Every Saint Has A Past & Every Sinner Has A Future

Many people go through their lives carrying the burden of guilt or regret over past mistakes. For some, the weight is such that it crushes their sense of self-worth and they are unable to live a normal life, and they go to their grave haunted by the wrongs they have done.

Most of us know, even if we do not remember it all the time, that every action has an equal and opposite reaction, and that we reap what we sow.This universal law warns us of the consequences of bad karma, but it also encourages us to do good karma. If one has done something bad, repentance cannot undo it. But one can learn from it and direct one’s energy to doing good.

Positive and charitable actions lift our spirits and bring benefit to others. They keep the mind engaged in a healthy way, help one forge good relations and, when done repeatedly, create a habit of doing good.

Soon, a time comes when good deeds outweigh past mistakes, and the person not only feels happy himself, but is also a source of support for others. This is how character transformation takes place.

There are several examples in history of people leaving behind an ignoble past and achieving greatness. St Augustine is perhaps the most famous. A hedonistic party goer who fathered an illegitimate son, he eventually heeded the pleas of his devout mother and became a Catholic priest. Today, he is regarded as a Doctor of the Church, a title given to saints of particular importance.

Similarly, Angulimala, a serial killer, became a monk after an encounter with the Buddha, and Valmiki gave up life as a robber and meditated for years in penance before he went on to compose the epic Ramayana. He is now revered as `Adi Kavi’, or first poet, as he is said to have invented the `shloka’, the first verse, which defined the form of Sanskrit poetry .

These examples show that no one is beyond redemption, and each one of us has the potential for spiritual progress regardless of our background.

As Oscar Wilde said, `The only difference between saint and sinner is that every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.’ This is one reason criminal justice systems in some countries encourage the convicted to do something charitable to make amends for a mistake, or do community service fully or partially in lieu of other forms of punishment, such as imprisonment or paying a fine. Even where such a provision does not exist, convicts get reduced punishment if they show true remorse or cooperate with law enforcement agencies, and sentences are commuted if the convict has a record of good behaviour. Such measures aim to encourage reform, so that convicted criminals emerge better persons from their experience of crime and punishment.

While one cannot change one’s past, its negative influence on the present and the future can be eliminated by changing one’s way of thinking and behaviour. The key is to turn over a new leaf. A mistake does leave a stain on one’s life, but repeatedly thinking about it only darkens the stain. Instead, do good, so one can create bright spots that will eventually shine such that no one notices the stains.

Om Namah Shivay

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Serve Humanity, Serve God

Health, education and availability of justice are everyone’s basic rights, yet these are largely unaffordable or unavailable for many in rural and tribal areas. There is lack of education and health facilities in the tribal belt of Uttarakhand, and as a result, villagers and tribals have developed superstitions which affect their overall health and wellbeing. To eradicate superstitions and to ignite a spirit of service among medical practitioners, Anuj Singhal, himself a doctor, along with a team of medical professionals, began providing medical services to the tribals in Uttarakhand after 15 years of social work in Kerala with the Swami Vivekananda Health Mission (SVHM).

With the help of the Mission, Singhal organised health services for people in remote areas with an overwhelming urge for service to humanity. “That is my religion and I thank God that he chose me to do this,” he says, smiling. He had always wanted to serve people, even during his college days; therefore, he started attending free health camps.

“If you feel the pain of others, then you can contribute anything for their welfare. It helps you to understand not only yourself better, but also your family in a more effective way. Everyone is not fortunate to be able to help others. Even the vedas say, ‘Nar seva, Narayan seva — service to man is service to God’. God lives in everyone’s hearts and if we are able to serve and help the needy, it’s like serving Him,” he elaborates.

Help Others

With emphasis on service, Singhal points to the Bhagwad Gita, chapter 17, shloka 20: “Service which is given without consideration of anything in return, at the right place and time to one that is qualified, with the feeling that it is one’s duty, is regarded as the nature of goodness.”

The group is constructing a charitable hospital in Dharmawala, 40 km away from Dehradun. “People are coming forward for help and they are contributing money to create funds to help us and that’s a big support to us to provide more facilities,” adds Singhal.

Along with medical services, the society also educates youth, provides employment to local people and organises self-help camps. SVHM also provides free multi-specialty medical care, medical camps and mobile medical vans in the area.

Om Namah Shivay

***Write ” Om Namah Shivay ” if you ask for God’s blessing on your life today. Please Like, Tag and Share to bless others!

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