What brings us
Deep inside us, we all know it. There have been times
in each one’s life when we have felt good and comfortable and satisfied after
having kept a clear conscience or having helped a needy or expressing
contentment at our acquisitions.
My husband once returned a single day’s extra wage
that he had received accidentally and the satisfaction of honesty makes him feel
glorious even today. Virtues are rewarding in themselves. The employer was
surprised but pleased! He told him that the over-payment would be deducted from
the next paycheck. But this did not happen! The virtuous employee went back to
the employer who said, “This is not a mistake, my son. The money is your
reward.” And that’s how a well-accomplished task got fixed in his mind for all
times to come.
It’s a well-known psychological principle of operant
conditioning that rewards, punishments, re-enforcements lead to the selection
and acquisition of certain forms of behavior. But practice comes first.
Consistent and whole-hearted practice! We’ve got to practice the habits of
perfection. These include discipline (social as well as personal), physical exercises,
breath control, keeping control over the senses, focusing attention, meditating
and communion with the Lord. Social discipline holds in itself – hurting nobody,
speaking the truth, abstaining from stealing, continence and refraining from
avarice. Personal discipline includes cleanliness (internal as well as
external), contentment, austerity, regular study of books that guide or
scriptures that are authentic and lastly a loving and dutiful surrender to
Each one of these is so important that if we resolve
to master even one of these, results will start ensuing. Fortunately for us, all
of these are intricately related and in most cases, if we are sincere and mean
well, one would lead to the other.
At times, we don’t feel much inclined towards
practicing any of these essential steps towards the ultimate. Slackness in the
path is taken by us as a reward. One says, “Hey, ten minutes of harmless fun
doesn’t hurt. I’ll start being good again after
We forget here that whatever we do and in fact, even
see, leaves an impression on our souls or what we refer to in common parlance as
the subconscious mind. If somebody does a bad thing once, he will be inclined to
do the same again as soon as the situation or opportunity recurs. And the erring
humans that we are, we re-succumb to the temptation, thus spoiling not this life
but many more to come.
Indeed, it’s all very easy to think of, say truth, as
the highest virtue. But when it comes to actually carrying it out, we fail
miserably because we fail to see that such a thing as truth is needed at every
moment of life. Even while sitting idle and thinking, one needs to be truthful.
Or for instance, if we consider complete and loving surrender to God, it is
monstrously hard to abide by it. After all, you are the manager, how can you
surrender your life to somebody else like God. What does He know about your
This lack of faith and dedication takes us down,
down, down. We think we can do anything and get away with it because who’s there
to question us? Fooling other people is actually indicative of fooling ourselves
because the time we tried to indulge in that sort of “fun”, we were far from
truth and God was watching us, nodding sadly and making a note of what we
deserve as a result of this deed of ours.
The tungsten filament of the electric bulb lights
continuously and brightens up the environs. The moment it tires and fuses,
illumination ceases. Our case is no different. The moment we lose control over
our actions or allow the less befitting of our tendencies to creep up and
overpower the worthy ones, we fall in the clutches of darkness, far away from
It, therefore, becomes very important to keep guard
over ourselves and not to digress from our equanimity and purity under any
circumstance. We need to be very particular about what we do. So immaculately
particular that there would be complete conformity to the true knowledge and so
that our lives would be ideal examples for others who are, today, looking
desperately for ways to subdue their tensions and anxieties. Our life would then
be filled with the real peace and each moment would be a moment to savor.