"Be careful of doing any work that you regret afterwards, at the time of going (i.e., at death)," Bhagavan Brahmananda Saraswati (Thursday, 21 December 1871 – 1953) counsels, and "It is always necessary to be careful." (in Mason 2009, 62). Further: "Peacefully going about your everyday affairs, remember Paramatma [Supreme Self or Brahman] . . . On him is the burden of cherishing and nourishing all, he makes his own arrangements." (in Mason 2009, 68).
A human form should strive to maintain righteousness. - Markandeya Purana (Pargiter 1904, 51, 59). ⚶ Knowledge can be developed. - Markandeya Purana (Pargiter 1904, 4).
Striving to maintain righteousness, what sorts of righteousness, then? Righteousness (from Middle English rightwise, right + wise) is acting so well in accord with divine or moral law that there is no reason for hearth-felt guilt. Righteousness is without sin (as heart-sensed), right or justifiable. It could rely on an innate, acute sense of justice or morality in the final analysis. Maharishi speaks of that field as Natural Law. Others name it differently, and back it up by other ancient terms too, like rita (order). Ancient Egyptian life centred much around maat. [Maat].
Dr William Sands devotes space to Maharishi's explanations of dharma in Maharishi's Yoga: The Royal Path to Enlightenment (2013). Sands speaks of dharma (righteousness, duty, law, etc), and tells it equals living in accord with nature's design. He seeks to point to the deeper, more profound sense of the concept, telling:
In his commentary on the Bhagavad-Gita, Maharishi defines dharma [righteousness etc.] as that invincible power of nature which upholds existence. . . . It is the influence that "upholds the universe," . . . promoting worldly prosperity . . .
Dharma (righteousness, etc.) is a key concept with multiple meanings in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. (EB, "dharma")
In Buddhism, dharma has a twofold meaning: (a) The Moral of the Universe as applied to humans; (b) treasured words of Buddha. The latter are collected in texts, where there are many principles to live by. They are held to be generally helpful on and up. The dharma teachings express and formulate deep principles to live by to one's advantage, and to others too.
What is regarded as essential or cardinal principles to live by, seem to differ somewhat, though. For example, Zen Buddhism discards many after-growths of Buddhism to aim more straightway for the main thing, the hearth-felt joys of Nirvana. Now there are stages one should adjust to in Soto Zen too. [More]
In Jainism, moreover, dharma (righteousness) is a medium that allows beings to move. [EB "dravya"]
In the ancient Hindu law-book Manu Samhita (The Laws of Manu) are spelled out norms and laws to adhere to in a Hindu society that brahmins (priests) benefit from. The laws promote a caste system and favour upper classes. For example "Property, the owner of which has disappeared, the king shall cause to be kept as a deposit during three years; within the period of three years the owner may claim it, after (that term) the king may take it (8:30)." The king may take it all, and not the heirs and muffled poor ones, according to this.
In Hinduism, the strivings for artha (wealth, property) must always be regulated by the superior aim of dharma, or righteousness. And what is more, Krishna tells Arjuna in the teaching poem Bhagavad Gita:
Whenever there is a decline of righteousness, Arjuna, and rise of unrighteousness, then I manifest myself! For the protection of the good, for the destruction of the wicked, and for the establishment of righteousness, I am born in every age [Bhagavad Gita 4:7-8]."
"Age" in the quotation is translated from the Sanskrit word yuga. There are differences of opinion about such cycles.
"Zoroaster (Zarathushtra), a prophetic reformer of c. 7th century BC, apparently professed a . . . stern devotion to truth and righteousness. At the age of 30 he experienced a revelation from Ahura Mazda (The Wise) . . . Later forms of Zoroastrianism apparently had an impact on Judaism." [EB "Revelation"]
Ahura Mazda requires good deeds for help in his struggle against evil.
Have we seen "Which righteousness - and whose?" will carry us at least to no regrets, and preferably out of mud? There are many forms of mud if it is taken figuratively. There are good reasons to think: "Do not expect to find perfect teachings in all sorts of religions. Better take care and find formidably helpful teachings and meditation methods.
Playing false and pretending to be righteous
We can try to discern between folly-work and self-help work. Too many use demagoguery and "God's work" to enroll money and other resources of others. Basic God's work seems much different. It involves being careful and peacefully going about our everyday affairs, keeping attuned to Paramatma, as Guru Dev tells (in Mason 2009, 68 etc.)
Butchering innocents - is glorious and righteous a means of salvation? One would do wise to consider how upright it is. For example, Jesus vouches for the Law of Moses that institutionalises slavery, butchery of innocent animals, scapegoats and other cruelties in Mt 5:17-19. The irony of it includes that the same law would have his own mother, the pregnant Mary, stoned to death on her father's doorstep for getting with child without being married. Stoned to death if found out. (Deut 22:23, 24) The same Law of Moses would have Jesus executed as a false prophet too. Learn from this not to undermine your own doings as someone who saws of the branch he sits on, out on a limb. It is hardly careful enough in cases that are not desperate and wild.
It is good to look elsewhere for a better concept of righteousness than what is intimately linked to unjust killing of innocents and actual tyrannical ways. Consider that the"righteous Father" of Jesus in the Bible, had him sacrificed for the sins of others. These others were Jews only, according to Mt 15:24 and 5:10, and not others. The so-called missionary command of Jesus, is a much later-added work of forgery, explains Joseph Wheless. Dr Geza Vermes (2012) confirms it well.
If butchering innocents is righteous work toward them, what is unfair? Jesus was treated like a sacrifice animal, a slaughered and humiliated lamb of a sort. It proved futire, as the Jews en masse rejected him. Being sacrificed as a lamb eems uncalled for since the Law of Moses, which Jesus vouched for to the letter in Mt 5:17-21, called for two yearly goats to do the "atonement trick". It is spelled out in Lev 16, as one of the "lasting ordinances", like goat-skin tent services.
There are many other tricks in the book: The Law that Jesus speaks of and vouches for in Mt 5:17-19, is the Law of Moses. It is in the five books of Moses, the Torah. There are 613 commandments (Mitzvah) that Jews have counted. The Law institutes slavery, and Jesus vouches for the Law, so Jesus vouches for slavery. And those who say they are Jesuans may or may not be great hypocrites or liars. Some might just be confused and indoctrinated. It may pay to have nothing to do with those who are corrupt at bottom, if not all over. To protect oneself well is definitely a part of "God's work" too.
To sum up, in Lev 16, atonement for the whole people of Israel is said to be had by two goats, the original scapegoats. Jesus getting sacrificed was totally unnecessary according to the Law he guaranteed for. And the vicarious sacrifice by two goats was to be stuck to religiously on a yearly basis for all time, it says. "This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: Atonement is to be made once a year for all the sins of the Israelites (Lev 16:34)."
Yes, being cheated takes many forms. Some religions are for that, and are able to make gullible believers crazy in the long run. It had better be known that brutish scapegoating can get insane in time, as it hardens. For example, some of the more commonly observed behaviors and traits of those who suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder include scapegoating. We do not want that. Therefore, make it a point to be fair, for "Fair play is a jewel (British proverb)."
Getting ridiculously "free from guilt" by letting innocents suffer is easily corruptive. Unnecessary sacrifices of Jesus and others are biblically unnecessary because two goat would be able to replace him on a yearly basis, according to the Law that Jesus vouched for (Lev 16). Conforming to rascal demagogy and idiocy indicates the calibre, since healthy, upright persons do not need Jesus. He says so. Corrupt righteousness is equal to sinning and may violate an inner law, a wise norm of living. (WP, "Scapegoating"; "Scapegoat")
Jewish-Christian religion is attuned to vicarious sacrifice - based on tormenting others, making others suffer - to that sort of unrighteousness and sin. Buddha, on the other hand, is a way to end suffering, dukka and get happy. Hinduism, also called Sanatan Dharma (Eternal Law, Eternal Righteousness etc.) is about the same. Buddhism and Hinduism share great and good goals of living.
Buddha shows what marks four types of people, and three of the types are tormenters. The good and non-tormening type is described in the Apannaka Sutta: [Four types of men; four religious outlooks]
Bühler, Georg, tr. The Laws of Manu. Delhi: Banarsidass (Reprint from Oxford University's 1886-edition), 1984.
EB: Britannica Online.
Knapp, Stephen. The Power of the Dharma: An Introduction to Hinduism and Vedic Culture. New York: iUniverse, 2006.
Mason, Paul. 108 Discourses of Guru Dev: The Life and Teachings of Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, Shankaracharya of Jyotirmath (1941-53). Vol 1. Penzance, Cornwall: Premanand, 2009.
Pargiter, Frederick Eden, tr. Markandeya Purana. Calcutta: The Asiatic Society, 1904.
Vermes, Geza. From Jewish to Gentile: How the Jesus Movement Became Christianity. Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR) 38:06, Nov/Dec 2012.
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