Question: Every time I act, I am not certain if I am doing the right thing, and I was wondering if perhaps the best way to find real peace would be to withdraw from the world and not act at all.

Sri Chinmoy: If you think that you must withdraw from life in order to achieve peace then you are making a serious mistake. In withdrawal our satisfaction will never dawn. It is in activity that we progress and achieve. It is in action, in fulfilment, in creation, in manifestation, that we can be satisfied.

But we have to know that if we expect something from our action, peace will never come in our lives. If we expect some particular result from our action we will be frustrated when the result does not meet with our expectations. We will feel that we have failed. When this happens, naturally there can be no peace.

We have to feel that action itself is a great blessing, but the result of action we have to take as an experience. According to our own limited understanding, we see it as either failure or success. But in God’s Eye, failure and success are both just experiences which help to develop our consciousness. When acting we have to expect only the fulfilment of God’s Will.

Whatever happens we should see as the experience that God wanted to give us. Today He may give us the experience of failure. Tomorrow He may give us another experience which will satisfy us outwardly. But if we live a spiritual life, no matter what result comes to us from our action, we shall be satisfied.

Let us look at a river. The river flows constantly towards the sea. It carries all kinds of rubbish — dirt, stones, leaves, sand — that it picks up as it moves towards its goal, but it always continues flowing towards the sea. We should also think of our lives as a river running to the sea. This sea is the sea of fulfilment. If we are afraid to act because we don’t want to get involved with the imperfections of the world, if we become still and inactive, then we will never reach the goal.

You may say that you do not know where the goal is right now. No harm. Just move. If you go in the wrong direction, soon you will realise it and go in another direction. Eventually you will reach your goal. But if you do not move at all, there is absolutely no hope that you will go in the right direction. If you cannot do disinterested work, selfless work, then work with a motive first. If ego and vanity come in while you are helping someone, let them come. A day will dawn when you will feel that the satisfaction that you are getting is not enough. You will realise it does not last more than a few seconds. Then you will try to work in a more divine way.

Activity is always far better than inertia. Even if you run around like a mad elephant at first, eventually you will start acting like a deer and run straight towards your goal. You may start your movement with the crude and destructive strength of an elephant but you will complete it with the grace and speed of a deer.

We have to act. If we withdraw from life then we are consciously and deliberately telling God that we do not want to be players in His Game. God will allow us to withdraw for a few days or a few months or a few years. But then God will compel us to participate again, so He can fulfil Himself in us and through us. The world has to be accepted and faced. If you don’t accept it, the world will remain as it is and then you will feel miserable that you have done nothing for the world.