One of the commonest excuses for wrongdoing is that, if right were done, calamity would ensue. Thus the foolish concern themselves, not with the act, but with the consequence of the act, a foreknowledge of which is assumed. The desire to secure pleasant results, and to escape unpleasant consequences, is at the root of that confusion of mind which renders men incapable of distinguishing between good and evil, and prevents them from practicing the one and abandoning the other. Even when it is claimed that the wrong thing is done, not for one's self, but in order to secure the happiness of others, the delusion is the same, only it is more subtle and dangerous.
The wise concern themselves with the act, and not with its consequences. They consider, not what is pleasant or unpleasant, but what is right. Thus doing what is right only, and not straining after results, they are relieved of all burdens of doubt, desire, and fear. Nor can one who so acts ever become so involved in an extricable difficulty, or be troubled with painful perplexity. His course is so simple, straight, and plain that he can never be confused with misgivings and uncertainties.
Those who so act are said by Krishna to act "without regard to the fruits of action," and he further declares that those who have thus renounced results are supremely good, supremely wise.
Those who work for pleasant results only, and who depart from the right path when their own, or others' happiness appears to be at stake, cannot escape doubt, difficulty, perplexity, and pain. Ever forecasting probable consequences, they act in one way today and in another way tomorrow. Unstable and blown about by the changing wind of circumstance, they become more and more bewildered, and the consequences about which they trouble do not accrue.
But they who work for righteousness only, who are careful to do the right act, putting away all selfish considerations, all thought of results, they are steadfast, unchanging, untroubled, and at peace amid all vicissitudes, and the fruits of their acts are ever sweet and blessed.
Even the knowledge, which only the righteous possess, that wrong acts can never produce good results, and that right acts can never bring about bad results, is in itself fraught with sweet assurance and peace. For whether the fruits of acts are sought or unsought, they cannot be escaped.
They, who sow to self, and, ignorant of the law of Truth, think they can make their own results, reap the bitter fruits of self.
They, who sow to righteousness, knowing themselves to be the reapers, and not the makers of the consequences, reap the sweet fruits of righteousness.
Right is supremely simple, and is without complexity. Error is interminably complex, and involves the mind in confusion.
To put away self and passion, and establish one's self in right-doing, this is the highest wisdom.
More from James Allen
James Allen was a little-known philosophical writer and poet. He is best recognized for his book, As a Man Thinketh. Allen wrote about complex subjects such as faith, destiny, love, patience, and religion but had the unique ability of explaining these subjects clearly and in a way that is easy to understand. He often wrote about cause and effect, sowing and reaping, as well as overcoming sadness, sorrow, and grief. For more information on the life of James Allen, click here.