Act in the Context of Action

Right now, why you think in terms of right and wrong is simply because of the social moral code.

The nature of karma is not in the action that you perform. Karma means action, but this gathering of past karmas is not because of the actions you have performed. It is the volition, the intention, the kind of mind that you carry. That is your karma.

There is a story that Ramakrishna used to tell. There were two friends who used to go visit a prostitute every Saturday evening. On one such evening, while they were walking towards the prostitute’s house, there was someone giving a spiritual discourse. One friend decided not to visit the prostitute, saying he would prefer to hear the lecture on spiritual possibilities. The other man left him there. Now the man sitting in the lecture hall, his thoughts were full of the other man. He began thinking that the other man was having the time of his life while he himself was caught in this place. He thought the other man was more intelligent in choosing the prostitute’s place rather than a spiritual discourse.

Now the man who had gone to the prostitute’s house, his mind was full of the other man. He began to think that his friend had chosen the path to liberation by preferring the spiritual discourse to the prostitute’s place, while he got caught in this. The man who had gone for the spiritual discourse and was thinking about what was happening in the prostitute’s house pays by piling up bad karma. He suffers, not the other man. You don’t pay because you have gone to the prostitute; you pay because you are cunning about it. You still want to go there, but you think by going to the discourse you’ll be one step closer to heaven. This cunningness will take you to hell. That man with the prostitute knows it is worthless, and seeks something else; his is good karma. So it is not about action.

Right now, why you think in terms of right and wrong is simply because of the social moral code. It is not your innate nature which is telling you that this is right and wrong. It is just that society has fixed some rules and they have always told you, right from your childhood, that if you break them, you are a bad boy. So whenever you break these, you feel like a bad boy. If you feel like one, you become one. If you are used to gambling, maybe gambling in front of your mother or your wife, in your home, or even to utter the word is sacrilege, but once you join your gang, there gambling is just fine, isn’t it?

Among the gamblers, the one who does not gamble is not fit to live. It’s like this everywhere. If all of you are thieves, you are all fine, isn’t it? Among thieves, do they feel it is bad to rob somebody? When you fail, they think you are a no-good thief. That is a bad karma, isn’t it? The question, this karmic thing, is just the way you feel about it. It is not about what you are doing. It is just the way you are holding it in your mind. Why we are talking about acceptance, acceptance, acceptance, is, if you are absolute acceptance, whatever life demands, you do. If you have to fight a battle, you go and fight, there is no karma. The karma is not made in physical action; it is made only by volition. It’s just that some fool has formed some rules and you expect every human being to live by them. It’s impossible, but society needs such rules to maintain the social ego.

The society has its own ego, isn’t it? For every small thing, the whole society gets upset. It need not be wrong. Suppose it is summer in the United States. Everybody is hardly wearing anything or maybe they are in miniskirts. Let’s say you are fully clothed. People will get upset: “What is she doing? Why is she all covered up?” Here in India, if you don’t dress like that, they will all get upset! So this is one kind of ego; that is another kind of ego. It is the social ego which is getting upset, and your karma is becoming part of the collective karma. I want you to really understand this with a certain depth. Your idea of good and bad has been taught to you. You have imbibed it from the social atmosphere in which you have lived. Karma is in the context of your life, and not in the action itself.


Sadhguru J. Vasudev is a contemporary mystic rooted as strongly in worldly and pragmatic matters as he is in inner experience and wisdom. Named one of India’s 50 most influential people, he has addressed prominent global forums on issues as diverse as socio-economic development, leadership and spirituality. He has served as delegate to the United Nations Millennium Peace Summit and the World Peace Congress and has been a special invitee to the World Economic Forum (2006-2009), the Australian Leadership Retreat (2006) and TED (2009).

His interviews are featured in The New York Times, BBC, Bloomberg, CNNI and CNBC. He is the author of several books, the subject of four books and co-author of the Amazon Bestseller “Midnights with the Mystic”. His public talks frequently draw crowds of over 300,000 people.

Founded by Sadhguru, Isha Foundation is a non-religious, non-profit organization with over 200 centers worldwide and over one million volunteers. Isha Foundation offers Inner Engineering Online – a practical approach for inner transformation in a fast paced world.  The course designed by Sadhguru presents simple, yet powerful tools for an individual to experience life on a deeper level with more awareness, energy, and productivity.  This program is an ideal opportunity for those with time and travel constraints to experience the same profound effects of the traditional Inner Engineering program, which has impacted millions of people over the past 25 years.  To learn more, view the free Introductory Talk, or to register visit

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