In The World But Not of the World


Spirituality has nothing at all to do with callousness or lethargy. A lazy fellow who daydreams and does nothing useful should not be mistaken for a saint. People have this fear they say, “If I get absorbed in Brahman what will happen to my work?” This is merely an excuse invented by the mind to prevent you from moving in the right direction. First of all, the man who is a serious seeker, seeks the Supreme Reality seriously, not caring for the consequences.

What happens to the performance of daily duties is not his concern. However, he realizes after studying the lives of great Self-realised beings who lived in the past, that, far from being or becoming inert or inactive, great sages, after realizing the Supreme Reality, had always performed their functions much more efficiently and had done such marvelous work that ordinary mortals were astounded.

The fact is that such persons are not single-handed. They are million-handed, for the infinite Brahman works through them. Consider the examples of the great Shankaracharya, for instance, or more recently, the mighty Swami Vivekananda. Kabirdas worked on his loom while he sang his divine songs. Then there was the great King Janaka, a king who ruled his kingdom so well and yet was absorbed in Brahman. In the forest on the outskirts of Videha, the rishi Yajnavalkya used to give spiritual discourses and conduct dialogues on the Reality. The seat in the front row was always reserved for Janaka. Some of the sannyasis and recluses who lived in the forest thought that Yajnavalkya was swayed by the power of the throne for this prejudicial distinction. Sometimes they even expressed their misgivings. Yajnavalkya didn’t attempt to answer them. One day, a messenger came gasping for breath and shouted that Janaka’s palace in Videha was on fire and that the fire was spreading to the nearby forest. Many of the hermits immediately sprang up and ran to save their few belongings, while Janaka sat unperturbed and steady on his seat waiting for his teacher to continue his discourse. “This,” said Yajnavalkya to the so-called pursuers of Truth, “is the difference between you and Janaka. He is the king and lives in a palace but is totally unattached to it. His mind is anchored in Brahman. You are hermits, yet your mind is always anchored to the few trinkets in your huts.”


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