|Vedanta Spiritual Library|
Unit - 11
Lesson - 1105: Transcending Action and Inaction
By Raja Subramaniyan
If the student does not know, it is easier for the teacher to teach. However, if the student has wrong understanding, it is difficult to give the right knowledge since the wrong understanding prevents one from seeing the right knowledge.
Example: While traveling in a bus, the son tells his father, 'see the trees are coming towards us and going in the opposite direction'. If the father answers, 'trees do not move', the son will ignore the 'moving trees' and try to look for 'non-moving trees' that are seen by his father. Therefore, the father has to say, 'the moving trees that you see do not move'.
Similarly, we are aware that we do all our action. It is a wrong understanding. If we are taught that Atman is action less, we will misunderstand that Atman is different from us. Therefore, it has to be taught, 'in action we have to see the inaction, since in reality we do not do any action, just as trees do not move'.
There are only two substances. One is the consciousness and the other is inert objects. Consciousness never does any action. Inert objects (including our body/ mind complex) can never remain without action. Therefore, even if we think that we are keeping quite without any action, we need to see action in it.
Example: While watching a moving ship from the shore, the son tells his father, 'see the ship is standing in the same place'. In order to give the right understanding to the son, the father has to say, "The non-moving ship is moving".
Thus, we need to understand that the entire creation is made up of Aura, Matter and Energy. It will be in constant motion and there is no resting period. The apparent inaction observed by us is a wrong understanding. It is not possible to keep the mind thoughtless for a long time. It is not possible for the body to be without movement. For example, the blood is circulating continuously. All inert objects are made up of atoms in which the electrons are in continuous motion. Planets are going around the sun. Galaxies are moving. Universe is expanding.
Thus, we can never remain without doing action but in reality, we do not do any action.
Teaching 64: You can do any action if you know that you do not act
The process of transcending action and inaction
Atman does not do any action ever. Therefore, it does not have to stop doing action.
Body/mind is always in action. It is not possible for it to stop doing action.
We need to understand how Lord Krishna did something and did not do it at the same time. Then we transcend action and inaction and merge with God since we also do not do any action although we are in action all the time.
Benefit of transcending action and inaction
Normally, people wait for the mind to become peaceful without any thoughts so that they can enjoy the quietude. This is just not possible.
One should understand this truth so that one does not wait eternally for peaceful life. After gaining this knowledge there will not be any guilty feeling with respect to past actions. There will not be any anxiety about the current and future actions.
Characteristics of a person who has transcended action and inaction
One who has crossed all the four grades and reached the final grade (Grade 5: Independence), live joyfully. He has the following characteristics.
1. Desireless and purposeless actions.
His knowledge has burnt all his desires and purposes in life. He does not desire anything from the world for happiness since he is complete in himself. Therefore, his actions are not for fulfilling any desires. His actions are prompted by his accumulated preferences and can be considered as the action of God, since he has nothing to achieve by doing the action. He will continue to be busy in doing what he likes to do. His actions may or may not appear to be 'useful' in the eyes of ignorant people. Only another person who is also wise can see and understand his wisdom.
2. He is independent
He has reached the goal. There is nothing in the creation that can attract his attention. He is ever content. He looks upon his body and mind as a luxury. Mere existence is celebration for him.
He may be highly active or be passive withdrawn from the world. The quantum of action done by him is of no significance and does not reflect on his status in anyway.
His actions do not bind him and make him attached to the fruits of action. For some reason if there is an obstacle for him to do his work, he will not mind to abandon his work.
3. He does not see the duality.
For him there is only one reality, which is himself (Atman). Life is just as a dream for him. He sees God in everything and in everyone. Therefore, the pairs of opposites do not affect him anymore. However, he is aware that the people with whom he is dealing with do not know that life is a dream. Therefore, he will always be tender and kind to others. He will help everyone and will not hurt anyone.
4. His actions do not bind.
Since action is done by him without any sense of doership, he is not bound by the results of the action.
Chapter 4: Source of knowledge Verses: [16 - 23]
4.16 Even the intelligent are bewildered in determining what action is and what inaction is. Now I shall explain to you what action is, knowing which you shall be liberated from the eternal cycle of pleasure and pain.
4.17 The intricacies of action are very hard to understand. Therefore, one should know properly what action is, what forbidden action is, and what inaction is.
4.18 One who sees inaction in action, and action in inaction is wise among men. He is not bound by action, although engaged in all sorts of activities.
4.19 One whose actions are devoid of desire is in full knowledge. He is said by sages to be a wise person whose actions are burned up by the fire of perfect knowledge.
4.20 Abandoning all attachment to the results of his activities, remaining ever satisfied and independent, he never performs any action, although engaged in all kinds of actions.
4.21 Such a man of understanding acts with control over the mind and sense organs gives up all sense of proprietorship over his possessions and acts only for the bare necessities of life. Thus working, he is not affected by sinful reactions.
4.22 He who is satisfied with gain which comes of its own accord, who is free from duality and does not envy, who is steady both in success and failure, is never entangled, although performing actions.
4.23 The entire action of the one whose mind is established in knowledge, who is free from attachment, who is independent, merges with the total action of the creation.
4.24 Brahman is the oblation. Brahman is the clarified butter constituting the offerings. By Brahman is the oblation poured into the fire of Brahman. Brahman verily shall be reached by him who always sees Brahman in all actions.