[Note: This Article is based on the Discourses given by Sri Sathya Sai Baba on various occasions. This is not a direct excerpt from any Discourse, but an essay based on His Message on Management and Leadership.]
2. Watch Your Actions:
According to Indian Philosophy, it is believed that the human birth occurs because of one’s Karmic balance and can be worked out through Karma (work/actions).[i] Similarly, from the standpoint of ‘personality structure’, the ID, which is raw primitive energy, drives an individual towards immediate gratification of primitive needs. It can only be put under check (by the ego) if the individual is occupied with purposeful, productive, wholesome and interesting activities. As Aristotle said,
“Men acquire a particular quality by constantly acting in a way. You become just by performing just actions, temperate by performing temperate actions, brave by performing brave actions”.
All beings have to undertake Karma (sanctified activity); it is a universal inescapable obligation. In fact, Karma becomes Yoga when it is performed without any attachment. Men have to be doing some Karma or other from the moment of waking to the moment of sleeping, from birth to death. Man cannot sit quiet without performing Karma. Whoever he may be, he has no means of avoiding this predicament! However, each individual has to understand clearly which kind of Karma he has to be engaged in. There are only two types of Karmas:
1. Sensory or binding Karmas, or Vishaya Karmas, and
2. Karmas that liberate, or Shreyo Karmas.
An individual should undertake actions that contribute to the well-being of others, which in turn contribute to the individual’s balanced personality development. The best Karma is that, which is done at the call of duty, not because it is advantageous to do it, but because it has to be done. [ii]
The Sacred Fruits of Action: A Story
One Saturday, a father was involved in worshipping the Lord and he called his son and told him to get some plantains for one rupee. The son purchased the plantains, but on his way back he saw a mother and son, who were very hungry, standing on the road. When the hungry boy saw the plantains, he ran towards him. The hungry mother, who saw the boy running, ran after him and caught him. But both of them collapsed owing to severe hunger. When this young boy found these people suffering so much from hunger, he thought that it was much better to feed hungry people than take the bananas home. He gave the bananas to the hungry lady and her son and later brought water and gave it to them. These people were so relieved of their hunger and thirst that they expressed their gratitude in many different ways and shed tears of joy. This young boy went home empty-handed and when the father asked him if he had brought the bananas, the son explained that he fed two hungry souls with the bananas. The fruits that he had brought home were only the sacred fruits of the action. The father then felt that his son was worthy of him and he felt that all his prayers had been answered that day. The father developed great affection for the son from that day.
[i] Karma – Action, deed, work, religious rite, the totality of innate tendencies formed as a consequence of acts done in previous lives. Every Karma produces a lasting impression on the mind of the doer, apart from affecting others. Repetition of a particular Karma produces a tendency (Vaasana) in the mind. Karma is of three kinds:
Prarabdha: which is being exhausted in the present life;
Aagami : which is being accumulated in the present life; and
Sanchita: which is stored to be experienced in future lives.
To realise this Truth, Sadhana is needed. That is Karma Yoga, Karma performed with this end: ‘Karmasu Kousalam’ - the Karma done in an intelligent manner. So also, for removal of Ajnaana (ignorance), one has to perform Dharma-directed Karma (virtuous action). “Do vigorous Karma and exhaust the effects of the past and be free from the weight hanging round your neck”, says Baba. The consequence of Karma can be wiped out only through Karma, as a thorn can be removed only by means of another. Do good Karma to assuage the pain of the bad Karma which you have done and from which you suffer now.
[ii] Karmas that bind, Vishaya Karmas, have increased beyond control and as a result, sorrow and confusion have increased. Through these, no happiness and peace of mind can be gained. The Shreyo Karmas on the other hand, yield progressive joy and auspiciousness with each single act. They give bliss to the soul, or Atmananda; and are not concerned with mere external joy! Though acts may be external, the attraction is all towards the internal. This is the right path, the true path.
Vishaya Karma includes all activity in relation to exterior objects. It is usually resorted to with a desire for the result. This craving for the consequences leads one to the morass of 'I' and 'mine' and the demons of lust and greed. If one follows this path, there will be sudden flares, just as when ghee is poured in the sacrificial fire! Assigning priority to sense objects or Vishaya is the same as assigning importance to poison or Visha! But while engaged in those activities and in those sense objects, if one has no interest in the result or consequence, then not only can one be victorious over the feelings of 'I' and 'mine', and greed and lust, one can also be far away from all such traits. They will never trouble such a person.
Shreyo Karma or liberating Karma is pure, faultless, unselfish and unswerving. Its characteristic is the importance given to the idea of Nishkama Karma, action without any thought of the fruits thereof, elaborated in the Gita. The practice of that discipline involves the development of Satya, Dharma, Shanti and Prema. While on this path, if one also takes up the discipline of chanting the name of the Lord, where else can one acquire more joy and bliss? Such practices will give the fullest satisfaction.
Continued in Part 4
Continued in Part 4
Source: WATCH Method of Transformational Leadership, Chapter 23, Man Management: A Values-Based Management Perspective