Justice and Grace
A talk given by Sant Kirpal Singh at Kirpal Ashram, Calais, Vermont, October 12, 1963
There is a law of justice, and there is a law of grace – both of them: they are both laws. It is just like, when you light a candle, the light is above and the darkness below. If you have a bulb, then the light is below and the darkness above. So both are the laws working in the world.
Sowing a seed – that's a point to be understood: when you sow a seed, it will bring forth similar seeds. There is action-reaction; then again a reaction; and the thing goes on like that. There's no end to it. After sowing the grain, a man cannot stop having the harvest – the fruit will come. So there are many actions. Actions are of one kind, but there are three aspects to them.
There are certain actions which we are doing now, daily – fresh actions; fresh seeds are sown, you might say. Some have already been sown and are bearing fruit. Others have been sown, but are not yet bearing forth fruit. So there are three kinds of karmas or actions.
Our present life depends on those reactions of the past karmas which are bearing fruit. They are called pralabdha karma. On that karma our length of life is based. According to that, some people get children, some die, some are ugly, some are old, some have a give-and-take. This is based on those karmas or seeds which have grown in the past and are now bearing forth fruit in action. This you cannot change. When a railroad line is laid down, the train will run over it.
Before you lay down any railroad line, it is up to you to lay it down this way or that way. But once it is laid down, the train will have to run over it. So, as I told you, some karmas are bearing fruit; some we are doing fresh; and others have not yet borne any fruit – that will come up in due course.
So we are independent within certain limits to do some actions, and we are also bound to some extent. Action, reaction, action, reaction goes on – there's no end to it.
When a Master meets someone, he does not touch the present reactions which are coming up; for our life is based on that. He lets it alone, he lets it go on. But he does two things: For the future, he lays down a line of conduct, beyond which we should not transcend: don't think evil of anybody, even in mind, not to speak of in word or in deed. Be truthful, even in mind. Don't think up anything wrong – acting and posing, scheming, polishing, doing something underground and then aboveboard doing something else.
And further: be chaste, even in mind, word and deed. And have love for all: because all men are alike; they have the same privileges that each one of us has. So love all, because God is in the hearts of all: whether they are rich or poor, whether they are learned or unlearned, they all have the same privileges from God that you have.
Also, do not hate others – even in mind, word or deed. And further, when you are to love God and love all humanity, then you must give selfless service, not selfish service: for love knows service and sacrifice. Selfish service will again cause a reaction to come. If you serve selflessly, for the sake of God in others, then that won't bear forth fruit.
As for the present actions which are having reactions, these are also softened down, or polished down, you might say, by the Master. How? By giving some Bread of Life to your soul, so that your soul becomes strong.
Suppose a fight is going on: one man is very weak, and the others are strong. They come to blows and this and that thing. The one poor fellow who is very weak gets one blow and is stunned; he cries out, "I am killed!" And the others who are strong say, "We don't mind. We have had so many blows, but we don't care a fig for it." Why is this? Because they are strong.
Reactions do come up, but for those who have strong souls, who have the Bread of Life, they lose their pinching effect. For the future, Master lays down a line of conduct. For the present which is bearing fruit, he gives food to the soul so that it will become strong and there will not be any pinching effect. And for those which are not yet bearing forth fruit, he gives the disciple a contact with God within. By coming in contact with God within – when his inner eye is opened – he sees that He is the doer of all; that we are mere puppets in His hands. He becomes a conscious co-worker of the Divine Plan. The result is that there is no I-hood left. And all those actions which were sown in the past, and are still awaiting fruit, are burned away. Who is there to bear their fruit?
So this is the way in which you can escape from the reactions of the past. If you say, "Oh, I can do this and that" – with a little I-hood in it – so long as you are the doer, you have to bear the reactions of it. When no "doer" is left, then God is the doer. You are absolved.
There is a story given in the Koran, the scripture of the Mohammedans. There was once a saint who from his very childhood had left the world to reside in a jungle like this (Kirpal Ashram). Here, fortunately, you find enough water, electricity and everything else; but there, there was nothing like that. For miles and miles around there was no water and nothing to eat.
So he used to pray to God, and God made some arrangement to take care of him. One small spring sprouted forth, and from that, very sweet water was flowing; and he used to drink water from that.
And they say there was one pomegranate tree, and each day one pomegranate was borne by the tree. He used to eat that pomegranate and drink that water and pass his days.
It is said there that after long, long years – seventy or eighty years – he died. He was presented to the court of God. God looked at him: "All right, we forgive you as a matter of grace."
His eyes opened wide: "Well, all through life I've been killing myself doing this sort of penance and that sort of penance, and with all that, I'm now being forgiven as a matter of grace – as an act of grace only?" In his heart of hearts, he thought perhaps that a very great injustice was being done.
God read his mind and said, "Well, would you like us to make an account of your own actions?"
"Yes, You may, please." (At heart he wanted it.)
"All right, look here. In that jungle there was no water for miles and miles altogether. One spring was created there, only for you – specially for you. And there was a pomegranate tree; each day it bore one big pomegranate: no tree can bear forth one fruit daily. So that is in compensation for all you've done. Now let us account for your other actions: you were walking along the way, and some insect died – trampled down under your feet. You must be trampled down as you trample down. Further, you did this, and that..."
The saint thought that perhaps matters had gotten worse and said, "All right, please excuse me; forgive me, if You would like to."
Masters come, not to break the law, but to fulfil the law as a matter of redemption by grace; not as action-reaction. Guru Nanak says, "With actions, you can have reactions. As you sow, so shall you reap. But redemption comes only by grace." All Masters say so.
Of course, it does not mean we should be vicious. We should restrict ourselves according to the commandments the Masters have given us.
Another thing you might want to know about it is: a father has a child who does not obey him. He commits some offence – something like that. What would the father do? Would he send him to the police? I don't think so. No father would permit his son to be sent to the police. He might slap him once or twice, but he wouldn't send him to the police.
So, similarly, when you come to a Master – the God in him – you are all his children. He doesn't send you on the regular course, to bear the fruit of what you have sown. That's a concession. Otherwise, how long would you continue like that? First there's the seed, and then there's the tree; then there are many seeds and again a tree. Is the egg before the hen or the hen before the egg? – where's the end? So it's a matter of redemption by grace. It is something like that – so that you can understand it. Unless you become a conscious co-worker of the Divine Plan, there's no escape, no emancipation. "As you sow, so shall you reap": that goes on like that for aeons and aeons of time.
Question: Do we have to work it all off on this physical plane – all the karma that we have – like the "B-type" of karma that we are working off in this life? What about the things that we are doing now or have done in this lifetime – what if we're not all finished up by the time we die?
The Master: I think I have replied to you and you have not followed it. When you become a conscious co-worker of the Divine Plan, when you become selfless, who will bear whatever actions you have done? Furthermore, that is why all Masters say: "Be desire-less." Master tries to wind up all your reactions of the past, just as I told you, by giving you strength – by giving the Bread of Life to your soul – so that the reactions which are coming up will not be pinching to you. But he doesn't touch them. Otherwise, as soon as a man was initiated, he would die. For that reason they are not touched. For the future, he lays down a line of conduct. For the past, if you become selfless – a conscious co-worker – then nothing will come up. Guru Nanak says, "O Master, what is the use of coming to your feet if, when coming here, we still have to bear the fruit of all the actions which we have done in the past?" He gives an example: "What is the use of going to the feet of a lion if still jackals come and howl at you?"
So that is a great blessing. Now the question may arise: What is a Master? A Master is a man like you. Each one of us has the same privileges. The difference lies only in the fact that although God resides in every heart, in the heart of a Master He is now manifest.
Master is a conscious co-worker; that is, He is doing it; it is not he who is speaking, but the God in him Who is speaking. He becomes a mouthpiece of God. We can also become the mouthpiece of God. Every Saint has his past, and every sinner a future.
How has he become the mouthpiece of God? The man who has reached that stage can also give you the same thing. On the very first day, when he initiates you, he withdraws and drags your soul above body-consciousness and gives you a contact with the Light and Sound Principle of God. That is the way back to the ultimate, absolute God. When you become quite conscious of all that, you see that, "It is He that is doing it, not I." So when all reactions are finished, it is just like having a few grains of seeds, which have been roasted in the oven: even if you sow them, they won't bear forth fruit; they will not grow. It is something like that.