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.
3: Actionless Action.
Liberated While Working (Q&A with Sri Anandamayi Ma)
"How can one benefit spiritually by action?"
One can gain benefit by doing work for its own sake, engaging in karma yoga. As long as a desire to distinguish oneself is lurking, it is karma bhoga (self-satisfaction/enjoyment). One does the work and enjoys its fruit because of the sense of prestige that it brings. Whereas, relinquishing the fruit of expectations on returns becomes karma yoga.
"How is it possible to work without desire?"
One can do this by doing service with the feeling that one is serving the Supreme Being in everyone. The desire for God-realisation is obviously not an ordinary one. "I am an instrument, deign to work through this, your instrument." By regarding all manifestation as the Supreme Being, one attains to communion which leads to liberation. Whatever work is undertaken, let it be done with one's whole being and in the spirit of "Thou alone workest" so that there may be no opportunity for affliction, distress, or sorrow to creep in. Another point; if the attitude "through my shortcomings the work has not been done well enough, greater pains ought to have been taken to complete this service" is not persisted in, the work must be considered to have been done carelessly. Therefore, as far as it lies in your power, there should be no neglect. Beyond that, feel that whatever happens is in His hand; your but His tool. Put your body, mind and heart into every work and for the rest, it is as it comes.
"It does not seem possible to perform action devoid of attachment to that work or its fruit, working only for the duty… yet what is taken up in spirit of dedication to God may well develop into work done without desire. Please explain further"
Whether with or without desire, it is still action. One cannot possibly remain without action until the state of Pure Being comes. Therefore, let this aspect of the matter be understood.
When you surrender yourself to your guru, you have to obey his or her orders unconditionally. In this your sole motive is to carry out the guru's will. Consequently, when going about the task, you grow eager to do your utmost. Can you all this also a desire in the ordinary sense of the word? To set your heart on being efficient, with only one object to complete the task for the guru, is certainly a good desire. If for any reason there should arise even the least feeling of resentment, the action can no longer be said to be without attachment. Suppose, for example, after having accomplished by far the greater part of some work, you have to abandon it and someone else takes it up, completes it and gets the credit for having achieved the whole of the task. If you mind this even in the slightest degree, how can the work really have been done disinterestedly? Obviously it was not quite free of your sense of ownership on the task, nor free from desire for recognition.
When you have given yourself up to the guru, s/he may do anything, subject you to countless tests, yet you still regard yourself as a tool in His hands. You will then have reached a stage, in spite of the difficulties, where you persist with the work knowing it to be the guru's order. By this attitude you will grow steadfast in endurance, patience and perseverance and you energy capacity will be enhanced. Keep this in mind.
In action there is bound to be conflict. When can there be freedom from this? There can be freedom only when there is no question of hurt. Even in the midst of work, at all times and under all circumstances, one must be prepared to obey any kind of order. Imagine you are hungry and your are just raising your hand to put food into your mouth, then you are asked to go elsewhere. At that very instant you should gladly let fall the food and obey the call. Such an attitude is an indication of one's becoming established in a happiness that is not of this world. When one is nearing effortless being, whether one is blamed or not for some short-coming, one is quite indifferent. Then only does one become an instrument in His hands. The body moves like a tool and one watches it with the nature of a spectator. Then one observes what a great variety of work gets done by such a body and how efficiently. Egoless work is full of beauty, for it is not promoted by a desire for self-gratification. As long as the knots that constitute ego are not unravelled, even though you intend to act impersonally, you will get hurt and this will produce a change in the expression of your eyes and face and be apparent in you whole manner. To long in the essence of "let my heart be free from craving of results" is still a desire for a result! Nevertheless, by thus aspiring after selfless action, there is hope of its coming to pass.
A knot in the heart means resistance. Hence, as long as ego persists, there will be clashes at times, even when impersonal work is attempted, because one is bound and therefore pulled in this or that direction.