How to Approach Daily Work — Advice from the Bhagavad Gita

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This week’s featured exercise is about putting into practice detachment and the waking up of consciousness in the tasks of daily living.

Original article from AncientSacredKnowledge.com

Krishna instructing Arjuna

Krishna instructing Arjuna

In the Bhagavad Gita, an ancient Hindu text, Krishna provides guidance to the warrior Arjuna on how to approach daily work in a spiritually-minded way.

The following passage speaks to concentrating upon what one’s doing and being in self-observation while approaching any work one may do, in order to make the most out of the various tasks to do in daily living.

“When work is done as sacred work, unselfishly, with a peaceful mind, without lust or hate, with no desire for reward, then the work is pure.

But when work is done with selfish desire, or feeling it is an effort, or thinking it is a sacrifice, then the work is impure.

And that work which is done with a confused mind, without considering what may follow, or one’s own powers, or the harm done to others, or one’s own loss, is work of darkness.”

– The Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 18, Verses 23-25.

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About Angela Pritchard

Angela Pritchard is an author and researcher into the universal nature of spirituality and consciousness. She is the co-author of two books on ancient sacred mysteries. Her primary focus is on experiencing spirituality firsthand, including through OBEs, and she has been dedicated to this for the past 10 years. She aims to uncover the hidden roots of what’s really driving the agenda in society and the world in relation to the war on consciousness and awakening, and writes alongside her husband on the website Belsebuub.com.

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  1. Thanks

  2. Thank you very much Angela for bringing up this wonderful quote.

    This is a very inspiring issue for me, which I like and try to reflect on many times. It encourages me so much and gives a meaning to my day.

    I can relate to many things that everyone says here and it encourages me to see that we all pass through similar situations.

    Trying to be clean inside when doing anything is very-very difficult for me, but also very interesting and gives me a more meaningful and interested reason to do any duty in my day.
    I have found that it helps me a lot not to do things just to finish them or because my mind says so persistently that I have to (even if I do have to). That makes me have anxious and doesn’t allow me to concentrate, because my interesting is towards finishing, focused to the next moment and not to the present. It’s very difficult for me to get detached from this ego, but it’s important to capture it, trying again and again. Also it helps me to reconsider what my priorities are and to try to be truly honest with myself and ask what I sincerely want and to no matter how long and how many times I get lost, to continue trying, without disappointment or pressure, just trying to feel and be.

    Praying and asking for help from my heart is necessary for me and gives me insights, shows me different ways to investigate and also gives me the momentum I need.

    There are days when I can’t brake through the continues talk in my mind and notice it’s details, it’s like a strong, thick cloud.
    Many days when I’m completely lost in my subconsciousness and daydreaming and very difficult to remember and try.
    But there come days where I have the strength and enough peace to capture these thoughts and feelings.
    Being in that state. I have noticed there is a particular sense in anything I do and I just have to turn around and pay more attention to it. Then it strengthens and I can understand if I should continue or not the duty, why I’m really doing it, for who, if it’s from my heart and what my heart wants.
    This sense allows me to see the beauty in anything I do and for that gives me some happiness and then I really want to do it and find joy and a real meaning in it. Easily my pride and mind may take this away and this is a continues and hard battle for me to be sincere and clean again and have the will to continue.

    I have been given these experiences only for moments, but these moments are a deep source of strength and happiness for me and this gives me the momentum and need to want to continue trying and investigating.
    Also this helps me see and approach my day and life from a different point of view, where there is deep hope and opportunities to find happiness and get free from the misery in me and also it reveals to me a little about the truth of what’s going on inside of me and of the reality of the situations I go through each time in my day.

    It’s very inspiring and helpful to read everyone’s experiences and insights. Thank you very much all for sharing them.

    Thank you very much Angela once again for this strongly meaningful article. It works like a powerful reminder for me too.

  3. I have also found this quote very useful to reflect on. It is actually shocking to see how things are considering how I approach everyday tasks. But just reading this starts a new revolution inside, so thank you for posting it!

  4. Thanks for that excerpt it relates a bit to what I’ve been studying recently.
    Reading that second paragraph was quite funny, because when I thought about it I realised I feel all those things about my everyday job (at times).
    Honestly I would rather spend my full time on different things instead of a full-time job. But that’s how it is, so best make full use of it for inner learning.

    That’s easier said than done though. To manage to keep the inner level good enough so as to be able to actually learn from the difficulties. Instead of being brought down by them, to a level from which we are not able to learn and change for real. With our degree of consciousness going up against the weight of the low ‘vibrations’ of city life can be so difficult! How easy it is to slip into mediocrity and the limbo of being ‘in-between.’ With time just going by like that.
    But it’s clear that having that inner balance and staying power is needed to self-observe and learn and change. And if that’s the requirement, then that’s the requirement. For me it feels like this is a real skill though, living life like that.

    Not going to far off topic from the quote though :) which perhaps relates more to tasks. It’s nice to see for me how even a small task like brushing one’s teeth every evening can either be troublesome thing that needs to be done, or a wonderfully peaceful and simple thing.

  5. This is something to really strive for, great quote and timely reminder thank you

  6. I have been investigating this quote and find that it helps a lot to reflect on my daily work.

  7. Definitely something to reflect upon. Will try and apply it in the situation I’m in at the moment.

  8. Thank you for sharing this.

    It is the “no desire for reward” that really sets the tone on how I should be approaching any particular task, which makes the other aspects of selflessness and peace, much easier to attain.

  9. I like this excerpt a lot, it has much wisdom in it.

  10. Great passage, thanks Angela and Ancient Sacred Knowledge.

  11. Aleksandr says:

    Thank you for this passage, and the beautiful painting of Krishna and Arjuna. It brings to mind a time past where the spiritual wisdom was cherished above material achievements. It also somehow reminds of a time when the body was different in the way it did things – when the energies were different and the mind pure.

    However, perhaps this is just an idea of a time past. Perhaps now we can do the same, and in times past people faced the same or similar challenges as we do now. May we all have the strength and courage to aspire to this type of work, and to help others achieve it.

  12. Thanks for this exercise. One of my favourite quotes, in a similar vein, is from Martin Luther King:

    “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”

    • Very nice quote Sue. Thanks for sharing it. I guess when things are done with harmony and love it does have a certain effect on the surroundings, even if the action done is “just” sweeping the floor.

  13. Nice timing. I was just exploring this quote over the weekend while doing some gardening. It’s incredible how packed it is with truth.

    • I can definitely relate Vida! thanks for reading this quote last weekend. It really helped me to approach the works we did differently and in a more focused way. Interesting to see it is shared on Belsebuub too. This text especially touches me deeply.

      At the moment I’m staying at Silent Pines Retreat and we continue to investigate this quote as a group. It’s been very helpful to be in such a supportive environment where we read ancient texts and try to see what they mean when we work to expand the place. For me the texts have really become alive.

      • That’s great Roy, I know what you mean. :)

        You know, I can’t get this line out of my head this week – “But when work is done with selfish desire, or feeling it is an effort, or thinking it is a sacrifice, then the work is impure.”

        It’s really weird, even though I’ve read the excerpt a lot of times now, I somehow didn’t see the meaning of ‘thinking it is a sacrifice’ to do work, whatever it may be. I’ve really seen how many times this week I have had these little thoughts of resentment toward what I am doing, whether it just be doing the dishes or cleaning up my daughter’s toys, or other times when I’m doing something that could be considered more valuable etc.

        Kind of like thinking what I am doing is so much higher or more important than someone else, when in reality it isn’t the case, given the kinds of resentments/thoughts that were coming up within me. Kind of like always wanting recognition for what I do, from the micro to the macro.

        So I’ve been investigating this over the week in depth, to see if I can explore being in the present moment, without any seeking for some kind of attention or another and it’s been pretty eye opening to say the least.

        • I know what you mean, Vida. I’ve actually been looking into how a lot of the time if my state doesn’t match what I’m doing the results can be less than perfect. So I’ve been focusing on exploring that more, and this passage has been really helpful. On a related note, for some reason as I was reading it today, another quote came to mind: “Do not lie and do not do what you hate” ~ Jesus, Gospel of Thomas. Seems interesting to contemplate this quote in this context.

          • yeah that’s a great quote Jenny. Funny the thing about lying, I almost think it means more than just regular fibbing, because it really captures how I feel when I am doing something that could be considered noble or helpful etc, and my inner state is the complete opposite and it makes me feel like I’m living a big lie, like I am a big sham. It’s really an interesting thing to look into. Thanks for the quote!

        • Yes I’ve seen those thoughts coming up as well. It’s like the pride wants to latch onto the activity we are doing and feel good about that and show it off. It are the small and subtle thoughts which I find hard to spot and often go unnoticed. For me these thoughts becomes more clear when I sit down and try to still my mind. Often when my mind quietens down those thoughts keep coming back and it’s obvious they have been running in the background. It just shows how important the first part of the text is where it points out the need for a peaceful mind
          “When work is done as sacred work, unselfishly, with a peaceful mind, without lust or hate, with no desire for reward, then the work is pure.”
          So I’m trying to keep my mind as still as possible, and it seems to help to be more detached from the various activities I do. It’s a constant effort not to forget myself and do it naturally though.

          Good luck Vida and see you next weekend!

          • yeah the subtle thoughts are really the most difficult in a way. It’s almost so invisible you can really feel like it’s you and that it really is something to feel justified about. It’s kind of remarkable really when you discover it’s all just an inner state and that you’re fooling yourself. Remarkable and painful at the same time :)

        • Thanks guys. The part you brought up Vida stands out for me as well. I often feel like the work I have to do is “an effort” or “sacrifice”, especially when I have to do something I don’t really feel like doing, and of course, there is bunch of works like that throughout the day. Funny thing about this that I discovered in the past was, that when I had to do a certain type of work, I wished I could instead do the other work. Then, when I had to do that other work, I wished I could do the first one instead… So I found its not even about the type of work, but more about the egos always wanting to do something else than what needs to be done. :-O

          • Lucia, what you said reminds me actually a bit of how it’s like to be when you’re a child (but it still happens as adults, just a bit less obvious). Always wanting what the other person has or is doing, and then when you have it you just don’t really care. It’s almost like a bit of a game inner states can play, a kind of conquering or avoidance as you pointed out. Pretty interesting observation :)

  14. This really spoke to me about some thing I was struggling with today. Excellent words to ponder on before making all kinds of decisions, thank you. :)

  15. Geraldine says:

    This is a passage that I like to remind myself of often because I find it so helpgul to get the big picture.

    When doing any tasks, if I don’t concentrate, but simply do them and observe my mind as I go along with things, I notice how my mind can run wild and get bored or frustrated, the effect i see is that I can become messy or careless with the task itself. May it be cleaning, cooking, or with work, it is all the same as the mind is out of control in a sense. When I observe like this, I practice the death of the egos yet if concentration is not there, it is often over-run and I only die to the big obvious egos that come up and not to the thousands of smaller ones which I don’t see or catch.

    But if I concentrate while observing I tend to want to keep aware longer and there is a yearning for that concentrated peaceful mind to keep being in control so to speak and to defend that srate of being, then I can catch the smaller thoughts and feelings much more simply in a sense and remove them as they come up.

    I can’t say it is easier as the filth that comes up can be shocking (!) and it is painful to see the state I am in, very painful as I don’t want these inner states! Yet, here they are present and manifesting, but it is a different type of energy at the end of the day, as well as during the day, much lighter and calmer, not so tiring.

    So I love that particular quote for all these reasons and to be reminded that to achieve purity in actions is a truly noble goal and achievable one! That is why we’re here for afterall, and everyday is a new chance to learn to develop this understanding and make it happen.

    • beautifully said, Geraldine

    • Thanks for sharing Geraldine :) How precious it is to come to this site and read something that I can relate to on so many levels and how interesting to know that other people are going through similar things. How many sites and places in the world are like that…

      • Geraldine says:

        Oh Olga, how many times do we relate to each other is puzzling, isn’t it? Must be the Aquarian mind :) But then not so much when you start seeing that we all battle the same thing: ourselves and our legion of egos, and we also strive for the same thing: a growing consciousness.

        ” How precious it is to come to this site and read something that I can relate to on so many levels and how interesting to know that other people are going through similar things. How many sites and places in the world are like that…”

        I know the feeling, this site is indeed so precious, so many times, it just feels like it is talking to you in such a needed way it is so refreshing and so helpful. And people’s comments are also part of that, like the post on Anger by Angela, and all the comments that followed were so spot on, and just showed how universal this truly is.

    • He Geraldine,

      I loved your comments as I am in the same boat.

      A few weeks back I finished a meditation practice that could have given the demon Pezuzu ( a real demon made famous from The Exorcist movie ) a run for its money. I immersed from the meditation with my hands in a twisted claw like position when I should have been relaxed.

      Many moons ago when Mark taught me in class and said re:the work “when you think you are doing really well, watch out, as you are doing really badly, AND, when you think you are doing really badly, that’s when you are doing really well as you are actually observing your ego’s and your poor inner states.

      I always use his statement to remind me as I will your acurate observation in saying we al need to be reminded that to achieve purity in actions, is a truly noble goal and achievable one! Afterall, everyday is a new chance to learn to develop this understanding and make it happen.

      • Geraldine says:

        Hi Conn,

        I remember something from an audio talk by Mark, and in it, he said something about how the spiritual work is hard and difficult but that it is also achievable, very achievable otherwise, if it was not, then there would be no point in its existence.

        I also find that it is a good reminder :)