Why am I unable to be involved in my work?

Acharya Prashant
5 min readJun 28, 2019
Photo by Alex Ivashenko on Unsplash

When you tell a child that if you finish your homework then you can go off and play, you know what are you telling him? That work is not play. Or condemning him to a work-life in which you would just be desiring for the end of office hours because when office hours end, then the pleasure starts. This distinction must be obliterated. Not only must work be play but play must also be work. When you are working you should be playful and when you are gone out to play and even in that moment you must be working.

This, I know, is very much against conventional wisdom which wants to maintain a watertight separation between personal and professional life. And which always gives you the instinct that when you return home you must keep all the work behind you. It doesn’t happen that way and if it happens that way it will lead to suffering, stress and a fragmented mind.

When you are relaxing, work must be on.

And when you are working, you must be relaxed.

How can work stop if work is really an expression of what you are? How can you stop working even for the few definite hours in the day? Work has to be like breathing then. You are breathing continuously, you are working 24 hours, and work is then synonymous with playing because you cannot be toiling 24 hours, you are playing 24 hours.

We are so much concerned about your work, but do we even know what our work is? Do we know what are the facts of our work is? You have imagined it to be work and that is why you deal with it as if it is work. You have a conceptual baggage about what you are doing and that’s what you think you are doing. But do you really know your work? You have built a portrait of your work but what is your work? You just have an idea of your work. But do you really know your work?

When you know what you are doing, an indicator is, then you are able to play with it.

Playing will start happening. The separation between you and what you are doing reduces so much that you will start feeling empowered and free, authorised to play with it. But when you have an image of something then you are obliged to abide by the rules — This is what I am doing, this is how it is done. It is a four step process- 1, 2, 3, 4, stop, and then it is just boring, totally boring because you do not know it so you must have to abide by the rules. You do not know it. You only have an idea of what you are doing.

You know, when one is not an engineer, when one knows nothing about how cars are designed then you can only do as much the instruction manual permits you. The manual says, do this, do that, when the speed reaches x, change the gear, fill the tank, get the car serviced at such intervals and you will have to simply abide by those rules. You do not know what you are doing. So there is no energy in what you are doing. There is no playfulness.

It’s a list of instructions and all you are doing is following them. Who wants to live that way? And on top of that, you are imagining that your pleasure lies elsewhere. First of all, this is so boring and secondly, there is pleasure waiting somewhere else. Now you will know what will be the quality of your work.

All this wait for weekends, all this hankering after holidays — what is this? The festival season is upon us now and you go to any hill station on these days, there is no space to land a foot. Hotels are charging exuberantly — what is all this?

When you have no real relationship with your work, which is you, and hence you do not have any relationship with yourself then all your life you are just seeking holidays.

Have you ever noticed that why kids are desperate to go out in the garden? Because there is no playing possible in the house; otherwise, they would love to play even within the house. They go out because they can’t play in. Playing is nature, it exhibits itself everywhere. Just as when they play in the house they are thrashed otherwise they would play inside the house also. There is no distinction, no distinction at all. You create that wall — outside is a playground, inside is a living room, no playing possible inside. You see this distinction. This distinction is a distinction between a Friday and a Saturday or a Sunday and a Monday. Inside is Friday and outside is Saturday.

Have you ever noticed that people get bored even while reading books? One who is not playful with the book, cannot be playful with the ball. Please understand this. It is not that the book is not really appealing to you, the fact is your own life is not appealing to you. When you are with the book, you are pretending boredom and when you are outside, you are pretending entertainment. The facts are nowhere, there is just pretension.

When you really know the small facts of your life:

How you are brushing your teeth.

How you move down the stairs.

How you ride your bike.

How you deal with the policemen.

How you deal with the syllabus.

How you deal with the food in front of you.

When you know all this, then you also know work and you know the play and you will know that there is no distinction.

The one who plays, plays with everything.

The one who works, works with everything.

And these two are one.

Even while playing he is working, working in the sense that normal, natural, spontaneous activity is going on. And even while working, he is playing.

Acharya Prashant regularly writes at prashantadvait.com and to connect closely with his teachings watch his YouTube videos at Official YouTube Channel or visit his website.

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