Chapter 5: Naturally Moral
I quite understand your longing and your eagerness. You are eager to know and to understand the truth. You want to unfold the mystery of life so that you can attain to it. What we now call life is not really life at all. It can only be called a long, drawn-out process of dying. It is true that one cannot attain life without knowing it. Birth is one thing, life is quite another. There is a vast difference between having been born and the attainment of life. The difference is as great as that between death and immortality. The end of just managing to stay alive is in death, while the completeness of life is in a life that is divine, godly.
For those who become eager for a divine life, who want to know God and truth, it seems to me there are two directions of approach, two paths. One is the approach of morality; the other, of religion. Morality and religion are not usually viewed as two different paths. They are regarded as two successive steps on the same ladder. It is generally believed that for a man to become religious he must first become moral. But this is not so as I see it.
I will tell you what I have known. I do not find that a moral man is essentially a religious man although a religious man is invariably moral. One does not become religious merely by becoming moral, nor is morality the starting point or the basis of religion. On the contrary, morality is the result of becoming religious - the flowers of morality blossom on the plant of religion. Morality is the expression of a religious life. I look upon religion and morality as two different directions - not only different but opposite to each other. I would like to explain it to you.
Discipline, morality means the purification of conduct, the purification of behavior. It is an attempt to change man’s personality on the periphery. The periphery of the personality is the result of our relationships with others. It is one’s behavior, one’s relations with others. How I behave or act with others is my behavior. Behavior is a relationship.
I am not alone; I am surrounded by people on all sides. And since I am in a society, I come into contact with and have relations with someone or other every moment of my life. These inter-relationships seem to make my life. And the goodness or badness of my conduct is defined by whether my relationships are good or bad.