Adventures in Advaita Vedanta, the philosophy and science of spirit. We are one you and I; are you curious why?..


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Points of View

Hari OM

Application - that is what 'Workings-days' are about!

This is the title of a publication from CM which, whilst it of course has items by Gurudev, also includes selections of writing from other well-esteemed Gurus from the Vedantic tradition as well as leading businessmen. Its focus is the working life. We shall be exploring these essays for the next few weeks on Workings-day as, clearly, they pertain directly to the premise of this section of AVBlog! As ever, you  are encouraged to read back over previous posts, to ensure full benefit.

Part 2:Fulfillment Through work
Right Attitudes for Success (by Gurudev)

You and I are alive. Therefore we cannot but be active. As long as we are living, we have to act as the life force in the body demands activity. Since actions are flowing out of every living person until her or she dies, it is important to understand how they can be organised, altered or disciplined in order to bring about happiness for themselves and their community, as well as a sense of fulfillment. This is called 'art of action'.

Image result for laborious workAction is the inevitable signature of life. They may vary from on person to the next. A farmer working the fields perspires from his exertions. A poet in the midst of his greatest creation does not seem to be working at all from the farmer's point of view. From the standpoint of the poet, a scientist is wasting public money. From the scientist's view, the ordinary thinker is wasting his time. From all points of view, Buddha sitting under a tree is an idler! Each may point to the other and say that none knows how much work is being done by themselves. This can breed envy, if the worker wishes they had the 'easy' life of the artist or poet or the if the artist rues the 'richer' life of the scientist. Or it can bring on a sense of elitism as in thinking that one's own work is the most important over another's.  An ordinary man, carrying milk along the road to the nearby town for sale, jealously looked at a fellow who was sitting by a pool, throwing stone into the water and watching the light play on the ripples. "This fool is sitting idly every day, eating food brought to him - how unfair! I have already put in eight hours work and I cannot make both ends meet. Where's the justice?"… the simple villager did not know that the 'fool' was Michelangelo who, as a result of his 'idle musing', reproduced the ripples on a canvas - his work had been to study his subject in detail in order that he might represent the beauty in the best way he could. What he produced from his work has created wonder and joy for the community at large for endless years. Who knows of the milkman? What we see here is attitude, in this case, wrong attitude…"why do I not have what he has?" … rather than "I wonder what he has, can I add to it?"
Working for Personal Gain.
The great sages of ancient India observed that the type and the quality of work that people perform can be classified into three categories. The first of them is the lowest type which we shall call, for lack of any better word, labour. This is not to disgrace the manual tasks of life, do not think it derogatory. Labour can indeed be noble. (This is what the milkman missed!)  The man who works in society only for the sake of wages or profit is known as a labourer. In this sense, even a high-level politician or general can be a labourer; their motivation is for personal gain only. No matter how intelligent that person may be, if it used only for self-aggrandizement, they are nothing but a labourer.

If you ask such a person why they want wages, there is generally no motive greater than that the house might be furnished, or beautiful and fashionable clothes bought for self or family, or the latest gadget obtained. Such persons are self-centred working only for monetary gain; not that it might be used to aid the hospital or serve society in some way (i.e. not centred on Self - note the difference!). If that is the low ambition with which one pours out energy into the world, one is naught but a labourer.

In the same profession in which a labourer is working, there can be another who is not a labourer, who has the ideals of giving a helping had to society even as there is gain for themselves. It is not the field of work which matters nor the position held within it, but is the attitude to the work which makes the difference - which means that even menial tasks (otherwise thought of as labour) can be raised to a level of selfless service. Working in self-centred manner, rather being centred on Self, is what is the difference between being a labourer and simply one who labours. The greatest genius, highest-thinking persons can be no more than labourers if they fail see their work as having something more than material benefit to themselves.

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Hari OM
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