New Man : New World: [13] Working Proficiency

Published: 22.12.2008

The Gita says, proficiency in work is Yoga. It is one of the definitions of Yoga. It can also be said that Yoga acts as one of the means of proficiency in work. Proficiency in work can be understood only in the context of physical, mental and emotional health.

The Purpose of Work

It is not obligatory to work. What makes it obligatory is its necessity. We work as much as is necessary. Work in itself has no meaning. Man works according to his needs. Work is dependent on the purpose in view. Once the purpose is achieved the work comes to an end. There is a saying, “Even a dull-witted man does not work without a purpose.” Purpose is important for any activity. What is our purpose? It is to fulfil the basic needs of life-food, clothing, shelter, education, medical aid etc. Work grows with the growth of needs.

Work is Skill

Industrial and business expansion has taken place in modern times. Thousands of workers found work. With it arose the question of work proficiency. But discussion about proficiency in working is nothing new. It existed in ancient times too. What is, however, significant is the meaning we give to the word proficiency. Proficiency in working lies in ensuring that it does not obstruct or harm some other good. For example, if proficiency in working harms physical health, it is not proper. Today, work and activities have multiplied to the extent that physical health is being adversely affected. Even greater harm is being caused to mental and emotional health. Proficiency is something, which does good but no harm. It should not be like an allopathic drug that cures one disease but in the process gives birth to ten new ones. It should have no side effects or reactions leading to a new disease. Skilled or efficient treatment cures the disease without creating a new complication. Modern man is certainly more proficient in working, but the increase in work proficiency has been accompanied by increased disorganization of the mind.

Everything within Limits

Indian thought has from time to time addressed itself to defining limits to the four basic aims of human existence:

  • Dharma (discharge of duty)
  • Artha (acquirement of wealth)
  • Kama (gratification)
  • Moksha (final emancipation)

It has been said that gratification, which comes in the way of earning wealth, is undesirable; acquiring wealth, which prevents gratification, is also bad. Again, both Artha and Kama turn degrading if they stand in the way of practising the discharge of duty and keeping the soul pure.

Another Aspect

We shall have to consider many aspects while discussing skill or proficiency. Does increase in proficiency affect health? Is it not giving rise to increased mental deflection, craziness and insanity? If that is the case, it cannot be called competence or proficiency. A nation may boast of developed working proficiency leading to that nation's domination of the world market. So far, so good. But look at another aspect. The development and domination have been accompanied by an increase in suicides and divorces besides increased mortality and widespread insomnia. Shall we recognize it as a true increase in working proficiency? Things have to be balanced, so that with the increase in working proficiency, there must be a simultaneous and proportionate increase in physical and mental health.

The Concept of Development

Modern concept of development and working proficiency are simply confined to material aspects. All other dimensions of the mind have been relegated to a secondary position. In fact, mental awareness has lost almost all its value. No one minds mental degradation. It is insisted that material development should have no bars. The stress is on multi-storey buildings, latest cars, speedier aeroplanes, spacecraft and building cities in the oceans and in outer space. Development and proficiency are increasing in all directions, but, alas, no attention is being paid to making a better man. Today's man is anguished and perturbed beyond imagination. But it causes no concern. If at all, one feels worried about it, one resorts to tranquillizers and other pills, weakening the mental state all the more. Such a concept of development is difficult to understand.

The real Criterion is emotional Health

Proficiency in work is not possible in the absence of emotional health. There is no parameter whereby emotional health may be judged but it can be tested through an individual's behaviour. Behaviourally, four criteria of emotional health can be laid down:

    • Peace of mind
    • Polite behaviour
    • Steady behaviour
    • Contentment

We can assess proficiency in work by observing the increase or decrease in the above four characteristics. Is proficiency increasing mental unrest, is it obstructing polite behaviour, is it agitating the mind or making it unsteady and is it making one conceited and devious and insatiably greedy? If so, the so-called proficiency is counter-productive.

What, after all, is the purpose of proficiency? Everything is being done to make man happy, but in reality, he is disintegrating. Our work and activities are unavailing and meaningless. Therefore, the first definition of work proficiency is that it does not obstruct, impede and adversely affect any other aspect of life.

Thinking, Deciding and Implementing

Let us consider the means of proficiency. For it a proper strategy of work will have to be prepared. Whatever the work, it should be done in a planned manner. Lenin gave a fine principle of work proficiency: There should be no hiatus between deliberation, decision and its implementation. There should be harmony among all the three. A thought comes today, a decision about it is taken a year thereafter and it is implemented five years later. This should not happen. It has been called dirghasutrata in Sanskrit literature. A Sanskrit tale illustrates it.

A few scholars were invited to dinner. They were served vermicelli. One of the scholars was reminded of the maxim: That which is long and dilatory is destroyed. Since the vermicelli is long and not straight, it should not be eaten. From it follows the conclusion that one who goes on thinking without coming to a decision meets with total failure. Time takes a heavy toll in this case.

Where has the Milk gone?

A cow's capacity to yield milk diminished. From five kilos it came down to one kilo. The owner thought that there would be a marriage in the family in a month and at that time some fifty kilos of milk would be needed. He thought of stopping milking the cow so that on the occasion of the marriage, he could get full fifty kilos of milk from out of the cow. He implemented his thought and stopped milking the cow. When the wedding day came, he started milking it but not a drop came out. He wondered where all the milk had gone. Obviously time had sucked it away.

Postponing a piece of work instead of doing it at the right time results in courting failure. Proficiency of work requires following two important principles:

    • No long gaps between thinking, deciding and implementing
    • Nothing should be done impetuously, with unthinking hastiness

Developing Concentration

If we look at the above matter in the context of Preksha Dhyan, the first principle of proficiency of work is development of concentration. In fact the word Dhyan itself implies development of concentration. The second principle is freeing the mind of all thoughts, attaining the state beyond the mind. First of all we should learn to stick to a point, to get engrossed in the thing under consideration, to direct all mental energy to the task in hand, to remove the gap between the work and the mind on the one hand and between the work and our world of emotions on the other. Anger and conceit spoil the work. Conscientious efforts with inner resolution should inform the work. Total dedication is a pre-requisite to proficiency of work.

An Example of Dedication

It relates to a slave bazaar in an Arab country long ago. One of the customers asked a slave: “I want to buy you. Will you like to go with me?”
“Of course, I will.”
“What work will you do?”
“Whatever you will ask me to do.”
“Where will you stay?”
“Wherever you will like to keep me.'
“What will you eat?”
“Anything you will give me to eat.”
“Where will you sleep?”
“At any place you will want me to.”

The customer kept asking questions, but the answer was the same, “As you wish.” Close by was standing a Muslim mendicant, He was taken aback to hear the conversation. He had now realised why his spiritual practice was not bearing fruit. He thought that if an ordinary slave could be so dedicated to his master, it was all the more reason for him to be many times more dedicated to his master. Complete dedication leads to total proficiency. One who wants to attain success in the practice of meditation will have to follow these words: Success can be achieved only when all the stages from complete unity to total dedication have been crossed. Concentration can be thought of in many ways staying at a point or establishing complete identification, becoming one as milk and sugar, and dedicating absolutely.

Live in the Present

The second principle requires that we live in the present. Everything in the present, experiencing, living and breathing. When we breathe we do it in the present, neither in the past, nor in the future. We do think of the past and of the future, but we breathe only in the present. Breath becomes an important prop of concentration. The moment we fix attention on breathing, we land in the present. Bhavkriya has taken place. Jain literature uses two words: Dravyakriya and Bhavkriya, the first implies death, the latter life. Bhavkriya means living or vital activity. Therefore living in the present is an important principle of proficiency in work.

Concentration and Proficiency in Work

Dedicated practice is necessary for concentration. Practice increases concentration. There are people who have increased their proficiency through breathing and perception of psychic centres. It automatically increased their concentration. One of its outcome was availability of increased spare time. As one of the practitioners said, as a result of practising concentration, he could do in three hours what he did in five to seven hours earlier. It gave him a lot of spare time, which he further invested in practising concentration.

This is not surprising. If we carefully examine the matter, we will find that we spend more time in hesitation and indecision than in doing our work. We start an activity but before we see it through, the work is obstructed by doubts and indecision. A lot of energy is wasted. Those who have practised saying a rosary know that after saying a hymn or two only the mind gets deflected in some intruding thought and the meditation aimed at abstaining from sinful activities is disturbed.

An Incident

There is a story in one of the commentaries. There was an ascetic called Prasannachand Rajarshi. He was standing under a tree in a Kayotsarg posture. King Shrenik passed by him with a man called Durmukh walking ahead of him. He in reality was what his name meant, a foul-mouthed man. As soon as he saw the ascetic, he remarked, "See this sage of a man standing and pretending to meditate, while an enemy has attacked the kingdom of his son making him face successive defeats." Hearing it, Rajarshi thought only of his son being defeated in a war. Meditation ceased and the war, which continued in his mind for several hours began. There was no battlefield, no enemy, no hostile army before; yet in his inner world a war broke out with his whole mind absorbed into it.

Shrenik soon arrived where Mahavira was and asked, "Revered One, Sage Rajarshi is deep in meditation in the Kayotsarg posture. If he dies now, where will he go?" Mahavira said, "In hell." Shrenik was amazed to hear it. He could neither believe nor disbelieve the Lord's words. Meanwhile, another man passed by Rajarshi and saluting him said, "You are indeed blessed. You gave up your throne and all royal comforts and became an ascetic and are now so deeply absorbed in meditation." Hearing the word 'ascetic', Rajarshi at once recalled that he had turned an ascetic and was beyond the thoughts of son, kingdom and war. He collected himself and concentrated on asceticism and at once the whole situation changed. Shrenik again asked Mahavira, "O Revered One! What is Rajarshi's situation now?" Mahavira replied, "He has reached the ultimate destination."

Pure Concentration

There are a number of obstructions in the way of our accomplishing a task. Memory, imagination, inner emotions like anger etc. act as impediments and the task remains incomplete. For proficient working, we should practise pure concentration. The epithet 'pure' is vital, because even an animal of prey can concentrate, and that is undesirable or impure concentration. That is why it has been elaborately explained in Preksha Dhyan that concentration motivated by violence and anger does not lead to success. Concentration should be directed at a pure or sacred object. Have a pure object and then concentrate on it. In practical terms, it means that concentration should not allow anything in the mind, which spells harm to others.

Meditation on the Centre of Purity

Meditation on the Centre of Purity (Thyroid and Parathyroid) also helps in increasing proficiency in working. The name Centre of Purity is very apt for it indeed is what it reads. From the physiological point of view it has many functions, the main among them being keeping a balance between the three humours of the body: kaph (phlegm), pitta (bile) and vayu (wind). It is considered to be good at self-regulation as well as at regulating other organic functions. This centre's location is extremely important for concentration and purity.

The 'Heart' of Proficiency

If we observe all practices given above, we shall be able to understand the true meaning of pure or unblemished proficiency, which consists in doing work proficiently without rendering others incompetent, without causing suffering to others, without harming the interests of others and without exploiting others. In the context of Preksha Dhyan proficiency of only the above description is regarded as proper proficiency. The same thing can be called yoga or 'work-proficiency' in the language of the Gita. If we try to increase our efficiency keeping the above in mind, we shall do a lot of good. Proficiency without the above restrictive attribtutes will do no good to humanity. All our energy and effort should be so directed that what we do does not become an impediment to others. This is the 'heart' of proficiency.

Edition 2005
ISBN No. 81-7196-019-7

© Adarsh Sahitya Sangh
210 Deendayal Upadhyay Marg,
New Delhi-110 002

Edited by:
Muni Dhananjay Kumar

Translated by:
Prof. R.P. Bhatnagar

Published by:
Kamlesh Chaturvedi
Adarsh Sahitya Sangh,
210 Deendayal Upadhyay Marg
New Delhi

Printed at:

R-Tech Offset Printer Delhi-110032

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Page glossary
Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Anger
  2. Artha
  3. Body
  4. Centre of Purity
  5. Conceit
  6. Concentration
  7. Dharma
  8. Dhyan
  9. Gita
  10. Kama
  11. Kayotsarg
  12. Mahavira
  13. Meditation
  14. Moksha
  15. Perception of Psychic Centres
  16. Preksha
  17. Preksha Dhyan
  18. Psychic Centres
  19. Sanskrit
  20. Shrenik
  21. Soul
  22. Space
  23. Violence
  24. Yoga
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