Rays of the One Light

Weekly commentaries on the Bible and the Bhagavad Gita
by Swami Kriyananda (J. Donald Walters)

Truth is one and eternal. Realize oneness with it in your deathless Self, within. The following commentary is based on the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda.


Week 19: The Secret of Right Action

One of the most famous stories in the Gospels is that of Martha and Mary. Jesus, visiting the home of Martha, was teaching while her sister Mary sat at his feet absorbing his divine love and wisdom. Martha, meanwhile, busied herself with serving her guests, and was upset with Mary for not helping her.

Lord,”she cried,“doesn't it matter to you that my sister has left me to do all this serving alone? Please ask her to help me.

Martha, Martha,” Jesus answered,“thou art careful and troubled about many things.”

But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

This story is classic, for Martha's complaint is very understandable, and not, on the surface of it, spiritually wrong. Jesus might well have told Mary to get up and help her. Nor do we really know that he didn't, considerate as he always was of others' needs. But the teaching here doesn't concern the obvious dilemma of devotees: to work for God, or to spend all one's time in prayer. It concerns, rather, the attitude of the mind.

Jesus didn't tell Martha: “Martha, you are doing too much.” He told her, rather, “You are letting your work affect your inner peace.” That was the contrast: not work vs. contemplation, but restless preoccupation vs. peaceful absorption under all circumstances.

As it says in the Bhagavad Gita, the second Chapter:

Actions performed under the influence of desire are greatly inferior to those which are guided by wisdom. Happiness eludes people when they act from self-interest. Seek shelter, therefore, in the equanimity of wisdom.

Thus, through holy Scripture, God has spoken to mankind.

Copyright © 1996 by Hansa Trust