Verse 4.18: One who sees inaction in action, and action in inaction, is intelligent among men, and he is in the transcendental position, although engaged in all sorts of activities.
I remember exactly how I felt when I first read this verse - confused! It seemed so convoluted and complicated. What exactly is Krsna trying to say here? That being said, my confusion also lead to appreciation as it was only then that I realized how important it is to learn the teachings of the Gita from one who is trying to practice it.
Breaking it down, this verse is giving the secret to performing akarama, or performing actions that result in no karma. That's what "seeing inaction in action" means. Although one may be performing so much work, because their internal consciousness is one of detachment to the results and one of offering them in gratitude to the Divine, they don't incur any karma.
Conversely, one may mistakenly think that by sitting still and doing nothing that they will incur no karma. If only it were that easy! That's what the phrase "seeing action in inaction" means. Although it may seem that nothing is going on externally, we may forget that what goes on inside has a direct effect on what happens outside. Meaning, although we may be able to sit still for sometime, the mind which is so demanding will ultimately force us to act, even if it's against our will. At that time, if our attitude is self-centered, those actions will naturally result in good or bad karma.
Readers may be reflecting that these concepts of unattachment and attitude keep coming up over and over again. You're not alone! Although I've read the Gita before, I too am struck by how often these themes are highlighted.
But the time comes where the reading ends and the application begins. Be sure that if you are sincere at heart and are reading the Gita that you will be tested. I give fair warning! Since yoga is ultimately about connecting to the Divine, He takes special notice. Situations will arise and your mettle will be tested.
The good (bad?!) thing is that no matter how many times you fail, the opportunities will keep on coming.
In fact, if you think about it - the opportunities are coming right now.
That's the beauty of the Gita. It puts into perspective how we can positively transform the challenging situations that we face on a daily basis. Just these two things:
1. Detachment to the results of our activities and
3. Transforming our consciousness to offering everything we do with affection and gratitude to the Divine...
can work miracles in our lives.
Instead of seeing everything through the lens of "Why is this happening to me?" this shift promotes a sense of "Wow! I'm getting a chance to practically apply spiritual knowledge that I've gained." Granted, those feelings may not come soon...but it will! It may come sporadically at first - maybe once in a couple of years or every couple of months! LOL. That's ok. It will come though. It just takes practice.
Life is a series of lessons and bhakti is the path of self-empowerment. We can choose to learn from the lessons that surround us and benefit or continue to fight the lesson and drown in self pity. So join us as we step out of our comfort zones and into the stretch zone. You can change your consciousness today!