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As you Sow so shall you Reap

by Swami Sivananda

This world runs on well-established laws. There is no chaos. There is no such thing as accident or chance in life. Events occur in succession or order. There is perfect harmony. The child grows, attains boyhood and adolescence, begets children, decays and dies. The child becomes a father and the father brings forth a child. How is it that a human being is born of a human being, a horse of a horse, a cat of a cat, a dog of a dog, and a monkey of a monkey. A seed sprouts and comes out with leaves, stems, twigs and flowers. It brings forth fruits and seeds in due seasons. A seed from this fruit brings forth a tree like the parent tree. The seed of a mango tree cannot give rise to the growth of a Jambu tree. How is it that only a mango tree comes out of a mango seed, a Jambu tree from the Jambu seed, an apple tree from an apple seed? This is a great mystery indeed. There is some mysterious power that is working behind all these phenomena. That mysterious, all-pervading power or intelligence is God. He who sows paddy reaps paddy. He who sows green gram reaps green gram. He who sows oranges reaps oranges. Man sows the seed to attain what he desires to reap. Even so, man does evil deeds and reaps the fruits of pain. He who does virtuous actions reaps good fruits. One reaps the fruits according to his Karmas or actions.

How is it that one man is a king, another is a beggar, one is a genius while another is a fool, one man is very wealthy while another is in want, one is always in good health while another is constantly ailing, one is handsome while another is ugly, one man is wicked while another is a saint, one dies at the age of ten while another dies at the age of ninety? Is this due to heredity? Certainly not. The operating cause is Karma. He who has done Tapas, meditation, had Satsanga with Mahatmas, served saints and devotees and lead a life of purity is born as a Yogi or a saint in this birth. He who had done vicious actions in his previous birth is born as a wicked man. He who had done a lot of charity in his previous birth is born as a king. It is only the theory of Karma that can explain things beautifully and satisfactorily. Lord Krishna says: "Whosoever at the end leaves the body, thinking of any being, to that being only does he go, O son of Kunti, because of his constant thought of that being." Ch. VIII-6.

Avidya (ignorance), Kama (desire), and Karma (selfish action) are the three Granthis or knots which bind a man to the wheel of Samsara. Man first entertains a desire to have a blanket. He says: 'Winter is very severe now. I desire to get a blanket.' Then he begins to think where he can get it. He now decides to get it from the local departmental store. He takes the money, proceeds to the store and purchases the blanket. He had desire at first. Then the thought made its appearance. Then there was Karma or action of moving and purchasing. The three things, viz., the desire, the thought and the action always go together. Desire and thought are internal acts. Action is external. If a man entertains good desires, he gets good thoughts and does good actions. If a man cherishes evil desires, he develops evil thoughts and does evil actions. It is the thought that develops the character of a man. If one cultivates thoughts of mercy, love, tolerance, generosity and understanding he exhibits these virtues in his character and behaviour towards others in society. The same rule applied to the sowing of seeds in the soil also applies here. If one sows the virtue of mercy, he reaps a good harvest of mercy. He becomes a merciful man. If one sows cruelty, he reaps a good harvest of cruelty. He does cruel deeds. One can change his habits, thoughts and character by developing good habits and thoughts. It is the thought that moves the body to action. There is thought behind every action. There is desire behind thought.

Do not allow the desires to control your thoughts. Do not be carried away easily by all sorts of desires through emotion. When a desire manifests, cogitate, think well. Reason out whether this particular desire towards the particular object will bring maximum happiness and minimum pain. If it is otherwise, reject it ruthlessly. Do not try to fulfil it. You must control desire through thoughts. You must not allow a desire to overrule the thought. You must slowly gain the strength to control a desire. A desire, when controlled, becomes transmuted into will. You will gain will-force. Many people fall a prey to their desires and are tossed about hither and thither helplessly like a straw in the wind. This is a great pity. That man who has gained control over desires and thoughts is really a powerful and happy man.

Learn to become wise. Learn to discriminate. Learn to control thoughts and desires. Watch your thoughts carefully. Do not allow any evil thought to enter the gates of the mental factory. Nip it in the bud. Always entertain holy, sublime thoughts and desires. Renounce unholy thoughts and unholy desires. Develop passion for Self-realisation. This one strong and holy desire will annihilate all other worldly desires. Understand well the theory of Karma. Cut the three knots of Avidya and realise Satchidananda. Then you are beyond the operation of the law of Karma. Then you are a Jivanmukta or a liberated sage even while living. This is the highest goal of life. This is your highest duty. All other duties are secondary and self-imposed through Abhimana, ignorance and delusion.

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