The Art of Action
Actions are flowing out from every living man until he dies–how can they be organised, altered or disciplined in order that these actions, necessarily and inevitably bring about happiness all around in the community and a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction to himself in his own bosom? This is what is called ‘the art of action’
When we act, the glory of action is dependent upon, not the environment, not where you work and how you work, but it is the intention or motive behind the work that lends enchantment to the very work. The work is glorified, it gathers a new momentum, and it is bristling with a new ardour, only because of the ardency or the faithful intentions of the heart behind the worker’s hand.
Take sculpture. After all there are so many sculptors–some of them working upon some rajah, some political leader, some on fairies standing in parks. Now look at the sculptures in temples or churches. The sculptor here not only did the form, but his heart had a great love and reverence for the theme that he was working on. Such sculptured pieces become immortal in the world. It is no more a stone chiseled by iron bits. The pieces start talking. The individual seems to have poured out his personality and beauty of heart into pieces of stone. They are not mere silicon dioxide or mere rock pieces, but they seem to give the immortal message of the heart of the sculptor. So too in painting and writing.
Work cannot but be. The quality of work seems to be dependent upon not only the field where we are working, not only on the theme on which we are working, but also on the ardour and sincerity, the intention, the great motive or ideal that has inspired our heart when we are at work.
All depends upon the type of ideas in our mind. The way in which we behave in the world is altered, controlled, regulated, and commanded, by the type of ideals that inspire us in our actions in the world. The quality of action is improved by the ideals, which illumine and inspire the individual worker in the world outside. Thus, the nobler the ideal, the greater the shine and beauty of action, and such ideals that inspire me at all times to bring out of myself a better efficiency, and beauty of action are called noble ideals or moral ideals. Ideals that bring me to a dispirited and dejected attitude to such an extent that my actions, however efficient they are, ultimately tumble down to doom and sorrow and failure at all times, such ideals are false or immoral.
So, the ideals that inspire me positively and chasten the labour are called noble ideals. The spirit of freedom, the spirit of reverence for your country, the spirit of sacrifice for the sake of society ~ these are inspiring ideals. Under such ideals, mighty men have done great and ennobling activity in the world and fruits of their actions are enjoyed by the future generations for many years. So the higher the ideal that inspires an individual, the nobler is the action that he does in the world outside.
The beauty of an action that you are doing becomes more and more when the ideal on which you are working is noble and great. A Mahatma Gandhi was only a Barrister-at-Law He probably would have been a successful one if he had only looked after his wife and children. But, what would have been the total turnover of his work? On the other hand, the same individual, when he was inspired by the ideal of his country’s freedom, was a different person, a Mahatma, a great soul. It is because of the change in the moral vision of the country and of all the thinkers of the world that he brought about, and the quality-work that he turned out. The quality of it has been higher and nobler because of the high ideals that inspired him.
Discover a Greater Goal
Discovering a goal or vision in life, a great ideal to inspire, surrendering oneself to that ideal, and working in the world outside seems to be the secret of discovering new dynamism in our activities. We thereby raise the very standard of activity in us and thus bring a greater happiness in the world outside. This goal each one will have to discover. As we even discover a goal and surrender ourselves to that goal in life, we hit upon a new column — an unknown column of energy within ourselves.
The great Acharyas have said that having discovered a great goal, surrender yourself to that goal, and thereby discover a new column of energy. Do not allow this energy to be dissipated in the futile memories of the past regrets or failures, nor in the imagined sorrows of the future, nor in the excitement of the present. And thus bring that entire energy focused into activity. That is the highest creative action in the world outside. Thereby the individual who is till now considered most efficient finds his way to the highest achievement and success.
By H.H. Swami Chinmayananda
(This article contains excerpts from ‘Secret of Action’ by Swami Chinmayananda)