Work and its Secret
111 .No one can get anything unless he earns it. This is an eternal law. We may sometimes think it is not so, but in the long run we become convinced of it. A man may struggle all his life for riches; he may cheat thousands but he finds at last that he did not deserve to become rich and his life becomes a nuisance to him. We may go on accumulating things for our enjoyment but only what we earn is really ours. A fool may buy all the books in the world and they will be in his library; but he will be able to read only those that he deserves to; and this deserving is produced by Karma.
112.Our Karma determines what we deserve and what we can assimilate. We are responsible for what we are; and whatever we wish ourselves to be, we have the power to make ourselves. If what we are now has been the result of our own past actions, it certainly follows that whatever we wish to be in future can be produced by our present actions; so we have to know how to act. You will say, “What is the use of learning how to work? Everyone works in some way or other in this world.” But there is such a thing as frittering away our energies. With regard to Karma-Yoga, the Gita says that it is doing work with cleverness and as a science; by knowing how to work, one can obtain the greatest results.
All work is simply to bring out the power of the mind which is already there, to wake up the soul. The different works are like blows to bring them out, to cause these giants to wake up.
113.Like fire in a piece of flint, knowledge exists in the mind; suggestion is the friction which brings it out. So with all our feelings and actions–our tears and our smiles, our joys and our griefs, our weeping and our laughter, our curses and our blessings, our praises and our blames–every one of these we may find, if we calmly study our own selves, to have been brought out from within ourselves by so many blows. The result is what we are. All these blows taken together are called Karma–work, action. Every mental and physical blow that is given to the soul, by which, as it were, fire is struck from it, and by which its own power and knowledge are discovered, is Karma.
114.This world is not for cowards. Do not try to fly. Look not for success or failure. Join yourself to the perfectly unselfish will and work on. Know that the mind which is born to succeed joins itself to a determined will and perseveres. You have the right to work, but do not become so degenerate as to look for results. Work incessantly, but see something behind the work. Live in the midst of the battle of life. Anyone can keep calm in a cave or when asleep. Stand in the whirl and madness of action and reach the Centre. If you have found the Centre, you cannot be moved.
115. Three things are necessary to make every man great, every nation great:
a. Conviction of the powers of goodness.
b. Absence of jealously and suspicion.
c. Helping all who are trying to be and do good.
116. This toy world would not be here, this play could not go on, if we were knowing players. We must play blindfolded. Some of us have taken the part of the rogue of the play, some heroic–never mind, it is all play. This is the only consolation. There are demons and lions and tigers and what not on the stage, but they are all muzzled. They snap but cannot bite. The world cannot touch our souls.
117. Those who give themselves up to the Lord do more for the world than all the so-called workers. One man who has purified himself thoroughly accomplishes more than a regiment of preachers. Out of purity and silence comes the word of power.
118. All great undertakings are achieved through mighty obstacles.
Spiritualising Everyday Life
119.We are all being dragged along by this mighty, complex world-machine. There are only two ways out of it; one is to give up all concerns with the machine, to let it go and stand aside, to give up our desires. The other way is to plunge into the world and learn the secret of work, and that is the way of Karma-Yoga. Do not fly away from the wheels of the world-machine, but stand inside it and learn the secret of work. Through proper work done inside, it is also possible to come out. Through this machinery itself is the way out.
120.What is Karma-Yoga? The knowledge of the secret of work. We see that the whole universe is working. For what? For salvation, for liberty; from the atom to the highest being, working for the one end, liberty for the mind, for the body, for the spirit. All things are always trying to get freedom, flying away from bondage. The sun, the moon, the earth, the planets, all are trying to fly away from bondage. The centrifugal and the centripetal forces of nature are indeed typical of our universe. Instead of being knocked about in this universe and after long delay and thrashing, getting to know things as they are, we learn from Karma-Yoga the secret of work, the method of work, the organising power of work. A vast mass of energy may be spent in vain if we do not know how to utilise it. Karma-Yoga makes a science of work; you learn by it how best to utilise all the workings of this world. Work is inevitable, it must be so; but we should work to the highest purpose. Karma-Yoga makes us admit that this world is a world of five minutes, that it is a something we have to pass through; and that freedom is not here, but is only to be found beyond. To find the way out of the bondages of the world we have to go through it slowly and surely. Karma-Yoga shows the process, the secret, and the method of doing it to the best advantage.
121. Karmayoga is the attaining through unselfish work of that freedom which is the goal of all human nature. Every selfish action, therefore, retards our reaching the goal and every unselfish action takes us towards the goal; that is why the only definition that can be given of morality is this: That which is selfish is immoral and that which is unselfish is moral.
122. Unselfishness is more paying, only people have not the patience to practise it. It is more paying from the point of view of health also. Love, truth and unselfishness are not merely moral figures of speech, but they form our highest ideal, because in them lies such a manifestation of power. In the first place, a man who can work for five days, or even for five minutes, without any selfish motive whatever, without thinking of future, of heaven, of punishment, or anything of the kind, has in him the capacity to become a powerful moral giant.
123.All outgoing energy following a selfish motive is frittered away; it will not cause power to return to you; but if restrained, it will result in development of power. This self-control will tend to produce a mighty will, a character which makes a Christ or a Buddha. Foolish men do not know this secret; they nevertheless want to rule mankind. Even a fool may rule the whole world if he works and waits. Let him wait a few years, restrain that foolish idea of governing; and when that idea is wholly gone, he will be a power in the world.
124. The majority of us cannot see beyond a few years, just as some animals cannot see beyond a few steps. Just a little narrow circle–that is our world. We have not the patience to look beyond, and thus become immoral and wicked. This is our weakness, our powerlessness.
125. Any action that makes us go Godward is a good action, and is our duty; any action that makes us go downward is evil, and is not our duty.
126. Everything that makes for unity is moral; everything that makes for diversity is immoral. Know the One without a second, that is perfection. The One who manifests in all is the basis of the universe; and all religion, all knowledge, must come to this point.
127. Expansion is life, contraction is death. Love is life, and hatred is death.
128.In worshipping God we have been always worshipping our own hidden Self.
129.Are you unselfish? That is the question. It you are, you will be perfect without reading a single religious book without going into a single church or temple.
130. Every good work we do without any ulterior motive, instead of forging a new chin, will break one of the links in the existing chains. Every good thought that we send to the world without thinking of any return will be stored up there and break one link in the chain, and make us purer and purer until we become the purest of mortal.
131. The tapas and the other hard Yogas that were practised in other yugas do not work now. What is needed in this yuga is giving helping others. What is meant by dana? The highest of gifts is the giving
of spiritual knowledge, the next is the giving of secular knowledge, and the next is saving of life, the last is giving food and drink. He who gives spiritual knowledge saves the soul from many and many a birth.
132.Our duty to others means helping others; doing good to the world. Why should we do good to the world? Apparently to help the world, but really to help ourselves. We should always try to help the world, that should be the highest motive in us; but if we consider well, we find that the world does not require our help at all. This world was not made that you or I should come and help it. We cannot deny that there is much misery in it; to go out and help others is, therefore, the best thing we can do, although in the long run, we shall find that helping others is only helping ourselves. The only help is that we get moral exercise. This world is neither good nor evil; each man manufactures a world for himself. Life is good or evil according to the state of mind in which we look at it, it is neither by itself.
133.Fire, by itself, is neither good nor evil. When it keeps us warm we say, “How beautiful is fire!” When it burns our fingers, we blame it. Still, in itself it is neither good nor bad. According as we use it, it produces in us the feeling of good or bad; so also is this world. It is perfect. By perfection is meant that it is perfectly fitted to meet its ends.
134.It is a privilege to help others. Do not stand on a high pedestal and take five cents in your hand and say, “Here, my poor man,” but be grateful that the poor man is there, so that by making a gift to him you are able to help yourself. It is not the receiver that is blessed, but it is the giver. Be thankful that you are allowed to exercise your power of benevolence and mercy in the world, and thus become pure and perfect. No beggar whom we have helped has ever owed a single cent to us; we
owe everything to him, because he has allowed us to exercise our charity on him. All good acts tend to make us pure and perfect. We must work and constantly do good, because it is a blessing to ourselves. That is the only way we can become perfect. We think that we have helped some man and expect him to thank us, and because he does not, unhappiness comes to us. Why should we expect anything in return for what we do? Be grateful to the man you help, think of him as God. Is it not a great privilege to be allowed to worship God by helping our fellow men? If we were really unattached, we should escape all this pain of vain expectation, and could cheerfully do good work in
the world. Never will unhappiness or misery come through work done without attachment. The world will go on with its happiness and misery through eternity.
135.First, we have to bear in mind that we are all debtors to the world and the world does not owe us anything. It is a great privilege for all of us to be allowed to do anything for the world. In helping the world we really help ourselves. The second point is that there is a God in this universe. It is not true that this universe is drifting and stands in need of help from you and me. God is ever present therein, He is undying and eternally active and infinitely
watchful. When the whole universe sleeps, He sleeps not; He is working incessantly; all the changes and manifestations of the world are His. Thirdly, we ought not to hate anyone. This world will always continue to be a mixture of good and evil. Our duty is to sympathise with the weak and to love even the wrongdoer. The world is a grand moral gymnasium wherein we have all to take exercise so as to become stronger and stronger spiritually. Fourthly, we ought not to be fanatics of any kind, because fanaticism is opposed to love. And further, the calmer we are and the less disturbed our nerves, the more shall we love and the better will our work be.
136. Be pure and help any one who comes to you, as much as lies in your power. And this is good Karma. By the power of this, the heart becomes pure (Chitta-shudhi), and then Shiva who is residing in every one will become manifest.
137. You should work like a master and not as a slave; work incessantly, but not do slave’s work.
138. Pay as much attention to means as to the end.
139. Each work has to pass through these stages–ridicule, opposition, and then acceptance. Each man who thinks ahead of his time is sure to be misunderstood. So opposition and persecution are welcome, only I have to be steady and pure and must have immense faith in God, and all these will vanish.
140.Whatever you do, think well on it. All your actions will be magnified, transformed, deified, by the very power of the thought.
141.It is the level-headed man, the calm man, of good judgement and cool nerves, of great sympathy and love, who does good work and so does good to himself.
142.The more we grow in love and virtue and holiness, the more we see love and virtue and holiness outside. All condemnation of others really condemns ourselves. Adjust the microcosm and the macrocosm will adjust itself for you.
143. Competition rouses envy and it kills the kindliness of the heart. To the grumble all duties are distasteful; nothing will ever satisfy him, and his whole life is doomed to prove a failure.
144. Misery comes through attachment, not through work. As soon as we identify ourselves with the work we do, we feel miserable; but if we do not identify ourselves with it, we do not feel that misery.
145. Happiness presents itself before man, wearing the crown of sorrow on its head. He who welcomes it must also welcome sorrow.
146. Reserve unto yourself the power or detaching yourself from everything, however beloved, however much the soul might yearn for it; however great the pangs of misery you feel if you were going to leave it; still, reserve the power of leaving it whenever you want.
147. Take up one idea, make that one idea your life; think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success, and this is the way great giants are produced.
148. Do not react. Nature wants us to react, to return blow for blow, cheating for cheating, lie for lie, to hit Backwith all out might. Then it requires a super divine power not to hit back, to keep control, to be unattached.
149. Ask nothing; want nothing in return. Give what you have to give; it will come Backto you, but do not think of that now, it will come Backmultiplied a thousand fold; but the attention must not be on that. Yet have the power to give: give, and there it ends. Ask, therefore, nothing in return; but the more you give, the more will come to you. The quicker you can empty the air out of this room, the quicker it will be filled up by the external air.
150. Everybody can show what evil is, but he is the friend of mankind who finds a way out of the difficulty. Where is the man who will lend us a hand to drag us out? Where is the man who really loves us? Where is the man who has sympathy for us? That man is wanted.
151. Self-sacrifice, not self-assertion, is the law of the highest universe. The world is so evil because Jesus’ teaching, “Resist not evil,” has never been tried. Selflessness alone will solve the problem. Religion comes with intense self-sacrifice. Desire nothing for yourself. Do all for others. This is to live and move and have your being in God.
152.If in this hell of a world, one can bring a little joy and peace even for a day into the heart of a single person, that much alone is true; this I have learnt after suffering all my life; all else is mere moonshine.