Saturday, November 21, 2009

Eternal India - Secret of Work

A while ago, before embarking on the trip to Kailash-Mansarovar, I had written two posts based on some inspired writings and sayings of Swami Vivekanand. The first one - "I am a Voice without a Form" and the next "Eternal India - A Woman's Place in our Society".

My last post was on Khalil Gibran's piece on Rest and Passion. This talks about the need to balance reason and caution on one hand with passion on the other. Both are seen as necessary in appropriate proportion to be of use to any person. Gibran was a Lebanese-American and was influenced by Syrian (his native) and American (adopted) cultures.

I happened to chance Swami Vivekananda's thoughts, amongst others, on "Secret of Work". Let us see how the Orient sees this. Is it in contrast to what the Occidental believes or do they mean the same thing?

Swamiji was always asked about the presence of passion in work. Let us see his view and then understand it.

"I find it is not true. The less passion there is, the better we work. The calmer we are, better is it for us, and more the amount of work we can do.When we let loose our feelings, we waste so much energy, shatter our nerves, disturb our minds and accomplish very little work."

"The energy which ought to have gone out as work is spent as mere feeling, which counts for nothing. It is only when the mind is calm and collected that the whole of its energy is spent doing good work."

This view puts a lots of emphasis on a cool and collected mind. This state, if and when achieved, is a superior state and best output is achieved then. The conflict that arises is whether the "western" view is the right way or this thought prevails. Are they different, or, both mean the same thing, but say it differently.

On reflection it was clear. Passion in Swamiji's context meant feverishness, restlessness, anger, hatred or something done with an intention to take revenge, and, these had to be rightly rejected. They had no place at all in our thought process. A cool and collected mind inclued a pleasant outlook, interest, enthusiasm and a positive approach. A sort of energy without the negative attachments. A calm and a collected mind has all these qualities and any work done with this turns out to be superlative.

There is no difference in the two thought streams.

I can vouch for this having observed that the day we are relaxed and calm we have a great day at office and the day we are irritable (whatever be the cause) or overly excited, we come a complete cropper. I never imagined that our ancient wise men had thought of such practical philosophy applicable in this day and age.


J P Joshi said...

This is so true ... the calmer one is the more can be accomplished, and this is totally in line with the Gita.

My understanding is somehting like this - Work can only be done in the present moment; the brain functions on a single channel; cannot multi-task at any given instant; thus any other thought with work would be representing the past(last time...) or future (if I do it well, then....) and slow down the process and would thus shift focus from the present, or the work being undertaken.

BK Chowla said...

Sure it is so.Any decisions taken with a cool mind are always better ones.
Yog Shastris always maintain that theat Yoga gives cool mind.

Anrosh said...

this reminds me of an incident when i suggested to a friend, that breathing helps the body to increase energy and loose weight and yoga helps to etc etc , she answered - until and unless i don't run on a treadmill ( huff and puff ) or lift weights i don't feel having exercised !!

this analogy comes to my mind as i read your post

Mavin said...


Have you done any Art of Living course which lays a lot of emphasis on being in the present moment.

You are right. When the mind is tranquil and there is no feverishness, it automatically is in the present moment.

That is when mind focuses all energy on the task at hand and achieves much more.

Mavin said...


We have all these treasures at home but do not have any value for them.

There is so much we can learn from these treasures and make our life simple.

Mavin said...

Hi An,

Your friend may be the "physical"type and needs strenuous activity to get her body metabolism active.

Yoga and breathing need not be a substitute for her "huff and puff".

This can complement her efforts and add that extra bit.

Anonymous said...

I agree. Passion for one's causes or work is fine, but when one sits down to work one needs a cool head. Being cool headed is effective everywhere, for example I am always asking my kids to 'think coolheadedly' about any problems they face in their daily lives.

Solilo said...

This is absolutely necessary when one is dealing with small children. :) I have learned a lot of patience with my kindergärtner around.

Mavin said...


Right way to inculcate this approach in kids.

Important that they do not react immediately but think and respond, especially in tough circumstances.

Mavin said...

Hi Solilo,

You bet!!!

Kids help in making us patient. I was quite impatient earlier on even with my kids but then slowly changed as I realised that I was not being fair.