Right decisions lead to the right actions and the right actions to success in our endeavors. Actions also determine our karma, whether good or bad. These karmas then go on to shape our prarabdha and sanchit karmas which partly determine our fate in this and the next birth. So the decisions we take go a long way in shaping our future in the present life and future lives to come. Let us now understand how to make the right decisions by pondering upon their very origins.
Decisions are triggered by an individual’s value system. What value we accord to various things in life like Family, Money, Knowledge, Fame, Comfort, Religion or God determines the decisions we take. Some people prefer a comfortable life which makes them lazy. Some are industrious and wish to achieve fame and in the process, they neglect their family. Some are so inclined towards their family that they neglect their spiritual selves. Some are so greedy that they accord money the highest value and all their decisions are governed by the need to acquire more and more wealth. The greatest example of such a kind of person is King Midas whose touch turned everything, including his little daughter into gold. Only when he lost his daughter that he realized his foolishness and wished the boon to be revoked. His wish was granted by the generous fairy but life often does not give us second chances to reverse our decisions. So, it becomes absolutely necessary to check our values. In our day-to-day lives, we find people cheating others for money and fame. However, one must remember that even if one cheats on others he or she will not be able to cheat one’s own conscience which will keep bothering him/her. And even if one ignores one’s conscience, no one can escape the consequences of one’s karmas.
Beliefs construct our value system. Beliefs have a tremendous effect on our mind and body and can make them form and work towards a set of values. One may believe that happiness lies in material comfort while another may believe that happiness lies in God. Beliefs are shaped by the situation in which we are born and the environment where we grow up. For example, we are born into a certain religious belief. Beliefs are also shaped by experiences that may be favorable or bitter. However, Swamiji emphasizes that beliefs do not necessarily have to determine our values. Rather, we can choose our beliefs. He gives a beautiful example to illustrate this point. He says that we all know that God is everywhere. But how many of us truly believe it? The Vedas say that if we believed in it, then we would all become God-realized at once.
Beliefs are powered by the intellect. If our intellect is convinced that something is worth believing and doing, our physical and mental capabilities will make us accomplish the task. This action may either benefit or harm us. Therefore we must build our intellect on the basis of good authentic knowledge. Swamiji writes in his book The Science of Mind Management, “Beliefs are the convictions of our intellect regarding things to be true or false without the need for empirical verification. They are the lens through which we understand and perceive the world. When our beliefs are uplifting, then our values are appropriate, attitudes are productive and decisions are proper. And our life progresses in the right direction.”