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SELECTED LETTERS > SELECTED LETTERS - PART IISkill in Action

 

11. Skill In Action

As we acquire more skill, we are able to put in more work with less strain on our physical and mental resources. For instance when I began to turn the spinning-wheel with my left hand I spun only 93 rounds on the first day; I took much time and experienced great fatigue. But when I had acquired some skill I spun 200 rounds in less time than I had taken over only 93 rounds at first and also felt lesser strain. I am now spinning on the Magan spinning-wheel on which my output yesterday was only 24 rounds and I took heaps of time over it. But today I spun 56 rounds in less time than what I gave to spinning yesterday, and with less fatigue as well. What is true of a single individual and his insignificant looking activity is true of big institution and their extensive activity.

Yogaha Karmasu Kaushalam – ‘Yoga is a kill in action,’ as the Gita puts it (II, 50). Action here is service or sacrifice (yajna). All our troubles arise from lack of skill. When we acquire the requisite skills what is at present troublesome will be a source of pleasure. I am strongly of opinion that one should not feel any strain in a well regulated institution.

This is what you are in the Ashram for. But no one else can impart it to you. Everyone should extract it from the atmosphere for him or herself. If you are unable to do it, you cannot stay in the Ashram for long, though un-ambitious persons might drag on. The Ashram is really an institution where a person is free to rise according to his capacity. You should yourself create an atmosphere favourable to your growth. You may invite your friends to keep you company in the Ashram but that would be a selfish thing. As a matter of fact you should make friends with everyone in the Ashram. Give him what you have got and take from him whatever he has to give. You would be blundering badly if you think that most of the Ashramites have nothing to reach you. For I feel that there is no one in the world from whom we may not learn something or other.

(Written in Yeravda prison on May 8, 1932. This and the following five letters have been translated from the Gujarati.)