Inaction is no protection from reaction
If we find ourselves in an epidemic-hit area, we will be anxious to avoid getting infected or, if we have already been infected, to be treated. Similarly, when we become spiritually informed, we understand that we are in a world afflicted by the epidemic of materialism and are already infected. This infection comes in the form of germ-like material desires. Such desires impel us to material actions, which beget karmic reactions that come as the various miseries of material existence.
So, we may infer, as do many spiritual tyros, that because action causes reaction, giving up action will protect us from reaction. However, Gita wisdom reveals that what causes reaction is not action per se, but the selfish materialistic motivation actuating that action, just as what causes the disease is not its external symptoms but the internal germs. And what leads to liberation is not giving up action, but giving up that selfish motivation, just as what cures the disease is not suppressing the symptoms but removing the germs. Therefore, we can give up material motivation efficaciously not merely by giving up all action but by taking up spiritual action, specifically selfless action for serving the all-attractive Absolute Truth, Krishna. Pertinently, the Bhagavad-gita (03.09) endorses working in a sacrificial spirit for his sake.
What is the rationale for such action?
Firstly, at our present materialistic level of consciousness all our actions are materially, selfishly motivated, so to give up such actions, we will have to give up all actions – a veritably impossible task, as the Gita (03.05) stresses.
Secondly because Krishna is the reservoir of all happiness, serving him brings spiritual fulfillment. Experiencing that fulfillment helps us realize that giving up selfish action is the path of not deprivation but of higher satisfaction, thereby making our journey to liberation easier, swifter and sweeter.
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