If there is no God, are we not wasting our time trying to be good?—asks the man in the cartoon. And if there is a God he must be far too goodnatured to want to punish us if we act wrongly. So either way it hardly matters how we act. We might as well have our cake and eat it too! This is the argument projected in seeking complete freedom in morality. But the busy man of the world has perhaps forgotten that it is not because there is a God above who is too mean to allow us to get away with all our bad deeds but perhaps he is too good not to give us what we demanded, and that we get “rewarded” or “punished”, or get conducive or in conducive results by the very fact of our choosing to act in a particular way. It is within a certain freedom that we carve out our own future. SWAMI CHINMAYANANDA here explains very clearly the Law of Karma which is so much misunderstood by some.
“Each moment of our life, we are not only living the fruits of the past actions, but also creating those of tomorrow. Each of our actions has got its own time-limit for its fruition. Every action has got its own reaction; certain actions give their reaction immediately while others will provide their reactions only after interval. The Law of Karma is based upon the final conclusion that this life is not an end in itself but is just one of the little incidents in the Eternal Existence of each of us. Let us suppose that we have just “fallen” from truth or Reality into this momentous and calamitous misunder¬standing, then we should not have such a dissimilar scheme, of each Ego living its own life of special joys and woes. When we enquire, why there are such differences we are driven to the conclusion that, having risen from different “causes”, each of us should mani¬fest as a different “effect”. Effects depend upon their causes. This life in which we are living is only one of our incarnations, the result of our past actions, but we do not appreciate it or understand it because we are viewing life from a very circumscribed point of view.
Now, from where does Purushartha come in if Prarabdha orders every action? That we have been given by the Divine Being a limited freedom is the truth. For example we cannot bend a piece of rail as it is, but supposing this rail-piece is beaten out and made into a chair, the rail matter becomes very easily pliable. Similarly, man, though he has taken his body to live a fixed Prarabdha, can reach the Supreme Goal of life by living the freedom allowed to him from moment to moment. And there is provision for us to discriminate and act rightly. For example, is there not a certain amount of freedom in cho¬osing whether we should go to a cinema or a satsang? There are two ways to deal with each challenge. Two distinct paths are open to us. The path of the Good and the path of the Pleasant. Often we are at a loss to decide which path to pursue. There is a tussle between Satan and God within us at such a moment of trial.
Man is his mind. When one does some actions, repeate¬dly, one’s mind gets fixed with certain impressions. It is in a world of reactions related to the outer world-of-objects that we live. The quality of one’s experiences depends upon the quality of the mind which one brings up to undergo the experience.
The future is not a mystery, an unknown miracle that man must wait for its stunning revelations. The past modi¬fied in the present alone is the future. The freedom to modify the past, and thereby create a future, for the better or for the worse, is Purushartha: self-effort. Thus, the Law of Karma when correctly understood is the greatest force of vitality in our philosophy. It makes us the architects of our own future. We are not helpless pawns in the hands of a mighty tyrant, God, who, it is believed, has created us so weak or fearful to live of our lives of limitations and pains. If we are weak or sorrowful it is because of our own willful actions. In our, ignorance, we in the past had pursued certain negative values of life, and like a Frankenstein, their fruits have come up now to give us the pattern of circumstances we are living today.
Never mind. Take heart. By careful self-policing, detect the wrong tendencies in us. Eliminate them through constant and willful effort. Develop positivity and thus come to be the God of your own future life. “Be a God I”.