The Five Fundamental Human Values
Human Values - Truth, Righteousness, Peace, Love, and Non-violence are hidden in every human
being. One cannot acquire them from the outside; they have to be elicited from within. These five
values are the five life breaths of man. They are the fundamental powers of human life. Our
ancients realized that these five values are meant for the peace and prosperity of the world.
Without understanding the significance of these values, one cannot understand humanness at all.
~ Sri Sathya Sai Baba
Value – from the Latin ‘valere’: ‘to be strong’, ‘to be worth’. Values are attitudes, feelings
and convictions’ regarding what is of ‘strong worth’ (important) to us in what we think, say
or do. “Values are rules for living. Values are similar to the rules that enable birds to flock
and fish to swim in shoals.” says Barrett. He further elaborates, “They are deeply held
beliefs that a certain way of being or a certain outcome is preferable to another. Values are
externally demonstrated through behaviors.”
What are Human Values?
Human Values are the positive, desirable qualities of character – such as honesty, integrity,
tolerance, responsibility, compassion, altruism, justice and respect – inherent in all human
beings. Human values are fundamental to human existence and span across cultures,
nationalities and classes.
Human values cultivate an environment of trust, transparency, responsibility, caring,
respect, cooperation, quality, and excellence. They are the internal motivators for people
to do their best in line with good character, morality and ethics.
Values based on spirituality
The word “spiritual” comes from the Latin “spiritus” meaning “breath”. Drawing from the
dictionary definition, spirit is “the animating principle, the supernatural essence” (beyond
material nature), which “breathes” life into creation. Sai Baba says that only those human
values that are founded in spirituality can be called fundamental, basic or universal. These
form the core of all world faiths. These are universally accepted by all men in all places and
at all times. People throughout the world describe what spirituality means to them in varied
ways, and may or may not base it on participation in an organized religion. Here are some
Spirituality is the inner part of our humanness. It is the driver of our human vehicle. It is
our inner force.
Spirituality is getting in touch with the essence of God inside of me – finding God inside
I relate spirituality to the creative energy of God; it is our source of energy. It is an energy
that engulfs all of us; we are part and parcel of it
Spirituality is the acceptance of the existence of a God, whatever that is, and to adhere
to my religion
Spirituality is inspired responsibility towards people, other living beings, and the world…
seeing and relating with Divinity in every aspect.
It is God’s greatness, grandeur and majesty that you see in the sky scraping peaks of the
high mountains; It is His sublime silence and His supreme peace that you find in the remote
forests and the vast deserts; It is His glorious effulgence and beautiful splendour that you
witness in the sun, the moon, and the countless galaxies in the sky; It is His love and
creativity that you find reflected in the inhabitants of villages, towns and cities that adorn
the earth. Whatever thing of beauty you come across in this universe is a reminder of, and a
tribute to the Source of All Beauty - the Divine Lord! ~ Sri Sathya Sai Baba
Spirituality is a process that guides us to Self-knowledge or Self-realization. This is the
realization of one’s relationship and bond with the Divine, the Ultimate reality. Knowledge
sees diversity in unity while Self–knowledge sees unity in diversity. All the religions of the
world point out that the only way in which all men can harmoniously relate to each other is
through their common identification with the Divine or the Self within each one.
The five fundamental Values are the attributes of the Divinity within each being. The Divine
within each being is universal and eternal and so the fundamental human values are also
universal and eternal. The understanding and practice of these values in our day to day life
leads us to a deeper understanding and experience of the divine within us.
The five fundamental human values
Sri Sathya Sai Baba says that Sathya, Dharma, Shanti, Prema and
Ahimsa are the fundamental and eternal values in-built into each and
every one of us, even as we are sent forth into this world to start our
journey through life. These fundamental values encoded into us are,
in fact, the Seal of the Divinity latent within us.
To speak what you feel inside is truth. To act according to your inner impulse is
righteousness. To contemplate on what you experience in your heart is peace. To
understand properly the promptings of the heart is nonviolence. Consideration for all
emanating from the heart is love. ~ Sri Sathya Sai Baba
The assertion that there is one ultimate and universal Truth may be expressed in a
multitude of ways. It may be ascertained through many paths, names, and forms, but Truth
is always only One. The different religions and spiritual orientations offer a rich variety of
approaches, affording seekers
the ability to choose on the
What exactly is Truth? Is it a description of a thing as one basis of their inclination. For
has seen without exaggeration and understatement? No. example, Truth can be
Or, the narration of the incident in the same words as one approached through the path
has heard it narrated? No. Truth elevates. It holds forth of wisdom (Jnana Yoga). It can
be approached through the
ideals. It inspires the individuals in the society. It is the light path of intense devotion
that illumines man’s path to God. ~ Sri Sathya Sai Baba (Bhakti Yoga) towards a
symbol of divinity and it can
be approached through
selfless service (Karma Yoga).
Truth also finds expression in nature, art, music, poetry, ancient scriptures of all faiths, and
through scientific discipline. Ultimately, however, Truth is found within. The pursuit of Truth
requires discrimination, intuition, and introspection.
Righteousness ‘Dharmo Rakshati Rakshitah’
The Righteousness of which we speak is rooted in Dharma protects those who protect
the Sanskrit word, Dharma. Though Dharma has
no literal translation in English, it may be said to Dharma ~ Sri Sathya Sai Baba
encompass the sum total of codes of ethics,
ethical behaviour, and moral rectitude. The
injunction, “do good, see good, and be good,”
captures the essence and intent of this value. It is rooted in attitudes and habits inculcated
from early childhood that mature into respect and adherence to the duties and
responsibilities that come with one’s life circumstances. Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s ‘Ceiling on
Desires’ programme, which is an important aspect of Sathya Sai Education, can easily be
applied to the expression of Righteousness. Placing a ceiling on one’s desires involves the
making of a conscious and sustained effort not to waste food, water, time, energy or
money. Adopting such a code of conduct can go a long way towards reducing the tragic
imbalance that exists between the ‘haves and have-nots’ of the world. Our shashtras give a
very simple one line definition for dharma which is ‘Aatmanah praticoolaani pareshaam na
shamaacharet’ which means ‘Do not do unto others that you do not want others to do unto
Everyone desires and seeks Peace. Lasting Peace
cannot be found in the material world. Peace Shanti can be defined as true Prema
requires the capacity for introspection and self- towards the Lord, towards Truth
awareness. Self-awareness enables one to itself and towards true Dharma.
become mindful of his or her thoughts, words ~ Sri Sathya Sai Baba
and deeds. When self-awareness becomes a
habit, the individual begins to monitor and modify the habitual patterns of thought that
obstruct the Peace within. True Peace requires inculcating equanimity, regardless of loss or
gain, success or failure, pain or pleasure. Quieting the mind and opening the heart are
essential for acquiring Peace. A quiet mind requires the application of discipline to take the
time to look inward and experience the silence within.
Love The human value of Love may be best expressed as
an energy permeating all life. That is, it is not an
Love alone can alleviate anxiety emotion or passionate feeling of desire and
and all fear. Love is joy, love is attachment. It refers to something much deeper,
power, love is light, love is God. and more basic to human nature. It is totally
Love helps you to see God in unselfish and independent of whether there is
everyone, everyone as Divine. reciprocity. All the great religions extol the
importance of Love. It is kindness, caring, empathy,
~ Sri Sathya Sai Baba and compassion. Love is not passive, but active, and
it grows, as Sri Sathya Sai Baba would say, “by giving
Nonviolence is a state of mind that recognizes the unity within the apparent diversity.
Nonviolence is rooted in forbearance, morality, and integrity. It manifests as non-violation
of the laws of nature and respect for law and order. It calls for restraint from the doing of
harm to others and to nature in general. Nonviolence is to be practiced not only towards
others but towards oneself also. When the ethics of Nonviolence is embraced as the means
to world peace — there will be global harmony. Regarding and treating everyone
In his Divine Discourse on 30th May, 1999, Baba and everything in creation as
Divinity is Nonviolence.
said, “Buddha said non-violence is the greatest ~ Sri Sathya Sai Baba
dharma. Love will be fostered only when non-
violence is practiced. When love is fostered, there
will be peace in the world. When there is peace in
the world, man will naturally take to the path of
dharma. When man follows the path of dharma, he will attain Truth. It is, therefore, the
primary duty of every man to foster these life principles.”
In fact, these five fundamental Human Values can be traced throughout the major spiritual
texts as brought out in the table below:
Values: The ingredients of good character
The five basic values are considered to be the universal ingredients of good character. In
fact, they are so enmeshed as to be indistinguishable from one another. Each of them leads
to the other. The following are examples of commonly recognized character attributes of
the five universal human values.
Commonly Recognized Character Attributes of the Five Human Values
(Source: Global Overview of Sri Sathya Sai Education, 2007)
They are the same
Love is the undercurrent of all values. Everything else is a form of love. Love in speech is
Truth. Love in action is Righteous Conduct. Love in thought or feeling is Peace. Love in
understanding is Non-violence.
They lead to one another
Each value leads to the other. Truth is unity of thought, word and deed. When action is
saturated with Truth, it becomes Righteous Conduct. When all actions are right, peace
reigns, and one’s mind is free from all traces of violence.
Prophet Mohammad had a devotee, who had many vices. He smoked, he drank, he gambled,
he took drugs, he was dishonest, he told lies. When he decided to reform himself, he came to
the Prophet and asked him for guidance. The Prophet told him to tell the truth. “Is that all?”
The devotee enquired. The Prophet smiled. “Let us make a beginning.” The devotee was happy
that the Prophet had not touched any of his major vices. He thought that telling the truth
would be a simple thing. Next day, he spent his time in the usual way. When he reached home,
his wife innocently asked him where he had been, what had happened to his salary and who all
he had met. Thus confronted, the man found to his chagrin that if he told the truth, he would
be totally exposed. Just speaking the truth would force him to abandon all his vicious habits.
Living a life of values
Our world view, thinking, likes and dislikes, our skills and tendencies all arise from our past
efforts. These impressions define what we are as of now. It is up to us to change these
impressions by our present actions and efforts. (You cannot sow a guava seed and expect
mangos!) It is only when we practice human values in our day to day life and work,
unselfishly, for the good of society that we can ‘purify’ or refine the mind through imbibing
better impressions. How to live the values? Regard the heart as a vast field and the mind as
a plough. Treat the gunas as bullocks. Use discrimination as a whip. Devotion is the rain.
Meditation is the manure. Cultivate the heart to raise the harvest of values, which will lead
Expressing the Human Values individually
Through our attitudes and behaviour, our individual expressions of the Human Values
reflect what we consider to be important to us – what’s of value to us. How we each express
Values in day-to-day life can be as different as our personalities and circumstances, yet
consistent with the motivations prompted by the Human Values themselves (the inner urge
to express Truth, Righteousness, Peace, Love and Non-violence).
In other words, our individual expressions of the Human Values represent how we
personally understand and embody the spiritual essence and cross-cultural expressions of
the Human Values. A small sample of individual expressions includes:
Truth – “never telling a lie” / “maintaining my integrity” / “seeking higher guidance
before making a big decision”
Righteousness – “having and following ethical guidelines for running my business” /
“helping others even when I am busy” / “being prepared and on time for meetings”
Peace – “spending time each day to quiet my mind” / “allowing results to come in their
own natural time” / “trusting that things will always turn out for the good”
Love – “feeling compassion toward those who are less fortunate than I am” /
“appreciating the cultural differences in the people I work with” / “feeling fulfilled in my
Non-violence – “seeing everyone as valuable” / “believing that all of creation deserves
to be treated well” / “when angry, calming down before I speak”
A. Which expressions of the Human Values am I most aware of in myself in my day-to-
day work? (Circle as many words as you like.)
B. Which expressions of the Human Values do I primarily draw from when I have
opportunities to learn, grow and see things differently in my work? (Circle as many
words as you like.)
C. Which expressions of the Human Values do I feel have contributed most to my success
at work? (Circle as many words as you like.)
To create a total score for each of the five Human Values, add up each column in the
three questions, and transfer the totals according to the following scoring template:
Your two highest scores are the Human Value strengths that you explicitly and naturally
draw upon the most. The other Human Values are your hidden strengths. When you are in
touch with your strongest Human Values, you can use them to “reach into yourself” and
bring out the other Human Values as well.
If you are strong in Truth, you can use that strength to bring out your natural ability to
be authentic (Righteousness), self-confident (Peace), pure at heart (Love), and broad-
If you are strong in Righteousness, you can use that strength to bring out your natural
ability to be sincere (Truth), contented (Peace), forgiving (Love), and helpful (Non-
If you are strong in Peace, you can use that strength to bring out your natural ability to
be objective (Truth), disciplined (Righteousness), compassionate (Love), and fearless
If you are strong in Love, you can use that strength to bring out your natural ability to
have integrity (Truth), follow your conscience (Righteousness), be equanimous (Peace),
and respect others (Non-violence).
If you are strong in Non-violence, you can use that strength to bring out your natural
ability to be honest (Truth), dutiful (Righteousness), patient (Peace), and kind (Love).
You can also use your Human Value strengths to grow in your awareness of the spiritual
essence of the Human Values. As you stay aware of and bring forth your hidden
strengths, they will often be “the missing ingredient” to assist you through a challenging
situation. To bring out your “more specific” hidden strengths3, you can refer to the
cross-cultural expressions in questions A, B, and C that you didn’t circle; then, remember
to consciously bring some of them into your most challenging work situations.
[Thanks to the Global Dharma Centre for allowing us to use their self-development exercise]
Sit in a comfortable posture. Try to visualize God as you have been taught since your
childhood. After five minutes, try to visualize God as Light. Concentrate on your feelings.
Please describe your experience in three sentences.
1. Try to speak the complete truth for two days in all places and in all situations and
describe your experiences both external and internal.
2. What are some examples of how I could express each of the Human Values in my work?
Please write examples against each of the values:
We hope you found this chapter useful. Please remember that these are merely guidelines
that one may adhere to. It is an inward journey that an individual needs to take, get attuned
to the inner voice, match the frequency to listen and take guidance from the Lord which
resides within you.
Assignment No.1 - Module 1
We will wait for your response to the questions on this chapter, before we send out the next
chapter to you. Please see the attached assignment and answer your questions in the same
document. We’ll be glad to answer any of your queries or support you with any further
inputs on this chapter. Good luck with future readings and practice!
1. Global Dharma Centre - http://www.globaldharma.org/humanvalues.htm
2. Divine Discourses by Sri Sathya Sai Baba - http://www.sssbpt.info/
3. Sri Sathya Sai International Centre for Human Values: Booklets on the
five fundamental human values
1. Divine Discourse by Sri Sathya Sai Baba, on “Put Human Values into
2. Gandhi, M.K. - My Experiments with Truth
3. Enlightened Leadership …A Matter of Heart, Mind and Soul
4. Inspiring Stories -
5. Human Values Conference in UAE