There is a beautiful story of Sri Ramakrishna: two disciples of Sri Ramakrishna were in a boat, and in this boat there were many people and they were criticising Ramakrishna. They were passing remarks against Sri Ramakrishna and these two disciples were listening to these remarks, and one of them became very angry and shouted against those people; another one said, “don’t, don’t, don’t get excited!” and both of them afterwards reported this to Sri Ramakrishna. He said, “both of you are wrong”. The one who got excited was wrong because he should not have been excited, and one who remained quite quiet was wrong because he should not have remained quiet. The one who was placid, calm, he was Tamasic basically: he should be Rajasic. One who became Rajasic, he had the need to become Sattwic.
This is how in India for different individuals, different standards are given, because standards of conduct are only a staircase in which you are led from one to the other. And if you ask the question absolutely, totally, without any kind of ethics at all, no standards of conduct: is there any kind of an action to be done without any standard of conduct at all? And that is the highest answer of Sri Krishna that all is a staircase, but once you want to reach the highest, this is only going higher to higher, from higher to higher, still higher to higher, but if you want the highest then Sri Krishna says:
sarvadharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja | (XVIII, 66) This is the last message in the Gita, at the end: give up all Dharmas, there is no staircase then for you. You simply plunge into the Divine and He will lift you up and do whatever is to be done through you; in which case you do not do anything. The whole idea of ‘I am the doer’ itself is wrong; ‘I will do this, this will be the consequence and I will go to heaven, I will go to the hell’: this idea, this whole argument is basically unfounded, is not based in truth.
Although in the beginning Sri Krishna tells him the highest truth of the Self which is immutable, and in the light of which this argument will not fit in, this later argument; therefore ‘these will be consequences you fight’, but this argument is valid to the consciousness of Arjuna. And since he is considering his action in the light of consequences, Sri Krishna says that ‘if you look at the consequences, then this will be the consequences, therefore you fight’. But, having said this now, Sri Krishna does not wait for the answer of Arjuna, because He knows that this is a passing argument, it is not the basic argument. Sri Krishna goes forward and continues with the higher level of Knowledge, and then argues from that point of view.
We go forward:
“Having a balanced mind in pleasure and pain, gain and loss, victory and defeat, you fight in battle for the sake of fighting. By doing so, you shall never incur sin.” (II, 38)
Now you see the whole argument has changed: it is not for consequences, not for the sake of enjoyment of the kingdom, nor for enjoyment of the heaven, as he says, ‘if you die in the battle you will go to heaven and enjoy; if you win the battle you will have enjoyment of the kingdom’. This argument is over. Suddenly there is a new turn; this new turn is in consequence of the previous statement of what is the highest knowledge, the Knowledge of the Self, of the immutable. “If you have that Knowledge of the Immutable, then you have balanced mind, both in pleasure and pain, gain and loss, victory and defeat, you fight in battle for the sake of fighting. By doing so, you shall never incur sin.” ‘If you become completely equal minded, and if you act, then there is no such thing as sin at all.’
This is a very important doctrine: when you are in doubt whether you should act or not, then whatever you do will be all right, in case your consciousness is free from the duality. If you have any important question in your mind for which you do not have the answer, and yet you are obliged to act, then, act whatever is your action, provided you keep this ‘sukhaduḥkhe’, whether it is happiness or it is misery, in both the cases you will be equal, then there is no kind of sin incurred.
“O Son of Pritha! This is the wisdom of the Sankhya which I have given you. Now, listen to the wisdom of Yoga endowed with which, you will be free from the bondage of Karma.” (II, 39)