Each 'Choose-day' we will investigate the process by which we can reassess our activity and interaction with the world of plurality and become more congruent within our personality.
We are reading the small booklet called "Not Too Loose, Not Too tight - Just right!" This is written by Swamini Vimalananda, and gives a very general overview of Vedanta for the beginner, with emphasis on the sattvic, rajasic and tamasic approaches to life. Remember, we are a mixture of all; use this as your mirror.
कर्म /karma - actions/undertakings.
Action is the insignia of life. Man cannot live without actions. Actions by themselves are neither good nor bad. It is the intentions behind them which make them such. For example, when a doctor performs surgery, it is not called assault with grievous bodily harm, even though sharp implements are used and the body is slit open. It is being done with the intention of improving health. All undertakings in life may be categorised per the triguna, depending upon the intentions behind them.
Sattvic; proper and deep thought behind an action makes it a sattvic undertaking. One thinks about the goal which engenders the action, the consequences and/or results which may ensue. One also thinks about the time, effort, cost and so on. Sattvic thinking enables strong prioritising and setting of clear goals. There is also a consideration for the effects upon others when carrying out the action, or what might arise as a result of it. There is strong assessment as to whether any given action is a worthy one or, indeed, worthwhile (ie, is it sufficiently noble or even worth our investment of time etc). Gurudev often said, "Plan out your work and then work out your plan!" After planning well, when all one's energies are focused on one's actions, it is more likely to be efficient and successful. What is more, if variations and hurdles arise, one is better equipped to deal with them - as our planning ought to contain 'contingency'. Benefits of sattvic action are often sustainable and long-lasting.
Rajasic; incomplete and distracted thinking makes an undertaking rajasic. Actions based on immature or hurried thinking, half-baked plans or overly sentimental promptings often fall short in terms of purpose and fulfilment. Having too many goals (multitasking) is likely to result in lesser standard of completions...the term 'jack of all trades and master of none' was made for such as this! Improper thinking, procrastination, disorganisation, stress… all arise in rajasic action. Undoubtedly things will get done, but very often without appropriate satisfaction and the benefits are likely to short term.
Tamasic; rash, whimsical, indiscriminate, impulsive...these are words often associated with tamasic action. The term 'act in haste and repent at leisure' would apply here. Often, tamasic action is driven almost purely by strong emotion, logic having left the building! There is rarely any positive result for such; immediate gratification perhaps, but this is followed by more immediate need and cycles of guilt, regret and misery are created.
Today we have seen 'action' in terms of the physical doing of things. This is what karma is. Manifest action. There is, however, another form action which relates to our talents, tendencies and duties of life - these are the things which inform our intentions which may then manifest as per the above. This we will see next week.