A blog on the Transpersonal Psychology of Indian Yoga and the Spiritual Genius of India (another blog of the same author – http://integralmusings.aurosociety.org)
Despite the profound observation in the Gita that no one can be without activity, there has been a consistent tendency in the older spiritual philosophies to depreciate work as a factor for bondage. Even where works are recognised to be inescapable, a distinction is made between secular works and religious works. Work is tolerated as a means for purification, to be dispensed with once Knowledge dawns. In our approach of integral spirituality, the very means of bondage are sought to be turned into means of liberation.
All activity implies a release, a throwing up of energies of whatever kind. Activity is not necessarily of the physical kind. All output— mental, emotional, vital, physical—is activity. Activity is the law of Nature in this universe. And what God ordains man cannot refuse. So let us take it that each one has some sphere of work, and you have yours. You should learn to convert this aspect of your life into a meaningful movement towards the Divine Consciousness. You must not look upon your daily work—whether at home or elsewhere—as a waste of time from the spiritual angle. Works are a means for the desired growth of consciousness and also the field for the expression of the inner gains that accrue in the course of sadhana.
Each day, before you commence your work, gather yourself and silently offer all work to the Divine. Do it as your offering of love to the Divine. You do not need to affirm this resolution every moment. It is enough to remember and renew the remembrance now and then. When you thus change the basis of work from being something entirely motivated by ego-desire, when you make it a channel of your devotion and service to the Divine, the quality of the work changes in the measure of your sincerity. The more you work in the spirit of dedication and consecration, the higher the quality of the work. You simply cannot make a flawed offering to the Divine, the Master of your being. There is a joy in that work-offering which is deplorably absent in the usual routine work. The being exults in this streaming of energy towards the Divine. As a corollary to this consecration of work, you renounce your claim to the fruits thereof. You leave it to the Divine to determine what the results shall be and accept with equanimity whatever fruits ensue. Thus you avoid the tension inseparable from result-oriented works.
You learn to renounce your claim to the fruit of works. Next you learn to give up your claim to the choice of work. You do not decide what kind of work you will do and what you will not. You do not make an artificial distinction between superior work and inferior. You take whatever work comes to you as assigned by the Divine and do it to your utmost ability. For a spiritual seeker, the circumstances in which he finds himself are usually those which are best designed to speed up his inner evolution. You accept the circumstances and make the best of them. Of course you are free to improve the situation but you start from where you are, without grumbling, without complaint.
Next you become conscious of a change in yourself. In the degree of your dedication and elimination of desire-ego, you find a new spirit, a higher energy flowing through you. You subordinate your own sense of doership and let yourself become an instrument of the Shakti, Power of God. This conscious instrumentalising of your nature leads to a growing identification with the Divine. There is less and less of fatigue, more and more of joy. You come closer to God, first as a servitor, then as an instrument, then as a child.
So far about the value of works as a means of your spiritual growth. Side by side there is another dimension to it. You are associated with others in the field of work. That gives you an opportunity to test for yourself how far you have truly subordinated your ego to the central Purpose. You must express the inner change in your outer activity. There can be no more room for rivalry, self-assertion, riding roughshod over others; on the other hand you make a sincere effort to be a force of harmony, a factor for collaboration, a radiating point for the spirit of dedication. The established elements of ignorance and falsehood in this world cannot bear to let anyone escape from their hold. You may, therefore, become a butt of ridicule, laughed at as impractical and so on. But do not change your ways. The negative movement will pass, things around will begin to change, though slowly. Remember you are working for the Divine, serving his Purpose, not to win plaudits from the ignorant crowd, not to be the first among the blind and the half-blind.
Thus work becomes an integral part of your spiritual life. It is a crucible on which you repeatedly test your sincerity, your commitment to the Divine Ideal, the extent of your change in nature.
While at work, never lose yourself entirely in the movement of nature. Keep something of you aloof, uninvolved, always harnessed to the Divine and imposing the higher direction on all movements of nature. Suspend activity now and then for a few seconds and rededicate the work to the Divine. Remember and offer. Failure or success shall not unduly depress or elate you. Every failure is not a tragedy. Often in life, as you look back, you will realise how certain failures were fortunate failures.
Do your best and leave the rest to the will of the Divine. Learn to tune your will to the Higher Will, do not seek to impose your will on the Divine.
This is in essence the Karma Yoga, Yoga of Works, integral part of the discipline you have undertaken.