|Vedanta Spiritual Library|
Unit - 07
Lesson - 0704: Action and Inaction
By Raja Subramaniyan
Animals and uneducated tribal people are part of the nature. Only educated people assume that they are independent of the nature and they try to play 'god' by controlling or modifying the nature. It is not wrong to modify the nature. Even animals and uneducated tribal people do that by playing their part. The mistake on the part of the educated people is to think that they are independent and different from the world.
Ego, the sense of 'I', is imaginary and it does not exist. We are part of the nature just as plants, stone and sea. The universe consists of two parts. One is consciousness and the other is inanimate/inert part. While the consciousness is changeless, the other part is always changing. Inaction is the nature of consciousness and action is the nature of the inert part.
All that can be perceived by our five senses are made up of matter. Matter is energy. At the atomic level, there is constant action. It is impossible for anything in the universe to remain in the absolute state of inaction.
The entire universe, including all the living beings, is uncontrollably plunged into action all the time. It is not possible for anyone to be inactive at all. However, educated people who have the sense of ego assume that few of their millions of actions as their own action. Scientifically people talk about 'voluntary actions' and 'involuntary actions'. Lord Krishna says that even the so-called 'voluntary actions' are also not really voluntary.
Teaching 29: All human beings are helplessly bound to action
All of us are doing some action or other apparently for a purpose. The purpose is imaginary. The real reason is that we are bound to action. We are not aware of this fact but ignorantly assume that we do action voluntarily to achieve a specific purpose.
If we are to reduce all human actions to the basic minimum, one has to get food to eat. However, generally it is not known that people eat food for getting more food. There is no other reason. People erroneously believe that they eat in order to live life. The fact is, because we live, we eat.
Teaching 30: No external force is acting on human beings
We are continuously pushed towards action not through any external force but through our own accumulated preferences. All of us have many likes and dislikes and we get into action to gain what we like and avoid what we do not like.
If we are to decide not to do any action, our own mind will hurt us and will not be allow us to be peaceful. Every action will involve both positive and negative aspects. If the negative aspects overwhelm the positive actions, we may hesitate to perform the action. However, it is our duty to act whether we like it or not.
According to the Active Dharma, we have to do our duties. We need to do them irrespective of our likes and dislikes. Only then, we will be doing Karma Yoga and it will enable us to progress towards our goal of Joyful Living.
Inaction in action
All other living beings are performing many actions just as human beings. However, they are not conscious that they are doing the action. A flower does not give out fragrance with a sense of satisfaction, "I am giving fragrance" nor does a bee collect honey with a feeling, "I am doing work for my family". All of them just act without any ego. This is inaction in action.
Inaction is not the result of abstaining from action. It is the result of doing our action according to our nature without any ego, 'I am doing this'. Unless one completes the process of gaining Self-Knowledge and reaches the destination of Joyful Living, it is not possible to function like this. Therefore, inaction out of ignorance is to be avoided. One has to take up action until the mind is matured enough to understand that there is inaction in all our action.
Example: There is complete inaction in the center of a cyclone. However, in order to reach there one has to go through vigorous action.
If we are to resort to inaction out of ignorance, it will lead us to sorrow. We will have the guilty feeling of not doing our duty. It is impossible to keep our mind in quietude by abandoning our duty.
Example: An employee did not go to work without prior intimation to the superiors. He cannot remain in peace until he resumes his work.
Our own mind will prick us if we abandon our duty. Therefore, we should do our work all the time as Karma Yoga and reach our destination of Joyful Living. Once we reach that stage, we will know that our real identity is Atman and Atman always remain in a state of inaction.
Action is only in the realm of our body/mind complex and it is the nature of body/mind complex to be in action all the time.
Chapter 3: Karma Yoga [Verse: 5]
3.5 Indeed, no one can ever remain without action even for a moment, because everyone is helplessly made to do action according to the impressions, born of the three modes of nature.