Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 3 verse 8: Do your natural duty. Action is superior to inaction. Even the survival of your body would not be possible without action.
This verse describes how every man and woman can easily renounce action (‘Be without the three Gunas,’ 2.45), break bondage to action and further spiritual and material wellbeing: ‘Do your natural duty.’ Know this verse and ‘All the Vedas are of no more use than is a small well in a place flooded with water on all sides’ (2.46).
Performing natural duty fulfills the intellectual understanding of right action advanced in 2.47. One’s ‘natural duty’ consists of those actions that fulfill others’ desires while simultaneously fostering evolution. Others’ desires are the raison d’etre for performing natural duty; evolution is the reward. It’s natural: we feel eager and driven to perform our duty. Yet, performing it incurs no strain because natural duty is effortless and without obstacles (2.40); in fact, it’s natural. Natural duty is self-sustaining. In performing it, right and comfortable actions enhance harmony between inner wellbeing and outer activity and we evolve to the highest levels of consciousness.
Act naturally. Go with the flow. The householder — the path taken by men and women of action (3.03) — instinctively performs natural duty. Serving the desires of family integrates refined qualities of devotion, reverence and love into daily activity. Operating from this refined level of service strengthens inner contentment and harmony between it and outer activity. In serving the desires of those loved and revered, we remain quiet and content deep within while desires and actions take care of themselves on the surface level of the mind. Act naturally, evolve.
‘Action is superior to inaction.’ Choose the vertical plane. ‘Do your natural duty:’ act to serve the desires of those you honor and love. Innocently renounce your own desires and break the cycle of impression-desire-action at the level of desire (2.45). Free yourself from bondage to action. Liberated, achieve skill in action and readily reach goals (2.50). Or rather, choose the horizontal plane; choose lethargy, idleness, dullness, and the confusion ‘inaction’ engenders.
‘Even the survival of your body would not be possible without action.’ Although self-evident, this sentiment underscores the notion that action is necessary. We might as well put inevitable-action to it’s most useful purpose by acting naturally and so, evolve in spiritual and material well being.
copyright Keith R Parker 2021