Bhagavad Gita Lessons
Lesson 2: The Destination – Joyful Living
Session: 075 – 079
Mental suffering is unique to human kind. Educated people seem to suffer more due to the accumulation of many negative emotions in the mind. It can be said to be a mental malady.
Mental suffering is due to negative emotions or having a mind that is prone to negative emotions.
How the suffering sets in
Each individual has different sets of likes and dislikes. During daily transactions, his sense organs are exposed to various sense objects in the world. Depending on his likes and dislikes, he is attracted to some, avoids some and remains neutral to the rest.
He spends time contemplating about what he likes. This develops into desire. Once he has a desire he works for fulfillment of the desire.
One likes many things and therefore, there are many sets of desires. The desires pertain to professional, family and personal life. He assumes that all these desires have to be fulfilled to assure a happy life. Therefore, all his actions are directed towards the same.
This is the fundamental mistake. No object in the world can give happiness. This knowledge is missing in most human beings.
Therefore, they are continuously engaged in action trying to fulfill various desires. Although many desires are fulfilled, new desires keep coming up since even after fulfillment of the desire, there is no sense of contentment.
The life of most people follows this pattern of continuous inflow of desires and incessant action towards fulfillment of the desires.
This situation is similar to the presence of HIV virus in the body. There is no harm done by its mere presence. Only when other viruses afflict the body suffering starts.
If a person does action without thinking, there will be no problem because he will be involved in continuous action chasing an ever-growing number of desires. However, this is not possible. Thinking starts from the time the sense organ encounters a sense object. Craving for the object begins. Life will become intolerably incomplete until the desires are fulfilled. There will be anxiety (about the future) and stress (about the present). There will be expectation and hope that things will turn out in a favorable way and that people around will help. Minor provocation will bring irritation. He will become short-tempered. He will fear anything/ anyone who is potentially an obstacle to the fulfillment of his desires. Any potential obstacle will create anger. Any shortfall/ shortcoming will result in displeasure. If his colleague or neighbor is ahead of him, he will develop jealousy and animosity. There will be a tendency to take revenge against those who cause obstruction. Failure without reason will lead to frustration/ shame/ disappointment. If the failure is due to insufficient self-effort, he will have a feeling guilt. Even if the effort is successful, often the result is perceived to be insufficient and therefore there will be a sense of disappointment and disillusionment. After getting, what he wants there will be fear of losing it. If what is gained is lost, there will be grief. The efforts do not end when the desires are fulfilled. There will be more action towards protection/ maintenance/ sustenance of the objects of desire. One will feel insecure whether it is possible to grow or maintain the current status, since old age is fast approaching.
This is a mental malady and most people suffer from this misery.
As a result, of the continuous action, the likes and dislikes get stronger resulting in coloring of thoughts.
Sense organs perceive the world
Thoughts are created in our mind
Thoughts become desires
Desires lead us to act
Repeated action forms a habit
Habits set our preferences
Preferences color our thoughts
Colored thoughts give us wrong knowledge
Wrong knowledge leads to further desires
Desire leads to further action for getting the object of desire
Most people are caught in this thought–action–thought cycle and undergo the various negative emotions listed above. This is suffering. Even when people are happy, they are prone to this suffering.
This is not a healthy or desirable situation. We should find a remedy to this problem and be happy all the time. No matter what happens around us we should remain in a state of happiness. This is called Joyful Living.
Lord Krishna prescribed Karma Yoga to Arjuna as a stepping-stone to Joyful Living. Prior to commencing Karma Yoga, Arjuna wants a description of a person who has reached the destination of Joyful Living. He wants to compare himself with such a person and do a self-assessment. Lord Krishna responds to Arjuna by giving a profile of a ‘Joyous Person’ and prescribes the method to become one, in the verses 54 to 72.
Description of Joyous Person
1. He will not have any desires.
Desires can be classified as binding and non-binding.
Everyone has both types of desires. Binding desire means that which is important to be fulfilled. If it is not fulfilled, there will be sorrow and if fulfilled, there will be happiness. Fulfillment or non-fulfillment of non-binding desires does not make such difference.
Example: I desire that I get a promotion, which is already overdue. This is a binding desire since it makes a difference. I will be happy if I get the promotion and will be very unhappy if I do not.
I desire to go out for a walk in the evening. This is a non-binding desire since even if I am not able go for some reason, it does not matter to me.
A Joyous Person will not have any binding desires. It does not make much difference to him whether any or all of his desires are fulfilled or not.
2. He will always be fully contended.
Every one of us is contented whenever our desires are fulfilled.
Example: A man is contented after he won a big lottery.
Every time we feel contented, there will be a reason for the contentment. However, for the Joyous Person there will be no external reasons for his contentment. He does not need anything from the universe to feel contented.
Contentment that comes from a reason will always be short lived. When the winner of the lottery realizes that he has to pay income tax on the prize money, he is not so contented.
A Joyous Person will be always contented. He will never have a feeling of insufficiency.
3. He will remain unaffected in pleasure or in pain.
Like anyone else, he will continue to face varied situations that alternate between the pairs of opposites. However, he will face both with a balanced mind. His contentment is not affected by the environment. He will not be attached to favorable situations and he will not run away from unfavorable situations.
Example: Viruses will continue to inflict everyone. A healthy person remains healthy because he is immune to all types of viruses. Others fall sick when the same virus attacks them because they are not immune.
Similarly, a Joyful Person will be free and joyful, whatever the circumstance may be.
4. He is free of all negative emotions.
He will not fear anything nor will he get angry. (He will not have any negative emotions like worry, anxiety, jealousy, irritation, frustration, insecurity, guilt etc). This is because desire is the root cause of all these negative emotions and he does not have any binding desires.
5. He knows the difference between reality and illusion.
He knows that he is the only reality and rest of the universe (including his body and mind) is an illusion. However, while interacting with the world, he will appear to be a normal person. Therefore, it is not possible to identify a joyous person based on his words and actions.
He sees the universe as an illusion sustained by the only reality, himself. The same universe is perceived differently by an ignorant and a Joyous Person. The Joyous Person sees the universe as the expression of the reality and the ignorant sees it as reality.
Ignorant people think, “I am doing this”. A Joyous Person knows that he is not doing anything. The body and mind are part of the inert universe and individuals have no role to play in it. They are part of the illusion. People cannot do anything nor can they enjoy anything. The Ignorant assume they do.
We are part of the light and sound show. Nothing exists except me!
6. He does not have any attachment.
He will not be attached to anything because his peace, security and happiness do not depend on anything.
Explanation on attachment: This shows the mental attitude. Physical attachment will not lead to mental attachment for the Joyous Person. This does not mean a Joyous Person will not give a police complaint if there is a burglary in his house. His external response will be like any other person but mentally he will not be attached to his possessions.
7. He possesses and enjoys sense pleasures but does not depend on them.
He may possess and enjoy unlimited money, wealth, name, fame, power, position, property etc but will not have any attachment to any of them. He may continue to work for earning more wealth and appear to be a person serious in material pursuit. However, he remains unaffected if all his efforts fail, since he does not depend on the external world for his happiness.
8. He loves everyone and hates no one.
He will not blame anyone nor will he praise anyone. He will not have any expectation from anyone.
He will not show sympathy to anyone nor will he condemn anyone.
He understands that the attitude of anyone will depend on the knowledge one has. Knowledge comes through effective use of intelligence. Not everyone is capable of acquiring enough knowledge to discriminate the reality from the falsehood. As a result, everyone functions according to his limited vision. Therefore, there is no point in condemning anyone.
9. All his five sense organs will be under his control.
The sense organs of a Joyous Person will also have preferences. However, he is their master. A tortoise is able to withdraw its five body parts into the shell at will when it is about to meet an enemy. Similarly, a Joyous Person has the ability to withdraw his sense organs from the external world whenever it is warranted.
For ordinary people this is not the case. For them the sense organs are more powerful. Sense objects in the world have the power to attract their sense organs. As a result, they will indulge in sense pleasures uncontrollably.
The difference between a Joyous Person and others in this respect is the knowledge about the worldly objects (including other living beings). Objects do not have the power to give happiness to anyone. A joyous person is aware of this. He is not dependent on the external universe for his happiness.
10. He has a steady mind.
His intelligence will be in control of the mind all the time and his mind will always be in control of the five senses. However, an external observer cannot identify a Joyous Person based on his transactions with the world.
A Joyous Person is capable of withdrawing his sense organs away from sense objects at will. However, while he is involved in regular worldly transactions, he might have to use the sense organs and as result, the sense organs gain undesirable input. Even if this happens, the Joyous Person is not adversely affected, since his intelligence has complete control over his mind. As a result, he remains steady in his knowledge.
Example: A Joyous Person may not read the newspaper. Therefore, he is protected from unwanted news about the world. (This is the case of withdrawing the sense organs like a tortoise)
However, if he has to read the newspaper for some reason, he gets to read about unwanted news and advertisements for sense pleasures. Since, his intelligence is strong enough he is not driven towards them.
This information may trigger a train of thoughts in his mind making it oscillate. Such a train of thoughts will not be labeled as ‘anxiety’, ‘worry’ and such negative emotion since he is aware that the nature of the mind is to oscillate depending on the inputs received through the sense organs.
He will get involved in the worldly transactions to the extent warranted by his non-binding desires. When transactions gain power to distract him from his firm knowledge, he has the capability to withdraw from the transactions. He will reenter after he regains control.
Example: An expert singer may not listen to the tambura continuously while singing. However, if he has a doubt he will lean back, listen, and regain control and confidence.
Thus, the Joyous Person will continuously immerse in the knowledge that the world is an illusion even if he does transactions in it. He has control over his sense organs and his mind so that he is not carried away into giving reality to the world.
Example: A yacht may be powered by the wind to move forward. However when the wind becomes heavy, it has the capability to drown the boat. By rolling down the sail at the appropriate time, a skillful sailor keeps the boat going whether the wind is strong or weak.
Thus, a Joyous Person is capable of functioning well in the illusory world knowing it to be illusory and is not adversely affected by it. It is like being in a dream and knowing it to be the dream. We get to enjoy the dream whether the dream is good or bad. Similarly, the Joyous Person functions in the world and enjoys it all the time, whether the events around him are good or bad.
His mind will be always be steady and will be able to see with clarity without being clouded by any emotions. Since attachment alone can cripple the intelligence, he is free from negative emotions.
His intelligence has complete control of the mind and the mind has complete control of the sense organs.
11. He lives at ease.
One may attempt (with great difficulty) to gain control over mind and sense organs as a preparation to become a Joyous Person. However, for a Joyous Person, it does not require any effort to control his mind and sense organs. He can do these tasks with ease.
Example: During the initial period after learning to drive, the driver pays lots of attention to his driving. When expertise in driving is gained, no special attention is required for driving.
Controlling the mind and sense organs will come naturally for a Joyous Person. For a person working towards Karma Yoga, there might be desires in the mind but he will restrict his sense organs due to sheer control. For a joyous person it does not take any effort to control the sense organs since there are no binding desires in his mind.
Sense organs are very powerful and alive like wild horses pulling the chariot. It will be difficult to control them and safeguard the mind so that it can be used to understand the unreality of the world. For a Karma Yogi, during the initial stages it takes quite an effort to restrain his sense organs from the sense objects.
Example: ‘Do not read this board’ will attract many eyes to read what is written below.
A Karma Yogi may be able to control his eyes and may not read what is written on the board. However, his mind will continue to wonder what was written. For a Joyous Person, there will be no curiosity or interest in anything. He may ignore the board without any effort.
If the Karma Yogi reads the board, the contents may haunt him for a longer duration. If the Joyous Person had to read the board, the contents will not affect him because he knows even the board is part of the illusion.
12. He is totally independent and free from the world.
Nothing in the universe will affect him. He does not bother about the happenings in the world because it does not make any sense to him. However, in the process of fulfilling his non-binding desires, he may get himself involved in varied transactions in the world requiring contact between his sense organs and the external sense objects. He voluntarily keeps them to the minimum, because anything in excess will create an unwanted flutter in the mind.
Example: Children enjoy fireworks. It gives them great thrill to light a rocket or a cracker. There is a risk of getting hurt. The children take the risk because the joy surpasses the risk. For an adult, fireworks may not be as enjoyable. However, when an adult has to give company to children, he may light the crackers for them. He is doing it for the sake of the children.
Similarly, a Joyous Person involves in the worldly transactions for the sake of others. In the process, he may not be tempted to indulge in sense pleasures. However, just as an adult will not beg for crackers, a Joyous Person will not entertain any hope for fulfillment of any sense pleasures. If it happens, it happens. There are no expectations or hopes in the lives of a Joyous Person.
13. He is fully secure all the time.
He possesses his mind and it does not matter to him whether the whole world is against him. For others, even if they possess the whole world, since they do not have complete control over their own mind, they will invariably suffer in life.
14. He will be happy with himself.
For him, even the body-mind complex is a luxury. He enjoys every minute of life because he knows the value of the physical body. Others do not differentiate themselves from their body/mind complex. Consequently, they look for external stimuli for their entertainment.
15. He will be objective in all his transactions.
He will play all the roles properly. He does not have any hidden agenda in his actions. A flute allows the air to pass through creating wonderful music. Similarly, a joyous person allows the will of god to function through him without any resistance resulting in Joyful Living.
The personality (active or passive, introvert or extrovert) of a Joyous Person also will vary like that of ordinary people. He may or may not be very active in life depending on his nature. He will continue to encounter events in life alternating between the pairs of opposites like pleasure and pain. However, he remains joyful all the time.
Chapter 2: Wisdom is the solution
Verses: 54 – 72
2.54 Arjuna asked: Oh Krishna, what is the description of a wise person who is established in Self-Knowledge? How does he speak, and what is his language? How does he sit, and how does he walk?
2.55 Lord Krishna answered: Oh Arjuna, satisfied in himself by himself, when a man gives up all the activities arising out of desire in the mind, then he is said to be a man of firm knowledge.
2.56 One who is free from craving amidst pleasures, who is unperturbed in troubles and who is free from attachment, fear and anger, is called a sage of firm knowledge.
2.57 He who is without attachment, who does not rejoice in favorable situations nor does he repents in unfavorable situations, is firmly fixed in perfect knowledge.
2.58 One who is able to withdraw his senses from sense objects, as the tortoise draws its limbs within the shell, is to be understood as truly situated in knowledge.
2.59 He does not depend on sense enjoyment, though the taste for sense objects remains. Even such engagements drop off for he is fixed in consciousness.
2.60 The senses are so strong and impulsive, Oh Arjuna, that they forcibly carry away the mind even of a man of discrimination who is endeavoring to control them.
2.61 He who restrains his senses and fixes his mind upon consciousness is known as a man of steady intelligence.
2.62 For a person who dwells on the sense-objects, an attachment towards them arises and from such attachment desire develops, and from desire anger arises.
2.63 From anger, delusion arises, and from delusion, intelligence is lost, and when intelligence is lost, the discrimination is lost and when discrimination is lost he perishes.
2.64 One who can control his senses while moving amidst unavoidable sense-objects and who is free from likes and dislikes, enjoys tranquility.
2.65 In tranquility, the destruction of all miseries takes place. Verily, the self-knowledge of this serene minded person becomes firm soon.
2.66 For one who has neither a controlled mind nor steady knowledge, there is no possibility of peace. And how can there be any happiness without peace?
2.67 As a boat on the water is swept away by a strong wind, the mind which follows the wandering sense organs can carry away a man's wisdom.
2.68 Therefore, Oh Arjuna, one whose senses are restrained from their objects is certainly a man of steady intelligence.
2.69 The wise one is awake to the Atman, which is night for all beings and all the beings are awake to the world, which is night for the wise.
2.70 He is not disturbed by the incessant flow of sense objects just as the ever-filled calm ocean remains unaffected by the flow of rivers. He achieves peace, not the seeker of sense objects.
2.71 He who has given up all desires and who has given up all sense of ownership to the sense objects and functions without the notion of “I” and “mine” enjoys peace.
2.72 Oh Arjuna, this is the way of the person established in self-knowledge. Having attained this, he is not deluded. Being established thus, even at the time of death, he attains oneness with Brahman.
Unit 07: Introduction to Karma Yoga
Number of Sessions: 12
(081 – 092)
Number of Lessons: 6
Verses: 3.01 to 3.08
On completion of this unit, the student will be able to
(a) Understand the purpose of the four lifestyles
(b) Understand the nature and importance of action.
(c) Make informed decisions on his career/ profession.
1. What is the hallmark of a good student and a good teacher?
2. What are the four lifestyles prescribed in the Vedas?
3. Which lifestyle will enable a person to reach the goal of Joyful Living?
4. What are the two milestones prescribed in the Vedas to reach the goal?
5. Why do we do actions?
6. What is the relationship between thoughts and actions?
7. What are the two ways in which one can prevent the influence of our desires on our thoughts and actions? Which way is superior?
8. What are the two criterion by which one can decide on his chosen profession?
9. What are the four professions prescribed in the Vedas?
10. What are the four combinations of Aura, Energy and Matter that decides the broad grouping of the four professions?
Lesson 1: Good student
Spirituality is not a matter of blind belief. One has to have faith in the teaching of the master to gain knowledge about our self, the world and God. If the teaching is not clear, one should attribute it to one’s own inadequate intelligence and should not doubt the knowledge of the teacher.
In the previous chapter, Lord Krishna gave the essence of the four Vedas. Arjuna sees a contradiction in the teaching and attributes the contradiction to his own inadequate intelligence. He then seeks clarification from Lord Krishna in the first and second verses of the Chapter 3.
The hallmark of a good student is to have complete faith in the teacher. He can ask questions only when the teaching is complete. Secondly, he should not question the teaching but convey his inability to comprehend the teaching. This is highlighted by the request by Arjuna, “I am confused. Tell me what to do”.
Teaching 26: Faith should replace belief to facilitate knowledge
The hallmark of a good teacher is not to tell what to do. Lord Krishna could have told Arjuna to start fighting without explaining the reasons for his suggestion. However, if he had done that, Arjuna would have fought because it was Lord Krishna’s suggestion and not because his intelligence was convinced. Willpower without the support of the intelligence may not sustain for long. All our actions should be fully rooted in our own knowledge. Lord Krishna gives all relevant teachings and allows Arjuna to take an informed decision at the end.
Chapter 3: Karma Yoga
Verses: 01 – 02
3.1 Arjuna asked, Oh Krishna, why do you urge me to engage in this ghastly warfare, if you consider Self-Knowledge superior to action?
3.2 My intelligence is bewildered by your teaching. Therefore, please tell me decisively what is most beneficial for me.
Lesson 2: Four Lifestyles
Every new product comes with a User Manual. The information in the User Manual helps the user to gain the maximum benefit from the product. The User Manual of the universe is the Vedas and if we follow the guidelines provided therein, we can live happily all the time.
The Vedas prescribe four different life styles.
Student Lifestyle: In the first stage of life, one should follow this lifestyle so that learning is facilitated. The focus of this stage is education.
Professional Lifestyle: In the second stage, one should enter the professional lifestyle and start earning money. One can marry and raise a family in this stage. The focus of this stage is material pursuit.
Retired Lifestyle: In the third stage, one should slowly withdraw from active life after properly handing over the responsibilities to the next generation. The focus of this stage is to switch over from material pursuit to spiritual pursuit.
Spiritual Lifestyle: In the final stage, one should develop devotion and pursue spiritual goals. Professional lifestyle should be fully abandoned. The focus of this stage is spiritual pursuit.
Teaching 27: Understand the role of four lifestyles
It should be noted that the Vedas prescribe these lifestyles as a broad outline and they are optional. One can choose to follow any lifestyle according to one’s own likes and dislikes. However, once chosen, one should follow the rules that are prescribed for the lifestyle. For example, a student should not earn money.
Out of these four, the first (Student Lifestyle) is a preparation for the second (Professional Lifestyle) and the third (Retired Lifestyle) is a preparation for the fourth (Spiritual Lifestyle). The two primary lifestyles are the Professional Lifestyle and the Spiritual Lifestyle, which are conducive to material and spiritual pursuit respectively. Depending on our needs and preferences, one has to choose a lifestyle and this part is discussed in the next lesson.
It is possible to reach the destination of Joyful Living through any one of these two primary lifestyles.
Chapter 3: Karma Yoga
3.3 Lord Krishna answered, Oh Arjuna, in the beginning of the creation I have initiated twofold discipline for humankind. One is Professional Lifestyle to be followed by householders and the other is Spiritual Lifestyle suitable for monks.
Lesson 3: Milestones and Actions
Session: 083 – 084
All human beings are suffering from the disease called ignorance. Although they are aware that they exist, they are not aware who they really are. This ignorance is the root cause of all suffering. The only way to remove this ignorance is to gain self-knowledge. This knowledge can be gained only when the mind is prepared to receive the teaching. Therefore, preparing the mind is the first milestone and receiving the self-knowledge is the second. Once both these milestones are crossed, the suffering will stop resulting in Joyful Living.
Milestone 1: To prepare the mind
Without systematic teaching, we are living life with wrong knowledge about ourselves. Our mind should be cleansed of the wrong knowledge prior to gaining self-knowledge. After such purification, the mind is mature enough to receive the teaching on self-knowledge.
The only way to purify the mind is to do Karma Yoga. The Active Dharma prescribed in the Vedas gives the guidelines for doing Karma Yoga. The Professional Lifestyle is conducive to the practice of Karma Yoga leading to a mature mind.
Milestone 2: To learn about the self (gain self-knowledge)
Once the mind is ready to receive the knowledge, one should withdraw from Active Dharma and commence the practice of Passive Dharma prescribed in the Vedanta. Action in the popular sense of earning money is to be abandoned so that the series of steps involved in the process of gaining self-knowledge can be followed. The Spiritual Lifestyle is conducive to this process.
Example: To remove hunger we need to do two distinct actions. Cooking and eating. It is not possible to eat food without preparing the same. Activities for preparation of food will not solve the problem of hunger. Only after completing the first act of preparation we can move on to the next.
Similarly, getting a mature mind (cooking) and gaining knowledge (eating) are two distinct milestones involved in removing ignorance. Thus to live joyfully, one should strive to complete these two milestones as soon as possible.
The time and effort spent in the pursuit of these two milestones determine the success or failure in reaching the destination. The two life styles (Professional and Spiritual) are prescribed as an optional support mechanism.
The milestones cannot be reached by merely adapting to a particular lifestyle. Lifestyle is purely incidental and optional. Only the efforts in practicing Karma Yoga and Learning Self-Knowledge will enable us to reach the objective. It does not matter which lifestyle is chosen by the practitioner. It is possible to gain self-knowledge without entering into a Spiritual Lifestyle. Likewise, it is possible to gain a mature mind without going through the Professional Lifestyle.
Necessity of the two practices
Both the practices of getting maturity of mind and gaining self-knowledge are essential to reach the ultimate goal of Joyful Living. These practices are not optional and one has to perform extremely well in both the practices to reach the destination.
It is important that one converts Karma into Karma Yoga to make the mind mature enough to gain self-knowledge. Once Karma Yoga practice is commenced one can pursue the gaining of Self-Knowledge as well. However, one has to complete both practices completely to live life joyfully.
Both practices require lots of thinking, planning and action. However, in the case of Karma Yoga, there is more action dealing with external objects and such actions are to be performed in line with the prescription of Active Dharma. In the case of gaining Self-Knowledge, the action is restricted to learning from a teacher, reflection on the teaching and meditating on the knowledge. This is to be guided by the Passive Dharma as detailed in the Vedanta. Professional Lifestyle will facilitate Active Dharma and Spiritual Lifestyle will facilitate Passive Dharma. However, the lifestyles are optional.
Arjuna is confused and he thinks that by abandoning the Professional Lifestyle and adapting Spiritual Lifestyle, he can progress towards Joyful Living. This is a wrong but popular misconception.
Example: A student cannot move forward to post graduation until he completes graduation. Abandoning the college mid-way will make post graduation more difficult.
Similarly, unless one earns mental maturity through Karma Yoga, one cannot advance to gaining Self-Knowledge. However, one has an option to complete the course either by attending the regular college or through correspondence course. Similarly, one can practice Karma Yoga without following a Professional Life. It will be more difficult compared to attending regular college.
The appropriate practice for an individual is based on his current qualification. Arjuna asked Lord Krishna to suggest the appropriate path for him. Since Arjuna does not have the required qualification of mental maturity, the appropriate practice for him is to do Karma Yoga.
Therefore, Lord Krishna advices Arjuna to fight. If he does his duty as Karma Yoga, he will qualify himself for the next milestone of gaining Self-Knowledge. If Arjuna abandons his duty since he does not want to kill his elders, he will not gain mental maturity and he will not be able to move forward towards Joyful Living.
Teaching 28: Action, not inaction, leads us to Joyful Living
Nothing can be achieved through inaction. One must continue to act until one reaches the stage of seeing inaction in action.
It is important that one acquires a mature mind through intense action (Karma Yoga) prior to commencing the journey in the Passive Dharma phase. Without a mature mind, studying Vedanta will inflate the ego, instead of destroying it.
Chapter 3: Karma Yoga
3.4 Not by merely abstaining from work can one achieve liberation, nor by renunciation alone can one attain liberation.
Lesson 4: Action and Inaction
Session: 085 – 087
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
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.
Lesson 5: Thought and Action
Session: 088 – 089
It is essential that our thoughts, words and action be aligned all the time.
Example: A mother tells her son to stop playing cricket and start studying.
Although the son obeys the instruction and start reading the textbook, his mind continues to dwell on cricket. Unless the importance of studying for the exam sinks in the mind, he will not be able to study effectively.
Thoughts, words and action are interconnected. One will lead to another. Thought is the seed for what we talk, what we hear and what we do. All our actions originate from our thoughts. Interestingly, all our thoughts come from our actions. Thus, thoughts and actions are tightly linked to each other and one causes the other cyclically.
Teaching 31: All our thoughts are born out of our actions
We have no choice in what we think. Thoughts come to us and we do not think. What thoughts come to us depend on our preferences. Our actions determine our preferences.
Example: A youth listens to Jazz music and an older person listens to Carnatic music.
The choice of music depends on the company they keep, the words they speak and the words they listen.
If there is an attempt to break the thoughts-words-action-thoughts cycle, it will create lots of discomfort. Since thoughts are not controllable, if someone attempts to break the cycle, his own thoughts will not let him be at peace.
Example: A smoker says, “I know it is injurious to health, but I cannot stop smoking”.
This is so, because his past actions have made his preferences stronger. The thought of cigarette is bound to come and he involuntarily starts smoking. Thus, every one of us is forced into action through our own preferences.
Those who take up Spiritual Lifestyle, attempt to break this thought-action cycle through willful restraint of the sense organs. When the sense organs are exposed to the sense objects, thoughts are created. By shutting down the sense organs, slowly the power of the thoughts is reduced. However, this is not possible for those who are leading a Professional Lifestyle. They will not be able to carry out their regular work without exposing the sense organs to the sense objects.
Another way to control the thoughts is to control the mind not to run behind the sense organs. This option is suitable for those in the Professional Lifestyle. However, this is very difficult to achieve. Unless one understands the limitations of sense pleasures, it will be an impossible task to pull the mind away from the sense pleasures. If one is successful, his thoughts will not push him into actions.
Thus either by controlling the sense organs or by controlling the mind, one can prevent the influence of our desires in our thoughts and actions. Between these two ways, the second one of controlling the mind is better, since it allows an individual to do his daily chores without any limitation.
Example: Ensuring appropriate action to improve the quality of inferior raw material is better than stopping procurement. In this way, whatever be the quality of the input we can maintain the standard quality of our outputs.
Similarly, if one can control his mind not to get carried away by the sense pleasures, thoughts and actions will become pure.
Without this self-control, most often people lead double life. In public, they behave in a restrained manner while internally they are still attracted by sense pleasures. This is an unhealthy practice. It will not help the individual progress in the spiritual path.
The right way is to understand the limitation of the sense objects and thereby lose the attachment to them. This can come only through the practice of Karma Yoga. If one reaches this stage, physically one may still enjoy the sense pleasures but mentally be free from any attachment.
It does not matter whether one possesses and enjoys the sense objects as long as there is no mental attachment. Without coming through this proper route, if one suddenly abandons his action, he will not be peaceful.
The practice of Karma Yoga slowly relieves us from our binding of our preferences. When we are completely relieved from our own likes and dislikes, we will not have any binding desires. In that stage, we can maintain inaction in action.
Teaching 32: Mind control is better than avoiding the sense objects
Chapter 3: Karma Yoga
Verses: 6 – 7
3.6 One who restrains the senses and organs of action, but whose mind dwells on sense objects, certainly is deluded and is called a hypocrite.
3.7 On the other hand, after restraining the senses by the mind, if one engages in action, without attachment, it is by far superior, Oh Arjuna.
Lesson 6: Prescribed Duty / Chosen Profession
Session: 090 – 091
Human beings are different from each other. Their attitude, aptitude, skill, capabilities and personality vary widely. All of them are engaged in some action or the other all the time.
The type of action that is appropriate for each individual is called his Prescribed Duty. It can either be allocated to him by the society or be chosen voluntarily by the concerned individual. In the later case, it is called Chosen Profession. In either case, once the duty is assumed, it becomes the primary responsibility. One should do his best all the time in the Prescribed Duty/ Chosen Profession.
Teaching 33: Everyone should be engaged in a Chosen Profession
People who are less intelligent resort to Prescribed Duty without a conscious decision to do so.
Example: A cobbler is carrying on his profession because he is trained in the same profession since his childhood. He does not know any other trade and therefore, he continues to be a cobbler. It is his chosen profession/prescribed duty.
However, when people grow intellectually they develop capabilities to do multiple jobs. In which case, it might be difficult to identify the Prescribed Duty. Following are the criteria, which will be of help in identifying the Prescribed Duty.
Criterion 1: Core competence and not Likes and Dislikes
Everyone is equipped to do some tasks better than the others. This unique capability is called core competence. Depending on what one is good at, one should select his profession.
In this way, the services of everyone will be very efficient and effective.
Example: A man can hunt the animals for food more effectively than a woman can. A woman can rear the children more effectively than a man can.
The Prescribed Duty is decided based on this core competency.
It is difficult or impossible to change the core competency in one lifetime. It is possible that the core competency will be relevant in more than one profession. In such a case, one has freedom to choose any profession that is based on his core competency as his chosen profession.
Criterion 2: Natural liking
This is the most important criteria based on which one’s profession can be chosen. One should enjoy doing the job.
Example: I like this job very much because it pays lots of money. This is incorrect.
Money should not be a criterion to decide on the chosen profession. If one is willing to take up a particular job even though it pays less, it may be his prescribed duty.
One should enjoy doing the job all the time. If someone is doing his prescribed duty, he will not feel the passage of time. He should be able to work for long number of hours without getting mentally tired.
Assuming a person has all the wealth in the world still he might continue to be engaged in a particular profession. It is his chosen profession.
Chosen profession is one in which one is willing to work even if there are many hurdles to it.
Example: I spend 3 hours commuting to work and I do not want to quit this job because I like it.
Thus, one should be willing to take additional trouble for the sake of being in the chosen profession.
Criterion 3: Required skills and capabilities
It is not enough if one likes the job. One should be qualified to do the job at a level of performance, which is above average.
Example: I would like to be a design engineer but I do not have engineering qualifications.
In general, people get to learn more about their profession of their choice and they are bound to gain required skills and capabilities. Therefore, this particular criterion may not be a hurdle if someone actually likes the job.
Criterion 4: Chosen Profession is not based on likes and dislikes
If one likes a profession without having the required skills and capability, then it should not be taken up as a Chosen Profession. It can utmost be a hobby. Likes and dislikes will keep changing according to the environment but the natural liking and the core competency are fixed for the lifetime.
It may take some time and external guidance to distinguish between a wish and natural liking. While some know their natural liking from the young age, others take time to identify. Some may have to take up some profession and try their hands on it before deciding whether it could be their chosen profession.
Natural liking of the profession and Core competency in the profession should co-exist to make a profession as a chosen one.
Since inaction is not possible, one should try to do action in the Chosen Profession. Converting Karma into Karma Yoga is possible only if one does his Prescribed Duty/ Chosen Profession and not otherwise.
There are three distinct elements (Aura, Energy and Matter), which make up the inert objects and the ratio in which these three elements are mixed varies from person to person causing wide variations in the personalities.
Teaching 34: Three elements determine the personality of the individual
Similar to the four lifestyles, Vedas have prescribed four broad professions based on the composition of mind. Mostly people belonging to a particular family will have similar traits. However, there can be exceptions. Without considering these exceptions and in the absence of proper understanding of the scriptures, Indian society has inherited a caste system based on this recommendation.
Teaching 35: Four groups of Chosen Professions are recommended
The four groups are called Brahmin, Ksatriyas, Vaisya and Sudra. This grouping is not based on birth. It is based on ratio in which the basic three elements, AEM are composed. It may so happen that people choose a profession that is not in line with his personal nature. In such cases, there will be conflict between the nature of the person and the demand of the chosen profession. This will cause avoidable tension and confusion.
Example: A Brahmin (based on the nature) joining army will feel fish out of water.
Therefore, depending on the nature of the person, Vedas have recommended following four professions so that the demand of the profession is perceived as a natural outlet for action.
Example: Swimming is not considered to be a work for a fish.
1. Brahmins are Aura Dominant: Writing, teaching, consulting, designing and such staff functions are suitable for this group of people.
2. Ksatriyas are Energy Dominant supported by Aura: Managing, leading, controlling, organizing, delivering and such line functions are suitable for this group of people.
3. Vaisyas are Matter Dominant supported by Energy: Doing business, trading, banking and such independent professions are suitable for this group of people.
4. Sudras are Matter Dominant: Agriculture, construction and such manual labor oriented jobs are suitable for this group of people.
Once prescribed duty is chosen according to the nature of the person as suggested by Vedas, one should keep doing the duty to the best of his ability. Everyone is bound to act all the time since inaction is not possible in the creation. Such action is better to be done in the area of chosen profession so that the individual can convert his karma as Karma Yoga and proceed towards the goal of Joyful Living.
Teaching 36: Chosen Profession should be in line with the personality
Lord Krishna is asking Arjuna to fight, since fighting is his prescribed duty.
Chapter 3: Karma Yoga
3.8 Perform your prescribed duty, for action is better than inaction. A man cannot even maintain his physical body without work.
Unit 08: Analysis of Karma Yoga
Number of Sessions: 16
(93 – 108)
Number of Lessons: 8
Verses: 3.09 – 3.35
On completion of this unit, the student will be able to
(a) Appreciate the importance of the right attitude while doing work.
(b) Understand the dynamics of action
1. Which is the immune system that is naturally present in human beings?
2. Which is described as the AIDS virus?
3. What prompts the action out of mind?
4. What prompts the action out of intelligence?
5. Why action out of intelligence is superior to action out of mind?
6. What are the five guidelines suggested for action out of mind?
7. What are the five guidelines suggested for action out of intelligence?
8. What is our part in keeping the giant wheel of life moving?
9. When will we reach a stage where there are no more duties to be performed?
10. What are the four levels of people based on the dominance of Aura, Energy and Matter? What are the four attitudes recommended for them?
11. What is the only way in which our attitude can be changed?
12. How can a common person understand Dharma as prescribed in Vedas?
13. What is the purpose of existence of sense objects and why should we restrain ourselves from indulging in sense pleasures.
14. Why it is not possible to change anyone?
15. What are the two essential tools with which we can change ourselves?
Lesson 1: The prescription – Proper Action
Session: 093 – 095
The nature – Life
The universe including all the living beings is in a constant state of flex. As a part of this ever-changing phenomenon, human beings are bound to action all the time. Such endless action from birth to death is called life.
The disease – Suffering
Life oscillates between the pairs of opposites. Man appears to be happy during the positive swing and suffers during the negative swing. While suffering is obvious during bad times, it is latent during the rest of the time. There is a constant feeling of incompleteness, inadequacy, or insecurity, which dominates the life of everyone.
The diagnosis – Ignorance
The root cause of the disease is diagnosed as lack of self-knowledge. If we gain the knowledge on who we are, the ignorance will be removed. Then suffering will go and we will live joyfully.
The immune system – Intelligence
Man is endowed with intelligence to enable him to live life happily. This natural intelligence is corrupted by attachment.
The AIDS virus – Attachment
The constant action brings human beings in contact with the sense objects. The sense pleasures drive them into more action. Action breeds likes and dislikes. When the likes and dislikes become stronger, they give birth to attachment.
Attachment breaks the natural immune system (intelligence) and as a result, man can no longer discriminate between good and bad. Attachment afflicts our intelligence in such a way that we see good as bad and vice versa. As a result, we continuously suffer. This is the unhealthy state. Our natural healthy status is to enjoy life and live joyfully all the time.
Besides, since our mind is afflicted by attachment, we cannot take the medicine (self-knowledge). Even if we take the medicine, it will give harmful effects and will not cure the disease. Self-Knowledge shows us who we are. However, for a person who is deluded by attachment, it becomes another set of knowledge and his ego becomes stronger. Therefore, the AIDS is to be cured before the treatment can begin. Similarly, the mind has to mature before we can begin the lessons on Self-Knowledge.
Prevention of AIDS virus
The AIDS virus (attachment) spreads due to contact between the sense object and the sense organs. It may appear that we should abstain from sex totally in order to avoid affliction of the AIDS virus. However, it is a foolish option.
We are here to enjoy life and it is not possible to abstain from action. Besides, action is our nature and we cannot remain without action even for a moment. Therefore, inaction is not the solution. We should gain knowledge on the virus, understand how it is transmitted and take precautions to avoid it. Once we protect ourselves with appropriate condoms, we do not have to fear the virus any more.
Knowledge on the AIDS Virus (attachment)
It is natural for us to act. We come with an accumulated set of preferences (our likes and dislikes) which is the result of our past actions including actions done in the previous births. This accumulated set of preferences leads us to attachment. Therefore, we need to be cautious of our interaction with the external world.
The prescription – Proper Action
Vedas have provided the prescription to cure our disease. Inaction will not cure us. We need to do proper action.
Teaching 37: Avoid illegitimate desires and moderate legitimate desires
Proper Action is prescribed as follows
For action born out of mind prompted by our desires:
1. Avoid illegitimate desires.
2. Moderate legitimate desires
3. Convert legitimate desires as non-binding desires.
For action born out of intelligence prompted by our duties:
1. Do the duty without focusing on the results
2. Renounce all your rights
3. Complete the duties to the best of your abilities.
Teaching 38: Let the actions be born from intelligence and not from mind
If we do all our action in line with this prescription, then we will be cured of our affliction. Our mind will be free of the AIDS virus (attachment) and we will regain our discriminatory power to distinguish between the reality and the illusion. Then we will be ready to gain Self-Knowledge, which involves separating the false identity from our true self. When we come to this stage, we will be moving at a faster pace towards regaining our natural health (Joyful Living)
Action born out of mind
Mind receives information through the five senses. This information is processed through our accumulated preferences. This results in branding some of the sense objects as ‘objects of desires’. Mind drives the action organs to perform action to fulfill our desires.
Such actions are done since we enjoy doing them.
Example: We watch or play cricket match because we like the game.
It is wrongly assumed that performance of such action will fulfill our desires. On the contrary, more actions we do, stronger the desires will become. We will be driven to more such action.
We need to control the actions born out of mind as detailed below.
Action born out of mind – Avoid illegitimate desires
To avoid AIDS, it is not recommended to abstain from sex totally. However, it is dangerous to have sex with prostitutes. It is totally prohibited. Similarly, all the bad actions are prohibited in order to safeguard against attachment.
Example: We should not steal. We should not hurt others.
The complete list of bad actions is described in an earlier lesson.
Actions born out of mind – Moderate legitimate desires
We need to reduce such actions progressively. However, it is very difficult to reduce such actions. It may appear that the entire purpose of life is to be involved in pursuit of such actions. Therefore, we are allowed to indulge in action to fulfill our legitimate desires in line with the guidelines given below.
Guideline 1: Thank the god for giving us the good experience. We are allowed to enjoy our legitimate pleasures as long as we have the attitude that it is a gift from god to us and NOT the result of our own work. We should not have the attitude that the food that we eat is earned by us. We should thank god for giving us our daily food. Similarly, we can enjoy any sense pleasures as long as we acknowledge them as gifts from god to us.
Guideline 2: Share our enjoyment with others. Whenever we enjoy we should ensure that our joy is shared with everyone around us. It is recommended in Vedas that we should not cook food only for our own consumption. We should always share whatever we have with others.
Guideline 3: Pray to god to give the right mind to accept whatever be the situations in life. Instead of praying for fulfillment of our desires, we should pray for a strong mind that can withstand the non-fulfillment of the desires.
Guideline 4: Regulate the action by allocating specific time. It is natural for the mind to come up with desires and we seek to gratify such desires. We should process the desire through our intelligence and then fulfill it according to a predetermined plan. Planning should be more important than fulfillment of the desire.
Example: I feel like buying a dress, when I am shopping for my shoes.
This desire should not be fulfilled immediately. We had a plan only to buy a pair of shoes and there was no plan to buy a dress. Since we have a weak mind that cannot withstand a strong desire, we cannot control ourselves from buying the dress. However, we should regulate ourselves to do things only according to our plan. Since we saw a dress and want to buy it, we are allowed to buy it after planning for it at a later date.
It is important that we do not do things as and when desire occur. All our desires can be fulfilled only after they find a place in our pre-planned daily schedule.
Guideline 5: Follow a strict daily/weekly/ monthly schedule. We need to plan all our actions and do only things according to the plan. We are allowed to include all our desires in our schedule but they need to be part of the schedule before fulfillment.
Example: We should get up from bed at a fixed time.
It does not matter whether we get up at 5 am or at 7 am as long as it is determined by our intelligence. Our mind can have a desire to sleep late. This desire should be fulfilled only after the approval of our intelligence.
Example: Mind can appeal to the intelligence that on Sunday the regular wakeup time should be postponed.
Intelligence can accede to the request of the mind but such instances should be progressively decreased.
Thus slowly all the action born out of mind will be transferred as actions born out of intelligence.
Actions born out of intelligence
The desires for sense pleasures determine the action out of mind. We do another set of actions, which are the result of our conscious decision on what is good for us. Such decisions are born out our intelligence. All our duties also come under this fold. Depending on our chosen life style, we will have many duties. In addition, we may have many self-imposed duties.
Example: I have decided to do a correspondence course to increase the chance of promotion.
This is an example of self-imposed duty. Watching a cricket match or an entertainment show cannot be called as a self-imposed duty for obvious reasons.
Action born out of intelligence is superior to the actions born out of mind because what we like may not be good for us.
Example: It is harmful for a diabetic to eat sweets. This is an action born out of mind. We restrict the intake of our food for maintaining our weight. This is an action born out of intelligence and it is good for us.
It is permitted that the action born out of intelligence is converted as an action of desire.
Example: It is the duty of the driver to drive the car. If he develops a liking for driving, it is fine.
We should be cautious when we classify an action either as an action born out of mind or out of intelligence because the mind tends to convince the intelligence the chosen action is good. If there is a doubt on the classification, we should get the opinion of a wise person who is not biased but interested in our welfare.
Although action born out of intelligence is superior, it also has the effect of binding us. Our objective is to do our actions out of non-binding desires. To reach such a stage, we need to follow the guidelines prescribed below:
Guideline 1: Be aware that our intelligence is deluded. In general, everyone is aware of his duties. However, since the intelligence is deluded one may avoid doing the duty and in addition will justify his action saying that it is not his duty. Therefore, instead of relying on one’s own judgment on whether a particular action is our duty or not, one should listen to the elders and follow their advice.
Guideline 2: Do the duties without stressing on the rights. One person’s duty is another’s right. We assume that if we do our duty, we have a right to expect the other to perform his part of the duty. This is wrong. We should not do our duty because we are going to enjoy our rights.
Example: The person walking ahead drops her valet by mistake. It is our duty to inform her or pick the valet and return it to her. We should not expect that she would acknowledge our gesture with thanks or show us some gratitude.
We need to do our duty without expecting that others will do their part of the duty.
Guideline 3: The result of our actions will accrue to us but we will not be able to perceive it directly. God will keep accounts and ensure that we reap the result of all our actions. However, some part of the results will be immediate/ visible and the remaining part will be deferred/ invisible. We have no way to verify the calculation of the god. We need to trust in accuracy of God’s work and keep doing our duty to our maximum potential.
Guideline 4: Duties are to be performed because they are duties and for no other purposes. The universe is designed in such a way that if everyone does his duty fully and correctly, everyone will receive the due benefits.
We should do our duty because we are bound to action. There should be no other objective for doing our duty. We should not be doing our duty with the focus on our right that arises from doing our duty.
Example: I do my work well because I will be getting my promotion. If my promotion is delayed for some reason, I will not work as well as before.
It is our duty to do the work to the best of our abilities irrespective of the fact whether salary is paid or not. We can resign the job because salary is not given but we need to work sincerely until we quit the job.
If we are to work for earning salary, we will be tired by the end of the day. We will wait for the weekend or for the vacation. On the other hand, if we are to work for a higher purpose, then there will be involvement and excitement in our work. We will never be tired of doing work.
Automatically we will be working at our maximum potential. Our skills and capabilities will be sharpened as we do work with involvement.
Guideline 5: Other’s duties not our concern. We should not be concerned about others doing their duty with the exception of our subordinates. If others do not do their duty, they will face the consequence and we should mind our business. We should not question the wisdom of god if people are not punished for not doing their duty. Even if they get awards and rewards for a poor performance, it should not bother us.
If we follow these guidelines, we will get a matured mind that is capable of receiving the teaching on self-knowledge.
Additional Actions required for accelerating our progress
1. We must allocate separate time for prayer.
2. We must pray five times a day
3. We should show our gratitude to our parents, fellow human beings, society, other living beings and nature by doing something in return for all the things we have taken from them.
4. We should read books of wisdom.
5. We should perform all the religious and cultural customs handed down to us by our elders.
The giant cycle of life
We are not separate entities that are independent of the universe. Our body and mind are integral part of the universe, which is in one continuous movement (action). All our actions are part of that giant movement.
It is our Dharma to do work. Dharma is defined as that which preserves. We need to do our work well in our chosen profession. If we do not do that, it amounts to stealing.
Teaching 39: We need to do our duties all the time to keep the world going
The whole universe can be assumed to be a big wheel. Each component of the universe has a role to play. Everyone must do their duty (Dharma) to keep the universe functioning. All living beings other than human beings are doing their part without any choice. Only human beings have the will power to do or not to do their part of the duty.
We are fully dependent on the universe for food, water, air for our survival. We are allowed draw these resources provided we do our part of the duty. Without this knowledge, we exploit the nature to our advantage. The wrong assumption that we are independent of the nature makes us break the cycle. If we do our prescribed duty since it is recommended by Vedas, we will get the mental maturity to gain self-knowledge and thereby gain Joyful Living.
One is bound to suffer since it is the nature of the world to offer dualities and one will not know that he is bound. Only if we acknowledge the role of the universe in supporting our life we can hope to have the access to the medicine of Self-Knowledge.
Dharma is that which preserves. The whole universe is sustained by the practice of Dharma. We need to do our Dharma since it is our duty and as a result, it will sustain us. Giving and taking is the essence of survival. If we keep consuming without paying the price (by way of doing our duty) we will continue to suffer.
Dharma will protect us provided we protect Dharma by doing our duty.
Chapter 3: Karma Yoga
Verses: 09 – 16
3.9 This world survives by the action of everyone. Therefore, Oh Arjuna, perform your prescribed duties without any attachment and remain free from bondage.
3.10 Having created human beings in the beginning of creation, the creator said, “May you prosper by this. May this be a source of desired objects for you”
3.11 May you do your duties to nourish the gods and may the gods nourish you in turn by sustaining the world. This will ensure general prosperity for all.
3.12 Being satisfied by your performance, gods will supply all necessities to man. But he, who enjoys these gifts, without offering them in return, is certainly a thief.
3.13 The noble ones, who share their food before eating, are released from all kinds of sins. Others, who prepare food for personal sense enjoyment, verily eat only sin.
3.14 All living bodies are born out of food grains, which are born out of rains. Rains are born out of the prescribed duties performed by the living beings.
3.15 Duties for all the human beings are prescribed in the Vedas and the Vedas are directly given by God. Therefore, it should be followed eternally without expecting the results.
3.16 Oh Arjuna, a man who does not follow these prescribed duties, which are initiated by God in this manner leads a life of sin. He, who lives for the senses, lives in vain.