Before defending them, before fighting for them, before getting hesitated, before devoting our life to these values,he must find out what are these values are for. Are you getting them?
Listener: Sir, when we are small , we get knowledge from outside, we get values from outside, from our surroundings. How can we ignore or prevent this?
Speaker: Rishabh has asked a very sensible question that as a baby whatever knowledge comes to me is bound to come from surroundings, somebody else will give that knowledge. How it is possible to not to have values that others give us? Right. That is the question Rishab. You are very right as far as the baby goes. But how many of you are still babies? Is Rishab still a baby? It is all right that the baby has to accept whatever others tell him or her. But you are not babies.You are grown up, fully matured adults.Why you must keep accepting all the things that are implanted in your mind? You have an intelligence, you apply it and that is what makes life valuable. Application of intelligence. Are you getting it?
You had no option till the time you were a kid. Till you are ten years old or twelve years old, obviously you don’t know the world. In fact, your brain was not mature enough, the cells the basic physical operator itself was not ripe. So intelligence could not have functioned properly. It is obvious. But today it is ripe. Today you are mature. Today you can use your own eyes to look at the world, to look at life .
Information and intelligence are different things. So what comes from outside is information. Intelligence does not come from outside. Whatever is coming to you right know, is this also coming from the past? Have you heard these words before? Am I repeating something that happened six month back? This is coming to you RIGHT NOW. This is life. How are you understanding what I am saying? How are you understanding it?
Listener: There are some parts which we understand on the basis of some other things.
Speaker: I am saying something right now. Don’t talk of this time or that time. Come into this moment. Right now as I am saying something, how are you understanding it? Are you understanding it using the past or are you just understanding by listening to me.
So that is the way an intelligent man looks at the world. He listens, he sees.
How are you listening to me? By thinking of the past all the time or just listening. Listening. This is the way you come to contact with the reality, by not thinking of the past, by not being lost in thoughts and values are thought. Right know as you are listening to me, attentively. Similarly, look at life attentively,see what people are doing. You have a canteen joining this room. When you go out, stand there and watch, what they are doing and you will know the reality. You will know what to value.
When you get up in the morning, look at the sky, see how the sun is arising and see what the birds are saying. Listen to that and you know what is valuable. And you will know that these are not man made values. These are not divisive values. When you read the newspaper, read it carefully. Look at all the sectarian conflicts, one country attacking another country, one community attacking another community. And than you will realize what are values, what do values do? Are you getting it?
When you watch the television serial watch them very carefully. See what they are portraying, see what they are doing to your mind. Do that without carrying the baggage from the past. Do that very very lightly. In a very free way.
So just as, to understand me, is not a great operation. So just as your ears are open, your mind is open and you are listening and this will just simply help you to understand, same is the case with life. Be open, be alert. Don’t be closed in your thoughts, within your thoughts and then you will understand everything. Its actually very simple.There is no complexity in this.Truth is obvious, very very obvious,provided you have not decided to not to look at the truth. Most of us have been trained to not to look at truth and values are a part of that training.
Excerpted from a ‘Shabd-Yog’ session. Edited for clarity.
Watch the session video: Give up your values! || Acharya Prashant (2013)
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