According to the Vedas, we can live our lives under three main influences. We can live under the influence of ignorance and degradation, the influence of passion (how the majority of people live), and the influence of benevolence. This is a blog post on the principles of benevolence and some of the fundamentals of what it means to live a benevolent life.
Benevolence in relationships is centered around three key principles:
The first principle is total loyalty towards your partner. This means loyalty in words, loyalty in action and loyalty in thoughts.
Loyalty in speech means to only discuss the good qualities of your partner. It also means never letting your words convey disloyal intentions about your love towards your partner, for example, not giving false hope to another person outside of your relationship.
Loyalty in action means acting in such a way so that you are there when they need you, that you do things to help them in life, and that you support them in all their endeavors in life. It means being completely faithful; and not getting involved in any kinds of infidelity.
Loyalty in thought means thinking loving and positive thoughts about your partner, to see him all his good qualities, and genuinely wishing happiness for them. Loyalty in thought also means never questioning “did I really make the right decision? Could there be someone better out there for me?” A man can feel when his woman thinks these things, even if she never says it, and your relationship will change because of it.
If a woman can be completely loyal in these three ways, then her husband will be protected from all kinds of harm and there is only room of progress and development. In this way, she can bless her relationship.
The ability to endure
The second principle of benevolence is the ability to endure. The ability to endure means the ultimate commitment to endure all hardships in life together. It means that life will not always be easy, and that the relationship between the two of you will not always be easy, but regardless, you will be there, continuing to do your duties to each other, continuing to preserve your loyalty to each other and continuing to forgive each other. A life of benevolence does not make you exempt from the hardships of life, but rather gives you the strength to endure them.
The ability to forgive
The third principle of benevolence is the ability to forgive. It means to constantly forgive each other for past hurt, so that resentment does not build up. This means having the wisdom to understand that forgiveness is more important than righteousness. It means understanding that when you have not forgiven someone completely, there is no way you can have a normal relationship with them. It also means having the wisdom to understand that not all issues need to dissected – and thus causing pain to everyone involved – but realizing that that some issues can be overcome simply with the power of forgiveness. That is a very difficult thing to do, but it can be done.
The benevolent motivation: Duties and Focused on service
I once heard this quote: “Those who take may eat better, but those who give, sleep better.” The key motivation in a life of benevolence is focusing on service. To give, rather than receive. It means not demanding anything from God, but instead trying to do something for God. And this can be translated to all aspects of life – not believing you “deserve” anything from life, but instead doing something meaningful in life.
A service oriented life stems from fulfilling your responsibilities in life out of a sense of duty, rather than thinking about the details of it (like what you can get out of it, or what it is that you have to do, or how it will make you feel to do it). If you want to start serving your community, the first thing to do is to start doing the jobs you already have to do. Do them well. It could be as simple as being a better wife, or a better friend, or a better daughter, or a better worker. After you slowly switch to a more duty-oriented way of thinking, you will start to find ways to serve bigger groups too.
Don’t worry about yourself. If you can live a truly service-driven life, then you will be taken care of. It will just happen that way. Live a service-driven life with great enthusiasm and joy. You might not enjoy these extra responsibilities very much in the beginning, but keep doing them anyway, after a while they will start to bring joy. Living a service driven life is the only way to attain happiness on a both material and spiritual level.
Here are some small steps to start with:
Start considering your entire street as your home, rather than just your house. Start taking care of it. Mow the lawn. Pick up the litter. Plant flowers. Take care of it.
Feed the birds. Feed the poor.
Wish everybody you meet happiness.
Try to do more for your place of work. Care about your company. See how you can help them do better with the skills you have.
Have a good influence in not only raising your own children but also other children, your child’s friends, and the children of your neighborhood. Care about them. Help them become good people.
Help your neighbors.
Share your meals with someone. Bake for friends.
Plant trees, grow plants, take care of an animal.
Teach one of your talents/skills to a younger person, or to an entire class!
Share your talents to bring people happiness.
Living and internal life
Benevolent people live an internal life. This means that they don’t seek happiness in what happens around them, because they knows that everything that happens around them is a reflection of what happens in their heart. So they focus on the workings of their heart. Every time we encounter and emotionally charged problem in our life, it serves as an indicator that we are not living an internal life. When we start to live an internal life, difficult times in life become easier to endure and we are also blessed with the ability to find a way out. There is an understanding that the more internal your life becomes, the more happiness you will find in life.
The principle of internal living is to achieve peace with yourself, and a calm harmony with the world.
They have a close relationship with the voice of their conscience. They live righteously, always making sure that their life reflects their morals and values. They are always ready to know the truth, regardless of how difficult it is. They want to change them selves, and practice deep honesty with themselves. If you want to change yourself, you have to be very honest with yourself.
They have a positive outlook on the world. Purity of mind means the ability to see the good in all people.
Those in benevolence are blessed with wonderful talents that can bring happiness to those around them. They see their talents as a blessing, and they see their development as their duty. But talents in benevolence cannot be exposed at all times. They are only revealed in benevolence. They are only revealed as a blessing. They are only revealed at the right time, at the right place, for the right people. His talents are not used as a claim to fame. They are there to share beauty, to make other people happy. So they don’t need to be available at all times. They are revealed as a blessing, as a gift.
*Benevolent people may achieve fame through their talents, but fame is never their goal, but simply the byproduct of wanting to make people happy.
As a small example, one of my dear friends Abi is a dancer, and I also happen to believe she is a very benevolent and good person with a good heart. When she dances I feel like something very special and holy happens in the room. Her talent brings happiness to the people who watch her. She can transform people and places by expressing her talents, because they are revealed in benevolence, and reflect the goodness of her heart. There is something very magical about that. Usually I would share a lovely photograph of Abi here but…I’VE REACHED MY IMAGE ALLOWANCE ON WORDPRESS AND I CAN’T POST ANY MORE PHOTOGRAPHS UNTIL I HAVE BOUGHT AN UPGRADE 😦 😦 😦
A benevolent home
To attract the guna of benevolence into your home you can:
Have an alter; a special and sacred space where you keep a few items of spiritual value.
Have fresh flowers. Grow plants.
Have fruits and vegetables.
Don’t keep garbage in your home for long.
To live benevolently, we have to try to get rid of unnecessary things from our home and stop buying unnecessary things. This is one of the reasons why those under the guna of benevolence have money!
Each apartment also has it’s own aroma. If the home is stinky, it indicates a lifestyle of ignorance. If the home has a perfumed aroma, this indicates a lifestyle of passion. A benevolent home is usually has no odor, but has a freshness and lightness about it.
Observing the daily discipline
To live under the guna of benevolence it is important to follow a daily discipline. We can generate the strength to follow the daily regime every day.
This means to wake up early and impart your energy at this time to the search of happiness and spirituality. The middle part of the day is dedicated to fulfilling their duties and living a service-driven life. And finally, the evenings are spent for humble relaxation, and going to sleep early.
It also means eating at the right time. Meditating at the right time. Studying at the right time. Working at the right time. Doing everything at the time it is supposed to be done.
Life is a sweet struggle
Under the influence of benevolence one can start to experience the sweetness of the struggle of life. They find the perfect sweet balance between finally seeing their own short comings and acquiring a taste for serving others. It puts you in a very humble place. And you can find joy there.
Life in benevolence, flows softly and progresses gradually. Life in passion on the other hand, is filled with strong desires and impulses, and it is these very impulses that shackle us to our karma and the karma of others and life starts to feels very turbulent and crazy.
When someone lives in ignorance their understanding of knowledge is thinking “I think this is the way it is, and that’s that!”
When someone lives in passion their understanding of knowledge is “I like this! So I will do that!”
When someone lives in benevolence their understanding of knowledge is “You put in the hard work first and reap the rewards later. At first things may be difficult, and then they will transform into joyfulness.”
It’s important to have the right understanding of what is required of us in life, and in what form. Otherwise happiness becomes an elusive thing of the future.
Even if you have done bad things in life that has created very serious karma for you to experience now, if you try your very hardest to do the right thing and be a better person now you will be protected by the guna of benevolence, and over time you will gradually begin to burn your karma and change your fate. We can all change our fate, but it comes at a price and it takes a lot of work. But it is very possible! In this case, you will still have to work through karma but it will not come to you as strongly as it would have. It can even be deferred to a later time when you are spiritually strong enough to endure it.
You see, everyone has karma to some degree in life. Even saints can have heavy karma to work through, but because they have chosen to live a life of goodness and higher aspirations and constantly develop themselves, they are rewarded with joy and happiness that gives them the strength to work through any karmic downfalls that they have to go through. Because of this they don’t perceive these things as “suffering”.
When we are motivated by passion then we tend to collect karma, constantly deferring it for another day, because we are too busy enjoying our good karma right now. But eventually that will run out and then comes in the bad karma. That is why when people live under the guna of passion, they experience the rewards and joys of life first, and the hardships later. They have an amazing romantic courtship and a painful marriage. They eat their dessert first and save the main meal for later.
When we are motivated by ignorance we tend to create new karma and accumulate more sources of suffering. We get used to suffering and finding more reasons to suffer. We only degrade, and not get better.
And when we are motivated by benevolence we burn our karma. We free ourselves from karma. We change our destinies and our fate. We change ourselves.
There is a understanding that we must live for today, not for tomorrow. That we must pray today, we must meditate today, we must wish everyone happiness today, we need to be a good person today – and not wait till tomorrow to do these things. The only time that you can secure victory over your karma and destiny is today. The only cause of suffering in old age is from an accumulation of karma.
One of the key fundamentals of living under the guna of benevolence is choosing to live a life free of violence. There are several types of violence; violence in action, violence in speech, and violence in thought. We have to try to be soft in all aspects of life; soft in our actions, soft in our words and soft with our thinking. It usually works in reverse order. If we learn to soften our thoughts, we will soften the way we talk, and we can soften the way we behave and interact in this world. You can tell a lot about what influence a person is under by the degree of violence they show through each of these means. Violence in any form always leads to the same thing – the karmic debt- which is that we begin to lose freedom of choice in life. The more violent we are, we will start feeling that we don’t have the ability to choose and make our own decisions in life. They are made for us. And we can’t change them. We can only suffer more because of it. If a person is violent in some way towards another person, then certain karmic boundaries are placed around that person and it is very difficult to break out of them. It will feel like we are trapped inside a giant “bad habit”.
There are structures in our society that try to punish people for acts of violence. That’s what the law and the justice system are there for. But usually, the law can only intervene with violence demonstrated in a physical way from a person. And even then, it doesn’t always catch everybody and demand justice from them. And in the same way through violence in living, justice will still come about, but we will just be punished in a different way. Life can be arranged in such a way so that our freedom is taken away spiritually.
When a person speaks in benevolence they tend to speak from the heart and use simple words. It has a soft and sweet nature. People enjoy listenening to them and can feel calmed and soothed by their words and their presence. Their speech is full of substance and knowledge but always simple. They have no hidden aggression, manipulation or self importance behind their words.
Speech in passion is usually filled with difficult words, strong emotions, manipulation, very concerned with form and structure but has little substance.
Speech in ignorance is rude, obnoxious and full of swear words.
The value of life
Some people measure the value of their life by how much money they earned, how beautiful their apartment is, the cars they drives, the places they’ve visited, where they received their education, how famous they are, or their prestigious job etc.
A person in benevolence gauges the value of his life by the amount of people he has helped.
Their life is centered not on themselves, but on those around him. They try to bring goodness and value into the lives of others, and by doing this, it is the only way they can measure the goodness and value of their own life.
Those in benevolence also possess a humble form of respect for themselves. They respect themselves only when they are able to do a good deed. Other feats of society or their lifestyle do not instill a feeling of respect for themselves.
I hope you can find some value in this! Thank you for reading
(Inspired by vedic philosophy passed on by Dr. Oleg Torsunov.)