Beads of Truth, June 1973 #18
By Nirinjan Kaur
What is the art of work? How does it affect this dharma we have been chosen to fulfill? Many of us have perhaps never really grasped the significance of work, as it determines the outcome of our evolution or how the constant practice of work acts as a curb for our emotions, a diligent protector of our bodies, a soothing oasis of comfort for our torment, an instinctive outlet of negativity, a sacred source of joy–an unmistakable guide to the gateways of the Universe…that is, until we met Yogi Bhajan and gratefully acknowledged these universal teachings.
Yogiji has said “that man can reach the highest ego achievement if he longs to work.” In other words, the fastest and easiest way to pay off our karmas which we have accumulated and to reach God-consciousness, is to work. For our consistent efforts will reap the greatest rewards–His Eternal Blessings. There is such a creativity in work that produces an ecstasy and a great fulfillment. In our efforts to serve ourselves and to serve others, be it selfishly or selflessly, God receives all vibrations and all results. Whether and however we relate to God, He, Who is the Reality, is the Benefactor of our services. Ultimately, the Creator is the One who is the Receptor of our work, of our deeds, of our dedication and through our longing for our Beloved, our highest aspirations through work are attained. Since He is within all and without all and is the Cause and Effect, then we are affected by our causes (work), for we are One with Him.
For instance, if we have been assigned to write a story for a magazine–we work hard and we work long and become distracted, and stop.
One moment we are perfectly tuned into the Universal Flow. The pen is dashing but the next moment frustration comes and sluggishness sets in. All of a sudden another spark of inspiration ignites. We are three-fourths through the masterpiece. The thoughts are coming so quickly, we cannot catch them; our mind shades into blankness. We stop. We begin again. We are interrupted and resume. Finally, the story is completed. At the termination of the assignment, our insides have been turned outside. We have been within and have gone without, but beyond and above this medley of experiences, a most prevalent feeling overrides the whole episodic exploration–the feeling of exhaustion and relief, and a good feeling that makes every previous hassle a heaven and every aggravation a blessed joy. This awesome feeling brings a flow of the breath, clarity to the mind, relief to the heart, and the attitude of gratitude for being granted the privilege to live on this earth and serve in His Divine Service. The suffering, aggravations, distractions and joys are well worth our efforts for each workout or experience of service brings us closer to the realization of who we are, what we are, why we are. We need only to know ourselves so we will know that God exists in us.
If the question arises, “Well, what difference does it make if I feel good? Am I supposed to be the one who gains the benefits and not others? I thought that in this way of Life we were to Iive for others and not: “Why fool ourselves?” It does make a difference for basically we all have chosen this lifestyle, whose main objective is service, to work on ourselves and to work out our karmas–to be free from these physical and intellectual entanglements that are hindering our union with God…or simply to find some sense of peace and order in our disoriented lives. It would be a very ideal and a very humble situation if we all had entered 3HO with the heartfelt sincerity to help and to serve others, but in all reality our first thoughts were centered on us. We were lacking the links of knowledge and awareness that are essential to promote our creative potential to join our finite selves with the Infinite Self. Thus, we sought the technique we needed to reshape our battered selves before other steps could be taken.
This particular state of consciousness might be called “selfishly selfless” and is one of the first steps that needs to be taken on the path of God-consciousness. If God wills and our work habits are consistent, this attitude will change to one of “selflessness” and then there is no problem because by that time we will be God and our service will inevitably be rendered for others and not for ourselves.
Ultimately, this elevation of consciousness effects a change of consciousness in others as well. When we feel good, it is easy to feel and see how contagious is this feeling and how its magnetism affects others. We have envisioned the power of this radiance occurring how many times during the day? This feeling compares to an electric current that is responsible for giving us light as the feeling of Infinite Joy provides glorious light to those enshrouded in darkness. This vibration passes from one brother to another, to an enemy, to a friend and soon its beauty turns into an attitude of gratitude and then everything at that time looks as great as it has always been!
What about work on the physical level?
Suppose we partake in a rugged set of yoga exercises. If we are honest with ourselves, our bodies may be literally sweating; thus cleansed of impurities and relieved of mental blockages through the exertion of physical activity. At the climax of this experience, exhaustion comes and a mellow, peaceful vibration becomes the master. Then if God takes mercy on us, our energy has risen to the level of a new awareness and a brighter attitude. Some may see glorious light. Some may experience candid relief. Others may feel sheer joy. And still some may feel nothing. It doesn’t matter. For whatever state of consciousness prevails, we have to take a continuous series of trips into our vehicles to purify them before we can purchase a one-way ticket to His Infinite Journey. These inevitable experiences are all a part of the work which brings completion, and when the job is done, it’s this abiding peace and contentment that make every past experience worthwhile. Relief…ecstasy…a positive vibration that sparks higher consciousness into gear, for just as “love is the experience of selflessness within oneself,” work is love in action. You are giving yourself to His Infinite Self.
Work is also a necessary process that contributes greatly to the outcome of our spiritual evolution. It would be interesting to know how many people have avoided enrolling in the cosmic Training Program that offers and guarantees techniques that will train the mind to convert it from a monkey to a god…a handful perhaps. If we want to develop a solid meditation that can raise the energy to our higher centers of consciousness, first we must go through a rigorous workout to pass through the physical and mental levels. This feat may seem relatively simple compared to the enormous task of maintaining this pure vibration. The true test of man’s ability lies in developing a consistency of higher consciousness and one-pointedness which can only be achieved through a constant and faithful workout and reevaluation of the self. But through the aspiring example of our teacher, Yogi Bhajan, who has mastered this feat, we know it can be done.
Meditation is also work and can be very aggravating and rewarding, for there are few times that we discover “the mountain of pleasure” before we dive into the “valley of pain.” There may be a constant struggle between the petty ego and the pleading spirit, yet at the termination of every struggle, our souls rise armed with courage to fight the next battle and a renaissance of hope for our soul’s liberation. Lifetimes of karma have been accumulated and its ramifications are being confronted–but through constant performance of deeds, the rays of eternal light will prevail. We have got nothing to lose. Nothing–for without God we are nothing anyway. If our spirit is enlightened, then Truth will manifest Itself. We can serve our brothers and sisters and sacrifice all that we have without any thought or hesitation about what is right or wrong, what we do have and don’t have, what is good and bad…we just know to do it! If our time and energy can be expended in work, then liberation and freedom will come as a natural cosmic law and not as a desired expectation. Simply, Yogi Bhajan has summed it up: “There is no liberation without labor and no freedom which is free.”
Let us examine also the practical application of work in our Sikh way of life as Guru Nanak has taught: if we sum up the essence of these teachings, they spell W-O-R-K. When we chant the Holy Name of God, SAT NAM, as often as he blesses us with this awareness, we are performing a kind of work–a maintaining of one-pointedness. Every moment we must strive to remember to live in gratitude to the Creator and every moment we must forget about the self and work to transcend the negative ego, into the Supreme Ego. As we live and earn righteously, we are working by the “sweat of our brows.” Guru Gobind Singh stated that Sikhs must do “das nohan di kirat.” They “must work by their ten fingers” and do the work themselves instead of relying on other sources for their physical, mental and spiritual intake. Also, Guru Nanak presents a unique example when he preferred to live with Bhai Lalo, the Kirti Sikh who was hard working and lived a life of righteousness, rather than with his other students and friends.
Rheat Piaree Mujhko. Sikh Piara Nahe.”
“He loves the living (the deeds) of a sikh and not the Sikh.”
When we share what we have with others, basically this means that we are sharing the fruit of our labor with others, whether it be money or food or our shining inspiration or our ecstasy after a fulfilling day’s work. We are sharing our love of this life on earth. “The whole world works for gain. Only a few work because it is their duty to work. Only a rare one works without any desire for return. But a follower of the Guru–a Sikh–must serve friends and foes alike, knowing that it is only thus he can serve God.” (Guru Nanak) The Gurus have made it very clear and simple that when we work we are in constant service to our God and Guru.
God not only provides us with the opportunity to work but has offered us innumerable ways and resources for channelizing our efforts and talents. We are extremely blessed and fortunate that we have been given the chance to do service to the Creator. We are extremely fortunate that He has granted to us a body whose most functional purpose on this earth is WORK. Whether we are engaged in the most menial of tasks or a position of power and prestige, every job has a very functional and useful purpose. All we really need to do is work without thought of reward, and our weaknesses of the physical, mental and spiritual realms will be eliminated and offered to the Lotus Feet of the Creator. A job is not only a job or work is not only work. This is life! This is the ecstasy and the joy that we have searched for time and again, over and over through pages and pages of books, through the security of relationships with our friends and lovers, through this teacher and that teacher. Who would have surmised that work wouid be the fulfillment of the end to the Beginning?
A story comes to mind of a lovely lady who did nothing but work, was treated with much abuse, contempt and jealousy, never asked for anything, never complained, but kept up with the integrity and magnanimity of the mightiest of warriors, the wisest of the sages and the humblest of the saints. Then one day her higher consciousness knocked very loudly on her inner gate and opened up a new and brighter world to the Gateway of Freedom. Because of her suffering, because of her dedication, because of her endless service, she prepared herself subconsciously for the rightful life of God-consciousness inherent in all of us. She received the eternal blessings and fruits of her loving labor. Do you remember Cinderella?
So what is the act of work? It is an expression. It is satisfaction and relaxation. It is dedication and love. It is success and failure, emotion and devotion. Work is a WORSHIP and a way of expressing our love of God and Guru.
When we begin to face a task that we do not relish, substitute the negative thought and begin again. Think of Yogi Bhajan and his tireless efforts to serve the humanity. Think of what we are doing in this blessed mission of Guru Nanak. Think of where the Truth really lies. Then walk out of the room, come back in again, breathe very deeply, chant ONG NAMO GURU DEV NAMO. Then work, work, work and give God the chance to work for you too!