Work and its secret

cpkumar's picture

Average: 4.5 (2 votes)

If we examine our own lives, we find that the greatest cause of sorrow is this: we take up something, and put our whole energy on it - perhaps it is a failure and yet we cannot give it up. We know that it is hurting us, that any further clinging to it is simply bringing misery on us; still, we cannot tear ourselves away from it. The bee came to sip the honey, but its feet stuck to the honey-pot and it could not get away. Again and again, we are finding ourselves in that state. That is the whole secret of existence. Why are we here? We came here to sip the honey, and we find our hands and feet sticking to it. We are caught, though we came to catch. We came to enjoy; we are being enjoyed. We came to rule; we are being ruled. We came to work; we are being worked. All the time, we find that. And this comes into every detail of our life. We are being worked upon by other minds, and we are always struggling to work on other minds. We want to enjoy the pleasures of life; and they eat into our vitals. We want to get everything from nature, but we find in the long run that nature takes everything from us -- depletes us, and casts us aside.

Had it not been for this, life would have been all sunshine. Never mind! With all its failures and successes, with all its joys and sorrows, it can be one succession of sunshine, if only we are not caught.

That is the one cause of misery: we are attached, we are being caught. Therefore says the Gita: Work constantly; work, but be not attached; be not caught. Reserve unto yourself the power of detaching yourself from everything, however beloved, however much the soul might yearn for it, however great the pangs of misery

you feel if you were going to leave it; still, reserve the power of leaving it whenever you want. The weak have no place here, in this life or in any other life. Weakness leads to slavery. Weakness leads to all kinds of misery, physical and mental. Weakness is death. There are hundreds of thousands of microbes surrounding us, but they cannot harm us unless we become weak, until the body is ready and predisposed to receive them. There may be a million microbes of misery, floating about us. Never mind! They dare not approach us, they have no power to get a hold on us, until the mind is weakened. This is the great fact: strength is life, weakness is death. Strength is felicity, life eternal, immortal; weakness is constant strain and misery: weakness is death.

(Delivered by Swami Vivekananda at Los Angeles, California, January 4, 1900)

mayasurfer's picture

not sure

not sure I get it. Vivekananda says the one cause of misery is attachment. Right. But then he says you must have a strong mind. A weak mind leads to death, a strong mind to life and immortality. Well, a strong mind/ego might lead to immortality but hardly to awakening.

mayasurfer | Fri, 01/09/2009 - 07:01
Phroggy's picture


Maybe it sounds a little odd, but I'm sure he's not referring to the mind's powers of deep mentation, which is really a constricted mind. A 'strong' mind is open, expansive, intuitive, unattached, clear, present, conscious, spontaneous. We tend to think of mind as an enemy and often shun it, and yet a mind developed in the right way is essential and can't be ignored. An ignored mind is still unconscious and constricted.

Phroggy | Fri, 01/09/2009 - 10:36
Omkaradatta's picture

I agree (the mind)...

We maybe can learn to turn off the mind like a switch in meditation. So what? Unless we stay mindless (never thinking) all the time, the mind "comes back" when required for every-day life and behavior. And if it's our old mind, addicted to everything, it will still behave the same old way. Maybe all we did was add meditation to our list of addictions.

The mind is to be redeemed through deeper intuitive understanding, discrimination, surrender and unattachment, not to be shut off and avoided. What a nonsense that is.

P.S. let's watch our terminology... "mind" and ego are not necessarily synonymous. If they were, then Nisargadatta and Ramana would be walking around like zombies, unable to talk or think.

Omkaradatta | Fri, 01/09/2009 - 23:40
Phroggy's picture


Absolutely agree, including the terminology advisory.

Phroggy | Sat, 01/10/2009 - 01:44