Mantra 2.. contd..
कुर्वन्नेवेह कर्माणि जिजीविषेत शतं समाः
Action is generally an effort towards the achievement of an end. Man does not simply exist. He ever tries to become something else. He is never satisfied with simply existing. He wishes to change, to become. The impulse for action is ingrained in the very constitution of the individual. Action has become an indispensable part of the individual self. Action cannot be cast off, because it is not separate from the form of the make-up of the individual. The whole life of man is action. It is the nature of his action that determines the nature of his life. Action is the expression of the will to live through an instrument of action, namely, the mind and the body. Jijivisha or wish to live has as its effects the desire to possess and develop relations with external phenomena, which are created by the same desire in the fashion of its own constitution so that it may find what it wishes to find. That undesirable objects and conditions also are found in the world is due to a confusion in the desirer of what he actually wishes to have. The desiring subject is not clear about its own wants. This confusion ends in the commission of several unwise deeds which are due to lack of insight involved in the taking of the desired course of action. This confusion happens because all actions are, generally, one-sided in their motive. Generally an action is done only with the constricted vision which alone is allowed by that particular course of action without the correct knowledge of all its consequences. When a physician prescribes a medicine for the cure of a disease it is not enough if he just knows that a particular medicine has got the capacity to counteract that disease. He should also know what reactions the drug may bring about in the patient in spite of its allaying that one disease. The individual, when it wants to fulfil a desire, simply knows what action is able to fulfil that desire, without knowing that that same action may disturb several other aspects of life and bring to him as a reaction great grief later on, though it may temporarily enchant the desirer to believe that the desire is fulfilled. This is why the world is both pleasurable and miserable; it is the effect of desires as well as their unforeseen consequences. An individual is born in a particular condition or environment because the individual either wished to live in such a condition or it is the consequence or reaction of certain actions which it performed either voluntarily or being compelled by the impressions of previous actions. The miseries of the world are the forms of the reactions of foolish and deluded actions performed previously by the inhabitants thereof. The world is the name given to the manner in which the individuals experience in their own selves the reactions of their own desires and actions. The universe is the shadow cast by the desires of the individuals, and it is what the desires are and what the desires sweep away from pure existence as they move towards fulfilment.
Action, ordinarily, therefore, is a movement of the self towards the not-self and extra-ordinarily a movement of the not-self towards the Self. But generally the latter process is not included in the category of what we understand by action. The latter is the natural absorption of the Spirit into itself, a genuine unfoldment, or rather the pristine illumination of itself to itself. It is therefore the process of the cessation of action, though all processes are actions in the strict sense. By action we mean the expression of a desire, and movement towards Truth is not the effect of a desire, because it is a desire to destroy desire, an effort to stop effort. Such a desire is not a desire, and such an action is not an action. It is the flaming march of the soul towards its extension into infinity. When Shankara contends that action and knowledge are like darkness and light respectively, he refers to the action of the ego directed to the acquisition of objects and states circumscribed by space, time and causation. Such an action is evidently alien to the characteristics of the knowledge of Truth.
The human being is included in the outward Nature and therefore he has to obey the law of Nature. viz., action or change for the better. By human being we mean an outer crust of conscious life, the changing superficial vestment of true being. Hence, the human being is the form of a transient cloak put on and animated by the eternal Self. The more the love for a thing, the more one becomes the slave of that thing. Man is a slave of the body because he loves it and because of this love he has to act. Therefore, the wise aspirant should perform action knowing that it is not possible to cease from action as long as he is bound by human consciousness. But this should be done with the knowledge of the limitations of action, with the knowledge that action not properly guided by right discrimination may lead to self- imprisonment and sorrow.
This mantra of the Upanishad lays down the law of action, that one should wish to live by performing action, because wishing to live and ceasing from action do not go hand in hand. If man wishes to live, he has to act. If he does not act, he cannot live. Freedom from action does not simply mean freedom from bodily movement, but freedom from objective thinking, feeling and willing. The second mantra refers to life in the mind and the body, while the first to life in the Spirit.