9. Sheel – Good Conduct
Sheel means noble ideas and noble character. It includes purity of thought, word and action. A person, who has good character, has control over his sense organs. He remains unperturbed even in the midst of sensual surrounding. He is highly steadfast and has a good and noble nature.
Mind enjoys the various sense pleasures through the five senses of perception and the five organs of action. To turn the senses away from the worldly pleasures and to look within, helps on the path of spirituality.
The Gurus say:
He who controls the ten senses, his soul gets enlightened.
Gauri M5, 236-14
All these senses derive pleasure through the physical organs. The temptations or pleasures are all external. They cannot satiate the mind or the senses. One who is entangled in them, takes to the wheel of births and deaths. Good character leads to success in life and it is very necessary for spiritual gains. It is the stepping-stone to spirituality. Therefore, all saints have laid great emphasis on this.
The tenth Sikh Guru has emphatically stressed the need of purity of mind and character in order to cross the three attributes (Gunas).
By observing good character and contentment, one crosses the three attributes.
Ramkali, Patshahi 10
The main and principal part of pure character consists of a life of continence, which means the purity of mind, word and deed. It does not simply mean control of sex organs. It comprises control over all sense organs. This is essential in all walks of life. For spiritual gains, however, it is especially necessary. It includes good conduct and pure character. All great men became great through their lofty character. Brahmacharya (continence) is a code of conduct by which we can realize God. One should not, therefore, go astray from it.
A man of good character becomes a fortunate man. Right conduct is a science dealing with character, good manners and human conduct. Right conduct is a science. It may be called the philosophy of human behaviour. By this, one deals with others. Manu Ji says, "Character is the highest of duties which have been mentioned in the scriptures and commentaries. Therefore, he who knows the soul should ever try to be of good character." On finding that the path of duty (dharma) arises from character, Manu Ji describes it as the basis of all austerities and recommends its adoption.
The first duty of a brahmachari (continent person) is to be of right conduct. It means self-discipline and to have good character.
Virtue, truth, meritorious deeds, power and success all spring from good moral character. Mahabharat says that the sign of good religion is good moral character; it is also the sign of virtue. Its observance results in Dharma. The life is prolonged and a person is happy. It brings good name in this life and hereafter. A person, who is the friend of all and wishes the good of all living beings by his thoughts, words and actions, truly knows his religious duty.
Religion is a very intricate and difficult subject. Through religion, one achieves wealth, bliss and salvation. By religion, people generally mean good deeds. A deed which leads to emancipation and to salvation, which means the good of another and which does not lead to the harming of any living being, is true Dharma. Good moral character beautifies virtue. The deeds of virtuous and religious persons are the signposts of goodness.
A seeker inquired from Rishi Ved Vyas, "I am in a great fix. I have not been able to understand the meaning of Dharma. People try to put different meanings. Kindly explain to me its meaning in simple language, so that I may do my duty in accordance with its precepts." The Rishi replied,
Whenever you have to do some work, you should keep this principle before you. You should behave in your dealings with others as you wish them to behave with you. This is the sign of Dharma. Understand it thoroughly and use it in daily behaviour. This is the essence of good conduct.
A man of good character tries to remove his weaknesses and becomes a Satvik person (wholesome). He behaves properly and correctly towards his parents, elders, brothers, sisters, friends and other relations and in fact with everybody. "May all prosper within Your will." "Peace be unto all the world." He loves his equals and does not harm anybody. He tells no lies. He remains continent and holds his mind away from bad thoughts.
God is a vital force. He is a vital power. Man's vital fluid is also the energy of life. A continent person must have a good moral character. He should control his senses and lead a virtuous life. Guru Arjan says that he who has conquered his senses has saved himself from the attack of the five evils, ie lust, anger, greed, attachment and vanity.
Control of mind leads to freedom from five maladies.
A man of good character values his vital fluid more than his life. He always carefully preserves it, because it is the cause of physical, mental and spiritual development. He is always strong and healthy. Laziness does not go near him. His face is never without its natural lustre. His mind is steady and his intellect is sharp.
All Rishis and Munis have preached its preservation, because it bestows life's energy and its loss leads to death.
Death is the result of loss of fluid. Its preservation leads to life.
Manu Ji says that young men, while receiving their education, should learn to control their sensual desires. They should, therefore, abstain from alcoholic drinks and spices, etc., which would have a heating effect. They should avoid scents and should not wear scented flower garlands, should not gamble, should avoid gossip, should not tell lies, should not look at the other sex with lust, should not sleep together and should carefully preserve their vital fluid.
Semen has a vital energy which supports our life. It is the vital life itself. It produces lustre in our eyes and adds colour to our cheeks. It is the vital part of our blood. Scientists consider that forty drops of blood form one drop of this vital fluid. It is a sort of white blood. Dr. Louis also says that it is formed out of vital elements of blood. When we lose even a few drops of blood, we are panic stricken, although it is much less valuable than the vital fluid. We, however waste this vital fluid, which is the king of vitality, recklessly for the pleasure of a few seconds. We are ignorant of its benefits and debase ourselves by wasting it. In order to enjoy sexual pleasures, we drink our own blood and cut the roots of life with our own hands and make others victims of it.
Sensual pleasures are being indulged in on all sides, and the debasement is thought to be a civilised act. Our community and society is unconscious of it. We are in a very wretched state.
Vital fluid is a dynamic force and is the power and energy of soul and God.
Lord Krishna says in Gita, "I am the seed of virility in man."
It is the essence of our life, intellect and spiritual consciousness. Once lost, it cannot be recouped by tonics, etc. If you preserve it, it will help you in realizing the Lord and in perceiving your soul and imbibing bliss. Premature old age, loss of memory, impotence, diseases of the eyes, lungs, heart and the delicate organs are the results of its excessive loss. Look at the young men and women of today. Their thin and pale faces, weak eyesight and emaciated bodies are a painful sight. We should, therefore, be very cautious and remain celibate and unmarried until the age of at least 24 years. We shall thus pay uninterrupted attention to our studies. This is the primary stage of celibacy but celibacy up to 36 and 48 years is of the second stage and highest stage respectively. To remain celibate in youth is a saintly quality. "To be good (celibate) in youth is a saintly quality." The more control we have over it, of greater use will it be in later life.
This vital fluid is, working in all the energy-giving organs of the body. It is produced from the marrow of the bones. A kind of fluid known as chyle is produced in the intestines after the intake of food. From it blood is formed. Blood produces flesh, which in turn makes fat, and then bones are formed. The marrow of the bones produces semen, which is the most valuable essence of life. It is the most important of all the seven body-forming essences. To preserve it in the body is Brahamacharya (celibacy). It is of two kinds, physical and mental, which control respectively the physical and mental activities, Simran and Satsang (repetition of holy names and contemplation on the form of the Master) help in observing it.