Shifting Framework of Ethics in the Journey of Self Inquiry


  1. Introduction
  2. Journal of a Seeker
  3. Ethical Framework of Ancient Vedic Society
  4. Ethical Frameworks in Modern Capitalistic Society
    1. Ethical Frameworks Prior to Self Inquiry
      1. Pre-Conventional Ethical Framework – Reward and Punishment
      2. Conventional Ethical Framework – Social Conformity
        1. The Role of Sensations in Conditioning – The Pleasure Principle
      3. Post-Conventional Ethical Framework – Individualism
    2. Post Self Inquiry Ethical Framework
      1. Titiksha – Amoral Phase
      2. Udasinata – Skilful Ethics Phase
      3. Trigunatitha – Freedom from All Ethical Frameworks – Spontaneous Compassion


In this article, I take up one of the most complex and vexing issues that face any seeker in the journey of self-inquiry. The article begins with the journal of a student of self-inquiry who talks about his need for social approval and how it contradicts his ethics imbibed in childhood. In response to his journal, I wrote this article to show how a student of self-inquiry in the modern capitalistic society has to navigate through different ethical frameworks in his journey to freedom, right from childhood, till he is ultimately freed from all ethical frameworks, reaching the state of spontaneous compassion as the consummation of self-inquiry.

Journal of Seeker

The need to be accepted by society; I have been thinking about this issue for myself and I have found that I want to be accepted by people. Whenever I try to think about it, I kind of hit a roadblock. My mind stops thinking, I have sensations in my body that prevents me from brainstorming. I am always thinking if my actions or my words are in compliance with societal norms. Even though it’s me who sees that nobody else follows the same societal norms. So that means that there are no norms to be followed, it is just my mind making up the norms. Almost all the time I am very polite and considerate towards people, but I find that people keep doing things what they want and do not consider if their action affects me or not. I have been taught since my childhood to be polite and care for others, but it has only made me suffer. I do not speak my mind, and I am always being diplomatic in my ways. It has been working this way for years, and I am so habituated to it that it is very uncomfortable to change. Is this the way to live life, being polite to others and getting hurt as a reward? I don’t think that can be a way of life. I see that people who are not bothered by society do better in their lives. But who knows, I know of people who looked like achievers and very mentally strong, but eventually they ended up committing suicide. This shows that they had a tough exterior but were very shallow inside. So this means that I have a desire to be liked, but I also have a desire to be tough, actually to be in control of people, bullying them, treat them in the same way they might have treated me.

Ethical Framework of Ancient Vedic Society

You have actually hit upon one of the most complex and vexing issues for a spiritual seeker: the whole domain of ethics. 

I would like to talk about ethics in two ways: the good and the right. The “good” is the goal decided by an individual consciously or, imbibed unconsciously, and the “right” is the behaviour of the individual in accordance with the goal established. 

From the above categorization, one can clearly understand that there can be no absolute framework of ethics. The entire framework of ethics is nothing but a means to achieve a certain goal. In the Vedic conception, the goal of life was Moksha – liberation from all suffering. Thus, in the Vedic conception ethics or “dharma” was a framework to achieve that goal. The entire working of society was conceived as a means to facilitate an individual to reach Moksha. Dharma was the framework in which artha/wealth, kama/pleasure and finally moksha/freedom were to be achieved. This seems to be the case, at least in theory. How much of it was really followed in history, or whether Indian history at any point in its development was so uniform as to lend itself to the being conceptualized by a single Vedic framework is also an open question. My concern here is not to explicate on ethics as a historian but as a philosopher. There were other cultures, for example, the Tibetan culture which had the same aim of organizing society around the aim of moksha or nirvana or liberation. One hears something similar about present-day Bhutan too.

Unfortunately, over a period of time, many aspects of the Vedic framework of ethics/Dharma were usurped by an increasingly feudal society to gain and consolidate power for the minority ruling class. The caste system or the four varnas (Sages, Warriors, Businessmen and Manual Workers) in India is one such glaring example. The system of varnas is mentioned in the Gita, not as a means of categorizing people to dominate and subjugate them, but as a means to give people with differing psychological temperaments and capacities, differing environments to work and grow. This was called svadharma, a person’s innate psychological makeup (based on the three gunas/qualities – tamas, rajas and sattva) which required a certain space and kind of development. Thus, the framework of varnas was meant to be based on individual psychology to help the individual move towards moksha. A person could shift to a different varna if there was a change in psychology. (I myself moved through different varnas in my own journey. I have written about these shifts in my article Donning my new identity as a Philosopher – A Discussion on Evolution of Consciousness and Personal Identities.) That was because the aim of the framework was freedom, not to bind and brand a person in a particular psychology.  Gradually, however, feudal interests usurped this ethical framework to garner power for the ruling class. The goal shifted from moksha to power. Now, the “good” was not freedom but power, accordingly, the “right” was not that people could choose and shift their varnas according to their innate psychological capacities but the “right” became that which helped the ruling class stay in power and ensure this power stays for their future generations. Thus, the “right” now became not what was your psychological svadharma which could change in one’s lifetime, but the “varna” you were born into. The varna system became a rigid class structure to usurp and consolidate power; a system that continues to this day in many pockets of modern India.

Ethical Frameworks in Modern Capitalistic Society

With this background illustration, I can now launch into my primary discussion of how a spiritual seeker in the modern world can create and navigate through different ethical frameworks to serve his ultimate end: freedom from all suffering. 

The current society we live in is a mix of Global Capitalism, country-specific and area-specific cultures. This intersection of cultures decides the “good” and the “right”. What we have to bear in mind though is since the advent of modernity (see my articles, “Have We Got a Complete Map of Life” and “The Flatland Map of Scientific Materialism: The Dubious Legacy of Rene Descartes (Part 1)”) the aim of cultures across the world shifted from even the slightest trace of Moksha or Spirituality to that of artha/wealth and kama/pleasure or Global Capitalism. The “good” has shifted from individual freedom to individual wealth and pleasure. Correspondingly the “right” has shifted to a framework of ethics that ensures wealth and pleasure (to a few) but is resoundingly silent on individual freedom from suffering. The two articles that I have mentioned above talk about this in detail. (I still have to get around to writing the other parts of this article series.) So, according to me, bearing in the mind the dominant trend in cultures across the world, a spiritual seeker in the modern world has to navigate through a different set of ethical frameworks in his journey to freedom. I am giving the most generic framework; needless to say, there shall be and can be any number of local variations for different individuals in different situations. The attempt here is not to give the most detailed and accurate picture, which is next to impossible but to help an individual create a map by which one can plot one’s journey. The map can never be the territory, however, that does not mean that a map is not useful. It is extremely useful as long as the reader understands the general pattern rather than attempting to figuring out every nut and bolt. The first three ethical frameworks I shall be describing bear some resemblance to the work of an American psychologist called Lawrence Kohlberg who was best known for his theory of stages of moral development. Though, whatever I have described is entirely through my own experiences in my spiritual journey. 

Ethical Frameworks Prior to Self Inquiry

1. Pre-conventional Ethical Framework – Reward and Punishment

When one is an infant, it can be clearly seen that all actions are borne purely out of instinct. This instinct is then gradually trained by family, school and society in the “appropriate” ethics or morality of the existent culture and society, by and large, through a system of reward and punishment. If one is born in a village it is of one kind, in a slum, it would be another, in a city, still another. Variations of this pre-conventional ethical framework exist for different countries, caste and class. The “good”, the goal in this framework is to avoid punishments and move towards rewards. The “right” is those set of behaviours which lead to rewards. Children accept and believe the rules of authority figures, such as parents and teachers.

2. Conventional Ethical Framework – Social Conformity

A child with pre-conventional morality has not yet adopted or internalized society’s conventions regarding what is right or wrong, but instead focuses largely on external consequences that certain actions may bring. 

As a child grows he comes to the conventional level ethical framework. Here a child’s sense of morality is tied to personal and societal relationships. Children continue to accept the rules of authority figures, but this is now due to their belief that this is necessary to ensure positive relationships and societal order. One imbibes the framework that one should do things to be part of the social fabric and not do things that destroy this carefully constructed fabric or jeopardize its functioning.  Automatically, the right is all those set of behaviours you imbibe towards this end to become a viable, functioning member of your society along with all its rituals and role-plays. The ethical framework here includes voices of religion and state (capitalism, communism or whatever is the prevalent political ideology)

During these two phases – pre-conventional and conventional, which one author has aptly called the black hole phase, the entire ethical framework is assimilated by an individual lock, stock and barrel. This being the case because the individual has not developed a strong intellect that can reason, evaluate and question these frameworks. Naturally, as the term “black hole” suggests, they later come to constitute one of the most trenchant conditionings for human beings. According to me, the desire to gain social approval is one of such trenchant conditionings, that has a phenomenal gravitational force; as you have described so nicely in your journal here: 

“The need to be accepted by society. I have been thinking about the issues with myself and I have found that I want to be accepted by people. Whenever I try to think about it, I kind of hit a roadblock. My mind stops thinking, I have sensations in my body which prevents me from brainstorming. I am always thinking if my actions or my words are in compliance with the societal norms.”

The Role of Sensations in ConditioningThe Pleasure Principle

The seeds for this enormous fear, “the sensations” in your body which prevent you from thinking, lies in these two ethical framework stages. How? Because these seeds have been laid almost unconditionally in your memory. They have not passed through the filter of your intellect/higher reasoning mind. Not only this, they are hard-wired through reward and punishment. The fear you feel is the fear that was laid down in you at these stages. You have to follow the ethical framework of society, or you shall face dire consequences. You shall be thrown out of the social circle like an outcast, and you may perish and die (fear as helpless children). These things are very real for adults, too, in tribal societies where membership to the tribe is paramount to the survival of the individual in the tribe as well as the whole tribe. Being thrown away from the tribe is almost equivalent to a death sentence. This “tribal need” to belong to a tribe finds the same expression in our need to belong to a class, caste, nation, race or religion. It runs so deep because it is sort of connected to our biological survival and welfare. It ensnares even great philosophers, writers and intellectuals straddling the whole spectrum of human knowledge. Which shows that even reason (i.e – lower reason) does not have access to this primal instinct. A fact that you have highlighted in your journal too. 

Reason does not have access to this part precisely because of the fact you have written – sensations. Remember, how you were trained during this phase – with sensations. As infants, you understand nothing more than the sensations of pleasure and pain. We were conditioned like Pavlov’s Dogs. In Patanjali’s yoga sutra you come across this verse:

avidyasmitaragadveshabhiniveshah kleshaah //2.3//

It means that there are five factors which bring suffering/klesha in life. They are: 

  1. Avidya: ignorance
  1. Asmita: I-ness, ego sense
  1. Raga: attachment
  1. Dvesha: aversion
  1. Abhinivesah: fear of death, clinging to life

In your pre-conventional and conventional ethical framework stage, you were conditioned through raga/attachment and dvesha/aversion to cling/abhinivesha to a particular ethical framework for your basic psychological and physiological survival and welfare. It is only in the most advanced stages of self-inquiry that you can surpass this level of conditioning. But definitely, a lot of work needs to be done before one reaches that level of self-inquiry. Most certainly one has to pass through the remaining levels of ethical frameworks I am going to outline. 

The last thing that needs to be noted about these two levels of moral frameworks is that they are scripts of external authority that an individual has not engaged with any form of self inquiry. They are like the voice of God, or sometimes given the name of “conscience”. So these ethical frameworks are actually your “thinker”, “controller”, “analyzer”, “judger” and “censor” that are continuously scanning your thoughts controlling, suppressing, modifying or escaping them according to these ethical frameworks which you have merely imbibed without questioning. There is no incentive to question these ethical frameworks because they are linked to providing pleasure, escaping pain and providing security. At the base of it, the whole code of ethical framework is absolutely simple and uncompromising, directly linked to your biology or what was called the “pleasure principle” by Freud. Of course, the Eastern paths, being more advanced, could go even beyond these drives to see avidya/ ignorance and asmita/I-ness/ego as at the root of the pleasure principle Freud wrote about. Which shows that to break these drives one has to go beyond them to understand their roots in asmita/ego and avidya/ignorance. ( Please note – “ego” here means the principle of individuation and not its psychological connotation as pride etc.)

To summarize, the good of the pre-conventional and conventional ethical frameworks is the membership to a social unit (political or religious or both), and the right is those set of behaviours that ensure your well-being and survival in the social unit you exist in. The deepest fear of this level is ex-communication and death. This ethical framework was not constructed by you, so it operates underneath the radar of (lower) reason. It was hardwired in you at the level of physiological sensations of raga/attachment/pleasure and dvesha/aversion/pain and abhinivesha/clinging/security. Thus, it is present in you in the form of the “thinker” etc. This is where you have to meet it and shatter it. This is abolished absolutely and completely only in the rare heights of Advaita where one loses body identification. Of course, the further ethical frameworks I am going to discuss are going to loosen many of the bonds that are laid by these two frameworks. Suffice it to say that most active members of society remain at the level of these two frameworks, where morality is  a construct of an external authority though absolutely, unconditionally, and uncritically imbibed internally. One achieves a precarious mix of pleasure, pain and security by being a part of the social unit at the cost of freedom. 

3. Post-Conventional Ethical Framework

If and when any rare individual rises above the need to pursue the pleasure principle, he/she shifts to higher reason or what is called “buddhi” in Advaita. This is a level where one separates from the mass, the social unit and becomes an “individual” truly. Correspondingly the “good” and the “right” of ethics shift. The good is not about “fitting into society” but “being oneself”. This is not the complete flowering of the desire for freedom, but the unmistakable beginnings of self-inquiry. This is the phase which I call “Ayn Rand Individualism”.  I have written an article about my awakening to this stage while in college, at the age of 19, here, “Saying Good-Bye When I Mean Good-riddance !”

The post-conventional level is marked by a growing realization that individuals are separate entities from society, and that the individual’s own perspective may take precedence over society’s view; individuals may disobey rules inconsistent with their own principles. Post-conventional moralists live by their own ethical principles—principles that typically include such basic human rights as life, liberty, and justice. As these Ayn Rand quotes show:

“Individualism regards man—every man—as an independent, sovereign entity who possesses an inalienable right to his own life, a right derived from his nature as a rational being. Individualism holds that a civilized society, or any form of association, cooperation or peaceful coexistence among men, can be achieved only on the basis of the recognition of individual rights—and that a group, as such, has no rights other than the individual rights of its members.”

“Do not make the mistake of the ignorant who think that an individualist is a man who says: “I’ll do as I please at everybody else’s expense.” An individualist is a man who recognizes the inalienable individual rights of man—his own and those of others.”

“An individualist is a man who says: “I will not run anyone’s life—nor let anyone run mine. I will not rule nor be ruled. I will not be a master nor a slave. I will not sacrifice myself to anyone—nor sacrifice anyone to myself.”

People who exhibit post-conventional morality view rules as useful but changeable mechanisms—ideally rules can maintain the general social order and protect human rights. Rules are not absolute dictates that must be obeyed without question. In fact to be a creative individual means that one has to create and follow one’s own rules. As Ayn Rand says:

“Men have been taught that it is a virtue to agree with others. But the creator is the man who disagrees. Men have been taught that it is a virtue to swim with the current. But the creator is the man who goes against the current. Men have been taught that it is a virtue to stand together. But the creator is the man who stands alone.”

Post-conventional individuals elevate their own moral evaluation of a situation over social conventions, their behaviour, as such, can be confused with that of those at the pre-conventional level. Ayn Rand:

“Notice how they’ll accept anything except a man who stands alone. They recognize him at once… There’s a special, insidious kind of hatred for him. They forgive criminals. They admire dictators. Crime and violence are a tie. A form of mutual dependence. They need ties.”

One can see that this is the stage where the “pleasure principle” is being consciously forsaken to some extent. The above quote shows that society in general is never kind to people who break the conventional ethical framework. Friends shall leave you, parents may turn against you, the system is going to punish you: you have to take the onslaught. As Ayn Rand says:

“To sell your soul is the easiest thing in the world. That’s what everybody does every hour of his life. If I asked you to keep your soul – would you understand why that’s much harder?”

In the previous frameworks, you did not have to think anything for yourself; there was great pleasure and security in that, even though it was attended by some pains. But here, one is standing on an icy, deserted peak with no one but yourself as the judge, jury and the executioner. Without going through this stage, one cannot come to Jnana Yoga/Advaita Self Inquiry, according to me. The story was different in the old Vedic societies where the whole society was built around “moksha” as the aim. In the modern world, societies are built around capitalism; till one is part of the social framework one is part of a stream of capitalism whose aim is not individual freedom but enslavement to a giant economic machine in which you are just a cog. Though Ayn Rand is associated with supporting Capitalism, her capitalism had nothing to do with being a system of global control and hegemony, the way it is now. Her system was more “philosophical” than “economic control of power”. For her, a capitalistic society was about allowing individuals to function according to higher reason in freedom. As her quotes show:

“In a capitalist society, all human relationships are voluntary. Men are free to cooperate or not, to deal with one another or not, as their own individual judgments, convictions, and interests dictate. They can deal with one another only in terms of and by means of reason, i.e., by means of discussion, persuasion, and contractual agreement, by voluntary choice to mutual benefit. The right to agree with others is not a problem in any society; it is the right to disagree that is crucial. It is the institution of private property that protects and implements the right to disagree—and thus keeps the road open to man’s most valuable attribute (valuable personally, socially, and objectively): the creative mind.”

“It is . . . by reference to philosophy that the character of a social system has to be defined and evaluated. Corresponding to the four branches of philosophy, the four keystones of capitalism are: metaphysically, the requirements of man’s nature and survival—epistemologically, reason—ethically, individual rights, politically, freedom.”

“Capitalism demands the best of every man—his rationality—and rewards him accordingly. It leaves every man free to choose the work he likes, to specialize in it, to trade his product for the products of others, and to go as far on the road of achievement as his ability and ambition will carry him. His success depends on the objective value of his work and on the rationality of those who recognize that value. When men are free to trade, with reason and reality as their only arbiter, when no man may use physical force to extort the consent of another, it is the best product and the best judgment that win in every field of human endeavour, and raise the standard of living—and of thought—ever higher for all those who take part in mankind’s productive activity.”

“The economic value of a man’s work is determined, on a free market, by a single principle: by the voluntary consent of those who are willing to trade him their work or products in return. This is the moral meaning of the law of supply and demand.”

“Laissez-faire capitalism is the only social system based on the recognition of individual rights and, therefore, the only system that bans force from social relationships. By the nature of its basic principles and interests, it is the only system fundamentally opposed to war.”

One can see from Ayn Rand’s quotes above, how far is the current global economic capitalism in its functioning, from how Ayn Rand envisioned it to be. The reason for this is that global capitalism is still not completely based on “higher reason”. In fact, it is largely a product of the pre-conventional and conventional ethical frameworks. The movement of modernity freed man from the external authority of religion and tried to bring about reason as the highest guide, yet very few in humanity, even in the present millennium are willing to rise above the pleasure principle. Coming to what Ayn Rand is talking about means, becoming an individual, giving up the pleasure and the warmth of security man finds in social membership. It means coming to a new stage of living from the “higher reason”. 

When I was in this phase of my life I became a revolutionary social worker, later, a social entrepreneur who closely resembled the ideals of Ayn Rand’s Capitalism; though not totally, because she could not see through the environmental deterioration that unbridled Capitalism can cause. Social Entrepreneurship to me was Ayn Rand’s philosophy minus ambition as the vital force, with environmentalism and sustainability as the guiding light. 

However, this level of post-conventional ethical framework has some inherent contradictions which still curtail freedom. The following are the limitations I discovered in my journey

  1. It considers thought/reason/rationality/intellect as the highest light. But the intellect is a fragment that works in space-time. It can never have complete and total knowledge. Thus, whatever “system” it constructs to “deal with reality” is always going to be based on limited knowledge and ever-changing. For example Newton’s physics, which at one time was considered to be a complete and true description of the world gave way to Quantum Physics. Now, this view is too changing. Similarly, history has seen the coming and going of many ‘isms’: Tribalism, Feudalism, Capitalism, Communism, Socialism etc. Yet none has been able to bring the promised heaven on earth. There is still violence, hatred iniquity and injustice.
  2. Any “system”, “framework” or “ism” constructed by intellect does not wipe out the pleasure principle. It only seeks to overcome it through the “ideal”. Thus, communism may have had the noble ideal of bringing equality amongst people, of dismantling the class system, of ending the hegemony of the ruling class in theory. But what happened everywhere? The system was even more disastrous than Capitalism. The Communists became the new ruling class, worse still, they became dictators running brutal regimes subjugating the masses to torture and extinction. Why did this happen? This is because there is a fundamental problem with thought. Apart from it being limited, it is always dualistic. It always functions in polarities of good and bad, right and wrong, high and low, pleasure and pain. It is still being run by the pleasure principle. Ideals, being thought, cannot overcome this fundamental duality of the pleasure principle.
  3. Thus, even if we substitute an external moral framework of the pre-conventional and conventional level with a self-constructed post-conventional framework, it is still a system of thought. Its only benefit is that it is self-constructed, so it is “theoretically” open to being critiqued, revised and repudiated rather than being held as the “voice of God”: as with the previously held ethical frameworks. 
  4. However, since the pleasure principle is not eliminated by the intellect or any of its constructs of ideals, the danger is that an individual is again ensnared at this level with his/her ideological constructs. One may have given up the gross level of pleasure derived from the mass following, but one is caught like a fly in the web of pleasures woven by the intellect, and its philosophies, ideologies and “isms”. In Advaita, it is called attraction to “sattvaguna – the love for knowledge. But Advaita also says that the sattva guna never operates without the tamas and the rajas gunas, which together constitute the “Pleasure Principle”. 

All the above discoveries were made by me through self-inquiry in the form of my myriad experiences and readings as a social entrepreneur and educator to which I devoted myself with great vigour for about a decade. Finally, I saw that even the Post Conventional Framework could not inherently solve the problem of human suffering. The problem was much deeper than I had anticipated. THE PROBLEM WAS THOUGHT ITSELF. The very instrument that was being used to understand and solve the problem was the problem. I wrote about this discovery incredulously in my article, “Closing down of NEEV Vidyalaya and starting of NEEV Centre for Self Inquiry”

4. Post Self Inquiry Ethical Frameworks

Once all the above ethical frameworks have been exhausted, in the sense that they are seen to be limited, and do not guarantee the end of suffering, one comes to Self Inquiry. In my journey of self-inquiry, I stumbled across Krishnamurti, and later, Advaita and other non-dual paths like Madhyamika and Dzogchen of Buddhism. The ethical framework shifts drastically in self-inquiry. These ethical frameworks, unlike the pre-self inquiry ones, are based on non-dual Self Knowledge (gnostic insight – Self inquiry and insight into one’s true nature/Self in Advaita) rather than dualistic thought. In the post gnostic insight journey, I went through two stages – an amoral stage and a stage of skilful ethics, which I have described in my previous articles

  1. Titiksha/Amoral Stage How Does A Jnani Person Deal With the Negative Impacts of the World: Part 1/3 – Titiksha/Endurance
  2. Udasinata/Skilful Ethics StageHow Does A Jnani Person Deal With the Negative Impacts of the World: Part 2/3 – Udasinata/High Indifference

The conclusion of this phase is where all deep primal level afflictive emotions are completely rooted out and one attains to permanent bliss and love, untouched by any circumstances. In Advaita, it is called vasanakshaya/destruction of all afflictive emotions and manonasha/ending of psychological mind. Such a person is also called a trigunatitha in Bhagavad Gita (one who rises above the effects and attachments to the three gunas of sattva, rajas and tamas). Though it was not its main intent, the third part of the article series I have listed above describes the fruition of self-inquiry in some sense. Those interested may read my article:

3. Trigunatitha – Freedom from all Ethical Frameworks – The fruition stage of ethics is spontaneous compassion. But it is not anything contrived, created or moulded by thought. The compassionate nature of the non-dual yogin’s vision and his consequent activity is not systematically cultivated. The yogin, is not at all a puritan. No vow inhibits him from sensual indulgence or intellectual creativity. No action of body, speech, or mind is forbidden to him, and his sainthood is attained by means other than conformity to moral laws. Detachment from every situation and compassion for every sentient being without exception are the signs of his achievement. Krishna, himself an exemplar of such a state, says in Bhagavad Gita that a consummate yogin is a trigunatitha – beyond attachment to three gunas of sattva, tamas and rajas – and has the following characteristics

O Arjun, The persons who are transcendental to the three guṇas neither hate illumination (which is born of sattva), nor activity (which is born of rajas), nor even delusion (which is born of tamas), when these are abundantly present, nor do they long for them when they are absent. They remain neutral to the modes of nature and are not disturbed by them. Knowing it is only the guṇas that act, they stay established in the self, without wavering.

~ Bhagavad Gita, 14.22 & 23

Those who are alike in happiness and distress; who are established in the self; who look upon a clod, a stone, and a piece of gold as of equal value; who remain the same amidst pleasant and unpleasant events; who are intelligent; who accept both blame and praise with equanimity; who remain the same in honor and dishonor; who treat both friend and foe alike; and who have abandoned all enterprises – they are said to have risen above the three guṇas.

~ Bhagavad Gita 14.24 & 25

Vasanakshaya and Manonasha/ Spontaneous Compassion – This is the ultimate stage of liberation. In this stage all vasanas/karmic tendencies have totally ended and there is a spontaneous arising of compassion for all sentient beings. This stage is reached by very rare beings.

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