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Questioner: Is there any action that is bad?
Acharya Prashant (AP): No, there is no action at all that is inherently bad.
I repeat this with emphasis: there is no action that is inherently bad.
The only bad action is a misplaced action.
At the right time and right place, killing is wonderful. Coming is wonderful at the right time, going is equally beautiful at the right time. Beginnings are lovely and lovely are the ends. There is nothing that is inherently avoidable.
But if you come at the wrong time, then coming is bad. Not only is killing bad at the wrong time, even giving birth at the wrong time is a crime. But if one is too body identified, then one takes only killing as the crime because the body is ending in the killing. And when one is too body identified, then one does not talk of procreation as a crime.
Right time, right place, right action — only that is not a crime. Only that is not inherently bad. Where does right action come from? You will never know. But you can surely know, where does misplaced action come from, where does the wrong action come from.
Wrong action comes from one’s own personal priorities, likes and dislikes, choices and preferences. From there, whatever comes is the wrong action.
Whatever you decide and do for yourself, even with the best of intentions, is the improper action.
When you step back and let life function through you, that is the right action.
When you step back and let your personal priorities be subservient to something far bigger than yourself, then that is the right action.
So, just do not give energy to the wrong action; to that which arises from within the limited domain of the mind. If you do not give energy to that, then automatically the right action will happen.
The right action always looks strange.
The wrong action always looks known.
Because a wrong action is a repeated action, it is a conditioned action, we have seen it, done it, passed through it many a times before. The right action is absolutely new. So new that you have no way of verifying it. And because you have no way of verifying it, it is easy to get afraid of it. Because you cannot go and ask anybody, ‘Is this the right action?’ Now, it is your action, you are entering into it for the first time, he has never had a taste of it. So, if he is honest he will say, ‘I do not know.’
Not only will he not know, you too will not know.
Even for you, it is for the first time, you can not compare and check. When such a thing happens with you, and I pray such a thing happens with all of us, feel delighted, let not fear arrest you. It happens: in those moments, a recoil of fear comes to grip you. Just when you are about to fly free, Maya tries its last recourse. It attacks with all the strength that it can have, do not lose the battle at that moment. It’s so sad that when you lose a war that is so nearly won.
Forget right action, be cautious of the wrong action.
A hint: If all seems to be going comfortably, chances are, all is going wrong. If all seems to be nice, proper, sweet, hunky-dory, chances are everything is patterned, known, conditioned. If everybody is able to tell you, ‘Oh, you have such a happy life, we are even envious of you.’ If you tick all the right boxes, in the social checklist, chances are everything is going wrong.
When things actually go right, then only your heart knows that everything is going right.
In the eyes of others, it is a total devastation. They feel like taking pity at you. They may ignore you, they may even become your enemies.
For sure, they know nothing of what is happening in your heart. Only your heart knows.
When that happens, Thank God.
Thank God for that misfortune.
It’s the sweetest misfortune that you can have.
It’s a divine tragedy.
It is the holiest blow that can strike you.
Pray that it does strike you, and shatter you totally.
And then, the right action happens.
Listener 1 (L1): To take action in the world, it does require thought, otherwise, you are just waiting for something to happen just like a potato. How do you not take action while taking an action?
AP: By seeing that even if you try to act, you never really act.
You talked about waiting like a potato, waiting is still an action. You are still an actor. So, even when you are waiting for that action to happen, you have not left your claim on being the actor. And as long as you have that claim, real action will not happen, you will just keep on waiting.
L1: Well then, what acts?
AP: We can never know that. We can never know where the right action comes from. Don’t even try that.
We can never know where the right action comes from. Don’t even try that.
L1: Where does any action come from?
AP: Any action comes from our conditioned center. You can create a machine and you can very well know where its actions are coming from. Its actions are coming from the chip that you fed it. Its actions are coming from its circuit. Its actions are coming from its masters, designers. Similarly, in our case, most of the times our actions are just coming from what the family, society, church, education, media, neighbours have taught us. That’s where our actions come from. It’s enough to see that they are coming from there.
One’s role is to just know the mind. In knowing the mind, the fakeness of the mind does not become too powerful. When you know that you are just acting as per what you have been taught to act, then you cannot be too serious about that acting. Then you create an empty space, from where some other action can happen. And it happens on its own. But we have a great desire to know from where the right action happens.
Do you see why do we have that desire?
What will you do if you come to know from where it happens? You will go there and sit on it, try to take control of it. Do something with it, try to become its master, use it for your own interests. And that is why it is such a relief that you can never know where the right action comes from.
It is such a relief that God is unknowable.
Had he been knowable, you would have gone to Him and troubled Him so much.
You just know where the false action comes from. And it is easy to know that. Because it is all the time in action, all the time visible, operational. Just know that and honestly acknowledge that. And forget about the real. The real is self-sufficient, it takes care of itself. You need not bother about it.
~Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity.
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