There is no ultimate definition of a good action or a bad action. Anything that a person does should be done for the good of many people. If you think that the higher mind always thinks higher thoughts, that is not so. Sometimes the higher mind will leave the house or destroy the property. Sometimes the lower mind is more capable, practical and realistic than the higher mind. The approach of the higher mind to problems is idealistic, whereas the lower mind is impatient. You will find that the person with a lower mind is always more successful than the higher minded person.
The lower mind is realistic and bound by a fixed pattern of thinking- three plus three makes six. For example, if it sees an elephant it thinks, "Oh, this is an elephant, so it must have a trunk." However, the higher mind will think, "It may or may not have a trunk, our mind is just conditioned to think that way and hence our eyes are focused accordingly."
Neither the higher nor the lower mind is immortal. They are conditions of mind that depend on individual training. After all, we cannot fix which particular characteristics belong to the higher mind and which belong to the lower mind. The lower mind has the capacity to analyse things through reason and intellect. The higher mind decides things intuitively. The lower minded person thinks how to benefit himself while the higher minded person thinks for others as well.
I will tell you a true story to illustrate this. A boy of sixteen years went to live with a swami. The boy was very bad. He went to the pictures every day and did all sorts of things, even stealing from his father's pocket. He was sent to the swami, who was a very good mahatma, for correction, but the mahatma used to view things from a different angle, because his higher mind was functioning. So, the boy would go to the pictures and return to the mahatma. When the mahatma asked where he had been, the boy would reply, "Swami, I have been to satsang." Then the mahatma would ask, "Are you telling the truth?" and the boy would reply, "Oh yes."
Later on, the boy started going to prostitutes and he went from bad to worse. Ultimately, he stole all the valuables which the mahatma kept in his house and went somewhere to spend the money. Again he returned to the mahatma and told him, "I beg your pardon. I won't commit such an act again."
I happened to be there at that time, and I asked the mahatma, "What is the matter?" He said, "The boy will be alright," because his higher mind was functioning. I said, "No. What is the use? Has he made any improvement? Either you return him to his father or you give him to me. I will take charge of him."
The mahatma agreed, so I asked the boy, ''Will you come with me?" He said, "Yes", knowing that I belonged to a very big ashram and thinking that perhaps he would have many chances to do mischief there. I said, "Alright, bring your things." At six o'clock in the morning I asked where the boy was.
The servant boy said that he was in the tea shop. So, I went there, pulled him out by the legs and threw him into the Ganga. I said, "The next time I see you in the tea shop I will break your head!" We took him out of the Ganga and put him under lock and key for three days. He said, "Swamiji, I promise that I will never commit any mischief again." I said, "That is not enough", because his lower mind was still functioning.
So, I gave him a department in the ashram post office and I saw how efficient he was. I put him in marketing and he was always calculating and comparing the prices. I put him in petty cash and every moment he was checking the cash. After a few weeks he left the ashram and returned to his home. He went to college and got his degree. Several years ago I met him and he had become the leader of his whole town. He still did the same things, but now he was able to direct his affairs in a more positive way, because the higher mind was functioning with the lower mind.
There is a story in the Mahabharata. During the last phase of the war, Arjuna and his unknown step-brother, Karna, who was born to Arjuna's mother, Kunti, before her marriage, were fighting on the battlefield, each one for a different army. Suddenly, Karna's chariot would not move because something was wrong with the wheels. So, when he got down to repair it, Arjuna stopped shooting. That is the dharma; when a man has no weapons, no defences, one should not kill him. At that moment, however, Krishna asked Arjuna, "What are you doing?" Arjuna replied, "He has no weapon, so I cannot kill him now." Krishna said, "What do you mean? Now is the time. Finish him." Arjuna had to obey.
Kama said, "This is not dharma. You know I have no weapon." Then Krishna laughed and said, "Yes, now you remember dharma, when the calamity falls on your head, but when the queen was being stripped naked in a public place, at that time did you remember the dharma? When all of you conspired to burn the five brothers in the wax house, did you remember the dharma? And now when the calamity falls on your head, you remember the dharma!" Karna did not know what to do. He could not repair his chariot. He got up, fought and was killed. Krishna said, "Practise dharma with those who practise dharma. There is no use in practising virtue with a person who does not want to practise it."
So, these are the functions of the lower mind and the higher mind. One should know when to use the forces of the higher mind and when to use the forces of the lower mind. When the higher mind does not know how to function, it is always taken over by the lower mind. If the higher mind wants to exist in its own higher spheres and does not want to become subservient to the lower mind, it has to act in a certain manner. How it has to act is a very difficult thing to understand and many people do not know this.
They are always carried away by their emotions, and the higher mind loses ground when it is under the sway of those dominant emotions.
So, with a saint you should behave like a saint; with your mother you must behave like a daughter or son; with your wife or husband you must behave like a husband or wife. When a man is coming to your house with a definite purpose to do you some harm, then you must behave with him accordingly, and protect yourself. This is the dharma. But if a man comes to your house intending to do you some wrong, and you do not stop him, if he gives you a slap on the right cheek and you show him your left cheek also, that is not dharma. That has never been done.