By Mesha Oh
When we were at school, we were made to learn about various laws in our Physics and our Chemistry class. I memorized these laws for the examinations and forgot almost all of them not long after. I have never used knowledge of these laws even once in all my years. Maybe that’s true also for millions of other people who went through the same miseducation process.
Just as there are laws that operate in the physical world, there are also laws that operate in the spiritual world. Knowledge of these spiritual laws is absolutely vital for leading a truly meaningful and successful life.
But despite this, we were taught nothing about these laws—at school or even at home. Not once did my teachers and my parents even remotely refer to them.
Now, isn’t that really very tragic? I was compelled to study about laws of physics and chemistry that I have never once used in my life so far, but about spiritual laws, observance of which determines the entire course of our life (and beyond), my parents and teachers said not a word!
One of the most basic spiritual laws is the law that you get what you give; what you send out, you receive. According to this law, we reap what we sow. If we plant a mango seed, we can expect to reap a harvest of mangoes. And, if we plant a cactus seed, all we will reap is a harvest of thorns. We cannot expect to garner a harvest of sweet fruits if what we sow are the seeds of a thorny bush.
According to this universal spiritual law, every action of ours—every thought that we think, every word that we utter, and every physical action that we perform—will have a reaction that will rebound on us some day or the other. Every good thought, word or action of ours will return to us at some point in time, as will every evil thought, word or action.
This spiritual law is taught in various religious and spiritual traditions, being expressed in different ways. It is a universal law—which means it is universally applicable, applying equally to every human being, without any exception. No one is exempt from it. This law is also very simple—anyone with basic intelligence can understand it. It is no mysterious or esoteric doctrine. It is not some academic theory based on an unverifiable hypothesis. It is a basic fact of life, the truth of which can be realised through one’s personal experience.
Awareness of just this one very simple spiritual law is enough to make or break a person’s life. It is a master key for handling challenges and relationships and for facing various situations. Consciousness of the fact that all our actions (mental, verbal and physical) will have consequences that will impact on us in the same way, now or later, can act as a powerful guide to ethical living as one moves through life’s journey. It can restrain us from unethical behavior and can inspire us to lead our life in a wholesome manner.
In line with this spiritual law, if we do good, we will get back good, sometime or the other, from the same person or someone else.
Conversely, if we do bad to someone, we will receive the same sort of treatment one day. If we forgive someone or help them when they are in need, we too will be forgiven or will receive assistance. If we are generous to others, we too will enjoy other people’s kindness. If we think good of others and are polite to them, we will receive similar treatment. And so on. On the other hand, if we think bad of others, are rude to them and harm them, the same sort of evil will come back to us—from the same people or from someone else, sometime or the other.
If we are deeply aware of this spiritual law, knowing that every action of ours will impact on us in the same way as it impacts on others, we will control our negative emotions and impulses and seek to do as much good as we can. Concern for our own well-being—enlightened self-interest you could call it—itself suggests that we should respond positively to seemingly negative situations and be as good as we can even with challenging people, knowing that falling prey to negativity will only harm us.
Had I been taught this basic spiritual law as a child by my parents and teachers, I might have avoided many unwholesome actions over the years that hurt others and that, in line with this law, boomeranged on me, hurting me as well. Had I known about this law earlier, I might not have paid back other people’s negative behaviour in the same coin. I might have been much more restrained in the face of provocation. I might have been more patient with others, more willing to forgive them and more accepting of their foibles. I might not have wasted so much precious time and so many precious breaths on badmouthing people. I might not have had as many squabbles with people as I did. In short, I might have had a much more happy and harmonious life and might have been spared much trauma that surfaced in my life as the bitter fruit of my own unwholesome actions and reactions.
Like other universal spiritual law, the law that we get what we give is built into the very fabric of the universe that has been designed by the Creator. This law applies equally in the case of every human being, transcending all differences such as nationality, ethnicity, religion, gender, class and so on. Knowledge of this spiritual law is vital for every human being in order to lead a truly meaningful and successful life. If parents and schools were to make imparting knowledge of this law (as well as other spiritual laws) to children a priority (recognising how much more important this is for a truly meaningful life than is knowledge of the laws of physics and chemistry and things like that), how many precious lives could be saved from going to waste simply because of ignorance of this law! Imagine the enormous number of unwholesome actions that could be avoided across the globe if we all were aware that we will get back what we give out, that we will reap what we sow! Think of the goodness that might abound all over if only everyone—individuals, families and even whole communities and entire countries—knew that if we give out goodness to others, it will, in line with a universal spiritual law, come back to us!