Let us now consider the problem of action. The principal factors of action are the soul, the hand and its instruments; but it is necessary to have impulse and effort too; and we can explain all kinds of human actions in this manner. But there is also an Unseen Power which has its share in some actions; and there is also an element of deliberate intention in action.
The soul, the hand and its instruments: The principal factors of action are the soul, and the hand and its instruments. The hand acts because it is connected with the soul; and the mace, its instrument, acts in the same manner, because it is connected with the hand. Were there no such connection, the mace would drop down because of its weight.
Action, impulse and effort: Action requires a special impulse and a special effort. Were there no special impulse, there would neither be upward nor oblique action. Again, there is a special impulse, because there is a special effort.
An Illustration: We can explain the action of a child in terms of the action of the hand, that is, as a result of special impulse and special effort; and we can explain the action of one who has been scorched, through the appearance of blisters, in the same manner. If there be no effort, there can be no action, even as a person who is fast asleep cannot walk.
Other forms of action; an unseen power: When a straw or a blade of grass moves, it does so because of the action of air; but the movement of a magnet and the approach of a needle towards it, is caused by an Unseen Power.
Deliberate intention: There is also an element of deliberate intention in action.
Action on this earth takes place in three ways, as a result of impulse, as a result of properly connected combination of things, and as a result of the presence of an Unseen Power. The action of the mind is caused by means of its association with the soul; and there is pleasure or pain when the two come into contact with the objects of the senses.
Attraction and repulsion, desire to eat and drink and the connection of different results are all caused by an Unseen Power.
There can be no action without the existence of the soul; but we can conceive of the action of the Gunas (or the inherent attributes of the objects of Nature) in the case of things which are not inseparably connected with the soul, e.g. Time.
We see that action on this earth takes place in three ways; as a result of impulse, as a result of properly connected combination of things, which includes the action of the forces of Nature which we can understand and an Unseen Power, where it is performed in a special or extraordinary manner. For instance, water falls because of its weight when it is not supported by anything; it flows on because it is fluid; and it rises in a pipe or tube because of its contact with air. All these actions take place, not because of the pressure of impulse, but because of properly connected combination of things, and in accordance with the laws of Nature, which we can understand.
An unseen power: But we do not know how sap rises in a tree; and so its ascent may he said to be caused by an Unseen Power. On the other hand, we know that water thicken or break when brought into contact with fire; and we can explain the action of Fire and Air by means of our knowledge. But there are some extraordinary actions, like the flaming of fire in the upper regions, or the oblique blowing of the wind, or the first action of the atoms or the mind which we cannot explain; and so we say that they are caused by an Unseen Power.
Action of the mind: The action of the mind can be explained in the same manner as that of the hand, that is, as a result of its association with the soul.
Pleasure and pain: Pleasure and pain arise through the contact of the soul with the mind, senses, and the objects of the senses. But they do not arise when the mind abides in the soul, and is not associated with the senses and their objects.
Attraction, repulsion, desire, result: Attraction, repulsion, desire to eat and drink, and the connection with different results, all these are caused by an Unseen Power. Were there no such Power, things would not cohere, nor would there be freedom from the bondage of life.
Ignorance: Ignorance is absence of existence, or a negation of things.
Region, time, ether, gunas: Region, Time, Ether are different from the soul, which alone can act; and they are actionless by themselves. The Gunas (or the inherent attributes of the objects of Nature) too cannot act without reference to the soul. It is a law that things that are actionless in themselves cannot come together by means of their own action and produce an effect.
But it is possible to conceive of the action of the Gunas, for they are said to be the original cause of things; but that is said of things which are not inseparably connected with something else (e.g. the soul). We can explain the idea of the creation of the regions and of Time in this manner, that is, by means of the action of the Gunas.
Intelligent action: Let us now consider the character of different kinds of actions. Certain actions are intelligent actions, like the composition of the Vedas and the Brahmanas, acts of charity, and actions that incline us to the best of men, and make us shun those who are hostile or dangerous.
The language of the Vedas is a instance of intelligent action, for the composition of words in the text follows a deliberate design; and that is true of the Brahmanas too, for they give us a clear and correct idea action in this manner.
An act of charity is also characterized by intelligence on the part of the giver as well as receiver. It an intelligent act, because feeding the wicked is n called an act of charity. Thus we should always be inclined to those who are the best; and this is true of all classes persons. Similarly, it is an intelligent act to shun those who are hostile or dangerous to us.
Good action: Certain actions may be classified as good actions, meant for the benefit of all. Certain actions are said to be pure and certain others impure. But a pure action must be characterised by restraint which, however, is not mere abstention from action.
Desire arises from a prospect of pleasure, and also when a person is absorbed in the objects of the senses. But it is also inherent in man. Desire and aversion are the cause of all things, just as well as unjust; and real freedom can be obtained not by means of renunciation of action, but by means of action performed in accordance with the highest nature of the soul.
Action and motive; good action: There can be no action without a motive; and motive is of two kinds, seen and unseen. Where we are unable to discover any motive, we should take it that the proposed action is meant to secure the highest end, or is meant for the benefit of all.
Kinds of good action: There are a number of actions of this kind (meant for the benefit of all), such as initiation in good deeds, fast, continence, etc., as well as the observance of the four stages of life.
Pure and impure; restraint: That which has the desired form, taste, smell and touch, and is consecrated and washed, is said to be pure or clean; and the impure is the opposite of what is pure. But this is only a physical test, and is not enough; and we must take into consideration something else too, and that is restraint. But restraint is different from mere abstention; and we cannot understand the truth without knowing what it really means.
Birth of desire: Desire arises from a prospect of pleasure, and also when a person is absorbed in the objects of the senses. But it owes its origin to an Unseen Power, because all are born with it, and it is a peculiar characteristic of the whole race.
Cause of action: Desire and aversion are the cause of all action, just as well as unjust; and they bring about the union and parting of things.
Attainment of freedom: But freedom from the bondage of life can be attained not by renunciation of action, but by means of action performed in accordance with the highest nature of the soul.