Thursday, January 17, 2013

Doing or Being, or Being and Doing. or Doing and Being

One of the core conflicts on the path of spirituality that everyone faces is the question of whether to accept things as they are or do something about it. One path says let things happen the way they are happening - accepting that it is the will of a greater power and is directed towards a greater good. Another path says, we have a short time given to us and we have to stand up and do what is right and what is good. Do not accept injustice and suffering; do something about it and make things better.

I do not know about others but this has been a long-time conflict for me. It is only very recently that I found out the reality about this conflict; that there is no conflict. There is only awakening, acceptance, and being. The problem with letting things happen by themselves is that mind will not allow you to be at peace. For the reality is not always happy; there is insecurity, there is crime, there is injustice, there is inequality all around and a mature mind will not simply show its back to such reality. Even if you do not really take any action against any of those issues, mind will experience severe cognitive dissonance which can manifest as other unidentified emotions such as frustration, irritability, depression, impulsive nature, etc.

On the other hand, if you have to stand up and fight, the whole experience becomes very judgmental  At the same time, deciding what is right and what is not becomes tougher and tougher as one learns more about the ways of the world. Furthermore, as you start asking questions, you see that the negative virtues are so overwhelming part of reality that you will not know where to start and where it can end. It only gobbles up the mental space with stress and anxiety.

So, why are these two contradicting things part of spiritual journey. My understanding dawned, perhaps, as a result of lots of philosophical thought and little experience.  Most of the time the qualities mentioned, the discipline prescribed, and the methods suggested on the spiritual path are not totally clear. This is more so in today's world where most spiritual journeys are happening without the direct presence of a Guru. When it is said that let things happen the way they are happening, it does not mean that you do not oppose injustice. At the same time, when you are told to stand up for what is right, it does not mean you change the whole world. It is a call for a very fine subjective state. What is truly required is to be not judgmental about what is happening; yet know what you need to do. The question of right and wrong, good and bad does not arise here.  If you are really trusting, you have to trust that your inherent qualities are capable of following the true path if not hindered. No one needs to teach a river, or make way for the river so that the river meets the ocean. Just don't stop the flow and it will by itself, by its own virtue, meet the ocean. Now, to ask if it is right for the river to meet the ocean or if it is right to construct a dam to improve agriculture is the game of the mind and ego.

Once you achieve this state of acceptance where you are no more judging anything, you just live! Now, that you have so many years to live, you have to choose to do something with this life. Now, that choice should be made in the direction that feels right to you in that realm. This is very important. Nothing is right or wrong from a higher spiritual realm; so it really does not matter what you do. But within this realm our actions are going to have consequences and we should be prudent to choose them. I would like to reiterate that, again, here you should not do something because you think that something is not right and needs to be changed. That will be judgmental  You should choose an action because you have to do something or the other in life and you better choose one that seems to have positive consequences within this realm. Realizing that everything is being guided by a higher power, allows you to move ahead with the confidence of doing the right thing.  Knowing that your actions and choices are irrelevant; yet choosing the right path is the true art of living and the path to awakening.


  1. Would choosing inaction be a manifestation of ego?

  2. Choosing inaction is an action in itself and a paradox. And there is no such thing as inaction; only aloofness or ignorance. Death is the only inaction (at least in the current realm).

    Thinking that we can choose inaction is the manifestation of ego. For it makes us believe that we somehow have control; that we have transcended something; that we transcended attachment, etc. The true awakening is to know that there is no need to transcend attachment. Only become totally aware of it. Funny; it is clear in the word itself; awakening. It is not elevating :-) Just by seeing the reality one awakens. Trying to change the reality is irony. But flowing with it like a river spontaneously is the work of the artist.

    To ask the question of whether I am flowing or trying to change something can be easily answered. The answer is: it doesn't matter. Because you really can't change anything; yet you are changing everything by being part of the orchestra. It does not matter which road we take, for all lead to only one destination!

    The only question is how to not suffer while the drama is going on ...

  3. Subho had spoken very highly of you...I understand why now. Your essay affirms an approach I have been holding onto. Yes, this thing about good/bad, right/wrong has completely turned us around. That's why I have started to re-read myths by moving above the God/Demon dichotomy. I also try to practice it in life by literally going into the mouths of "bad" to discover divinity in them. But sometimes, I am lost. In the process of acceptance, I never know when I have been coopted by the cycle. To detach from both "good" and "bad" seems so difficult...