Chapter 3: The Shape of Water
For a person like you,
who desires to live a hundred years
involved in his activities in the world
and believing that “I am the doer,”
there is no other path than this -
the path of living without being smeared by your doing.
There is only one path that can keep you unaffected while doing the things you must do in this world. The path which is discussed by the Ishavasya is this path: live by surrendering to existence, give it all away, leave everything at its feet. Surrender everything to it. Giving up the notion of yourself as the doer, you can live your life and remain unaffected by performing your worldly duties. This is the only path; there is no other.
It will be useful to understand two or three points in this connection. Number one: to live in this world without being affected by karma, by your doings, is a great alchemy, and a matter of great worth and wisdom. It is almost like imagining a person coming out of a coal-cellar without any trace of coal-dust on him. Moreover, this is not a matter of living in the coal-cellar for an hour or two. If we consider our whole life’s duration, we are talking about a period of one hundred years; and if we consider many lives of the past, our journey will be through many thousands of years. Now, it will be a matter of great wisdom, or else of extraordinary luck, if a person living in such a coal-cellar, for one hundred years performing his daily routine - waking, sleeping, sitting, standing and so on - can yet remain untouched by the coal-dust in the cellar. It is quite obvious and natural that he will be smeared with soot. It is quite feasible to imagine that not only will the person come into contact with the coal-dust in the cellar, but may well actually turn into coal-dust. He will probably look like the incarnation of coal-dust! It seems difficult to believe - living in his cellar for a hundred years - that a man will not become coal-dust itself.
How can we pass through a thing without touching it? No sooner do we pass through it than we are joined with it. When we are angry, we become merged with our anger. When we love someone, we are united with him or her. Whenever we fight or run away or enjoy a thing, we are merged with our activity. Even when we make our renunciation, we are merged with it; and if we are joined with our renunciation, we tarnish our hands with soot. We are stained. The pride of having so much wealth arises in a man’s mind when he is enjoying its fruits. Similarly, renunciation brings into his mind the pride of having renounced so much. That pride is coal-dust for us; that conceit is soot itself.