MOLDING OF CHARACTER AND PLEASING OF GOD
By Koshy Vaidyan. P.E.
The two essential requirements of a purposeful life are development of character and acquisition of spiritual knowledge. Human beings differ from animals only by virtue of their power of discrimination. Human beings have the wisdom to take correct decisions and this in turn is possible because of the association with spiritual people. There are a lot of knowledgeable persons but they may lack character. Also there are some who possess integrity but they may have missed the opportunity to secure scriptural knowledge.
Children of humble origin are found to offer their salutations and obeisance when spiritual leaders visit them. They have inherited good values form elders though they are not provided with education. This is also due to divine blessings. God’s grace does not mean that He will go about with a staff in His hand, as a shepherd does when he drives the animals to a meadow. He will bestow on men the proper motive for action and good sense to choose the right, eschewing the wrong.
A verse composed during the tenure of the administration of emperor Dilipa (forbear of Rama ) compares and contrasts the responsibilities of parents and rulers. The parents bring them up. But the king has the duty to train the children as proper citizens. He has to see that they cultivate humility, behave in a disciplined manner, mould their character and ensure that they become useful to the country.
For this they should receive sound education. If the body needs food, anybody can provide it but character cannot be obtained overnight. It requires hard work. Spiritual knowledge can be acquired throughout life in stages. But discipline and character should be inculcated from young age.
Women are the custodians of our culture and tradition. Women teachers in particular have a decisive role in shaping the future of the pupils under their care. Our scriptures have laid golden rules for molding the character of growing children. Saints like St. Gregorios of Parumala have shown the way and if clarifications are needed, one can observe how spiritual heads conduct themselves.
One should possess righteous conduct and that after learning in a perfect manner tread the path it has shown. Knowledge without character and spiritual outlook, in a scholar, is compared to the dog’s tail whose utility no one knows. Or it is like a run-away engine without a governor. Supreme satisfaction, enviable success and the greatest happiness for any person can be obtained when he serves humanity with love. It’s hence said that everyone should have before him the motto, “Serve all and Love all” and “Service to mankind is service to God”. It will not be a surprise notice many taking decisions to “do something to someone” but adding a rider “from tomorrow”. They however will fail to say what they are going to do “today”. Instead of postponing the carrying out of any noble task, it will be wiser to act now, forthwith. Tomorrow may never come or we may not see tomorrow.
Service, however, should never be undertaken with any specific motive, or merely for winning fame or for getting recognition or merely for monetary gains. It should be spontaneous and voluntary. Likewise, when doing such a noble service on the one hand, one should never indulge in acts of cheating anybody. It is equally necessary to realize that in the same service, they should not destroy plants or animals. The latter can remain without human beings but men cannot survive without them.
The person who thinks he could do some noble act “tomorrow” should realize that day may never dawn at all. To think of doing good is one thing but to act on that is more important. Also, when some men undertake to serve society, say running an orphanage or a school for poor, there should be sustained efforts to maintain it properly and extreme will, determination, and total commitment in managing it properly. Thus the simple statement “serve all, love all” is indeed difficult to practice.
Further, God is the fountainhead of all that exist on earth and everything----spiritual and mundane----evolves from Him alone. Those who know this and worship Him with devotion can be called “enlightened” persons. To love all may not be liked by everyone because some may harbor hatred against some. There may be “shortage” of love in many hearts. But God says a true devotee is free from malice and is friendly to everyone. Thus those who serve others will enjoy happiness. A person becomes a leader in a particular field because of his service. There should not be “exceptions” omitting some while offering service to a group. One can see God by extending love to humanity and God loves who serve the people. So we should cultivate the attitude of seeing God in every object and everywhere.
Never think ill of other. God alone is our unfailing source of protection and so we should obey His directives, spelt out through a number of sacred texts, one among them being the Holy Bible. “If you desire to get your object fulfilled, offer your worship to God, hold to His feet and obtain His help.” This was the advice tendered by a mother to her child who was deeply hurt by the harsh words of his stepmother. This holds good forever and is relevant to all of us.
How to approach God is one of the questions often raised, followed by the doubt whether He will respond to our pleas. Faith and sincere prayer will establish a firm relationship between Him and those who seek His guidance. One has to entrust oneself to Him, accepting one’s inability to save oneself from problems. Only man can adopt the spiritual exercises and get himself freed from bondage. If he fails to do so and let go of this opportunity, he will slide down and go back to his earlier stage, as an animal. The mind that contemplates on the auspicious form of the Lord will be quickly filled with ineffable bliss and will not revert from that state.
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