Is born for perfection
And each shall attain it
Will he but follow
His nature’s duty. (1)
What Krishna called our “nature’s duty,” we of this generation might call our mission.
I see the truth of this statement in matters that occur around me. There are those whose mission is healing. Others practice meditation. I consider writing to be my mission.
If I tried to attain perfection, so to speak, by healing, it may or may not come to me. If others tried to attain perfection by writing, it may or may not come to them. But, according to Krishna, it’s most likely to come if we follow our natural duty, dharma, or inclination.
Krishna goes on to say that “a man [or woman] will reach perfection if he does his duty as an act of worship to the Lord, who is the source of the universe, prompting all action, everywhere present.” (2)
Let me approach this one with a preamble. Spiritual knowledge unfolds more and more with each generation. It isn’t that the sages expand; it’s that our ability to hear them expands and so their range of what they can discuss expands.
When the Being who incarnated as Krishna claimed to be an incarnation of the full Brahman (the Father), the same Being when he incarnated as Sri Ramakrishna (who is again among us today), now made the distinction that it is really the Divine Mother (Shakti, the Holy Spirit) who incarnates and whom he serves.
“It is the Sakti [the Mother], the Power of God, that is born as an Incarnation [avatar].” (3)
“The Full Brahman [the Father] is the Witness, pervading all space and time, equally. [But] it is his Energy (Shakti) that incarnates.” (4)
The Mother is the source of the Law and the architect of the Divine Plan. She is the only form of God that we will ever see. The Father cannot be seen.
Therefore while Krishna could say that perfection is reached by carrying out our mission as duty to the Lord, this generation, I think, is more likely to look to God’s form as the Mother as she whom we serve.
For the newest readers, I feel obliged to say that the Mother and the Father are not different. The Mother is God in the active phase. The Father is God in the passive phase. Says Sri Ramakrishna:
“That which is Brahman [the Father] is also Kali, the Mother, the primal Energy. When inactive It is called Brahman. Again, when creating, preserving, and destroying, It is called Sakti.
“Still water is an illustration of Brahman. The same water, moving in waves, may be compared to Sakti, Kali. What is the meaning of Kali? She who communes with Maha-Kala, the Absolute, is Kali. She is formless and, again, She has forms.” (5)
But the meaning of Krishna’s statement remains clear. The carrying out of our missions is successful when done as duty to, in our case, the Mother.
And thus it is as well that the Mother baptizes us in the waters first of clarity, then of purity, then of love, and then of grace. It is the Mother who guides us to the Father. In doing so, Self guides Self to Self.
Krishna goes on to amplify his statement by telling us:
“A man’s own natural duty, even if it seems imperfectly done, is better than work not naturally his own even if this is well performed.
“When a man acts according to the law of his nature, he cannot be sinning. Therefore, no one should give up his natural work, even though he does it imperfectly. For all action is involved in imperfection, like fire in smoke.” (6)
None of us, probably, will carry out a perfect action or action done perfectly. I don’t think that is “humanly” possible. But we will not miss the mark (in archery, a “sin” is a missed mark) if we follow the dictates of our mission.
I just spoke with a friend who said she was of “the old school.” In her view I am of the “New Age.” She has read blogs, she says, that say they are “beyond the New Age.” Her mission involves her being out in nature. Mine involves me playing at the keyboard. Yours will take you where it does. We all of us follow our own dharma.
But all are paths to perfection if we decline to follow the path of another and follow instead the path of our mission, our natural duty.
(2) Ibid., 127.
(3) Paramahansa Ramakrishna in Nikhilananda, Swami, trans. The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1978; c1942, 726. [Hereafter GSR.]
(4) Paramahansa Ramakrishna in Anon. A Bridge to Eternity. Sri Ramakrishna and His Monastic Order. Calcutta: Advaita Ashrama, 1986, 54.
(5) Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 634.
(6) BG, 127.