One who delivers moving and convincing sermons, or carries out religious rituals meticulously, may yet fail to realize for himself unalloyed, imperturbable contentment; he continues to suffer from one dissatisfaction or another. The reason is that his goal is not clear to him. People often observe moral rules for fear of popular disapproval rather than for personal thought or conviction. Anything done merely for social regard will fail to give genuine, lasting contentment. Nor, on the other hand, does contentment come to one who disregards the moral code and behaves contrary to public regard, for his own conscience constantly pricks him.
A man once bitterly complained that God is very unjust. “Why do you say so?” I asked. He answered, “I conducted myself righteously, morally correctly; and yet could afford only a humble house; whereas that mere assistant of mine amassed wealth by dishonesty enough to build a three-storeyed house right opposite mine!” “Why did you not do likewise?” I asked again. He replied, “What would people say about me?” Something done like this merely to avoid public comment and censure will never give genuine contentment. We observe morals for fear of social disapproval, and perform religious rites to earn happiness which rests only in God. An action, however good, but done without genuine devotion to the Eternal God, is bound to fail in yielding real contentment; nor, conversely, can the edifice of paramartha stand without the foundation of moral behaviour.
Paramartha is, as a matter of fact, very simple and straightforward; it is the professional philosophers, the argumentative erudites, who make or represent it as highly intricate. It can be easily attained with the help of one of three things; one, actual company of a living saint; two, keeping in touch with the saint’s writings, and acting on them; and three, constant repetition of the divine name, for such repetition will keep us in the company of God, ceaselessly aware of Him. To follow a Saint’s behests faithfully, doubtlessly, is the first step, and to persist in them with determination, faith, and love constitutes the last. This, indeed, is the easy way to unperishing contentment.
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