One should not make inaction one‘s goal

If inactivity is impossible then it is obviously irrational and erroneous to propose it as a goal in any form of Yoga. Kåñna tells Arjuna: “Do not allow attachment to inactivity in any way”. To prevent any misunderstanding on Arjuna´s part, he is also adds: “Notthrough abstinence from actions will people enjoy non-action, not by renouncing actions will they attain perfection”. He continues by emphasising “Action is always superior to inaction”.

In Kåñna‘s time, these revelations were directed towards several important Jïana and Raja Yoga schools which were exaggeratedly emphasising as a necessary stage and even as a final goal of the spiritual discipline the complete cessation of all physical and even mental activities. This abnormal approach is not attractive today, except for small groups that claim certain phantasmagorical understanding of the teachings of Çankara and Pataïjali. Actually, many people are inclined to believe that any activity, other than spiritual, is a necessary evil for which we should not allow more than a minimal time and save the rest for inner focusing, for meditation, worship, etc. This is why, the great contemporary sages have considered it necessary to remind us of the words of Kåñna. For example, Tagore said: “In order to live harmoniously, we have to work; life and activity are tightly entwined”. “Who will be so insane as to always run away from the happy crowd looking for God only in the prostration of inactivity? “.

Swami Ramadas explains: “Yoga does not mean renunciation of action; on the contrary, it rises the action to the highest spiritual level” (The presence of Ram).

Swami Brahmananda, even while asking his disciples to meditate a few hours daily, he said: “I am asking, why are you so afraid of your work? If you really want to realise God then work perseveringly and wait. You should never totally abandon other activities” (Spiritual disciplines).

Sri Aurobindo continuously returns to a similar idea: “Work has a primary importance. Doings are necessary; Yoga of action is indispensable. The idea of abandoning the physical activity in order to accelerate the development of our mind is a fantasy of our mental ego” (Practical Integral Yoga). He also says: “To continue the physical activity helps us to keep the balance between the inner experience and the outer development” (Yoga Guide). Even so, sages of all times are also emphasising that the obligation to act more or less visibly ceases for those rare human beings who, upon reaching a high spiritual level, cannot objectively conform anymore. That is why, for Sri Ramakrishna, only the people which are not sattva (pure, balanced) must obey to the imperatives of work in this world (Teachings of Ramakrishna). As such, the pure sattva being, who is free of tamas or rajas has attained almost a superhuman level. Swami Vivekananda is referring to these people when he says: “There are nevertheless, exceptional beings completely content with the Self, beings whose wishes are beyond the Self, beings whose mind doesn’t wander away from the Self, beings for which the Self is everything; only these beings don’t need to work anymore. The rest of humanity is obliged to pass slowly, slowly through the world of activity. Karma Yoga shows us the principle, reveals to us the secret, and offers us a method to perform it in practice, with maximum efficiency”.

Ma Ananda Moyi talks in the same way: “we should never stay without doing something, or wait in a state of inertia for a state of pure and perfect being to appear”. It is very useful to observe that even the greatest sages who have attained the highest state of spiritual evolution continue to act tirelessly.

As a last word on this point, in Mahabharata the king of the Gods, Indra, says: “people who criticise action are sinful”.

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