08 Mar The Choice is Ours
The Choice is Ours
Kathopanishad classifies all actions into two divisions with reference to their results. the fruits of action can be of two kinds: those contributing to the ephemeral joys in life and those leading to immortal bliss. That is to say, our efforts can either contribute to some immediate passing material gain or contribute in the longer run to our self-nurturing and self-purification.
A corrupt official, through foul and fiendish methods, can excel in accumulating wealth. To the ignorant and sensuous, this may appear as an inviting prospect and a welcome success. On the other hand, we are free to build our lives upon more enduring principles of life, such as honesty, piety, mercy, love, and tolerance and live for the greater wealth of inner peace and joy.
It is these two paths of choice, freely open to each individual, that have been mentioned in the Kathopanishad as: “One is good while the other is pleasant.” What is good need not necessarily be plesasant, although there are some pursuits which are good and pleasant at the same time. The spiritual hero, who constantly adheres to the path of the good, unmindful of the unpleasantness and material privations, and who is ready to suffer in the course of his higher pursuits, is the one who reaches the true end, the enduring State of Joy.
“Both the good and the pleasant approach the mortal; the intelligent man examines and distinguishes them; the intelligent man prefers the good to the pleasant. The ignorant man chooses ‘for getting and keeping’ the pleasant for the sake of his body.” – Kathopanishad 1.2.2.
The beautiful idea suggested in the above two verses gives us the theory and the logic of self-development through self-effort. At each moment of challenge, the path of the pleasant and the path of the good are stretching open before us, but the Lord or God does not stand at the junction of these two roads either to abduct us through the path of the pleasant into the caves of sorrows or to direct our journey through the path of the good. Certainly, man does not have a complete and unlimited freedom to be good or to be vicious in his moment-to-moment contact with the external world. This limited liberty is available to man to use to soar into the greater realms of perfection.
– adapted from the Mananam book ‘Keeping The Rhythm’, article written by Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda