Rest is the Basis of Activity

Rest is the Basis of Activity

The title was an old saying of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s, adapted from the Shankaracharya tradition. Everything we experience in the world and within ourselves arises out of silent being, alert presence. Silence is the foundation of all. This becomes clear with Self Realization when we become a silent observer of life as it unfolds around us, even more when refined perception develops.

This points to the importance of rest. If we don’t get enough rest (silence), fatigue gets stored as a backlog. We experience this as an inner fog. It reduces clarity, bliss, quality of life, and adds more to be healed.

It is common for us to go through periods of life – relationships, young children, shift work – where adequate rest is difficult to sustain. Responsibilities trump self-care. But still, we do what we can. There’s no value in ruining your health in the process.

On the other hand, people can use excess sleep as an escape. This cultures tamas and lethargy rather than clarity.

This is the principle of the balance of rest and activity. We need enough rest and spiritual practice but not too much.

If someone mistakenly shifts to using spiritual practices as an escape from life that too can lead to trouble. If a practice isn’t effective in 10 minutes, doing it for 2 hours will not help.

In India, they use the analogy of dying the cloth the traditional way. To make the colour fast, you dip the cloth in the dye, than hang it up in the sun to bleach. Repeat until the dye is fast. In the same way, we dip into source, then step out into the world to bleach it in.

If you leave it soaking in the dye (too much practice), the cloth will rot. If you leave it in the sun (too much in the world) it will bleach out and not become fast.

The key is balance. Dipping into source, then bleaching it out through daily activity. This bleaching integrates the experience and helps makes it fast. Eventually, you reach a point where nothing can disturb the inner silent peace. We are the observer, uninvolved in the field of life.

We don’t need perfection here. Everyone has bad sleeps and rough days. But it’s good to have a balance of rest and activity to gain inner clarity and awaken. A reasonably balanced lifestyle also helps.

For a long time, I’ve made being rested a priority. It’s not always worked and there are always those late nights, physically exhausting days, and big social events. But by sustaining an overall balance, the clarity is there that allows subtle impulses to be noticed and thus for insights and blog posts.

On balance, if we stay rested, it will raise our quality of life and happiness. Your daily habits and routine do add up. Moderation is the guide.

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  1. Baz

    The first paragraph makes sense to me – the Silence or “rest” is the foundation.

    Thereafter the post reads like a self-help book!?

    Quality of life, happiness, not living in a fog ,clarity , bliss and health …and presumably financial independence (lol) are great thrusts for a motivational speaker, very (north) American and very 21st Western human! But how do they relate to awakening? Besides lack of all of the above would be suffering and suffering is almost a guarantee for spiritual progress or change at least.

    I might go so far as to say – if you want to make no progress toward enlightenment(whatever that is?!) – then have a contented life!

    Get rest and live in balance…Are not these just more add-ons? More angst with this added requirement for living?

    Eat too much or not enough, eat junk food, and dance all night then go to work! So what?… Well – there’s no meditation in that lifestyle – that’s my only concern with it….no spirituality.

    As for clarity vs the mental fog (from a not-“balanced” lifestyle) – Clarity is always here in the background , it’s the foundation , the container perhaps for everything (Everything) and all of that everything be it balanced or foggy is just content.

    I just don’t see how living the Western man’s dream of health, wealth and happiness has got anything to do with what we are doing here.

    “Remember what you came here to do” Robert Adams

    I’d say do whatever you like, just make sure you find out what you really are. Remain focussed on that and all the imbalances and ill health and unhappiness will be placed where they belong – as irrelevant!

    So there!
    Loving the blog – it’s huge! …this one posting triggered my abrasive comments – maybe it’s the human fixation of ambition and not “wasting ones life” that’s annoying me!

    “What’s time for – except to be wasted ” Alan Watts.

    1. Hi Baz
      It’s very simple. Fatigue brings fog whereas awakening is best served by clarity. You can call it self-help but many of the principles in the article come from spiritual teachings, like dying the cloth.

      Spirituality isn’t an ivory tower thing. It’s lived right in our day-to-day life. Our body is not irrelevant as it’s the vehicle through which it is lived.

      You wouldn’t say ill health is irrelevant if you’d lived it. Illness can consume all of our attention. In fact, living embodied spirituality is in recognizing what is real for you now. If you’re dismissing your experience, you’re in aversion. Easy for the mind to write off what it doesn’t want but that practice does not lead to liberation.

      Certainly, there are teachings that favour renunciation. That can be useful at some points of the journey for some people. But that won’t take you all the way.

      This site also has articles on goal setting, purpose and intention. There are approaches to living life that can serve us better.

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