Work Is Worship
Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami , 2004-04-02
Bodhinatha spoke today on the concept of "work is worship" in the Hindu religion. He recounted how many visitors have told him "We are so busy, Swami, we just don't have any time for spiritual things." That is a Western concept, he noted, that our life is separate from our spiritual progress. In Hinduism, work is worship. We learn to control the mind, to concentrate, by doing the things of life, by our study and our projects. Then those skills can be used in meditation. Willpower is also developed through doing things in life, by the challenges that come, the obstacles we overcome.
Good Morning, everyone! We have Sadhunathan with us this morning. Vanakkam, Welcome!
Working on a possible Publishers Desk on 'Work is Worship', based on the talk given at the Bangalore work site, which was an appropriate title since it is a work site. What inspired me to give the talk was a theme was becoming apparent among visitors and pilgrims here, whom I meet with in the Guru Peedam. A number of times I heard the same story which is, "We are so busy, our life is so filled with activity, that between our professional jobs and taking care of our family and all, we don't have any time left for spiritual practices. We really regret that but there is just so little time we have available to do something spiritual."
Of course that is the opposite of work is worship. That is work is not worship, right?
Looking at our normal activities in life, our job, taking care of our children, raising them, getting them through school and so forth. Looking at those as if having nothing to do with worship. Having no religious component at all, that is not the right Hindu point of view.
So this talk goes through a number of points as to why work is worship and I wanted to read one point here today, which is actually the last point.
Final idea on work is worship, has to do with how the skills we develop in our outer life are useful in our inner life as well.
For example, if we develop a habit of good concentration in our school studies as a youth and carry this on in our adult life by being totally focused on the tasks we do at work, we have developed a very strong ability to concentrate. Therefore when we sit down to meditate our thoughts are naturally concentrated and it is easy to control the mind.
However, if as a child we let our mind wander during our studies and as an adult daydream a lot while working and we sit down to meditate, it will be impossible to control our thoughts.
The point is obvious, right? When you developed a skill, Gurudeva liked to call that external concentration. Concentrating on something that is outside of us. We learn to concentrate by school, by work, by raising our children, by keeping our mind on what we are doing. We develop the ability of concentration and that ability is there when we try and meditate and turn within. We can actually control the mind because we have been controlling the mind our whole life. We control it all day long.
The two are quite related, as we can see.
Another important ability we develop in our work is willpower. Willpower is the strength of will to carry out one's decision, wishes or plans. People who regularly make plans and fail to carry them out lack willpower.
For example, a student often plans to get up early to study for his test but always when the time comes, decides to continue sleeping instead.
Willpower can be cultivated by finishing and doing well every task that we undertake. In fact, done a little better than our expectations.
That is a twofold guideline for willpower.
First, finish each task. Second, do it well.
Nothing is done with half a mind thinking about something else. Nothing is dropped in the middle. Developing these two important habits produces an indomitable willpower. A strong willpower can be turned within and help us immensely in our inner pursuit, such as meditation. But first it must be developed externally.
It is also helpful in being able in general to better control the instinctive and intellectual mind. Gurudeva has an insightful comment on willpower, "The more you use your willpower, the more willpower you have."
That is interesting, usually when you use something you have less. If you use it, it is gone. But in this case if you use it, you got more. Pretty interesting point. It is like a muscle, by using the muscle you create a stronger muscle. So willpower is just like that. By using our willpower we create a stronger willpower.
And there is a final quote from Paramaguru Yogaswami, "You are going out to work, you must dress well and look dignified. Everything should be an offering to God. The world is an altar."
In our recent daily Master Course Lessons, we have a lot about Realizing Parasiva. So I thought I read some of that even though it is a little advanced. Still it is inspiring to everyone to hear Gurudeva talk about these things. Also, the last part is a little more practical as well, it gets into concentration.
"Rare are the diligent sannyasins who after working many years within themselves, each in his own time burst through superconsciousness into nirvikalpa samadhi, the Realization of the timeless, causeless, spaceless Self. Many strive to attain Self Realization, during many lifetimes and then for many years in their present birth. The many lives have brought certain accomplishments which leads to their first breakthrough into nirvikalpa samadhi. The first breakthrough into samadhi happens quickly so that the subtle parts of the mind, shall we say, are not consciously aware what is actually taking place or what has actually happened. Because they are not used to be consciously aware in the higher states of consciousness.
However, when the renunciate has broken through to the Self, Parasiva, he has the possibility of the full use of his mind, the higher states of consciousness as well as the full understanding of the lower states of consciousness and how his individual awareness travels from one state to another.
The mere fact that he has broken through to samadhi means that he was able to justify the experience enough in his subconscious mind, so that his subconscious mind could fall into line into the habit pattern of pure concentration. When the conscious mind is in concentration upon one single thing, the subconscious mind is in concentration also, following the pattern of the conscious mind on one particular thing. Then that expands consciousness automatically into the superconscious state of mind. With the understanding of the functioning of the superconscious mind and not being diluted by any other ramifications of the superconscious mind, often a renunciate will manage to go right into the core and actually break through to the Self. That is what has happened to him.
Each soul comes into Self Realization differently because each has a different mind, a different subconscious mind and a different conscious mind with a different nature. So naturally his reaction through experience, before the experience of Self Realization and his reaction afterwards being of the conscious and subconscious mind is going to be different, depending upon his background and understanding and his nationality, etc.
The teachings of yoga are so basically simple and so basically concrete. And the most beautiful thing in the world on contemplation is the simplest thing in the world. The most beautiful design is the simplest design. So simply since one has Realized the Self and gone into nirvikalpa samadhi once, then obviously the simplest thing to do is to do it again. This is the practice of samadhi. When one has accomplished this a second time, do it again. Realize the Self again and again and again. Each time the renunciate comes out of samadhi, he will rebound and it is like popping back into a different aspect of the mind. Or he will actually have more conscious awareness of the mind and totality of the mind. In other words, he will have a greater capacity to expand the consciousness. Or in still other words, he will become consciously more superconscious for longer periods of time, each time he experiences nirvikalpa samadhi. When a beginning devotee is going up the path he is spontaneously superconscious now and again. After his first samadhi he has realized that he has had longer periods of superconsciousness. After his second samadhi he will be more and more aware of his superconscious mind and after the next samadhi he will be even more and more aware of the superconscious mind. However each will unfold the superconscious mind and superconscious abilities, powers, differently than another due to the fact that all have different backgrounds, personalities, and such. Although he Realizes the Self the entirety of the basic nature does not change. However his understanding of his own control of his tendencies, the overall control that he has of his ability to mold his own life - that starts a process which transforms him gradually and increasingly as he becomes more and more familiar of the laws of going into and out of nirvikalpa samadhi."
That was Gurudeva's beautiful statement.
We have about one more month in the Moksha ritau, stressing meditation in our life for one more month and then we move on to Nartana ritau.
Have a wonderful phase.
Aum Namah Sivaya.