Supposing we want an undertaking in the world and to do those actions which will take us straight across the path from here to there (diagram on the board). If I am a missionary then it is the Lord’s work but some missionaries have been known to be rather aggressive. One missionary is rather quarrelsome with missionaries of another sect. A missionary says to him: ‘Why should we quarrel? We’re both doing the Lord’s work,’ and he says, ‘Yes, we are both doing the Lord’s work. You in your way and I in His’. This means that the action now has a subsidiary purpose to score off someone else. It is not a straight action and the direction has already been distorted. The immediate effect of the action is not very successful. Instead of correcting the direction he begins to blame others.
Wilde was a genius but he wrote some poor things and one of his plays was booed. He was asked afterwards and he said, ‘Yes, the play was a success but the audience was a failure’. His own egoism had to be satisfied. The action had to pass through the loop of his own egoism. Then (suppose) trying to get back again (the original direction of an action) there is a group of people here who could help but it will mean, if we ask help of them, a considerable loss of reputation for ourselves. ‘I don’t like them!’ Then there is another group of people whom I do like because they flatter me. They do not know much about it but it will be very encouraging for them to be asked their opinion. Then we are now taking a very long time to do the action and there begins to be a fever. The Gita says an action done with fever, dashing about in all directions, whereas efficient action means not continuous activity and not continuous relaxation but the ability to alternate the two skilfully and appropriately. Every athlete knows this. Beginners become exhausted because they use too much energy all of the time.
But an expert knows when he can relax and when he must be tremendously energetic. But they are in a fever. Then comes fear: ‘Supposing it goes wrong. That would be terrible. Perhaps it would be better not to try it at all’. Finally managing to get past that fear, then it becomes boring. Boring jobs: ‘I don’t want to do copy-typing. You do it’. ‘I don’t want to take the milk round in the morning. You take it’. How is it going to be brought to life? Finally, perhaps, I manage somehow to get past this but I am going to be very late and there is certainly a failure, then there is an explosion of anger. An efficient action will go straight across (diagram). And if it turns out that at the end that result is not needed or that the thing has disappeared, then, because the action has been pure and not mixed up with these hopes and fears, expectations and self-love, then without any excitement you will be able to come back.
This is what the Gita calls pure action and it says it can only be done when these actions are done in consciousness of being a servant of the Lord. To be a servant of the Lord frees him from the necessity of hitting at rivals, from the necessity of bolstering up his own reputation, from the dislike of some people, from the special like of other people, frees him from this fever, frees him from the fear, frees him from the boring attitude to go straight across. We can say, ‘How is this possible? How can it be done?’ Our teacher says there are three aspects of action.
He quotes the Gita. The first is this action which is performed in service of the Lord, as a servant. And this will free him from many of these obstructions. It will enable vast undertakings to be carried through that could not have been done by any effort of will or intellectual cleverness or cunning. This is the first stage as a servant. Then the mind begins to become pure of these things. The Gita says he begins to find that the Lord is no longer a master whom he serves. He begins to find in the very action itself that the Lord is a companion. He begins to see the finger of the Lord in the events that take place. The Lord becomes a companion and if he practises this meditation in action as a servant and he practises at the special periods of meditations on the Lord, the Lord will become from being ‘He’, the Lord will become ‘Thou’ and he will have glimpses of a companion. One more thing and this, too, will finally change. The Gita gives the example, which would perhaps correspond today to somebody cooking: God is the fire, God is the ladle, God is the thing which is ladled, God is the action of ladling. He no longer feels ‘I am doing this’. He begins to feel divine energy doing it through him and this is called the samadhi of God in action, God as action.
© Trevor Leggett
Titles in this series are:
Part 1: Meditation in Action
Part 2: The Lord is a companion
Part 4: The beginning of a new spring