Application - that is what 'Workings-days' are about!
VEDANTA IN ACTION.
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
On Karma Yoga (by Swami Vivekananda [1863-1902])
Isolation of the soul from all objects, mental and physical, is the goal; when that is attained, the soul will find that it was alone all the time and it required no one to make it happy. As long as we require someone else to make us happy, we are slaves. When the Purusha** finds that IT is free and does not require anything to complete Itself, then freedom is attained.
Men run after a few dollars and do not think anything of cheating a fellow being to get those dollars; but if they would restrain themselves, in a few years they would develop a character which would bring them millions of dollars… if they wanted them. Then their will would govern the universe; but we are such fools! What is the use of talking of one's mistakes to the world? They cannot thereby be undone. For what one has done one must suffer. One must only try and do better. Only work that is done as a free will offering to humanity and to nature does not bring with it binding attachment.
Right Attitude to Duty.
Duty of any kind is not to be slighted. A man who does the lower work is not, for that reason only, a lower man than he who does the higher work. A man should not be judged by the nature of his duties, but by the manner in which he does them. His manner of doing them and his power to do them are indeed the test of a man. A shoemaker who can turn out a strong, decent pair of shoes in the shortest possible time is a better man, according to his profession and work, than a professor who talks nonsense every day of his life. Every duty is holy and devotion to duty is the highest form of worship. It is certainly a source of great help in enlightening and emancipating the deluded and ignorant souls of the bound ones.
By dong well the duty that is nearest to us, the duty in our hands now, we make ourselves stronger; and improving our strength in this manner, we may even reach a state in which it shall be our privilege to do the most coveted and honoured duties in life and society.
Every successful man must have behind him, somewhere, tremendous integrity and tremendous sincerity. He may not have been perfectly unselfish; yet he was tending towards it. If he had been perfectly unselfish, his would have been as great a success as that of the Buddha or of Christ. The degree of unselfishness marks the degree of success everywhere. However we may try, there cannot be any action that is perfectly pure or any that is perfectly impure (in the sense of injury and non-injury). We cannot breathe or live without injuring others and every morsel of food we eat is taken from another's mouth; our very lives are crowding out other lives. It may be those of men, or animals, or fungi, but someone somewhere is displaced by our presence. That being the case, it naturally follows that perfection can never be attained by work. We may work thought all eternity, but there will be no escape from this intricate maze.
However, the servant wants pay, the sheep wants directing… Keep the public speaker from even a little applause or heckling and he is lost, for he requires it. This is working in slavery. To expect something in return becomes second nature. We trade ourselves away.
Nothing is easier to say than, "I work for work's sake", but nothing is so difficult to attain. There is always a motive somewhere. If it is not money, it is power. If it’s not power, it is gain. Somehow, somewhere, there is motive. "You are my friend and I want to work for you and with you. All well and good and every moment I may make protestation of my sincerity...but take care, you must be sure to agree with me! If you do not, I shall no longer take care or deal with you!" This kind of work for a motive brings misery. The work which alone brings detachment and bliss is wherein we work as masters of our own minds.
The great lesson to learn is that "I" am not the standard by which the universe is measured. Each man is to be judged by his own idea, each race by its own standard and ideal, each custom of each country by its own reasoning and conditions. We all find ourselves in the position for which we are fit. If one has some capacity above another, the world will find that out too; a constant adjustment as each finds their 'fit'. It is no use to grumble. There may be a rich man who is wicked, yet there must be in that man certain qualities that made him rich; and if any other man has the same qualities he also has to chance to become rich. What is the use of fighting and complaining? It will not help us to better things. He who grumbles at the little things which fall to his lot to do, will grumble at everything. Always grumbling, he will lead a miserable life and everything will be a failure. The man who does his duty, though, putting his shoulder to the wheel, will see the light and higher and higher duties will fall to his share.
** purusha - 'universal being'.