Essentials for Effectiveness
Doing Work with Shraddha
Usually translated as “faith” for want of a better word, shraddha signifies a special mindset. It is a self-propelling force in us that keeps us riveted to the task in hand until its completion. Swami Vivekananda gives an example to clarify the point: “Suppose there is a thief in a room, and somehow he comes to know that there is a vast mass of gold in the next room, and that there is only a thin partition between the two rooms. What would be the condition of that thief? He would be sleepless, he would not be able to eat or do anything. His whole mind would be on getting that gold.” The force that eggs him on despite obstacles is called shraddha. Some striking implications of shraddha become evident from this example.
Implications of Shraddha
First, a man endowed with shraddha has an ideal he wants to attain, and shraddha endows him with the strength to overcome all obstacles in the way and reach the goal. The ideal of human life is Self-realization. Swami Vivekananda begins his lectures on karma yoga by saying, “The goal of man is knowledge. That is the one great ideal placed before us by Eastern philosophy. Not pleasure, but knowledge, is the goal of man.” Second, a man with shraddha will not need supervision for his work. He is self-reliant. Third, the quality of work. He sets his own lofty standard for work and strains every nerve to accomplish it. Fourth, accountability. Such a worker is accountable to his higher Self. His accountability to his workplace is a matter of course. Fifth, enthusiasm. A worker endowed with shraddha does not let mental restlessness come in the way of his work. He is endowed with fortitude and enthusiasm, two important traits of a sattvic worker (Bhagavad Gita, 18.26).
Shraddha Is Faith in Our Divine Nature
Swami Vivekananda never tired of encouraging people to develop shraddha, a burning faith in their real, divine nature: “The history of the world is the history of a few men who had faith in themselves. That faith calls out the divinity within. You can do anything. You fail only when you do not strive sufficiently to manifest infinite power.”
Doing Work with Meditation
Working with an Awakened Buddhi
Doing work with meditation helps us detach ourselves from the body and mind and remember the Atman, our real nature, or God, who dwells in the hearts of all beings. This amounts to being a witness to our mental gyrations without being affected by them. Practice enables us to become more alert and identify ourselves with buddhi, the discriminative faculty, a step fundamental to any fruitful spiritual endeavor. We stop working mechanically, but become watchful of the movements of the mind and bring it back to the task in hand when it strays, as taught in the Bhagavad Gita (6.26): “Let him withdraw the fickle and unquiet mind from whatever causes it to wander away, and restore it to the control of the Self alone.”
Doing work with an alert and meditative mind is what Swami Vivekananda teaches for attaining inner transformation through work: “When you are doing any work, do not think of anything beyond. Do it as worship, as the highest worship, and devote your whole life to it for the time being.” It is the nature of the mind to think of everything but the task in hand. It thinks about the uncertain future or the undesirable past, or it dwells on sense objects. When we work with alertness, we remain detached from this fickle mind, do not travel with it to the future or the past, but are able to abide in the present and do work as worship.
(To be continued) —Swami Yuktatmananda
Copyright© 2011, Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center of New York.