A string of jewels, a string of pearls, is an image used in the Gita. The fact is that if pearls individually and scattered all over the place in dusty corners, have no beauty. They are of no ornamental value, and of little other value. But when they are brought together in a string they make a most beautiful necklace.
They can be strung together in various ways. If you see black pearls they are very valuable especially the big ones, but they look horrible. They look like ordinary pearls rinsed in ink, but they are very valuable. Sometimes the necklace has a big black pearl and two or three ordinary pearls and another black pearl, sometimes all the black pearls are put together and are arranged in gradation of size. There are many such ways of arranging them on a string to make a necklace.
In the same way, the spiritual inspirations and revelations can be put together and rearranged in a new pattern. Our teacher rearranged some of them to bring out new aspects of truth. Take for example the treatment of Action.
Action is the teaching of the karma yoga, which depends on the living experience of the self as agent, of a real world of real things, and a separate God who creates, maintains and dissolves it. Action is yogic when performed with eveness of mind; one way to secure this is to offer the fruits of even selfish actions to the Lord. The practice is not being upset when results are unfavourable and not triumphing when success comes. This evenness is called in the Gita Kaushalyam, skill in action. The Gita text leaves it there, but our teacher developed the point. He said that the eveness of mind prevents internal friction and stickiness which clog the smoothness of performance. Action must be vigorous and firm, enthusiastic for the results but without any claim on them, and then the action will become appropriate and efficient.
Our teacher explained this point at length in various ways. The Gita does give a few hints in its last chapter (XVIII.26) The agent of the nature of Sattva is one free from clinging attachment – not feeling, Why should I have to do this when I get no credit for it? or, I am not going to work with so and so, I don’t like them, or This is my job, and I don’t let anyone interfere; all these things are clinging, sticking attachments which clog the action and make it inefficient;
Firm, not hesitating, I wonder if this is really going to work;
Energetic, not it doesn’t really matter, its only a small thing; but doing the action for its own sake.
Independent of success or not success, this does not mean typing carelessly and thinking I’m independent of that failure.
In accordance with traditional right conduct, the traditional authority but also pramana which is the word for authority of the present time. For yogis this would include what they are commissioned to do by the recent teachers of their line.
To be able to do those things in calmness and with an evenness of mind will become kaushalyam, it will become auspicious, and effective. Swami Rama Tirtha pays great attention to this point, he says, “you will have success in what you are doing if your attitude to a task is this: Lord, this is your work and therefore I take it to be mine. If you let me succeed in it I am pleased, and if you do not let me succeed I am equally pleased, when this is your way of doing the work you will have success in all that you do.”
© Trevor Leggett