H.G. Matsyavatar Das

Monday, 15 June 2009

Anarthas: the Anti-Virtues

By Matsya Avatara Dasa

From the book: the 26 Qualities of the Spiritual Researcher

It is important to know the noble qualities we need to develop in order to successfully perform the journey of self-realization, but it is also important to know what are the obstacles along this path, those defects of the personality that, if not cured and healed, could not only make our journey a terrible experience, but also prevent us from attaining our destination. In fact artha means objective, purpose, and anartha is whatever prevents its attainment.

Kama is the first anartha of the list and coincides with passion, ardent desire and lust. When a person is victim to kama he is searching for pleasure, a pleasure that is disconnected from reality and comes as a form of hallucination that allures the individual. This so-called pleasure cannot be obtained without great efforts and tribulations, and in any case it cannot be maintained. Often, to attain it one needs to dilapidate time and energies, burning resources and substances; sometimes kama causes one to step over the rights of others, betray one's rules of ethical behavior and one's values, and as such it will eventually bring acute sufferings.

Krodha is anger that is almost always manifested after the frustration of kama. As well explained by Krishna in Bhagavad-gita1, when the desire for egoic gratification is not fulfilled for a reason or another, then anger originates in its various hues.

In order to put anger to the service of dharma, the cosmic order, it must be different from a pathological impulse. It should rather be originated from elevated motivations, for example defending persons or situations from violence or injustice, or strongly opposing the endangerment of spiritual principles or values. Even a saintly person can become angry, but such anger will not explode in unwarranted circumstances and will not have the destructive and negative results of the pathological type.

Lobha means greed: to be mistakenly convinced of needing something, while on the contrary it is a false need induced by one's conditionings or by the surrounding environment. Thus a person who already possesses a car thinks he needs another one, one who already has two coats believes he needs to buy a third one, and so on. For example modern literature, especially the Freudian books, have introduced a very dangerous principle in society, inducing the masses to believe that sexual activity is a necessity to be put on the same level of eating or sleeping. Even in so-called cultural milieus many believe that without satisfying such appetites one becomes neurotic, and that one should cater to them without making distinctions between artificial or real causes.

Moha is illusion, the confusion of the mind. Generally it is not perceived by the individual who, on the contrary, believes he is very clear-headed, while in fact he is confused and a victim of the frequent psychic phenomenon caused by a deep conditioning that resides in the subconscious and distorts vision and understanding of reality.

Mada means conceit and arrogance. This anartha is characteristic of persons who have a big ego, who do not possess humility and kindness, and who believe they can find pleasure in oppressing others. In fact, the knowledge of psychology shows us that authoritarianism is the exact contrary of authoritativeness and that violent behaviors (whether violence is subtle or not) hide deep frailties and insecurities, and will obviously bring sufferings and guilt.

Matsara is the anti-virtue that is known with the name of envy, but is often present also in its hue of jealousy. It is a typical disease of those who do not know the law of the remuneration of actions (karma) and only search for happiness externally: envy includes negative sentiments such as jealousy, hatred, resentment, and general hostility towards those who possess something that the envious person does not have and would like to have. The envious' tendency is to minimize and demean those he feels are better than him; this destructive attitude is often manifested also on the objective platform, when a person who is sick with matsara tries to create obstacles to the "better person" in his projects or initiatives.

The cancer of envy can also affect evolved beings such as the devas - just think of the story of the Govardhana Hill, where Indra becomes angry because the cowherds of Vrindavana are offering sacrifices to Krishna rather than to him. One who is afflicted by anarthas suffers, and a suffering person is always a cause of suffering for others, too, exactly like a joyful and harmonious person spreads his beneficial mood also in the environment around him.

Generally we like to be near people who are not envious, subject to anger, fault-finding or other similar personality defects. However, while cultivating the company of elevated person, the sage also makes himself available to the needy people, although he keeps his distance from those who do not wish to improve themselves.

Hell is not a physical place but a particularly dark and painful state of existence; all spiritual traditions state that those who cause pain, suffering, unease, and discomfort will be subjected to the same pain, the same suffering, the same discomfort with mathematical symmetry. It's not about someone's wickedness, it is the Nature of the things that dictates this universally valid law. The example of the mirror can help us: make a grimace and the mirror will respond with the same grimace, smile and the mirror will smile back, beg and the mirror will give you back the same begging face.

Each anartha that has become a second nature to us, that has become congenital, must be understood like some inheritance from the previous lifetime - a problem that we had not solved, a debt still to be paid. The therapy consists in obtaining the knowledge and practicing the required virtue under the guidance of a Master who engages us in a sacred service, giving us the opportunity to apply his teachings by following a method and a concrete project for our life.

1 Bg. II.62.


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