Thought for the week/skill in action

ken knight hilken_98 at YAHOO.COM
Fri Nov 9 04:50:42 CST 2001

--- "S. V. Subrahmanian" <svsubrahmanian at YAHOO.COM>
> Nov 8, 2001
>  If by skill, as it is popularly
> translated, what is meant is
> the mechanical efficiency with which the action is
> peformed, then even wicked
> actions would qualify as yoga, if they are executed
> efficiently.  But we know
> that a wicked action however well executed cannot
> qualify as karma yoga.  So
> what is the meaning of the word "skill" in that
> sentence has to be clearly
> looked into.
May I first thank you for the excellence of your
commentary below.  My own offering here is not meant
to oppose but to contribute some reflection on
meanings and to get behind the popular usage of a
Generally we do not teach etymology in the West but it
is an essential Vedanga. This contribution to the
'Thought for the week' depends upon Skeat's
Etymological dictionary.  In this dictionary 'Skill'
is translated as discernment, discrimination and it
comes from the Indogermanic root SQEL which means to
cleave, to separate.
At its purest level I would see this as the Buddhi
working with a dominant guna of tamas and therefore
held in a state of equanimity. This would then concur
with the remainder of your commentary and with
Shankara's. When rajas dominates, the buddhi separates
into 'I Like' and 'I don't like' and all the attendant
creation of the unbalanced ahankara. This is not the
spiritual discernment that the word 'skill' could
imply but the division through opinion which is the
product (produces maybe) of adhyasa and avidya.
Dedication to the Lord of every action is a
prerequisite for skillful action. Thank you for
reminding me of this simple law that is so often
sublated in the rush from action to action.
Even now, did I dedicate the writing of this reply?
No. I had become too interested in your words and the
impulse to write was clouded. Hopefully something of
use got through this.
Many thanks
Ken Knight
Om Paramaatmane Namah  Atha

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