On Vivekananda, Tracelessness, Work, And Impurity

Posted by Preeta Bansal on Mar 27, 2015
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In working to put together some bios for some beautiful upcoming Awakin call guests, I've been struck by how many beautiful souls live their lives without a digital trace, or little of one, and how privileged I feel to be able to work to try and assemble their stories into something so prosaic as a biographical narrative -- helping to bring forth some of their ideas and visions and ways of being to the world. This all has reminded me of a beautiful passage about work and impurity, tracelessness and purity from Vivekananda, in Karma Yoga:
 
"The greatest men in the world have passed away unknown. The​ Buddhas and the Christs that we know are but second-rate heroes in comparison with the greatest men of whom the world knows nothing. Hundreds of these unknown heroes have lived in every country working silently. Silently they live and silently they pass away; and in time their thoughts find expression in Buddhas or Christs, and it is these latter that become known to us. The highest men do not seek to get any name or fame from their knowledge.  They leave their ideas to the world; they put forth no claims for themselves and establish no schools or systems in their name.  Their whole nature shrinks from such a thing. They are the pure Sattvikas, who can never make any stir, but only melt down in love. ...

"Next in order come the men with more ... activity, combative natures, who take up the ideas of the perfect ones and preach them to the world. The highest kind of men silently collect true and noble ideas, and others--the Buddhas and Christs--go from place to place preaching them and working for them. In the life of Gautama Buddha we notice him constantly saying that he is the twenty-fifth Buddha. The twenty-four before him are unknown to history, although the Buddha known to history must have built upon foundations laid by them. The highest men are calm, silent, and unknown. . . . They will enter deep into human hearts and brains and raise up men and women who will give them practical expression in the workings of human life. These Sattvika men are too near the Lord to be active and to fight, to be working, struggling, preaching, and doing good, as they say, here on earth to humanity. The active workers, however good, have still a little remnant of ignorance left in them.

"When our nature has yet some impurities left in it, then alone can we work. It is in the nature of work to be impelled ordinarily by motive and by attachment. . . . The highest men cannot work, for in them there is no attachment. Those whose whole soul is gone into the Self, those whose desires are confined in the Self, who have become ever associated with the Self, for them there is no work. Such are indeed the highest of mankind; but apart from them every one else has to work. In so working we should never think that we can help on even the least thing in this universe. We cannot. We only help ourselves in this gymnasium of the world. This is the proper attitude of work. If we work in this way, if we always remember that our present opportunity to work thus is a privilege which has been given to us, we shall never be attached to anything."
 
Feeling blessed -- from somewhere farther down in the spiritual food chain -- to be able to try to work through some of my impurities in this satisfying way, on behalf of those purer souls who leave little trace!       

Posted by Preeta Bansal | Tags: vivekananda work | permalink


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Comments (5)

  • Viral Mehta wrote ...

    incredible -- thanks for sharing, preeta! for those who haven't read this short passage by vinoba on servant leaders, it ends with another related and beautiful thought: "When we will all see our role in society as servants, we will all light up the sky together like countless stars on a dark night. Don’t think of society as the sky on a full moon night. The moon's harsh light blinds us to the true and humble work of the stars. But on a moonless night, the true servants shine forth, as though they are connected invisibly in this vast and infinite cosmos."
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  • Birju Pandya wrote ...

    thank you Preeta! this reflection sheds beautiful light to be on a curious occurrence within the SS ecosystem. the people who are driving so much of the efforts are more and more invisible, and the rest of us (me included) end up receiving kudos LOL. it creates an interesting virtuous cycle, where over time the aspiration of the group is to dissolve in the same direction as the holders of the space.

  • Amit wrote ...

    First, thank you for your invisible service in helping bring so many unsung heroes to light on the Awakin Calls. Second, thank you for sharing this great passage by Vivekananda...to overcome the ego and to behave in pure love (as opposed to pure ego) without a selfish thought or the tiniest and most subtle of ulterior motives is truly remarkable and something to strive toward. Viral's reflection and Vinoba quote is spot on....here's to being one of those humble stars in the infinite sky :)

  • Immanual S Joseph wrote ...

    Beautiful thoughts from Swami Vivekananda. Thank you for sharing

  • Immanual S Joseph wrote ...

    Beautiful thoughts from Swami Vivekananda. Thank you for sharing