Bhagavad Gita Chapter III verse 4

“na karmanam anarambhan naiskarmyam puruso snute na ca samnyasanad eva siddhim samadhigacchati”

 

“Actionlessness is not attained simply by avoiding actions.  By forsaking work no one reaches perfection.”

 

In this verse the term actionlessness is not referring to actions of the body, but of actions of the mind.  It is impossible to stay alive without performing actions.  At the very least the body needs food, water and to be cleansed.  If there is no movement of the muscles the body becomes weak and useless.  The body is given to us so that we may use it to reach perfection, therefore we must perform physical actions to keep it in good working order and health. The Gita states that without using the body or “by forsaking work” no one reaches perfection.

 

Action of the body is required to live, but action of the mind and ego are not required to perform the day to day tasks our bodies need to function. For example, when you are hungry you eat, when you are not you do not.  If you spend your day thinking about food and not eating neither your body or your mind has benefited, but your ego and your senses have wasted energy obsessing instead of paying attention to whatever task your body was performing.  This is the opposite of actionlessness, and for all of the action of the mind you have gained nothing, especially not perfection.

 

The state of actionlessness the Gita is referring to is actionlessness of the mind.  It is a state of existing in the moment, without intention, without scheming,  planning for the future or dredging up the past.  All that is required is to be present and perform each task mindfully.  In order to perform a task mindfully you must pay attention to every aspect of the task as it is being performed.  What is gained by being present?   Your brain is fully engaged while performing the task.  There are no other thoughts during this time.  What is not gained by being present are the effects of a wandering mind and an overbearing ego.  No feelings of inadequacy, fear, boredom, or any other emotions that create stress in the body or mind.

 

An active mind is busy creating scenarios of what our life should be, and judging what our life is and becoming upset because they do not match. Action of the mind is jealousy over a friends job, possessions, spouse, etc.  Action of the ego is pushing you to perform in ways that are harmful to yourself and others.

 

All of these actions keep our mind busy and our bodies overwhelmed.  They create reactions that our bodies will live with and will create more actions that do not need to be created.  These actions keep us from the “perfection” that will allow us to be free from all the suffering created in the mind and experienced in the life of this body and mind as well as of the body and mind of other people and future lives.

 

Actionlessness of the mind during the action of the body, or actionlessness in action, allows us to live fully in this body and this mind without creating any future effects.  When there is no action there is no reaction there is no future, there is no past, there is only this moment and within these moments we live in perfection.