04.23 – What raises motion to action is motivation

by October 7, 2013

‘Motion’ refers to the movement of unconscious things, whereas ‘action’ refers to the movements of conscious people.

The waves flowing in a river are in motion, whereas boatpersons rowing their boats on that same river are in action. The laws of physics govern motion like say the motion of waves. These laws affect, but don’t determine, the actions of conscious beings – their motivations are the primary determinants. A predator fish pursuing a prey is affected by the laws of physics that determine the motion of wind and water. But its motivation may make it swim against the current.

The motivations that drive sub-human species fall in four broad categories: eating, sleeping, mating and defending. These motivations drive us humans too, but we have the developed consciousness to choose a more fulfilling motivation – the motivation to seek eternal life and everlasting love.

This longing of our heart is fulfillable at the spiritual level of reality, where we as souls actually belong. As long as we let ourselves be driven by material motivations, we stay subject to the laws of karma, the material laws that link motivation, action and consequence.

When we choose to act based on a spiritual motivation, material laws cease to apply. The Bhagavad-gita (04.23) indicates that actions transcend the arena of matter (samagram praviliyate) when motivated by spiritual selflessness (yajnayacaratah karma). The best way to cultivate spiritual selflessness is by striving to act for Krishna’s pleasure, for Krishna being reciprocal blesses us with the fulfillment of love. This makes spiritually motivated actions easier to choose and exciting to execute.

Indeed, the motivation of love for Krishna makes life action-filled – and reaction-free. Once we get a taste for this action-packed life, materially motivated actions lose their charm, being exposed as loveless motions, akin to the motions of unconscious things.


04.23 – The work of a man who is unattached to the modes of material nature and who is fully situated in transcendental knowledge merges entirely into transcendence.

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