Tapas: In the yogic tradition, this principle of using intense effort to burn through life’s distractions is called Tapas. It’s another Sanskrit world, roughly defined as “heat”, or “essential energy.” The concept is that through a disciplined approach to work and self-sacrifice, Tapas will burn away the negativity that separates us from God. By working our hardest and happily enduring the hardships of life, we are able to create a sense of peace and clarity in ourselves. [Do You – Russell Simmons]
I don’t know if success should be a goal…or happiness for that matter. I don’t know if anyone should go out into the world and have those things as the actual tick off points on their to-do list. I think the more you overtly search for those things, the less likely it would be that you find them. In my experience, things like success and happiness are more a side effect than an actual destination. You focus on doing your best in every moment and without being aware of it, you drift into happiness, you drift into success.
I was reading “Do You’ by Russell Simmons the other week and I came across an old idea that really resonated with me, the idea of Tapas, the idea of Hard Work as a spiritual practice.
I enjoy working hard. I relish the idea of being able to completely absorb myself in the process of creating something remarkable, something worthwhile. The feeling of being engaged in something you enjoy doing and being challenged by it is an amazing one. For the sheer pleasure of the experience, working hard is awesome. We all know the idea of hard work as the path to ‘success’, but the idea of the work itself being a form of worship, a form of spiritual practice elevates the entire experience. To the point where one can focus completely on the sensation of doing the work, releasing all care for the outcome and just engaging excellently in it.
And this works best when the work you do is connected to your purpose, your dharma. When you engage in the hard work of pressing through your purpose, developing your gifts and giving them to the world, you are engaging in tapas, you are getting closer to God.
Even if you are not satisfied with the work that you do right now, or you want a better job, position, whatever. The simple act of giving your very best at your work is sufficient to burn away the pettiness and the junk that clouds our spirits and holds us back from our full potential.
There is so much that lies outside our control from day to day, if we can focus on our efforts, and relish the process, realizing that the results belong to God, we would have happiness, we would have success.