We all begin our lives with a lot of hope for the future. In this game of life some people reach their goals and end up satisfied that they have made the best use of their existence on earth, and others die in frustration. The difference between success and failure is often in having proper information and guidance about what should be done and what should not be done.

So, what is the information and guidance that can make the difference between ultimate success and failure? According to the sage Veda Vyasa (the reputed author of many of India’s ancient epics and mythological texts) “doing good to other’s is virtue and doing harm to others is vice.” My guru, Shrii Shrii Anandamurti, has said, that of all the eighteen mythological texts of Vyasa, this one sentence on virtue and vice is the most important.

Another sage, Shankaracarya, carries this further and advises people to “do good actions day and night,” 24 hours. If anyone follows this advice then there is little chance that his or her life can go wrong.

However, it is not always easy to keep engaged in activities that will bring about the welfare of ourselves and others. This world is a battlefield between two tendencies: a force that pushes us and attracts us towards knowledge and union with the Ultimate Reality and a force which pulls us towards ignorance and separation from the Supreme Consciousness.

This battle is going on in the world and in our own minds. Sometimes you may have a thought to do something that is obviously good, something that will help you to develop or that will be helpful to others. And the next moment you may have a desire to do something that you know will end up in your degradation. This is natural, everyone experiences this. The trick is to always choose and carry out the actions that will bring about your welfare and the welfare of others.

In this respect I would like to leave you with one final piece of advice from the sages that can help you to always make the right choice. This one originates in the ancient Indian epic, The Ramayana.

The Ramayana is the story of a struggle between a king named Rama, who is taken by many to be an incarnation of God, and his adversary Ravana. Ravana was a king who kidnapped the wife of Rama which set off a long war. In the end Rama defeats Ravana in battle. Good in the form of Rama overcomes evil who is personified by Ravana. However there is an interesting twist at the end of the story. Rama goes to the dying Ravana and says to him “You are a senior person, can you give some advice that will be useful to us and future generations.”

Ravana replied by telling about his own life. He said that as a youth he had some good ideas about how he could help people reach Heaven. But he postponed doing anything about them. On the other hand, later in his life he got the idea to kidnap Rama’s wife, and this he did immediately, and it led him to defeat and death. So, he said, my advice is “good actions should be done immediately and bad actions should be postponed.”

There it is; the ultimate piece of advice. Don’t delay in doing good actions (who knows you may not get a chance in the future) and if you get an idea that you want to do something bad, just say in your mind “OK, but I will do it some other time.” If you keep postponing it, you will probably not do it.

I wrote a song about it and the chorus goes like this:

“If you’ve got something good, do it today.
Gonna do something bad, make a delay.
This is what the wise ones say.”

Author's Bio: 

Dada Vedaprajinananda is a senior teacher with the Ananda Marga Meditation Society, anandamarga.org. He is the author of books, numerous magazine articles and is a singer-songwriter as well. You can read his articles and hear his songs at www.dadaveda.com (This article may be reprinted as long as this paragraph and website links are left intact.)