From Twilight to Light: The Sunlit Path, Talk 18: Work as an Offering to the Divine
Full session recording is available here.
AuroYouth has been conducting a series of talks titled "From Twilight to Light – The Sunlit Path", to help the youth connect with their inner consciousness and discover the spiritual meaning behind life.
In the eighteenth Talk of the series on October 18th, 2020, Dr Chhalamayi Reddy talked about "Work as an Offering to the Divine"
Dr Chhalamayi Reddy took up a series of questions, starting with the basic question ‘What is work? She explained that work usually means being engaged in a mental or physical activity which needs to achieve a certain outcome.
Work is life itself because we are talking about work as an action. The fact that it is movement is what essentially differentiates life from matter. In plants and animals also there is constant activity. It is the means of their survival. However, for human beings the scope of work is vaster. It can be a source of joy. The work can be more purposeful and meaningful. It can fill us with a sense of containment.
What are the different categories of work? Ancient Indian social philosophy categorizes human occupation under the Chaturvarnas:
Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya, and Shudra. Under Brahmin, we have the teachers, priests and scholars, Under Kshatriyas, we have the fighters, rulers and administrators, under Vaishyas, we have the traders, merchants and agriculturists, and under Shudra, we have producers, service providers and labourers. The chaturvarnas are inclined towards the nature or competence of a person. Caste is to be born in a lineage but that is not the true origin of the chaturvarnas. Chaturvarnas are born of a spiritual temperament, later got dispensed into an economical and social function.
We need to now understand that every person has a Swabhava, an innate nature, a certain inner inclination. It can be an affinity to either wisdom or power or harmony or perfection. That is our Swadharma that is able to self-actualize and self-fulfil ourself through work in the world. The contemporary terms used for the chaturvarnas are: Thinker (Brahmin), Leader (Kshatriya), Manager (Vaishya) and Worker (Shudra). The inner nature expresses itself through choice and work, and it serves as a means of self-development and growth for the individual. Work helps us to grow as human beings.
What are the attitudes prevalent in doing work? What are the various motives behind work?
If we look at work which is of tamasic nature, it is done based on ignorance and resistance because it solely tries to satisfy the vital pleasure. Next comes the Rajasic kind of work that is performed through egoistic efforts. It is driven by desire and ambition and the motive is personal benefit. As we are bound by the mental and physical work it doesn’t completely liberate us.
The higher kind of work is done with the Sattwik attitude, it is done as a performance or duty or rendering of service. For eg. those seek knowledge, truth, righteousness and justice in every situation and circumstance and do not think about the result but take joy in the work itself. This can be a self-expression for further self improvement.
When the effort put towards work has sincerity and joy behind it, it is a greater work. The work should manifest with a sense of cleanliness, beauty, harmony and order. We need to continue working with a sense of regularity and persistent effort and try to improve upon it. If one is not successful, one should not stop because the aim is to give your best effort and find joy in work. When one finds oneself in a difficulty, one should try to find the reason behind it in himself/herself rather than in somebody else. The attitude of goodwill, friendliness and collaboration towards others and to be able to see their point of view is very important. Work can never be high or low, every opportunity of work should be used as a pathway for growth.It is the state of consciousness behind the work that truly determines our growth in the field of work. Working with the right consciousness leads to inner growth.
How can we make it into an offering? To whom do we offer our work?
The goal is to become the perfect instrument of the Divine Will and that is only possible when we offer our work to the Divine. The consciousness of work must be elevated every day. It is important to surrender our work to the Divine, to undergo the transformation. The Mother says, “Remember and Offer”.
Whatever work you are doing, you should keep the remembrance of the Divine and do it as an expression of consecration to the Divine. All work is a prayer made with the body and that the true attitude in work is offering to the Divine.
When one surrenders, one is completely calm and quiet despite the circumstances in life. When we start moving beyond offering our work, we can enter into Karma Yoga, then the action we do becomes THE DIVINE WORK. Equality and renunciation of all desire for the fruit of work has to be discarded. Action should be done as a sacrifice to the Supreme Lord of our nature and of all nature, these are the first three Godward approaches in the Gita’s way of Karma Yoga.
A prayer by the Mother:
“O Divine Master, grant that today may bring to us a completer consecration to Thy Will, a more integral gift of ourselves to Thy work, a more total forgetfulness of self, a greater illumination, a purer love. Grant that in a communion growing ever deeper, more constant and entire, we may be united always more and more closely to Thee and become Thy servitors worthy of Thee. Remove from us all egoism, root out all petty vanity, greed and obscurity. May we be all ablaze with Thy divine Love; make us Thy torches in the world.”