Neti, Neti Part I – “Do (5%) Good”

by Aranyakananda

Target has a program called the Do Good program. On a sign in the store it appears like this: “Do % Good” and inside the top “o” of the percent symbol is a 5 and in the bottom one is a Target logo. So, Do 5% Good, I guess. The idea is that 5% of profits go toward education, volunteerism, etc., in the community of each participating store. I think it said that Target raised something like $3 Million a month in doing so. Don’t quote me on that, but we’ll go with it just so there’s a concrete number. I’ll come back to it.

Definitely reading into this too much, but it got me thinking, if one were to do 5% good, would they not be doing 95% evil, or at least 95% retroactive to their 5% progress? Or would the other 5% be neutral? The reason I bring this up is because when I saw this sign, I happened to be waiting for a bus and was reading “The Yoga of the Bhagavad Gita” by Paramahansa Yogananda (one of the greatest explanations of the symbolic meaning of all participants in the Bharat War as described at the opening of the Gita, by the way).

The idea of doing 5% good made me think of how in the Gita, Chapter 2, sloka 40 Krishna tells Arjuna (according to Yogananda’s translation):

“In this path (of yoga action) there is no loss of the unfinished
effort for realization, nor is there creation of contrary effects.”

So as promised, in this Neti, Neti series, there will be two ways of looking at the issue at hand. Or it could be neither. Or it could be both. These posts may create great debate. They may raise the ire of the reader. Chapter 2, sloka 40 of the Gita is one of them.

The consciousness in which one finds oneself upon true effort at yoga is different from the everyday, karma-producing consciousness man in general. But I balk at “unfinished effort.” Because it suggests that it was not a complete effort. An effort which anyone could put forth. It wouldn’t necessarily put them in a state of Divine Consciousness. So sure the effort which was put forth would not be lost, as Bhagavan Krishna assures us. I do not doubt that. But all action which one takes after not discontinuing the effort toward realization, would be mundane, karma-producing action. For good or for bad. If a man gives 5% effort toward yoga, one is producing karma for 95% of the time, is he not?

Going back to Target for a second, I am not suggesting that by giving 5% of its income, it is doing 95% ill. Just want to make that clear. This is not the same as the Gita sloka of which Target’s program reminded me.

Now, in yoga, is the five percent of (non-)activity in yoga so potent that it nullifies all of the remaining 95% of his mundane activities? Or would one have to give at least 51% effort in order to get himself anywhere spiritually? To me, it seems he would, as long as his efforts are “unfinished.” Pure divine consciousness of the jivan mukti is in fact finished effort. It’s just that we may have to stick around in that state for a while. Or may choose to.

What say you?

This entry was posted in afterlife, agnosticism, agnostics, American Hindus, avatars, Avatars of Vishnu, Bhagavad-Gita, Bharat War, book review, books, Brahman, dharma, Dharmic Faiths, Divine Consciousness, dualism, duality, Eastern Philosophy, editorial, ego, existentialism, faith, famous quotes, Gita, God, guru, Hare Krishna, Hinduism, inspiration, jnana yoga, karma, karma yoga, Krishna, Krishna Consciousness, Kurukshetra, life, Mahabharata, meaning of life, meditation, non-dualism, opinion, Paramahansa Yogananda, philosophy, pluralism, quotes, reincarnation, religion, Sanatana Dharma, self-realization, Self-Realization Fellowship, spirituality, SRF, Srimad-Bhagavatam, transmigration, Vaishnavism, Vishnu, Western Hinduism, White Hindus, yoga, Yogananda and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Neti, Neti Part I – “Do (5%) Good”

  1. Dhrishti says:

    This is deep. Definitely more philosophical than I’m used to you going.

    The one thought that kept coming to mind while reading this was, “You don’t have to be wrong for me to be right.” I think I saw it on a poster somewhere as a jab against religions that convert. With that in mind, I’d say the other 95% shouldn’t be worried about. I think that 5% of intentional goodness doesn’t auto-equate 95% of less-than goodness.

    And I’m not sure how I feel about the idea of Divine Consciousness vs non-Divine Consciousness. I suppose I DO recognize a difference. But this is something that I always struggled with regarding “Krishna Consciousness.” I don’t see how this could be something that someone operates in some of the time, but not other times. Evolution and enlightenment are similar in that they’re a gradual progression. Periodic leaps might happen, sure, but mostly it’s an upward slide. You’re not going to be full of Krishna Consciousness one minute, but not the next. You MIGHT be full of charismatic religious emotion one minute and not the next, but that’s obviously a horse of a different color.

    The Gita is full of shlokas quoting Sri Krishna as having said things along the lines of, “Don’t worry. All things are coming back to me. I accept everything as an act of worship.” In that context, even mundaneness is still progress toward the divine and so there’s ultimately no such thing as 5% or 95%. There’s no such thing as “continued effort” and “not continued effort.” There’s only effort, and a gradual increase of awareness that allows us to focus that effort.

    • treadmarkz says:

      You make a good point likening spiritual development w evolution. But I definitely think, from experience that at early stages in this spiritual evolution, there is a lot of ups and downs, shaky ground, one step forward, two steps back.

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