Upholding Dharma


It is a short one for this week but it has something that our country (and its good citizen) have been lacking in some areas and should be revisited. It is also something that I have been pondering on a personal basis.

Let me start with a simple case study:-

There is a junction near the housing area where a quiet number of the residents would take to make a u-turn to go to the housing area. Well, that fine as it is quite convenient for the residents. The only problem is there is a clear sign that says no u-turn is allowed. Despite this sign board and sometimes the inconvenient (and danger) posed to other road users, the residents continue to make u-turns instead of driving a bit more further and make u-turn. It may sound trivial but perhaps the residents may not be aware, they are breaking traffic law on daily basis.

The notion of dharma comes to my mind. The concept of dharma may mean many things to different people and religion. It may even have different name in different part of the world and culture. In Hinduism, dharma signifies behaviors that are considered to be in accord with rta, the order that makes life and universe possible, and includes duties, rights, laws, conduct, virtues and ‘‘right way of living’’ (Wikipedia)

Before anyone accuse me of being holier than holy (ha ha), let me assure you that it has nothing to do with religion but rather a way of life, doing the right things (as oppose to doing the things right) and ensuring that we do not hurt others out of greed, anger and of course, stupidity. You can find a variant of this in every modern society, culture and religion. Morality is one aspect of it but then the question may arise – what is right for me may not be right for you. That I agree with you. But there simpler acid test for this – be guided by the existing laws and society norms.

It can simple as following the traffic rules – don’t make illegal u-turns is one example, not driving on the wrong side of the road, put on the indicators when changing lane, wear a helmet when riding a motorbike and so on. And to something more complex like managing the country in the best interest of it’s citizen. There is no law written down to managing the country in the best interest of the citizen, of course.

This is where the society norms comes in place. No society wants to be governed by greedy, dumb, wasteful, dictator alike government – unless we are in a failing states like Zimbabwe or North Korea (but not Iran as the US wants us to believe). But we are not, we are far from countries like that. We will come across many instances of doing the right things in a day if you keep an eye and ears on it.

Asking people to do the right thing is nothing new concept. It is an age old concept.

I first came across the word “dharma” when I went to India for the first time and bought the Mahabharata from a local book store there. It was on sale (most things were) and the language used in the book was not so complicated to follow (I had to do something to kill time when the ladies were out for their shopping).

The dharma is mentioned a few times in Mahabharata which itself been called the story of dharma:-

Mahabharata is one of the oldest epics of our country, nay the world. It shows how dharma and karma govern our lives. Dharma is what is the right thing to do at a given time or situation. Dharma is based on wisdom, insight and human values. Dharma has many meanings and many dimensions as well – duty, truth, non-violence (ahimsa paramo dharma) and others. It is well said that “dharmo rakshita rakshata” – dharma protects he who follows dharma. However, if you do not follow dharma, you have to reap the consequences. That is karma – you reap what you sow, sooner or later.

(Source)

Failure to uphold the dharma will eventually attract bad karma. That’s universal – if you don’t do the right things, the consequences will not be good as well. If you don’t follow the traffic rules, you may get into an accident (or cause others to get into an accident).

The same with running this country. If you don’t govern the country well, it will not prosper and developed. And so. You may have heard variations of it – Murphy’s law, Newton’s 3rd law of motion, blah, blah

Knowing what is the right to do is one thing, doing it without fail is another:-

Doing right always is a very difficult task. Many a times we do not know what is dharma, what is not. Even though we know, unless it is a very usual habit of following it, at times of great stress it is impossible to follow the path of Dharma.

(Source)

In order to do thing on a constant basis, it takes high discipline and of course practice but more importantly there must be an acceptance that doing the right things should precede doing things right. It has to be habitual as well.

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2010 Reflection: Sorry, I’m An Idealist


No, I am not but looking at the state of the country, I am trying to be one

(Doing something ideal means different thing to different people. Image source: http://sentense.me/)

This year, instead making the usual New Year resolutions (which I know I would have a hard time keeping), I thought of doing something different. I have my own set of rules that I live by day in, day out and I fully aware that no one is perfect (I would be a fool if I claim to be one).

So, I don’t impose my personal rules on others (I have my shortcomings too) but it is whole different thing when it comes to rules of the office / work. There is a fine line between what I think you need to do and what I say you must do. At most times, I tend to close one eye on things but sometimes it gets too obvious (until it gets noticed by others and questions & accusations start flying around). For example, punctuality – for me, it is OK to come in late, once in a while, and with a good excuse (the usual like car broke down or had to bring family member to the clinic) and have something to eat so that you have enough energy for the day. There is no difference with what we did in schools – try walking in to the class after the bell has rang and you find yourself in detention class. So, what’s the indifference at work?

But enough about others (I am pretty sure that they have good reasons) – this is post is more about me than others. What I will be telling myself as I drive out from home in the morning? What are the “checkpoints” for me to make the day a great day? Certainly certain things that was said and implied in 2010 was said and implied in the wrong way but after a long breath (over several days, arghhhh!) I decided to take it up in a more positive way. What more a better way to kick myself in the butt for improvement than waking up to the underlying truth of my weaknesses and shortcomings from those in the “observation posts”. Thanks a lot to those who gave me the “list” of my weaknesses – in my endeavor to be more idealists, I intend to work even harder on this (keyword – intend).

One thing I definitely need to work on in 2011 is keeping awake during “the day” – it has become a routine that in the morning for couple of minutes, my body tends to simply “shutdown”. A cup of strong coffee in the morning has been the temporary permanent measure that I have “deployed” in recent months to ensure I remain “perked” up at least in the mornings (somehow evenings are the best time to work). And in 2011, since my son need to wake up early for school, it has been crucial for me to go to bed early as well (otherwise my son will use this as excuse to sleep late and have a hard time waking up in the mornings). Hopefully I catch up on some sleep early at night.

Another thing I need to work on in 2011 is control of my temper – not so prevalent at workplace but definitely show the uglier side when I am on the road. In 2010, I lost count of the times; I decided to ram some pesky idiots on the road that earlier had endangered me and others on the road and give a damn about it. But somehow common sense and unfounded restrain comes in at the very last moment.

Else where, motorist discipline on major highways have improved – perhaps with more people armed with cameras and the Government opening up an online submission of evidence but the city roads are still crawling with idiots who don’t deserved to be on the road in the first place – cutting into other’s lanes without any indicators, using no-entry roads as quick exits, jumping queue at the toll plaza, riding motorbike without any helmet and sometimes without any front and rear lights. For that very reason, not all who been a road-bully victim are angels. Anyway, it is better to stay cool on the road than becoming a “pest controller”.

At home, year in, year out – at the beginning of the year (and every time now and then) I often get a short lecture from my HEO (House Executive Officer) on what she expects from me when I am at home. The list is too exhaustive to be posted here (ha, ha). But perhaps with my son need to get up early and my wife is taking care of transportation before she leaves for work and weekends is as tight as weekdays, I might as well put more effort into house work (hope my HEO is not reading this – this does not mean I am putting my “commitments” in writing).

As I said, I am not an idealists (at least it is more realistic than being a perfectionist) but I am trying to be one – I guess the journey is more important than the destination, at least, for now. There is plenty of days in 2011 to make this happen.

P.s. It is ok if the post above does not make any sense whatsoever to you – it is still early into 2011 and my mind still tied to 2010