Symbols of the world's religions



Meher Baba

The man of the world believes that to have understood a thing intellectually is to have learned it. The true lesson in action, though, involves the wearing out of the sanskaras and the "wants" they engender.

To learn in this sense it is not enough to comprehend intellectually. Learning may be a lengthy process which moves slowly through many, many repetitions of difficult situations. Learning has not been accomplished until one has been freed from all emotional entanglement. This is almost — if not entirely — impossible without the aid of a master. It is for this reason that when the aspirant realizes the master's true contribution, he greets the master with much joy.

All action, except that which is intelligently designed to attain God-realization, binds consciousness. It is not only an expression of accumulated ignorance, but also a further addition to that accumulated ignorance. Sometimes the pilgrim becomes so weary of recognizing that each act, instead of unwinding a knot in the inner being, has only tightened it harder, that he wonders whether it is wise to continue a life of action.

In many ways, inaction is preferable to unintelligent action, for it has at least the merit of not creating further sanskaras. Even good action creates sanskaras and adds to the complications created by past actions.

All life is an effort to achieve freedom from self-created entanglement. It is a desperate struggle to undo what had been done in ignorance; to throw away the accumulated burden of the past; to seek rescue from the debris piled high from temporary achievements and failures. Life strives to unwind the limiting sanskaras and find release from the mazes of its own making, to ensure that its further creations might spring directly from the heart of eternity and bear the stamp of the unhampered freedom and intrinsic richness of being that knows no limitation.

Action that is aimed at attaining God is truly intelligent and spiritually fruitful because it brings release from bondage. It is second only to that action which springs spontaneously from the state of divine knowledge itself. All other forms of action (however good or bad and however effective or ineffective from the worldly point of view) contribute to bondage of the soul and, as such, are inferior to inaction.

Inaction is less helpful than intelligent action, but it is better than unintelligent action, for it amounts to the non-doing of that which would have created a binding. The transition from unintelligent action to intelligent action (i.e. from binding karma to unbinding karma) is often through inaction. This is the stage when unintelligent action has stopped because of critical doubt, and intelligent action has not yet begun because adequate momentum has not been achieved. This special type of inaction, which plays a definite part in progress on the path, should not be confused with ordinary inaction that springs from inertia or fear of life.

The state of inaction that springs from critical doubt gives way sooner or later to intelligent action, and intelligent action in turn is dissolved in the final goal of perfect inaction. Perfect inaction does not mean inactivity. When self is absent, one achieves inaction in one's every action, however excessive it be. Various of the yogas, such as Karma Yoga and Dnyan Yoga, can be instrumental in achieving the end of all action by practicing inaction in the midst of intense activity.

The only way to live a life of absolute inaction is to surrender completely to a Perfect Master. Then one dies entirely to oneself and lives only for the Perfect Master, acting and fulfilling the dictates of the beloved one.


LISTEN, HUMANITY, pp. 177-178, ed D. E. Stevens
1982 © Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust


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