As children, we are taught that when camping, we are to leave a place better than we found it. As adults, we are encouraged to overcome evil with good. The natural conclusion to draw is that we should maintain a personal ‘balance sheet’ to track our good deeds against bad. The problem is we have no idea of the how an action actually plays out through all the ripples in many lives.

In the Christian tradition, on the other hand, no one can ever come out ahead on his or her balance sheet, and it is only through a salvation process that one is deemed acceptable in the sight of God. In some eastern traditions, as far as I know, enlightenment is a goal that is achieved without reference to a personal accounting of deeds. We need to lift up our eyes from our efforts of self-justification to see a different path, one that speaks to a reality that is beyond self.


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