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.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Rest in Reason and Move in Passion

I happened to leaf through a collection of Kahlil Gibran's writings and came across this small chapter on Reason and Passion in his famous book "The Prophet".

Let me reproduce a few lines from this exceptionally brilliant exposition.
"Your soul is oftentimes a battlefield, upon which your reason and your judgment wage war against your passion and appetite."...........

"Your reason and your passion are the rudder and the sails of your seafaring soul. If either your sails or your rudder be broken, you can but toss and drift, or else be held at standstill in mid-seas."

"For reason ruling alone, is a force confining, and passion unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction."............

Therefore let your soul exalt your reason to the height of passion that it may sing;.....And let it direct your passion with reason........................ 

These words were penned by the Lebanese-American author in the early twenties of the last century.

These words potray the perpetual dilemma people face in their lives. Should they be cautious or  hasty, conservative or aggressive? move with deliberation or dive headlong?....

More often than not we ourselves or many others we observe in life, have chosen one over the other and paid a heavy price.  Infact, both have an equal place in our lives.

For reason and judgment without any enthusiasm and action is plain and simple day dreaming. Management jargon typifies this behaviour as "Paralysis by Analysis". The end result is missed opportunities and immense frustration.

Similarly, excitement, passion and enthusiasm without proper thought, planning or direction leads to energy wasted and often poor or zero output again leading to fatigue and frustration.

What is called for is a happy mix of both ingredients....K Gibran says..."I would have you consider your judgment and your passion even as you would two loved guests in your house." 

Is this practically possible in our normal daily lives or is this another of those utopian goals that many a "self-help" book lay out.

A state of mind where the passion and action is solely focussed on the task at hand guided by reason and judgment giving rise to perfect action and passion leading reason to challenge existing boundaries and establishing new benchmarks giving rise to change, progress and new discoveries.

I happily discovered that the purpose of yoga is to make all this and more achievable in our lives. What do you have to dear friends???