Performing Our Duty

Talks with Babaji

If we know we are doing our duty with attachment, is it enough just to be aware of it?

In the beginning, duty is done with attachment, because there is a desire to get something back. By sticking to one's duty, the mind starts loosening one's self interest. In performing duty, there will be an austerity if the attachment and self-interest are watched and effort is made to remove them.

The idea of dharma or duty expresses the relationship of subject and object between the person and everything around him. That's the stuff of our attachment.

Attachment is an expression of the ego. In all identifications the ego is expressing its presence in a form of desire and attachment.

So our whole relationship with things that determine our dharma is an expression of our dharma, which is attachment. So we are responding to the situation in doing our duty, which was created by our attachments.

Yes. We cannot start from the top. If we were already nonattached, then there is no need of anything. In all of our activities there is attachment and likes and dislikes. But when the Dharma becomes our aim, then the ego, attachment and desires start loosening their grip.

I am curious about the process of doing your duty that causes us to gradually lose self-interest. How is self-interest reduced?

In doing the duty there is austerity. The mind is not considering self-interest as a prime object, but the Duty or Dharma is the main aim.

Even when no rewards, no fun, etc.?

You do your duty no matter what. There is a story about two Allahabad University students. One was a Shiva devotee and one was atheist. This Shiva devotee would cross the Ganga and there was a Shiva temple on the other side. He would worship and swim back. The atheist would also go to swim and go to the other side of the river and sit outside the temple without any devotion and worship. It was a good exercise for him. In the monsoon season, the river floods for miles. One time in the monsoon season, when the river had a heavy flood, the devotee saw the river like an ocean. He bowed from that place and went home. The atheist also went and saw the flooding river. He began to think that if I didn't go to the other side, then the daily routine would be broken." He waited there for some time and saw a drifting log. He jumped in the river and caught the drifting log. He tried to row the log but failed. So he jumped in the river and started swimming. He swam with his full energy and finally crossed the river, but 4-5 miles down from the temple. He walked to the temple and sat on his usual place. He was tired but his mind was thinking about the Shiva. He thought his friend did not worship the Shiva, so his mind started dwelling on the Shiva and got deep into samadhi. He stayed there for several days. The flood also went away. And then he came back to the University campus, but a different person. The duty which was an austerity and sacrifice brought calmness in his mind.

But the Gita also says it's better to do your own duty imperfectly rather than another's duty perfectly.

He did his own duty. It is what he was doing every day. He did not stop it out of fear of flood.

How does duty relate to discipline? We talk about having a discipline and sticking to it, and having a duty.

Duty is a discipline. Without discipline one cannot perform ones duty.

In that story, he had no aim but self-interest.

Duty was his aim. He did not swim for money or name or fame. He was not competing with anyone.

He just had a discipline. He didn't have a duty. He wasn't performing a service.

He fulfilled his self chosen duty at the risk of his own life. Determination.

If you are not determined, you won't go anywhere. It is right.

Yes, but it came from an ego place.

Without the ego, no discipline, no austerity, no determination is possible. The ego which traps in the world should be weakened and not that ego which is conducive to liberation. In showing devotion to the self-chosen duty, due to that determination, when he started to dwell on Shiva, he got samadhi very fast.

He took such a big risk. He got very tired. When he sat as usual, he thought of his friend's cause. A person with such strong determination will change.

It seems that all duty and discipline are with self-interest. If studiously and consistently practiced, that in itself produces a favorable result?

Yes, because of austerity in performing it.

The implication is that duty has to be an austerity. Can't you enjoy your duty as well? Yes. Sometimes enjoyable and sometimes many difficulties. They both enjoyed swimming in the river.

At times when one starts out with austerity, later one can take great pleasure in having succeeded in doing ones duty well.

Yes. Then what happens?

Sticking to duty in all conditions. This kind of discipline is created in the mind.

So you are placing duty at a very high level.

Yes, one time I was with Neem Karoli Baba in Haldwani. It was snowy in Nainital. He told me he wants to see a man in Bhowali and can't go there. I said, "I will go and bring the man." I took a car and went to Bhowali. The snow was 3 feet deep and the car could not go. The driver said, "You go; I am going home." I had only one cloth and no shoes. I walked 5-6 miles in that snow. When I went to his house, he had already left. Then I walked back. I took it as my duty.

In the story about the Allahabad students, one student was strong in self-interest, but in your story, service was at the core.

Duty was in both. The student has self-interest, but the duty became first priority in his mind.

When you were walking in the snow that night, it must have been brutally cold and there must have been deep pain in the body.

Snow burns the skin. Feet become numb. Those who don't wear shoes, they can tolerate cold more.

With that type of pain, how did you, and how can we, keep the mind steady?

Pain is not felt when one is performing duty. Those who climb mountains, their pain becomes secondary and the aim comes first.

Doesn't the motivation have to be incredibly intense?

Yes, without strong motivation nothing can be achieved.

Is duty a beginning stage where we respond to our circumstances and try to stick with it, and sacrifice is a higher level where we are operating not out of self-interest and doing our duty for creation?

Duty with self-interest; duty without self-interest. A policeman goes to the night duty because he is paid for it. In his duty, he also takes risks. But he gets paid for it.

It seems there is a difference between the realized being who is operating just with prarabdha karma. Is that being still performing duty? Would their actions also be called duty?

That is not self-chosen duty. It is a nature-born duty. It is like the sun is giving heat and light day in and day out.

So Self-dedicated means dedicated to God?


Last night you said, in devotional yoga, "God incarnates and does everything and then disappears."

Like Krishna incarnates and disappears to the devotees of Krishna. Whatever they achieve, they say it's a gift from God.