In our everyday life, we come across many situations when we find ourselves at crossroads where we could choose either one or the other.
It is similar to the analogy of two contrasting presents that you receive. A glance at the first bag made out of coarse, plain brown paper with dirty spots on it makes you feel a bit apprehensive about its contents and your eye instinctively moves towards the sparkling, big gift-bag brimming full with the matching, starched tissue wrap adorning the edges. The contents of the shiny bag turn out to be something that you never wanted while the present wrapped in the soiled paper was something simple and useful that you cherished forever.
Similarly, standing on the crossroads of life, the wrong path usually looks easy, simple, tension-free, comfortable and fruitful. The right path always looks subtle, complicated, unproductive, futile and fruitless. So, most of the time we get sucked into choosing the first one – the wrong one.
The environment and the society in which we are living these days is also one of the major factors for us to choose the wrong path. Most of us are looking for short term profits instead of long term gains and life-lasting achievements. With company like this, it is hard to get guidance that will orient us towards gaining something that will stay with us forever.
We drink tea in the morning, we go for a walk in the evening and we watch TV at night. All these activities get registered in our brain in such a way that our brain reminds us every day about what we should be doing at that particular time. This is called conditioning. Vedas call it sanskaar (impressions) which remain with us throughout life.
That is the reason why parents start to teach lots of good things to their kids, so that they will keep on following those activities throughout their lives in the form of habits. Once fully impressed on us, our habits – good or bad – become a part of our personalities. No wonder it is said, “Old habits die hard”. Similarly once we start choosing the wrong path in one situation, then by default we choose the same in another situation. The habit keeps on getting strengthened and we keep going astray.
Vedas guide us to pray to God for the strength and power to get rid of all our evils, wickedness, deficiencies and flaws. To achieve this we will need to stop nurturing the causes and factors which force us to opt for the inferior path in life. The two main causes are bad society and bad thoughts. It needs to be noted that the latter is even more severe than the former.
It needs a lot of work on our side before our prayers can be answered, though. Our prayers will be fruitful if we resolve not to get entangled in adverse things and try to consciously stay away from temptations that we know are going to lead us with nothing in the end.
Therefore, we make a request to God to inspire us to achieve what is good and to provide the right environment, people, resources and most importantly, the receptivity to adopt that which is pure and noble.