God controls everything then why do people lecture (preach) that we should try to improve ourselves?
The statement that everything is in God’s hands is not understood properly; this needs some detailed explanation.
Let us first analyze a simple worldly experience. The government builds roads and they make rules and regulations for driving vehicles. People have not only to learn driving, but also to know the rules and regulations for safe driving. If a driver goes through a red light and meets an accident, it is due neither to the failure of the rules nor to the lack of his driving skill. It is simple disobedience by the driver. If the driver knew the rules but he didn’t bother to follow them, the cause of the accident is the disrespect shown to the rules.
Something similar happens in our daily lives. Sometimes we land ourselves in trouble because we didn’t care to listen to the rules made for us by Waheguru. At another time, we may know the rules but we disrespect them, which causes us to get into trouble.
People have to know the rules of Nature and also follow them. The government does not create accidents; they are caused by the failure of the drivers. Waheguru does not plan ‘accidents’ (evil) for us; the failure is on our part. There is no devil or Satan to misguide us and put us in trouble. It is we ourselves who fail to follow Waheguru’s rules and create trouble for ourselves.
Waheguru has given us intellect and physical competence to act according to certain basic principles of life. We are to use them and not sit like stones. When we act we have many ideas before us and many kinds of forces acting on us. Greed, anger, ego, love, sympathy, desire for service, etc. direct our actions toward others. Teaching and preaching are required to help a person make the right decisions. Virtues lead us to peace and vices lead us to trouble. Our happiness or sorrow depends upon the feelings under which we act. It is not justified to blame Waheguru for our failures or evil acts. To free ourselves of the guilt of doing antisocial or illegal acts, we tell ourselves that everything is in the hands of Waheguru; a human can do nothing. This is trying to “act smart.” Actually, by this we only fool ourselves.
There is a classic example of how this principle, “I do not do anything; everything is done by Waheguru” works and how its misuse is stopped. A second-time thief was sentenced by the judge for one year in jail. On hearing the sentence the thief addressed the judge, “Sir, do you believe in Waheguru, the Almighty Judge and that He does everything?”
Judge: Yes, I do.
Thief: Waheguru made me commit this theft according to His Will. Therefore, it is wrong for you to send me to jail.
Judge: You are sentenced for two years. Do not blame me for increasing your sentence. You know that I can not do anything; everything is done by Waheguru.
The thief learned the lesson of his life — it is wrong to hold God responsible for what one intentionally plans to do or does under the pressure of vices.
We cannot ignore the knowledge of good or bad while living this life.
An ignorant person can be saved from doing wrong acts. But how can that person be saved who knowingly commits sins? [Guru Granth Page 1376 ]
—– Why does Waheguru not stop us? —–
(i) Waheguru does stop us from doing bad things or wrong things. He has His own ways; we have to understand them. While jumping you may sprain your ankle. It gets swollen and it gives you much pain. That is Waheguru’s (nature’s) way of forcing rest on us. when you get sick, you become weak and do not wish to move about; rather you feel like remaining in bed. That is what Waheguru wants you to do to get into good health.
The same principle works on a larger scale too. If a king is inefficient or unjust the people replace him (if need be, by violence). Maybe a neighboring king will attack him, defeat him and take over his kingdom for better management. The world goes on and nature continues to act according to its principles. We may or may not observe them being implemented by the Great Governor, Waheguru.
(ii) Sometimes we do not know the greater plan of Waheguru and we may not be clear about the part assigned to us. We are supposed to perform our duty with the competency given to us. The world is a huge drama conducted and directed by Waheguru. In a drama an actor is required to act according to the will of the director, and not according to his own liking.
In a drama, the son of a wealthy person was assigned the job of a beggar. He acted like a beggar even though he knew very well that he is not a beggar. He was doing the duty assigned to him by the director of the drama. He won an award for good acting. Similarly, in this world, the director, Waheguru, has assigned different kinds of duties to different people. Waheguru may make us rich, poor, a scholar, a common man, handsome or handicapped. But the situation in which He puts us, should not matter while we are doing the duty assigned to us. Wherever we are placed, we should do our duty honestly, sincerely, and devotedly, being neither jealous of others nor suffering from any ego.