Friday, 1 April 2016

Vedanta solves problem of ethics

With the advent of science, the age of reason got set in Europe. In result, the fear of Satan or hell no more frightened the people to desist them from wrong doings. Neither the authority of any book nor prophet nor the temptation of heaven nor fear of hell could coerce man into ethical behaviour. Why should one be good to others? There was no convincing reason to control oneself in the onrush of materialistic and licentious atmosphere. Swami Vivekananda explained that Vedanta alone could resolve the question of ethicality.
The rational West is earnestly bent upon seeking out the rationality, the raison d'être of all its philosophy and its ethics; and you all know well that ethics cannot be derived from the mere sanction of any personage, however great and divine he may have been. Such an explanation of the authority of ethics appeals no more to the highest of the world's thinkers; they want something more than human sanction for ethical and moral codes to be binding, they want some eternal principle of truth as the sanction of ethics. And where is that eternal sanction to be found except in the only Infinite Reality that exists in you and in me and in all, in the Self, in the Soul? The infinite Oneness of the Soul is the eternal sanction of all morality, that you and I are not only brothers — every literature voicing man's struggle towards freedom has preached that for you — but that you and I are really One. This is the dictate of Indian philosophy. This Oneness is the rationale of all ethics and all spirituality. Europe wants it today just as much as our downtrodden masses do, and this great principle is even now unconsciously forming the basis of all the latest political and social aspirations that are coming up in England, in Germany, in France, and in America. And mark it, my friends, that in and through all the literature voicing man's struggle towards freedom, towards universal freedom, again and again you find the Indian Vedantic ideals coming out prominently. In some cases the writers do not know the source of their inspiration, in some cases they try to appear very original, and a few there are, bold and grateful enough to mention the source and acknowledge their indebtedness to it.

It is only through the idea of the Impersonal God that you can have any system of ethics. In every nation the truth has been preached from the most ancient times — love your fellowbeings as yourselves — I mean, love human beings as yourselves. In India it has been preached, "Love all beings as yourselves"; we make no distinction between men and animals. But no reason was forthcoming; no one knew why it would be good to love other beings as ourselves. And the reason, why, is there in the idea of the Impersonal God; you understand it when you learn that the whole world is one — the oneness of the universe — the solidarity of all life — that in hurting anyone I am hurting myself, in loving any one I am loving myself. Hence we understand why it is that we ought not to hurt others. The reason for ethics, therefore, can only be had from this ideal of the Impersonal God. (CWSV, volume III, p.129)