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) cont'd
Be a Master, Not a Slave
The whole gist of this teaching is that you should work like a master and not as a slave. Do you not see how everybody works? Ninety-nine percent of mankind work like slaves and the result is miser; it is all selfish work. Work through freedom! Work through Love! The word Love is difficult to understand; Love never comes until there is freedom. There is no true Love possible in the slave.
So when we ourselves work for the things of the world as if slaves, there can be no love in us and our work is not true work - mere drudgery. This is true of work done for relatives and friends and is true of work done for our own selves. Every act of Love brings happiness; there is no act of Love that does not bring peace and blessedness as its reaction. Real Existence, real Knowledge and real Love are eternally connected with one another, three in one. Where one of them is the others also must be. They are the three aspects of the One with a second - satchitananda. When that existence becomes relative, we see it as the world, that Knowledge becomes in its turn modified into worldly knowledge, and that bliss forms the foundation of all true Love in the heart of mankind.
Therefore, true Love can never react so as to cause pain either to the lover to the beloved. Suppose a man loves a woman; he wishes to have her all to himself and feels extremely jealous about her every movement; he wants her to sit near hi, to stand near him, to eat and move at his bidding. He is a slave to her and wishes to have her as his slave. That is not Love; it is a kind of morbid affection. It cannot be Love because it is painful; if she does not do as he wants it causes him pain - or vice versa. With Love there is no painful reaction. When you have succeeded in loving your husband, your wife, your children, the world, the universe, in such a manner that there is no reaction of pain or jealousy, no selfish feeling, then you are in a fit state to be unattached.
Sri Krishna says, "Look at me Arjuna! If I stop from work for one moment, the whole universe will die. I have nothing to gain from work; I am the one Lord, but why do I work? Because I Love the world."
God is unattached because He Loves. That real Love makes us unattached. Wherever there is attachment, the clinging to the things of the world, know that it is all physical attraction between sets of particles of matter; something that attracts two bodies nearer and nearer and, if they cannot get near enough, produces pain. Where there is real Love, it does not rest on physical attachment at all. Such lovers may be a thousand miles away from each other, but their Love will be all the same; it does not die and there will be no pain.
To attain this non-attachment is almost a life's work; but as soon as we have reached this point, we have attained the goal of Love and become free. The bondage of nature falls from us and we see nature as it is. It forges no more chains for us. We stand entirely free and take not the results of work into consideration. Who then cares for what results may be?
Whatever you do for a particular person, city, state, assume the attitude of non-expectation of return. If you can maintain such an attitude, taking the position of giver in which you make no charge for the offering, the will your work bring you non-attachment.
If working like slaves results in selfishness and attachment, working as masters of our own mind gives rise to the bliss of non-attachment. We often talk of right and justice but we find that in the world this is 'baby talk'. There are two things which truly guide the conduct of men; might and mercy. The exercise of might is invariably the exercise of selfishness. All men and women seek to have the upper hand of power. Mercy is heaven itself; to be good we all have to be merciful. Even right and justice must stand upon the base of mercy. All thought of obtaining return for work we do hinders our spiritual progress. There is another way in which this idea of mercy and selfless charity can be put into practice; that is by looking upon work as 'worship'. Very useful for those who believe in a 'personal God'. Here, we give up all the fruits of our work unto the Lord. Just as water cannot wet the lotus leaf, so work cannot bind the unselfish man by giving rise to attachment to results. The selfless and unattached man may live in the very heart of a crowded and sinful city, but he will not be touched by sin.
Now you see what karma yoga means. Never vaunt of your gifts to the poor or expect their gratitude, but rather be grateful to them for giving you the occasion of providing that charity. Thus it is plain that to be an ideal householder is a much more difficult task than to be an ideal sannyaasin (priest); the true life of work is indeed as hard as that of a life of true renunciation. Take heart, be emboldened. For to take up karma yoga demonstrates your courage and your strength.