To Become Work-Efficient is Yoga

May - Jun 2003

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Yoga is acquiring perfect efficiency in a work. A writer of good expressive poetry is an efficient poet. An efficient artisan is one who builds a good house and an efficient artist is that who is able to exhibit the right emotions and gestures in a play. Acquisition of skill or proficiency in a work or activity is thus to become work efficient. This is called yoga in spiritual terms. An acrobat performs a variety of feats like rope-walking, climbing, jumping etc. He executes all the movements with precision and control, without the slightest bit of faltering.
If a work is done in the proper way, without mistakes, and with greater degree of success than that achieved by others, we would say that the doer has acquired proficiency in that work. We can also say that the person is a yogi in that particular field of work. When we are engaged in an activity our organs of sensations and action and also the mind and chitta  all function in unison and in one direction.
We can observe this in a simple activity like white-washing a wall. One hand holds the bucket; the other wields the brush while the feet are firmly planted on the ladder. These different organs, even though engaged in different functions, had one common goal to achieve, viz., lime-washing the wall. The eyes kept informing: "Here is a patch to be done, this much portion is complete, and the lime is over there and so on". The chitta was also centred in that direction. Was the work progressing in the right direction?
How beautiful did the wall look? The chitta-vrttis were alert. The task could be successfully completed because all the processes - functional, supervisory and analytical  were going on simultaneously and in coordination. Had even one of these faculties not cooperated, problems would have cropped up and the work not finished. Body-organs are not capable of functioning on their own. They are guided and controlled by the mind. Hence, it is the mind which is held responsible for any success or failure. If the bullock-cart falls into a ditch, it is not the fault of the cart. This inanimate thing has no sense, it is not self-propelled. Even the bullocks cannot be held responsible. Their nose-strings are controlled by the cart-puller, whose commands they have to follow.
Hence, the blame must lie with the driver. The entire responsibility for safe driving was his. In successful completion of any work by the body, mind is the regulator and controller. Other organs are mere instruments which become activated at the command of the mind. The cause of error or failure in a work is the disorganized state of mind. If the work is done haphazardly, if there is lack of seriousness and the thoughts are not focussed, it would almost certainly result in a faulty execution or downright failure. It is possible to make mistakes in a work about which one knows very little.
One has to learn the methods and procedures. Still many complexities may arises. But these problems, too, can be tackled with a calm and composed chitta and fully focussed mind. The rules of arithmetical operations are the same for every one- first the operation of thick line, then, in sequences, brackets of, division, multiplication and lastly, addition or subtraction. Every student learns this general rule.
Yet, while doing the sum, one student follows the set procedure and obtains the correct answer, whereas the answer of another one is found wrong. This is because the latter committed the error in the steps. His chitta was not concentrated on the task at hand. The same principle holds good in every walk of life. Full dedication, concentration and sincerity lead to success. Without these qualities the right direction of work is not created resulting in defective or unsatisfactory outcome. A person may be unaware of the nature of an object. But, in the realm of action, if his efforts bear no fruit the reasons can only be attributed to the fickleness and instability of his chitta. Patanjali Yogasutra says, - "Yogah chittavrittinirodhah". That is, yoga is to control the wayward flow of tendencies of chitta. In other words, to become fully involved in the task at hand is yoga. The Gita expresses the same thought thus  "yogah karmasu kausalam" (to acquire proficiency in work is yoga). Both definitions are one and the same, whether we call yoga, work-efficiency or control of chitta-vrittis. Only by control of vrittis or full concentration can efficiency be achieved. The core idea in each case is that for success in any activity composure of chitta or full dedication is a pre-requisite. Mistakes generally occur because of a restless chitta. Indeed, even an error can only be noticed when the chitta is calm. In a state of agitation, the mind of the doer is somewhere else, and not on the target. Consequently, he is indifferent towards the result. No wonder, such results are bad.
For learning any skill or obtaining knowledge about a thing, too, the right course is to pay rapt attention to what the instructor is saying or doing. Even self-study does not mean merely going through the motions of reading.
This would lead to no mental or moral development. Contemplation of what is read, is essential; otherwise the exercise would be meaningless. A student may wonder how he has been failed in spite of his reading the books many times. What he does not realize is that he merely skimmed the words and sentences; he did not apply his mind to the meanings of the text.
Any reading, or any bit of information, only when subjected to reasoning and analysis becomes knowledge. The thoughts should be then translated into action. Only then self-study acquires meaning and rationale. Merely voicing the written words is not enough. Actions done in a cavalier manner or with sinful motive only increase inner turmoil; they are unable to give happiness or satisfaction.
Contentment comes only from acquiring efficiency in the right actions and conduct. Excessive materialism increases mans propensity for wrong doing. People are increasingly developing negative qualities of pretentiousness and chicanery, turning the modern society into a yoga-deviant society. The powers of mind and body, without proper channelling and discipline are causing a variety of ills.
This is the sole cause of mans unhappiness today. To achieve peace, we will have to revisit the past and derive inspiration from its perennial wisdom which would rekindle and spread sat vrittis (right tendencies) in the society.
If mans vivek, jnan and vaibhav (reason, wisdom and glory) increase, then yoga will emerge out of that. The basis of enduring peace lies in mankinds deep commitment to satkarma (right action). Only then it would be possible to remove those shortcomings which are responsible for the air of indifference and ennui which pervades the modern day living.

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