Chapter 4 — Results Come from Effort, Not Fate or Chance;
Acts of the Present Life Are Stronger than Those of Previous Lives

Vasishta said:—

I know, gentle Rama, that liberation of the soul is the same whether in its embodied or disembodied state, just like seawater and its waves are the same liquid substance. Liberation, whether of embodied or disembodied spirits, consists in their detachment from the objects of sense. Hence the soul unattached to sensual gratification is liberated, having no idea of objects of the senses.

We see before us the living liberated sage (Vyasa) as an embodied person, yet we have no doubt of the detachment of his inner soul from this body. The difference between embodied and disembodied souls, when they are equally enlightened and liberated, is like that of the seawater in its calm and billowy states. There is no more difference between liberation in the body and without the body than there is between the air in motion and at rest. Liberation, whether with or without the body, produces unselfishness. We have lost our selfishness ever since we have come to the knowledge of an undivided unity.

Therefore attend to the true doctrine that I am going to deliver to you, which will be a jewel to your ears as it will dispel the darkness of ignorance. Know, O son of Raghu, that everything in this world is obtainable by our efforts being properly employed.

This knowledge — that there is no other way to gain results except but by our efforts — rises like the moon in the human mind and sheds its cooling and delightful influence to the heart. 10 It will become evident that we see the results of our efforts, and that nothing comes from what the dull and mistaken call chance or fate.

11 An effort, when directed according to the counsel and conduct of the good in the exercise of the action of the body and mind, is attended with success. Otherwise it is as vain as the freak of a madman. 12 Thus he who hopes to acquire riches and perseveres in its acquisition surely succeeds in gaining them, or else he stops short midway.

13 It was by means of their efforts that some particular persons have obtained the paramount dominion of Indra over the three worlds. 14 It is by effort that one attains the rank of the lotus-born (Brahma), and some by effort even gain the inner joy of the state of Brahma. 15 It is by virtue of effort that somebody becomes the best among men, even as he who bears the flag of the eagle (Vishnu among the gods). 16 It was by the exertion of one’s efforts that some succeeded to obtain the form of Shiva accompanied by his female power and adorned by the crescent moon as his crest.

17 Know our actions to be of two kinds, namely those of former and present lives. Know that the acts of the present life generally supersede those of the past.

18 Know also that energy joined with constant practice and supported by wisdom and some stimulating force is able to break down Mount Meru and the demerits of acts in men’s former lives. 19 The exertions of a man proceeding from his good efforts and countenanced by the law lead to his success, or else they either go for nothing or turn to his disadvantage.

20 A man laid up in a state of disability is unable to twist his figure to hold a little water in the hollow of his palm to drink. Meanwhile there is another who (by his well-directed efforts) gets possession of seas, islands, mountains and cities for himself, supports all his dependents and relations, and does not think this earth too great for him.