Narach Philosophy

THE LAW OF ACTION


The claim of Desire to its fulfillment is based on reason. Desire is associated with both knowledge and action. There are primary and secondary causes of Desire, which can be understood by the means of knowledge.

Action consists of a number of parts, each of which is associated with desire; but, as these parts progress without a break, it appears to be one. Action is of many kinds, and all deliberate action is characterized by purpose; and in its final form it is associated with some object of nature or Prakrti.

All deliberate action is characterized by reason, and is an expression of the creative power of Nature itself. Animals alone are characterized by purpose in action; but there is reason to believe that there is purpose in the actions of the gods or the workings of the great forces of nature.

There is also a law of conflict in Nature; but in every case there is only one action at a time.

Desire and its fulfillment: This claim upon the part of Desire (that it is entitled to the object it seeks) must be based on reason. It may arise from knowledge, - chiefly from something that has been seen; or from inference; or from reference to Dharma or a law, without any connection with a particular object; and the sum total of the knowledge of the three Vedas consists of understanding this. It is not possible to have a real desire unless we also believe, however erroneously, that it can be satisfied, and we can achieve the object we seek. This is how desire is followed by action, which would be impossible otherwise.

The Vedas, as the Mimansa has told us, deals with the three Gunas or attributes of Nature, which are said to embrace all forms of life in the universe, including Man, - all except his soul. But, as the Mimansa tells us later on, we cannot understand the nature of the soul except with reference to the other faculties of man, - his intellect, mind, and the senses; and, as all these are subject to the Gunas, we might say that all that we can imagine, including the character and functions of the soul, - in so far as we can understand them - comes under the preview of the Gunas, and so constitutes the subject matter of the Vedas.

But, as the Mimansa tells us, the Vedas deal with the problem in the light of Dharma or a moral law of life, which is also its own subject matter; and Dharma is based on action characterized by knowledge or discrimination. The Mimansa has told us that the other systems have dealt with the problem of knowledge and action, but not discovered its law; and its own problem is to discover it. Now what integrates the two is Desire which, as the Mimansa tells us, begins as knowledge and ends as action, and is reborn as knowledge again. Thus, if we wish to understand the law of knowledge and action, we should understand the law of Desire; and if we do so, we can understand the essence of what is contained in the three Vedas.

Desire, knowledge and action: We cannot say that Desire only begins with knowledge, for it enters into everything, and its association continues to the end; but because it is associated with knowledge, it cannot be driven out by any amount of action.

Knowledge and primary and secondary cause of Desire: There are primary and secondary causes of desire; and knowledge refers to its primary cause, - for that is the very purpose of knowledge (namely, to awaken desire). Indeed, it is by means of knowledge that we can understand both its primary and secondary causes.

Action and its parts: Action consists of a number of parts, and as there is a desire that each part should be properly performed, its different parts cannot be performed at the same time. There is, however, an uninterrupted progress of action, because all its parts are connected with one another by means of common properties; and it is for this reason that the whole action appears to be one.

Many kinds of action: Action is of many kinds, - of the senses of knowledge (e.g. hearing), of the senses of action (e.g. speech), the mind and the intellect (e.g. inference, discussion, name); and it is associated with some place. The function of the mind is two fold, - Nama and Rupa - giving a name and calling up an image; while the function of the intellect is discussion, decision, or drawing an inference. But its great weakness consists in being dragged down by a purpose or aim. Nevertheless, a virtuous person is not weakened by action, however much it be. Indeed, were there no purpose, we could not perform any principal or deliberate action at all; while, with a purpose, we can perform two or many more.

The highest form of action is said to be that which is disinterested or devoid of any special purpose or aim; and so having a purpose is sometimes regarded as a weakness or defect in action. At the same time we cannot act without purpose; and so the Mimansa makes it clear that good actions or the actions of virtuous men do not involve any taint. These actions are a sacrifice, - good, intelligent, and meant for the benefit of all; and so, as the Bhagavad Gita tells us, we can perform such actions and yet be free from any taint.

Nature of purpose in action: Purpose in action does not consist in the advancement of a particular theory or opinion alone; for it must, in any case, be associated with some object of Nature.

An action consists of parts: When we say that a thing is a part of a whole, it means that there must at least be two things, - one coming after the other; and the impelling force of action is new (or different) in each case. It would be contrary to the law of Nature to say that an action may consist of only one part; for all things in Nature are connected with one another, and a violation of this law would render everything meaningless, even as we cannot buy anything with only one party to the transaction. Buying a thing means at least an attraction for an object; similarly, when a person performs an action, there is always some cause for it. This rule, however, applies only to deliberate actions, characterized by a plan; but it is true of all creatures who act, because they have all, without exception, a purpose in action. It is only those things which have some useful purpose to serve that are praised; but, as it is possible to say that all things serve some useful purpose, it would be meaningless to single out any for special praise, specially when there is nothing permanent in the world.

Character of deliberate action: All deliberate action is characterized by reason or reflection, because it is preceded by some discussion within us; and this is an expression of the creative power of Nature working in the doer of the deed; for we must admit that it is a law of Nature that there should be growth as well as obstacles in the development of things; and it applies to all cases without distinction.

Animals have this purpose: This purpose exists in an animal; but because it does not exist in a mass of ground rice, we should not suppose that it does not exist in an animal. We cannot say that an animal too is devoid of purpose; for it cannot exist without it, because it must eat and digest food, and bear the consequence of things. But each animal is a separate entity, for such is the restriction imposed by its nature.

Purpose in the actions of gods or the forces of nature: It is possible to say that there is purpose in another entity too, - a god or a great force of Nature, because it is regarded as a cause of action; and there is reason for thinking so.

Law of conflict: It follows from this that there is a conflict among things, and it is so in accordance with a law. But since there is no purpose in a pot or a saucepan, there is, of course, no conflict in it.