Treat Work Like God And Worship At It’s Alter


By Zile Singh

“Work is the open sesame of every portal, the great equalizer in the world, the true philosopher’s stone which transmutes all the base metal of humanity into gold” – Sir William Osler

Work is a magic word.  The dictionary meaning of work is ‘an action involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or a result. The purpose can be earning an income, a status or a name   Work can be termed as labour, toll, exertion, industry and service.   Worship means giving reverence to some apparent, notional or hidden power to seek blessings in order to achieve our desired results.  It comes from the old English word ‘worth-ship’, which means giving worth to something. All achievements, happiness, developments and bright future emanate from this magic word ‘work.’  Thus, work is the very essence and elixir of life. The great inventions and discoveries by mankind  in all fields since  the Stone Age to the modern age are by dint of hard work.  When the wise ones said “work is worship’, they meant doing what we do with a sense of worthiness  and  respect.  When we understand that any work – big or small- is valuable and do it with reverence, then our work becomes worship.

In the 19th century Britain, Thomas Carlyle, one of the bright stars, wrote eight simple words that express his lifelong philosophy:  “Blessed is he who has found his work.”  Today Carlyle’s words have a deeper significance than ever, “Get your happiness out of your work or you will never know what real happiness is.”   Thomas Carlyle knew better than most men.  All his life he struggled against poverty, illness, uncertainty and despair.  He took up several jobs, like the ministry in the Church,  teaching and other professions, but gave up when he could not accept the bigotry, stupidity, narrow creed and found his work without joy.  Finally, he turned to writing which he enjoyed throughout his life. In finding the work he loved, he found purpose,   direction and inner satisfaction.

Khalil Gibran, another eminent philosopher is worth mentioning here in respect of the above dictum i.e., ‘Work is Worship’.  He said, “If you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.”

When our work is  useful, productive and wholesome for the society,  only then we can say that ‘work is worship.’ Otherwise it will become monotonous and boredom.  Lots of the people believe that it is luck that plays an important part in their lives and avoid work and wait for some miracle to happen.  They forget the phrase ‘God helps those who help themselves’.  The paramount role of action ‘karma’ in Hindi, has been admitted and given significant importance by all the religions.     There is no alternative to hard work done in earnest and with full devotion, even without expecting a result of the work.  Because, very emphatically and religiously is said in the Gita, the  holy scripture of the Hindus by Lord Krishna, “karmaney adekarastu, ma phalesu kadachnna” – means that your duty is to work without expecting any reward for it.  The work itself is the reward which gives you happiness and satisfaction provided the work has been done as worship.  The work done in compulsion without putting your heart in it, is a sort of punishment.  Slavery or bonded labour is nothing but work done under pressure and with a fear of the torture.

One of the most important teachings in Guru Granth Saheb, the eternal Guru of the Sikhs is “kirat kar, naam jap and vand chhak”.  The priority has been given to work.  All other worldly affairs come afterward.  Let us see what the Holy Bible tells us about the work,   “Honest hard work,- this is something God seeks from all of us.  Working hard, but with faith in mind, can lead to the great things God has planned for us.  A sluggard’s appetite is never filled, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied. Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense that only hard work brings profit.  Mere talks lead to poverty”.   In Islam, work is given special importance to the extent that it is considered as an act of worship.  Even before he was chosen as a messenger of God, the Holy Prophet was a hardworking person.  In Buddhism, the ‘right efforts’ is one of the central teachings of the Eightfold Path.  I remember the following words while undergoing a ten-day Vipassana Meditation Course taught by

late Shri S.N. Goenka, “Work. Work. Work.  Work diligently, work ardently, work intelligently, work patiently and persistently. You will be successful.”

There is need to understand that only hard work, with an aim and purpose brings greatness in life.  Work is really the worship.  Without work our life is a waste. The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.

Mr. Zile Singh is much respected Link Columnist, writer and a Vipassana Meditator. He can be reached at zsnirwal@yahoo.ca .

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