Jun 30, 2010

How to handle work pressure and practice devotion?

Question by devotee: I am working with a finance firm. My dilemma is my job asks for too much of sales pressure and by the time I go home, my head is filled with the hardships of my work. I am not able to do sadhana because of that. I had read in one of your message that enthusiasm is very necessary for sadhana. Because of my work, I am not able to do anything and nirasha, or disappointment, is covering me completely. I am feeling very helpless. Not able to remember Maharajji, not able to go and meet him.

Answer by Swamiji: There are two ways of remembering God and Guru. The first way is to sit down and meditate on Them. The second way is to work with this consciousness, "I am doing this work for their pleasure." The second may be more difficult, but it takes us to a higher level of Divine love. This is because it develops the spirit of service, or seva.

Even though your present job may be burdensome, you can easily do the second kind of remembrance. Whatever you earn from your job, use a portion of it to serve the mission of your Gurudev. In this way, by offering the fruits of your work to God, after having met your basic needs, you will develop the consciousness that you are working for His pleasure. You will then not look at your work as separate from your devotion, but as an integral part of it.
This is the Karmyog of the Bhagavad Geeta:

yatkaroṣhi yadaśhnāsi yajjuhoṣhi dadāsi yat |
yattpasyasi kaunteya tatkuruṣhva madarpaṇaṁ ||
"Arjun! Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever austerities you perform, and whatever you give away, do it as an offering to Me." 

Along with working in this spirit, whenever you find the time, you should also practice the first kind of remembrance. Whenever you can spare the time, simply sit and think of Them. This will help you block out worldly consciousness from your mind and strengthen your devotional sentiment. So, do go and spend some days a year with your Gurudev as well, whenever your yearly schedule permits.

You may be thinking that if you did not have to work at all, then you could have spent all your time in devotion. However, there are two kinds of vairagya, or detachment. The first kind is when you find the world as painful and burdensome, and want to run away from it. Shree Krishna calls it rajasic detachment (detachment in the mode of passion):

duḥkhamityeva yatkarma kāyakleśhabhayātyajet |
sa kitvā rājasa tyāga naiva tyāgaphala labhet ||
"Giving up one's work, thinking it to burdensome and painful, is to be considered rajasic detachment, which it does not lead to divine fruits."

The second kind of detachment is where you continue working, while giving up attachment to the results. In other words, you practice to become equanimous in pain and pleasure, success and failure, hardship and luxury, favourable and unfavourable situations. Shree Krishna calls this sattvic detachment (detachment in the mode of goodness):

kāryamityeva yatkarma niyataṁ kṛiyaterjuna |
saṅg tyaktvā phalaṁ chaiva sa tyāgaḥ sātviko mataḥ ||
"Performing one's work, simply because it is to be performed, while giving up attachment to the fruits, is sattvic detachment."

Hence, the proper path for spiritual progress is to practice devotion along with our prescribed work, even though it may be painful and burdensome. When our detachment develops to such an extent that we no longer find our work burdensome, no matter how difficult it may be, on then should we consider giving up work, and performing devotion full time. However, this step of karma sanyas is taken only under the guidance of the Guru. The vast majority of the people will have to do karmyog, where they continue doing their work, but make their consciousness divine.

While doing karmyog, you can remember God and Guru in other ways as well. Practice to feel Their presence with you. Think that They are with you and are watching you. Make Them your witness in every activity that you perform. This will help you keep your mind in the Divine realm, while you do your worldly duties with your body.