'Text-days' are for delving into the words and theory of Advaita Vedanta.
On Wings and Wheels is the publication we are delving into currently. It takes the form of a series of Q&As from devotees to HH Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda. There are many sections and subsections to this book - not all will be given, but it is hoped that the general thought-flow will not be broken for those omissions. To obtain the full picture and essence of the discussions, do consider attempting to purchase the text from the link above; it is currently only available from India.
Q - When the means are bad but the motive is good, what is the action - good or bad?
A - Bad mans could never bring about a good result, even if the motive were great.
Q - Swamiji, you have said that motive is the criterion and now you say means have to be good, else the motive does not count! Let us be logical; if the means are bad but the motive is good, and you say this action is to b termed bad, then the earlier contention that motive is the determining factor is falsified… if, though, you say such an action is to be termed good, then man would get freedom to employ all kinds of means to and end; example is Robin Hood…
A - hehehehehehehehe!! No! That is not logical at all. When the motive is good, the means will be good and the end will be great… even if the end is calamitous, no harm is done because both means and motive were positive. Cause and effect. Means is not an external to you. Think! Motive and means are related. Motive, the values you uphold, determine the quality of your thoughts; the quality of thoughts determines in turn the quality of actions. Let us say that to pass an exam is your motive. You prepare all the questions and answers on a page and sneak in and replace them in the examination hall. You may pass, but in the long run your crime may be detected and in any case you will always live the guilt as well as the likelihood that you have actually learned very little. The initial motive was limited and misguided - as was Robin Hood's, which is why he was caught in the end.
Q - yes but as far as his action was concerned, people praise Robin Hood and recount his adventures as examples of generosity…
A - the idea is stupid. People can be made to praise. You give them plenty, they will praise. A dictator is sometimes popular even if he allows corruption to run uncontrolled.
Q - then Hood's motive was not good?
A - what was his motive? Not to 'distribute', but to 'loot and distribute'. That is not a good motive. He did not help the poor to work hard to enable them to come out of their poverty; there was nothing creative in his motive, else all bandits would then be considered good.
HAPPINESS AS STANDARD
Q - "Maximum happiness for maximum number for maximum time" is Swamiji's motto. In making happiness a standard or criterion in action, would Swamiji consider more valuable happiness that is intense but short-lived, or a lesser happiness extended to a longer time?
A - The duration is more important at the social level. A scheme of life by which for a longer period of time a problem is solved and society can be reasonably happy.
Q - which is more valuable - present or future happiness - which should be given precedence?
A - The present is the womb of the future. A greater future happiness can be had only by investing in the present correctly. Look after the present and the future will look after itself.
Q - from where does happiness arise?
A - there is no intrinsic happiness in objects. The same objects do not please everybody. We associate happiness with the objects we desire. Happiness is the nature of the Real Self, which expresses and functions through the body, mind and intellect. This Self, expressing thus, if the mind is agitated with desires, throws shades of sorrow. Expressing through a mind unagitated, throws its own light of joy. Happiness lies within one's Self, as the Self, and not in the objects outside.