The Divine Doer of All Works

The Isha Upanishad, as translated by Sri Aurobindo, makes the following statement: “Doing verily works in this world one should wish to live a hundred years. Thus it is in thee and not otherwise than this; action cleaves not to a man.”

The Gita expands upon this cryptic verse in its exposition of Karmayoga. The Gita rejects the idea that one must abandon life and action in the world in order to attain salvation. Sri Aurobindo explains: “Akarma, cessation from action is not the way; the man who has attained to the insight of the highest reason, perceives that such inaction is itself a constant action, a state subject to the workings of Nature and her qualities.”

“This is what the Gita clearly means when it says that he who in action can see inaction and can see action still continuing in cessation from works, is the man of true reason and discernment among men.”

There is no specific form of action that is exempt from its role. The legends are filled with stories of seekers who were sent for a teaching to a butcher or a housewife, had to overcome their preconceived ideas of “superiority” in order to learn the truth of liberation of the soul that does its work from the standpoint of the divine worker, and not from subjection to the ego and its desires. “No outward distinctions need be made, is the reply; no work the world needs, be shunned; no limit or hedge set round our human activities; on the contrary, all actions should be done, but from a soul in Yoga with the Divine….”

“Therefore the liberated man is not afraid of action, he is a large and universal doer of all works…; not as others do them in subjection to Nature, but poised in the silent calm of the soul, tranquilly in Yoga with the Divine.”

“To do all in this liberating knowledge, without the personal egoism of the doer, is the first sign of the divine worker.”

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, First Series, Chapter 18, The Divine Worker, pp. 169-170

and Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads, Isha Upanishad, pg. 19, Verse 2