Volume V - Spiritual Liberty
Part V: PEARLS FROM THE OCEAN UNSEEN
THE EFFECT OF DEEDS
All religions have taught that there will be either punishment or reward for our deeds. But if we examine more closely we shall see that the punishment or reward is the outcome of our deeds. It is our tendency towards idealization that causes us to name as punishment and reward what is simply the outcome of our actions. Good cannot be the outcome of evil, neither can evil be the outcome of good. If a thoughtless child is sent to buy eggs, and on the way home becomes so interested in its surroundings that it does not notice where it is going, and falls and breaks the eggs, we are apt to say, 'You have broken all the eggs, and this is a punishment for your carelessness.' But in reality, there was no one who dealt out this punishment. It followed as the natural result of carelessness.
If we look down deeper within ourselves, we shall find that our deeds have a great effect on our inner being, and react and manifest on the surface as good or bad results. This explains right and wrong, good and evil. In other words, our body, our mind, and heart, the factor of feelings, react on each other. If the body controls the mind, or the mind the feelings, the result is bad, for it is the lower plane having a control over the higher plane of existence. On the other hand, when the heart controls the mind, and the mind the body, the result can only be good, as the higher self then has control over the lower self. The body having control over the mind is as if the horse were to ride the man, and not the man the horse. If the horse were to ride on the man, he would lead him astray, but if the man rides on the horse, he will guide it rightly.
For instance, if the soldier were to control the sergeant, and the sergeant the captain, matters would naturally go wrong. The captain must have the control over the sergeant, and the sergeant over the soldier. To take another example: a kindhearted person, when controlled by his thoughts, may lose his kindness, and may keep another from some good thing by thinking that he should have it for himself. But when his kind feelings have risen above his thoughts, he may repent and say to himself, how could I have thought such a thing?
There are three grades of activity in our lives called in the Hindu religion: Sattva, the activity that always brings good; Rajas the balanced activity which brings sometimes good, sometimes bad results; and Tamas, and the intense activity that always results in destruction.
The extreme intensity of Tamas is bad in all its aspects, for the vibrations increase so in speed that they clash together and cause destruction. When there is an intense love on the part of one for another, something usually happens to destroy it. This is also the case with intensity of desire or action, which ends in destruction.
Rajas, the balanced activity, is always desirable. The result of our action may be good or bad, but it can never be very bad, as there is a balance.
Sattva, the activity that always results in good, is the controlled activity, when we have a rein over it. This is the most difficult to attain, and needs the work and effort of a whole lifetime. All the saints and sages have had to journey through these grades and learn from experience, and they understand how difficult it is to attain control over our activity in life.
There are two ways in which we may attain control over our activity. The first is confidence in the power of our own will; to know that if we have failed today, tomorrow we will not do so. The second is to have our eyes wide open, and to watch keenly our activity in all aspects of life. It is in the dark that we fall, but in the light we can see where we are going.
So it is in life: we should have our eyes wide open to see where we walk. We should study life, and seek to know why we say a thing, and why we act as we do. We have failed perhaps hitherto because we have not been wide awake. We have fallen, and felt sorry, and have forgotten all about it, and perhaps may have fallen again. This is because we have not studied life. A study of life is the greatest of all religions, and there is no greater and more interesting study. Those who have mastered all grades of activity, they above all experience life in all its aspects. They are like swimmers in the sea who float on the water of life and do not sink. It is they on whom the deed has no effect. They are both the doers of the deed, and the creators of its effect.