Saturday, June 12, 2010

Not WHAT but HOW!

  Secret of Right Action! For those who seek to act with integrity and in harmony with Divine will it is far from easy to know what is right action. It is so common, even (perhaps especially) in religion, to justify the means by the ends. How much injury and wrong has been done in the name of a worthy goal, a high ideal, or for the glory of God? How is easy it is to justify oneself. Is it not commonly said, "Even the devil quotes the scriptures."

Not only is it difficult to know what course to pursue but it is even difficult to know which consequences constitute success or failure! Is it "success" if we get by cheating? And don't we sometimes learn from our failures. How many have said that a seeming failure was "the greatest thing that ever happened to me."

For the secret of right action, and by extension, of success itself lies in the intention and the consciousness that motivates it. In cases (such as losing one's job) where we do not initiate the act, the same can be said for our reaction. If we respond with faith, calmness and creative energy, a seeming failure can be a life-transforming turning point.

We see a similar pattern in criminal or civil law. For example, the punishment for the crime of injuring another person may depend on whether the act was intentionally or accidentally inflicted. But note that punishment is not necessarily waived just because the act was unintended.

Many a high-minded soul is at a loss to know which choice is the spiritually right one. In the great scripture of India, the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna admits to his disciple Arjuna that it is very difficult to know what is right action. In Chapter Two of the "Gita" Krishna prescribes the wisdom of achieving union with God as the true and highest path. But in Chapter Three, Arjuna expresses his confusion for the fact that Krishna counsels Oneness with God (through meditation) while also enjoining Arjuna to take part in the great (albeit metaphorical) battle against his cousins (his lower nature) who have stolen his (soul) kingdom.

Krishna then explains that to achieve Oneness one must act. This appears to be a paradox, at least to the intellect. But it is right action that leads us to the actionless state, and right action starts as one performed without selfish motive. But Krishna goes further. Right action is not only one which lacks self-interest but in its highest octave proceeds from, and is expresses the consciousness (and intention) of, God and godly purposes.

It is far less important what we do than how we do it. No legitimate job or task is greater than another. Neither are outward spiritual works greater than mundane jobs as it relates to one's own consciousness if the latter is one's proper duty in life. Regardless of the "what," the how is with intensity of love for God, clarity of purpose, creativity and inner, divine awareness. This is as true for washing dishes as for sharing spiritual teachings. That which pleases God is that which pleases our own higher Self in the manifesation of greater of inner peace, soul joy, perception of God, and unconditional love.

The more that we open ourselves to God's presence in our life the more God will guide us toward right action and to true, soul freedom. Swami Kriyananda in his inspired account of Paramhansa Yogananda's teachings on the Bhagavad Gita (in his book, Essence of the Bhagavad Gita) counsels that to achieve God contact we should learn to relax our awarenness "upward" (to the point between the eyebrows) in meditation. Struggle and tension are self-defeating. To learn devotion to God isn't a matter so much of "trying" as it is to open oneself to receive God's love. By degrees we "fall in love" with God, who IS love!

Daily meditation, combined with right attitudes of self-offering, selflessness, integrity in fulfilling one's worldly responsibilities, creativity, and, perhaps most of all, the joy of God: these are the secrets of right action. Such action leads to freedom from (past) karma and increasing identification with God and soul qualities.