Paul and Mike hated each other even when they were boys growing up in Philadelphia. They quarreled at school, and when they grew up, they were business rivals and loved the same fair maiden. One day Paul, who was slightly stronger, gave Mike a sound beating. He left him senseless on the sidewalk and walked away with his girl.

Upon recovering, Mike, in shame and sorrow, left Philadelphia and moved to Miami, vowing to get even some day.

Paul of course forgot about the hurt he had caused Mike. Mike, however, being the maltreated party, could not wipe the grievance from his mind even though each evening, before going to bed, he affirmed: “Day by day, in every way, I am forgiving Paul more and more.”

After several months, Mike was amazed to realize that during his affirmation of forgiveness, he had been hatching the egg of revenge. In the background of his mind he had been praying for an opportunity to settle his old grudge against Paul.

At last, by the attractive power of hatred or by chance, as the case may be, Paul came to Miami. Not suspecting any trouble, one dark, drizzly evening he was strolling on a lonely road under the tiled roof of an open shed that adjoined a warehouse.

Paul did not know that Mike had learned he was in Miami and was, at that moment, slinking in the dark, following him. Wearing rubber-soled shoes, Mike was dogging his steps, ready to pay him back with compound interest for what he had done years ago.

Under the cover of the rain, now falling harder, Mike noticed a large tile lying unbroken on the ground. Paul walked unheedingly over the tile, but Mike picked it up and struck Paul on his bald pate with all his might. Struck senseless, Paul lay on the cold, muddy ground much longer than Mike had lain on the sidewalk after the beating Paul had given him long ago in Philadelphia.

When Paul woke up, the sky had cleared. With the moonlight peeping through the opening in the roof where the tile had loosened, Paul could see all around him. He was puzzled to find himself lying in a pool of blood on the cold earth.

Then he noticed the tile lying near his head and looked up and saw the square opening in the tile roof. He gasped: “What blooming chance! Driven by the rain, I ran under the shed and the tile, loosened by the rain, fell on me!”

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This story illustrates how easily we forget our misdeeds, though the results of such actions never forget us but silently pursue us through the darkness of our ignorance. Just as the cow can find its calf amidst a thousand other calves, so the results of our good or bad actions, of this life and past lives, find us wherever we happen to be.

If, after beating Mike, Paul had weighed the consequences of his actions and apologized to Mike, then no injury would have lurked for him in the dark womb of the future.

The moral: Judge well before you act, for after you have acted, you must reap the results of your action. Remember that all actions leave traces that are stored as tendencies in the mind. Unless the seeds of evil tendencies are burned up through the power of meditation and wisdom, under favorable evil influences, those seeds may suddenly germinate.

So meditate more and more deeply each day and, in the fires of meditation and calmness, roast all ungerminated seeds of evil tendencies.

From Praecepta Lessons, 1935

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