The True Worker
– From Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda to all Chinmaya Mission Workers
Doing ‘seva’ (dedicated service) to the country or the community in the cultural field is a subtle art and everyone is not fit for it. By paying wages, you can get any number of workers, but the number of people available for supervisory cadre would be very much less. Architects, for example, would be also lesser in number while creative thinkers are always very few in the world. Still lesser in number than the creative thinkers are the cultural workers and that is so because the cultural workers must have true sympathy for all living beings.
You can be a religious person, a spiritual seeker, but to impart religion and spirituality to others and watch their progress in cultural edification is vastly subtle, and to work therein, the individuals must have special qualifications.
Cultural work is by its nature creative work which demands a response from that for which it is created. You, the true ‘sevak’ (dedicated worker) should not expect recognition of your work from either the people or from your own organization. To hope for patronage from the public is futile because it is in the nature of your work that not all will patronize and very few will understand you. But once the public does recognize the cultural worker, they will lay enough adulation at your feet even to the point of destroying you. Either way, the cultural worker faces a hazard.
You, the worker, must be capable of surviving both neglect and appreciation. That itself is a great ‘tapascharya’ (austerity) and this capacity you can discover in yourself only when you are in love with the work—and not with the persons or institution.
This is a kind of ‘fanaticism’, but without its bad odor. You do your work with fervor because you are convinced that it is ‘the thing to be done’. You do it not necessarily for your sake, not necessarily for your country’s sake, or that of your community, but you do it out of a strong conviction that it must be done, and not to do it will be an agony. If that feeling has not come in you, you can all be only labeled as ‘sevaks’, you cannot work effectively in the field of culture.
For this reason, though we have many great souls and great leaders of thought, very few have been able to achieve anything or leave a mark on the cultural life of the country. Mighty individuals they may be. They may be able to start schools and hospitals, but at the end of their lives, to leave the country at least one inch superior culturally and morally, they should be made of sterner material. Ordinary mortals with their sentimental emotions, with all their weaknesses and passions cannot achieve it. You, the cultural leader may not even look like a hero, but your dynamism will come from the self-sufficiency within, from your conviction of the goal and the program to achieve it.
Without conviction no real work is possible for the true worker. This conviction can never be thrust from above. It must come from within. We must be in love with our ideal, the very purpose of our work. From the glory of our ‘vision’ within will come the gloriously effective work outside.
By conviction I do not mean an intellectual conviction, but an incapacity to be otherwise. Your work must compel you to act, it must be as intimate as your breathing. Even when you are drowning deep under water, when you know air is not there, still you breathe in the water. Why? Without breathing you cannot remain. The muscles in your thorax, the muscles of your face and the throat will demand it. Just as the compulsion is there to breathe under water, if you feel such a compulsion for cultural work, then not to work is agony. Such an individual is the true worker in the spiritual field.
To be a true worker is in itself the greatest ‘tapas’ that is known to us. It is a great Sadhana (spiritual practice) because you cannot take away your mind from it. There is no other greater ‘tapas’ possible.
It is not always by giving money that you become useful. Give your spiritual wealth. Give those ideas that you have thought out, understood and lived, so that a person, having once come near you, should always hunger to come back. This is the quality of a sevak.
The true spiritual worker must calmly work on in the face of jealousy, passions and competitions, even within his or her own institution. You cannot avoid these things. To expect it to be otherwise is foolish. Our work is not outside this world, and this is the nature of the world. Also in the world, in trying to do good, you are likely to get only kicks. Don’t wait for the consolation of getting appreciation from others. Discover goodness in yourself. Seek it in others and do as much good as you can. You will then find that every moment is rewarding. You will find your happiness in the feeling of doing what you wanted to do in the world. This must be the attitude of sevaks, the workers.
Seek peace in the midst of turmoil. Remember what Gandhiji said to a serene Swami of Uttarkasi: “In peace there is peace. Why should I seek it? I am seeking peace in the midst of restlessness.”
We too have carved for ourselves a momentous plan of tremendous work. We are moving in restlessness. The noblest Sadhana of the highest order is for each of us to carry our mental peace wherever we go. That true worker with such supreme equanimity is His mighty sevak.