The following is an excerpt from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.
Questioner (Q): What does Khalil Gibran mean, when he says, “He who works in marble, and finds the shape of his own soul in the stone, is nobler than he who ploughs the soil.”
Acharya Prashant (AP): What is work?
All work involves action.
As human beings, we are beings of action. We have limbs, senses, mind, all configured to act. So, action is inevitable. One cannot avoid action. So, workers we all are. There is nobody who does not work. The one who is professionally working somewhere, works. And so does the one, who is professionally unemployed. Both of us, both of them, are workers, irrespective of whether or not they are formally working somewhere.
To be alive is to be working.
We are working all the time because ‘action’ is happening all the time.
Then the question is of the quality of work. How does one work? From where does the work arise? Khalil Gibran takes two images and contrasts them.
The first image is of the man who is working with the material, but his work is essentially an expression of his being, his center, his Self. He might be working with marble, but actually, it is his soul taking shape as marble. Marble is now not only marble. Marble is now not only material. Marble is an expression of what he is. This is work of one kind.
And then he says, there is another one, who looks at the soil, just as soil. For him, work is something outside of himself. “I go somewhere, and I work with the material. I work with the material, probably, so that I may get some returns, some reward.” He is not directly and organically ‘connected’ to his work. His relationship with work is transactional. “I work, I put in some hours, and in return, I get paid.” Are you getting it? So, there is you, there is work and then there is a business-like relationship between ‘you’ and ‘work.’ This is the second way of working.
The first way of working is, “Work is not outside of me; work is an expression of me.”
“Work is not outside of me; work is just an expression of who I am.”