Kirat Karni, earning a Righteous Living

We watched a Bollywood movie this weekend, Badmash Company or Fraud Enterprise.  I enjoyed watching it as it was funny and entertaining. The main premise of the movie revolves around a bunch of young guys who want to get rich quick, get into scams and eventually realize their mistake. They turn a new leaf and start earning an honest living by the sweat of their brow.  This got me thinking about the 3 pillars of Sikhism based on Guru Nanak Devji teaching. One of the central teachings of Guru Nanak Devji is how one should live their life and the first point is Kirat Karo, or earn a righteous living according to your own capacity. He always taught that realizing or praying to the divine only makes sense if one is leading a moral and honest life and to do that, we need to always watch how we earn our living as our existence depends on it.  I think he said that there is no need to give up on worldly comforts and become a monk or anything like that to realize the divine light.  Being a householder, raising a family built on high moral values and yet not getting caught up in the rat race is paramount. The Hindu, Buddhist and Sikh philosophical traditions or religions so to speak believe in the law of Karma. Whatever actions one performs have  a profound impact not only towards ourselves but also permeate existence, sending their energy everywhere. If one performs actions with negative thoughts, they will eventually catch up with you. Swami Rama has a nice talk around the concept of Karma and Non-Attachment that I like.  Some time back I was reading the Bible and remember Jesus said something like “Its easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than a rich man to go to heaven”.

In my opinion, what all the great masters are trying to say is that if you are earning a living honestly then there is no issues around enjoying the fruits of it. The problems start when making money becomes a big deal and the feeling to keep up with the neighbors or Jones’ 🙂 sets in. If making money comes naturally to you and it provides great contentment, well and good, by all means earn away as long as you are not stomping over everyone else or trying to pry more than your fair share. At the same time, if it isn’t a big deal for you, if all you want is to live a comfortable life and enjoy doing other things that you like, then follow your heart. There is no need to get carried away and fight against one’s own nature just to prove something to someone. For example, I like my current job at startup, it pays decent, I like the people I work with and I get to work on interesting stuff. Some people would come and say, oh why don’t you do an MBA, start your own business, work in the social sector or work for a big company. So a short answer I give is, “I don’t feel like it at this moment, I love my work and maybe in future will do some other things”. I do think about what I want to do for the rest of my life and maybe I will post the long answer in some other post.

Ending with these beautiful lines I read in The Prophet by Khalil Gibran on the nature of work and earning a living:

And all work is empty save when there is love;
And when you work with love you bind yourself to yourself, and to one another, and to God.
And what is it to work with love?
It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart, even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth.
It is to build a house with affection, even as if your beloved were to dwell in that house.
It is to sow seeds with tenderness and reap the harvest with joy, even as if your beloved were to eat the fruit.
It is to charge all things you fashion with a breath of your own spirit,
And to know that all the blessed dead are standing about you and watching.

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