1) Explain what you understand from the example of ‘sharpening a tool with a grindstone’.
Grindstone is analogy of life. It's generally rough. And just like looking at the half full glass, one's attitude can too see this “grindstone roughness” as an opportunity to enhance oneself.
Meaning utilizing life to sharpen one's physiological, emotional, spiritual, rational and intellectual capacity and understanding. Therefore, I evolve.
On the other side, if I don't know how to use a grindstone to sharpen the knife, my decisions and actions will blunt it… or create an unbalanced instrument (body-mind-intellect).
Meaning, not intelligently (per Scriptural recommendations) utilizing life's roughness (day-to-day perturbations), will results in devolution and inefficiency.
How to put this into practice: Use every life experience to inquire with questions like:
1) What have I learned from this?
2) How will I do better next time?
3) Could have I done better?
This is called SHARPENING your instrument.
2) Distinguish between freedom and licence. What is the part played by religion in checking the deterioration of freedom into licentiousness?
What is licentiousness?
Subordinating to human default tendency (due to being uneducated by a higher ideal or purpose). This “lower-value” tendency is being innocently allured, tempted, enticed, seduced and attracted to Objects… by organs of perception (5 senses).
But what is an an Object?
Anything of the 5 elements (Space, Air, Fire, Water, Earth). Or anything other then the Subject (Substratum because of which all Objects are known, Brahman).
Meaning, object is both the external world (things). And internal world (thoughts).
So therefore, licentiousness is unconsciously identifying with “Freedom” (Brahman), while simultaneously mistaking oneself to be the body-mind. So person superimposes body-mind unto this “Freedom” (Brahman). Which results in one word: MORE!
More pleasure. This leads to intoxication. Not knowing when to STOP. And inevitably to downfall of the “hang-over”. Like illness, loss of vitality, sorrow.
So then what is Freedom?
In short: Self-discipline. Intelligent self-control, according to the Scriptural rules, injunctions, laws, recommendations.
How to prove this?
Take example of the road system. Isn't it true that the ONLY reason you safely arrived from A to B, is because you and every other driver adhered to certain rules, injunctions, laws set by the traffic authority.
Meaning you experienced FREEDOM driving, because paradoxically, boundaries were set on how to drive.
Similarly, Freedom is faithfully following the boundaries set by Scriptural texts. Leading one to the Ultimate Supreme Truth.
So how does Religion play a part into bringing to awareness the difference between Freedom and License?
Fundamental message of Religion is: Live according to that which when done so, would lead you to the HIGHEST.
Meaning, to live like this, boundaries need to be set. Knowing if they're not, human default tendency is to sway towards licentiousness. Which results in devolution or sorrow. And these boundaries paradoxically give humans freedom.
Unfortunately, due to lack of knowledge between freedom and license, humans automatically assume religion is attempting to take away our sovereignty. Stripping our freedom of expression. Consequentially, we repulse and revolt against Religion. Despite them having (for the most part) good intentions for us.
3) “I had no shoes and complained, until I met an individual who had no feet.” What is the philosophical significance in this statement?
Attitude is everything! Appreciate what you do have, instead of complaining what you don't have.
Meaning, due to our nature of inherently looking/seeking or identifying with Perfection, this causes us to compare.
Compare to what? To something that could be better (one step closer to “Perfection”).
This results in not appreciating what we have right now, right here. Hence the statement “I had no shoes and complained”. Meaning “there's a better alternative to my current situation”.
But when a situation is presented which symbolizes or represents a privilege that is “one notch less” compared to what I have – this invokes contemplation of what I DO HAVE.
Which results in humbleness and appreciation for my current situation. Hence “until I met an individual who had no feet.”
4) In the comparison between the ‘boat and ocean’ and ‘human beings and life’ equate the parallels:
(1) Waves of the ocean are compared to _________________________________
(2) The mass of water below the waves to ________________________________
(3) The abandoned boat in the ocean to _________________________________
(4) Lighthouse to ____________________________________________________
(5) Mariner’s compass to ______________________________________________
(1) Waves of the ocean are compared to: Constancy of the ever changing forms, experiences, thoughts, situations in life – that is an undeniable fact for every living being. This constancy produces an unavoidable experience of a dualistic mixture of joys and sorrows.
(2) The mass of water below the waves to: The all pervading reality that doesn't exclude the Wave. And yet isn't the Wave simultaneously. Nature of Self. Free from change. Free from joys (high Waves) and sorrows (low Wave). Peace.
(3) The abandoned boat in the ocean to: An uneducated worldly person operating their instrument (body-mind-intellect complex) without guidance of the mariners compass (Scripture). They are tossed tither and hither according to the eternal nature of Maya. Sometimes the boat lands on heaven island. Sometimes in hell. 😀
(4) Lighthouse to: One that has mastered the mind, took the path of Good. One that abides in the unchanging Reality, as the unchanging Reality. Moved by life's turbulent waves, yet unperturbed by them, unmoved within. At peace with oneself and the world. This kind of person is the Lighthouse for those sitting in the abandoned boat.
(5) Mariner’s compass to: Just like a compass is the only refuge to a mariner… similarly the Scriptures are the only refuge to one looking for happiness.
The “Mariner's compass” is a metaphor for the Instruction manual on “how to live for maximum balance and harmony with oneself, others and the world”.
Answer is by following the guidance/directions as outlined in Scriptures, which is the result of work of thousands of rishis, across thousands of years, who closely deciphered and observed life's universal principles that motivate all behaviour. This Scripture compass points one to live a Dharmic life, but also how to “attain” Moksa.
5) “Sentiments adorn a person but sentimentalism is a scar on the human personality.” Explain with reference to the context.
A genuine contribution in form of one's linguistic/physiological opinion (about a situation or object they're engaged with), adds to the value of both the situation and the person.
This is welcomed and encouraged. In fact, it's how communities and communication thrives. By expressing your opinion for sake of betterment of the whole.
But this can also turn sour, unpleasant, manipulative and overally destructive if done in extreme. Which is called “sentimentalism”. It's an unbalanced-forced-inconsiderate form of Sentiment, and scars both the subject and the object.
Example, I say sorry politely, and mean it authentically. This is form of Sentiment.
I collapse to your feet, with streams of tears pouring down my face, begging for your forgiveness in a loud voice. This would cause you unpleasantness and me and everyone else in proximity of the scene. This is form of Sentimentalism.
Basically, disrespecting a God given gift by unnecessarily utilizing it to it's peak power. No different to over-utilizing Emotions, which is then defined “Being Emotional”. It disorients and scars the personality when repeated for days/months/years.
6) Write notes on the two impulses that motivate all human activities.
Cross-culturally, irrespective of one's creed, background, sex… human day-to-day experience is driven by the following 2 impulses.
And therefore all actions are determined according to these two impulses:
1) Avoiding Sorrow. Meaning avoiding pain.
This is basically a negative way of seeking Tranquility or a calm mind, through means of Avoidance. It's affirmed by: “I don't want THIS, because __”.
This conscious/unconscious avoidance strategy is the underlining cause for one's action which is supposed to remove any obstacles which would otherwise create agitation in the mind.
EG: “I don't want to feel annoyed with the world and myself, so then I light a smoke”. In other words, smokers action to light a cigar is motivated by impulse to avoid sorrow.
2) Yearning for Joy. Meaning seeking pleasure.
This is due to artificially inflating value of an Object.
Meaning, one superimposes certain attributes/meanings to an Object, and so they pursue that Object in order to re-live or re-experience the feelings associated with those attributes/meanings.
For example: I associate calmness, self-importance and sensual-stimulation to a woman. So then I pursue this object (woman) in hopes to re-experience the calmness, self-importance and sensual-stimulation.
Fundamental problem is…
Both ways of dealing with the world via these two impulses, is subjective. Proven by fact that no object provides equal pleasure/pain to all people. Proving the joy is not in the Object. Else everyone would consider it with same Value.
Therefore, it is in the state of mind. Which is subjective.
For example, a cigar for a smoker is “high value”. It calms their mind. Brings them an ounce of joy.
But to non-smoker, a cigar is “low value”. They're repulsed by it. And smell of smoke only agitates their mind.
7) What is happiness and where would you look for it? How would you increase the quantum of happiness?
Happiness is state of mind.
However “state” and the “mind” is subject to change. Hence we can call this “temporary happiness”.
So then what is “permanent happiness“? Diverting one's attention from the waves (joys/sorrows) of life…. to the unchanging Supreme Reality (Life Principle that animates creation. aham brahmāsmi).
Therefore, yes, one can find happiness in the correction of their attitude towards Objects. Like seeing the glass half full and appreciating what is offered. Instead of expressing grievance towards the half empty side, and complaining.
But because this is still Maya (changing), meaning personal likes/dislikes will also change in near future… it doesn't guarantee “permanent happiness”.
So the conclusion is: Permanent happiness is found by understanding myself as “Permanent happiness” (Brahman).
And how to increase the quantum of happiness?
There's 2 ways..
First method is to fulfill my present desires. This is only a bandaid temporary solution. It only reinforces dependence for future happiness. Reinforces Vasana, creating momentum to relive it again.
EG: I get another girlfriend (object). Instant solution! But hasn't addressed the underlining issue, which is: I'm depending on OBJECTS for my happiness.
The second, and BEST way, is to reduce the amount of desires entertained.
Meaning, to stop imagining or contemplating the idea of fulfilling another desire. How? By intelligent self-restraint, backed up with Self-Knowledge as expounded by the Scriptures.
8) Based upon the mode of performance of activities, there are three categories of human beings working in the world. Enumerate and describe them briefly.
1) Labourer (vyavasāyī)
Summarized as: What's in it for me? How can I gain from this? How much will I profit?
Meaning person of this temperament/mentality… seeks gain from his/her labour, in order to enjoy at a later time.
Motivation is subject to sense gratification. And benefit doesn't extend past persons own likes/dislikes or their circle of influence (like family).
Vision or higher-ideal is lacking. It's concerned with lower drivers, survival, indulgence, enjoyment.
99+-% of world's population are vyavasāyī.
2) Worker (sevākāri)
Summarized as: How can I benefit/profit myself AND the community?
Meaning, ego or agenda is still involved (known or unknown). But it extends beyond just self. It includes the community, nation or country.
Such examples are: politicians, scientists, economists, religious leaders. Their aim is the welfare for the masses. They strive for improvement of themselves and others.
But they're still driven by fruits of their actions. If the fruits won't produce enjoyment, recognition, power… then the worker will not do what he/she does.
3) Person of Perfection (yogī)
Summarized as: Total surrender to bhagavān.
It's not motivated by personal likes/dislikes, but as duty to Īṣvara. Enjoyment is in the activity itself, hence fruit of the activity bears no importance to this person.
It looks like they are driven by desire, but one could say it's desire of the Lord, and not of the desires based on person own likes/dislikes (conditionality).
Their activity is for the welfare of all involved. Within they are contented, at peace… even amidst chaos.
9) Write a short note on the Path of the Pleasant and the Path of the Good.
Firstly, they are derived from observation from rishis for millenia. They have concluded every day, at every transaction with the world between subject and object, the subject (person) is confronted an opportunity to choose between these 2 paths.
1) Path of Pleasant
This path is by default by anything that is born. If person remains uneducated about higher morals or ideals, they'll innocently choose this path monotonously.
Because it's reliant on lower animal impulses, which is inherent in all Jiva's. Like: Survival, reproduction, pleasure indulgence. Basically licentiousness. Which is immediate sense gratification.
Reason why most of world chooses this path when transacting with an object is because objects are: sexy, attractive, tempting, alluring, seductive, enticing!
Thanks Maya! 😀
Problem is: one does not evolve in any way, despite it feeling like they're involving while indulging in pleasantness. But it ultimately leads to sorrow. Why? Because all objects/experiences END.
2) Path of the Good
This is only possible by having suffice knowledge about the “Greater vision” of humanities ultimate purpose: mokṣa. And if not that, then of Dharma as expounded by Scriptural texts.
It involves utilizing one's intellect, therefore using inquiry to intelligently asses the object person is confronted with, before deciding to engage with it.
Meaning, there is a level of education preceding action. In this manner, one overrides the default tendency to choose based on sense gratification.
For this reason, this path is chosen by few. Because initially it seems like no fruits are bared by being good.
In fact, one many not gain any fruits of this path for months, years, decades. So it's challenging to rationalize how this path could have any benefit.
However despite seemingly unpleasant experience by choosing GOOD – it ultimately leads to permanent satisfaction with self, world, everything. This is true independence. Freedom from dependence on objects for one's happiness.
Unfortunately, those who choose #1, have minds predisposed towards extroversion. Hence they're unable to see the high achievement as experienced by one who's enjoying fruits of having following path #2 for years.
10) Distinguish between Suppression and Sublimation.
Sublimation is intelligent conversion of lower tendencies (caused by nature of senses to extrovert by contacting the world), to higher vision.
“Intelligent” meaning educated per religious advice's – as not to fall into trap of licentiousness. But exercises self-restraint and discipline to enjoy freedom from the chains of alluring temptations.
How to sublimate? By knowing about ideals, values and examples of those living a life of freedom, having conquered their lower desires. We all need a role model. EG: Arjuna. This is what “higher vision” refers to. Sublimation is path of slow intellectual contemplation and assimilation.
And Suppression is blindly accepting opposing views of life, without inquiring of their nature, purpose or intention. This is the uneducated and ineffective way of evolution.
It ironically leads to devolution because of denying what actually is someone's Karma to express!
For example, a child is hard to control. They are born with Karma. And they need to play it out. If parent suppresses it, then child may carry that suppressed unfinished business into later adult life. And it'll only cause them and others damage as it erupts like a volcano.
11) What is the significance of the advice given by the religious Masters to choose an ideal or goal in life?
The significance is an attempt to lead one to state of Perfection, which all humans are inherently striving for by different means.
This means the religious Masters understand the weakness of humanity, which is to choose by default, Path of the Pleasant. Which as observed for time immemorial, cannot bring permanent satisfaction, which is ironically what humanity is seeking (consciously or unconsciously).
And their solution was to offer us a vision or goal that holds more merit and power of attraction, then common worldly sense gratifying choices.
Meaning, they're provided an instruction manual that when followed, can lead one out of suffering, into one's true nature; permanent satisfaction.
12) Distinguish between Standard of Living and Standard of Life giving a suitable illustration.
Standard of Living:
We'll explain what this means by a simple example:
I wish to make a fire to cook.
Person A presents me with: stick, straw and wood. So I rub them together. And 10 minutes later, straw burns into a fire.
Person B presents me with a match box.
Two solutions to my needs, except B did the job quicker, safer and easier.
This is improving the standard of living. It won't make me happier as a person in overall. But will enhance the experience of my contact with the world.
It's what objective-science deals with. Enhancing the world experience, and it's objects we (the subject) contact. Like improving roads, healthier foods, warmer houses.
It addresses OUTER CONTROL.
Standard of Life:
If my mind is agitated and nervous, how likely will I successfully make a fire with either solution A or B? Unlikely!
I'll be clumsy, perhaps even breaking the match with excessive force by striking it against the rough surface.
Therefore, unless my life is in order (body-mind-intellect), then an enhanced “standard of living” won't make much positive difference.
This is what subject-science deals with. With self-enhancement. Into investigation, inquiry and resolution of our psychology, mindset, perspective, values.
It addresses INNER CONTROL.
Finally, one needs to simultaneously address both to grow. To work on their inner world, and the outer world.
If one side is neglected, this can lead to one's downfall.
For example, a long-wide mast of a ship will actually tumble the ship over, if the bottom keel isn't deep enough.
Similarly, if our standard of living is expansive, it will ironically cause us to fall, if our standard of life isn't firmly established in Knowledge.