Introduction to Universal Values (BG CH13, Verse 7-11) (129)


Lesson 129 sets the stage for Universal Values expounded in verse 7-11. Misinterpretation of values. Obligatory values. Personal values.

Source: Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 13, Verse 7

Introduction to Universal Values:

  • Last session, we mentioned possible consequences of unprepared mind. Main one is it gives rise to misinterpretations in whatever happens, but also prevents wisdom taking firm root.
  • Examples of misinterpretation of values:
    1. Bhishma was narrowly looking at his vow, causing him to overlook Duryodhana's misdeeds, thus Bhishma followed path of adharma. Hence suffered immensely, despite being relatively wise.
      • Like Bhima’s narrow-view, pursuit of liberation OR self-expansion can also cause person to neglect obvious obstacles (blind spots).
    2. Or in Arjuna’s case: Krishna told Arjuna, “This war isn't about you, but about what NEEDS to be done. Your grandfather happens to be on king’s side. Thus he too needs to be eliminated, to protect universal dharma.”
      • So Krishna is teaching us, in order to stop misinterpreting, we need to investigation our value systems/attachments.
      • Entire message of Mahabharata is: Be more like Krishna in making decisions (by holding bigger picture in mind; through ongoing education, EG: audiobooks).
    3. We lack courage to say “No”. Since we can't, we blame the other for our eventual hurt. Which sustains mind's hindering narrative.
    4. Extreme version of misinterpretation is SUICIDE.
      • Why do people commit to act of suicide? Person creates a misrepresented narrative.
        • EG: “Life is not treating me right. I can't do anything about it. I'm a victim. I can't even make it work in the future. It's so overwhelming, and only solution is to end my life”. That's why first thing suicide hotline does is give hope.
      • Not all suicide fits in above category. EG: Act of sacrifice.
    5. Even spirituality becomes means of escapism, due to misinterpretation of teachings. FACT: Vedanta is most popular among those having traumas. They use it to temporarily escape life. Living in denial. EG:
      • Truth of all waves (jealousy, adharma, lust) is just water. Some teachers in pseudo-spirituality fall in same trap.
      • My body hurts, but ātmā is free. Health deterioration escalates.
  • 2 Types of Values:
    1. Universal Values: They apply at all times. These are the values we'll learn in V7-11.
    2. Personal values: 2 categories:
      • Obligatory Values DISGUISED as Personal Values:
        • You're obligated from conditioning. They produce sense of dissatisfaction for you, but compelled to follow anyway.
        • EG: Toxic wedlock. Or friend asks for unrighteous favour.
      • Personal Values ALIGNED with Universal Values:
        • Comes from own understanding. You do it because it's important for you, “I know it is for my well-being, thus I’m UNWILLING to compromise”. EG:
          1. “It’s possible to cheat, but it’ll bring a feeling of self-disgust later, thus I won't be able to enjoy my own company”.
            • Meaning the more you know there is a COST OF VIOLATING a personal value, the more you'll follow it.
          2. “I’m helping because I value contribution, and it immensely fulfills me”.
  • How to CONVERT Obligatory Value to Personal Value?
    • Suppose you're taking care of parents, but don't want to be there. This is obligatory value. If remain, your non-committed presence will be felt.
    • SOLUTION: Convert to Personal value by asking, “Where am I absolutely vital? And in what cases am I replaceable? “. Thus caregivers needs to set boundaries.
  • RATIO of 2 types of values determines your relative day-to-day happiness:
    • One can determine quantity/quality of happiness by asking:
      • Are my personal values ALIGNED with universal values out of obligation OR assimilation/self-reflection?”.
      • Process showing how Obligatory values deny relative happiness:
        1. Everyone is seeking to create a comfortable self.
        2. But obligatory values create an uncomfortable self.
        3. Because I am uncomfortable with myself, my capacity to enjoy life is reduced.
        4. Because capacity to enjoy is reduced, I’m only attracted to “feel good” advice, and not deeper meanings of life.
  • Why bringing this up before beginning with values?
    • Because indispensable condition for Vedanta to work wonderfully, is you have to FACE your relative self. This involves following a certain values which produce success.
  • COST of disregarding universal values:
    1. Self-condemnation: Self-criticism.
    2. Regret: I shouldn't have done this.
      • Even a misguided soul like Duryodhana feels regret.
        • EG: Suppose I cheat you. I still don't want you to cheat me. Meaning I’m still in touch with universal value of ahimsa. (Even mafia wants his own group to be honest with him).
        • Meaning it's clear how others should behave towards me. But unclear how I should behave towards others.
    3. Guilt:
      • How do people cover the guilt of breaking the law? “Everyone's doing it.
      • Cost of this thinking? Lowers self-esteem, “I'm not able to follow what is right!”
  • Even though we know what is right, why don't we follow?
    1. Human minds finds ingenious ESCAPE routes to not confront it's discomforts.
    2. The greater the discomforts, the more person is inconsiderate.  That's why abused kids in adulthood become aggressors (sadists).  Hurt people (as kids), hurt people.
    3. How to fix the hurt (gained in past)?
      1. When grow up, heal others in the same position.  EG: Rape-victim heals rape-victims.
      2. Prayers.
      3. Ask questions to re-frame. Can’t change what happened, but reinterpret it.
    4. We haven’t seen yet, that it’s NOT in our best interest to disregard universal values (dharma). You’re following values for your good, noone elses, because it blesses a peaceful mind.
    • Man-made / religious mandates / taught by parents.
    • Cultural indoctrinations or occasional conditioning. EG: Don't show your dissatisfaction. Gender bias.
    • Universal values are innate (we inherently know). Scientific proof: Child was presented two TV’s. On one was good/bad. Child was naturally turning head to good. Google: Baby Lab.
    • Purpose of Verse 7-11 is to interpret universal values properly.
    • What is danger of opening up Universal Value interpretation? Each person will interpret according to their likes/dislikes, cultural indoctrinations.
    • How to know if your personal value is ALIGNED with universal values?
      • Are you looking at larger good (even in future when I’m gone), or immediate own benefit?
      • Are you interested in knowing about universal values? Because universal values are like electricity. If I mistreat electricity, it kills me. If I respect it’s boundaries, it aids my life.




Credit for help in Bhagavad Gita teaching given to Swami Dayananda (Arsha Vidya), Paramarthananda & Chinmaya Mission.

Recorded 15 June, 2021


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