The following is the opening paragraphs of P.R. Sarkar's book A Guide to Human Conduct where he goes on to discuss the ten essential principles of morality (Yama and Niyama).
By P.R. Sarkar
Morality is the foundation of spiritual practice. It must, however, be remembered that morality or good conduct is not the culminating point of the spiritual march. As a moralist one may set an ideal for other moralists, but to do this is not something worth mentioning for a spiritual aspirant. Spiritual practice, in its very start, requires mental equilibrium. This sort of mental harmony may also be termed as morality.
People often say, “I follow neither a religion nor rituals; I abide by truth; I harm nobody and I tell no lies. This is all that is necessary; nothing more need be done or learnt.” It should be clearly understood that morality is only an effort to lead a well-knit life. It will be more correct to define morality as a dynamic force rather than a static one, because balance in the extroversial spheres of life is maintained by waging a pauseless war against all opposite ideas. It is not an intro-external equilibrium. If the unbalanced state of mind takes a serious turn by pressure of external allurement, and if the mental disturbance is found to be intense, it is likely that the power for internal struggle may yield and consequently the external equilibrium, the show of morality, may at any moment break down.
That is why morality is, no doubt, not the goal, not even a static force. The morality of a moralist may disappear at any moment. It cannot be said with any certainty that the moralist who has resisted the temptation of a bribe of two rupees would also be able to resist the temptation of an offer of two hundred thousand rupees. Nevertheless, morality is not absolutely valueless in human life. Morality is an attribute of a good citizen and it is the starting point on the path of spiritual practice.
Moral ideals must be able to furnish human beings with the ability as well as the inspiration to proceed on the path of spiritual practice. Morality depends on one’s efforts to maintain a balance regarding time, place and person and therefore there may be differences in moral code. But the ultimate end of moralism is the attainment of Supreme bliss and therefore there should not be any possibility of any imperfections of relativity. It cannot be said that the ultimate aim of human life is not to commit theft; what is desirable is that the tendency to commit theft should be eliminated. Not to indulge in falsehood is not the aim of life; what is important is that the tendency of telling lies should be dispelled from one’s mind. The spiritual aspirant starts spiritual practices with the principles of morality, of not indulging in theft or falsehood. The aim of such morality is attainment of such a state of Oneness with Brahma where no desire is left for theft; and all tendencies of falsehood disappear.
In the spiritual practice of Ananda Marga, moral education is imparted with this ideal of oneness with Brahma, because spiritual practice is not possible without such a moral ideation. Spiritual practice devoid of morality will divert people again towards material enjoyments and at any moment they may use their mental power, acquired with much hardship, to quench their thirst for meagre physical objects. There are many who have fallen from the path of Yoga or Tantra Sádhaná and are spending their days in disrepute and infamy. Whatever little progress they achieved through forcible control of their instincts, was lost in a moment’s error in pursuit of mundane pleasures.
It must, therefore, be emphasized that even before beginning spiritual practice, one must follow moral principles strictly. Those who do not follow these principles should not follow the path of spiritual practice; otherwise they will bring about their own harm and that of others. Ácáryas must have noticed that people of over-selfish nature fear Ananda Marga itself for fear of following its strict moral principles. They are concerned that the spread of Ananda Marga may inconvenience the fulfilment of their mean, selfish desires and therefore, they malign the Márga in an effort to conceal their own weakness and dishonesty. But remember that those who are lacking in moral spirit do not deserve to be called human beings. However hard they may try, their tall talk alone cannot camouflage the meanness of their minds for a long time.
Copyright Ananda Marga Publications 2012