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Is activity opposed to contemplation? Bhagavad Gita Answers

Is activity opposed to contemplation? In India, for centuries it has been thought that meditation is not compatible with activity — this in spite of the fact that the most sought-after scripture of the Hindus, the Bhagavad Gita, advocates intense activity along with deep contemplation.

All activity begins in the mind. It may be to fulfil some desire or to work towards a goal that we act. Activity and contemplation seem apparently contradictory. But both can go on simultaneously. The Gita describes this graphically: ‘With the mind purified by devotion to performance of action, the body conquered, and senses subdued, one who realizes one’s Self as the self in all beings, though acting, is not tainted. The knower of Truth, being centred in the Self, thinks, “I do nothing at all”, though doing many things. He who acts forsaking attachment, resigning himself to Brahman, is not soiled by evil, just as a lotus leaf is untouched by water.’

Emerson, the nineteenth-century New England philosopher, says: ‘It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion — it is easy in solitude to live after your own; but the great man is he who, in the midst of the world, keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.’