Inspired daily acts

Always act correctly … is it possible?

In life we ​​are acting constantly, we have no choice, we must do it. Our actions may have more or less success, it will depend on the circumstances and also on our ability.

Skills can be acquired and improved by practice, while circumstances are changing, dynamic; the action that can be appropriate here and now, maybe will not be in another time and place, which is appropriate for someone does not have to be for another person. Every moment and every situation is new, it must be evaluated without falling into automatisms, in predetermined actions. Therefore, a perfect act is a new creation, linked to the instant and the conditions. Automatic, repetitive acts can only be correct in repetitive, static environments.

But evaluating each situation can be difficult, even impossible, perhaps because we do not have all the information, or because it is inaccessible, or because we do not have enough time to evaluate it, or perhaps we have preconceived ideas that prevent us from realistically evaluating the situation. In fact, we will never have the security of not being mistaken in our actions, by much experience and ability that we have.

This reasoning is valid for every act, also for acts of kindness and love. It is well known that good intentions are not usually enough to carry out actions of kindness, of helping others; It may even happen that, wanting to do good, we cause evil, that loving, we harm.

Inspiration and inspired acts


Inspiration: Act of filling with air the lungs | State in which you feel a special facility for creation.

Inspiration is usually associated with artistic creation, also to scientific discovering. But we have just seen that an act can, and should be considered as a creation that we do, is our contribution to a concrete situation. So, if every act is a creation, we can talk about inspiration linked to every act. Let us therefore think of inspired daily acts. As we know from artists and scientists, inspiration must be sought before the act; when it arrives, we are passed to such special creative state: the mind is filled with ideas, sensations, feelings, and then the act “comes out” effortlessly, and it is an act we could say “perfect”. There is no prior intellectual process, any thinking, yet you experience a creative state, and an impulse to act, your mind is filled with creative energy.

Since there is no previous reasoning process, the inspired action is always impersonal, because anything that is personal always arise from our thinking.  Indeed, you do not decide, rather inspiration, when comes, decides for you, she takes you,  you are her channel of expression. By acting in an inspired way you are not striving, even if outwardly it is a demanding, exhausting work, internally you feel no effort, you do not need to force anything, instead, you flow with action naturally. Although it is impersonal, so you are not seeking any personal benefit, however you get it: the satisfaction of performing, of materializing an inspiration, fills you as no personal action could do.

The same rule applies to acts of love-kindness: if they are inspired, they will be impersonal, and always, always, they will benefit the receiver. The mind will know, beyond all doubt, the correct line of action for the benefit of the other person. There is no longer a possible failure in an action of inspired loving-kindness. And the satisfaction of performing an act of inspired love is the greatest of all, fills you with unconditional joy. In fact, searching inspiration for the material realization of love is itself a direct path of self-realization and happiness.

How do we get inspiration?

In the same way that we acquire any skill: with practice. You have to go for it. Some indications for the work:

  • The mind must be calm, relaxed, attentive. It is not a question of thinking as much as we have to act. Quite the opposite. The mind must be in a receptive, open, even expectant state. Only in this state of mind can we receive inspiration. This is an indispensable requirement. If we practice relaxation and / or meditation this requirement will not be a big problem for us, if not, is a good point for start to meditate.
  • Mentally we “put” the situation on which we want to act “in front of us”, but without thinking about, we only contemplate it, with voluntary attention and relaxed mind. We observe, and we also put “on hold”, as if we put a question in the situation, but waiting for the answer, calmly, without forcing. In a way it is a very mindful attitude, related to Mindfulness state, because we observe without judging, with a mind in silence but that is asking, very open to what comes. Even being perhaps experts in the subject, we get into mode “beginner”, asking for an answer.
  • Keep the impersonal attitude, we are only an intermediary between the situation and the inspiration that we hope will fill us. Maintain the will to want to act, but waiting for inspiration.
  • If we are faced with a situation that really requires our immediate action, the inspiration will always come, it will not leave us in the lurch, except when we do not have the right mental state. If the mind is not relaxed, calm and receptive, it will simply be closed to inspiration.

With practice the results will come. The more we practice, if we do it right, the more inspiration we get.

When the inspiration comes, I hope she find me working.”    – Picasso

What is “realization”? Types of realization. Meditation for realization.

Meditation is an activity that allows us to train the mind to see the world and ourselves with another perspective. It can be used for practical purposes, such as better sleeping or more efficient, and also to realize aspects of existence that are not obvious, but real. This realization of the non-obvious, the subtle, is what is meant by “realization.”


There are several types of realization, depending on which aspect of reality we focus our mind. Next we see a script of meditation that takes us to the different realizations (the realization of several subtle aspects). We can not pretend to get all the realizations in a few minutes, of course, this script just wants to show a possible way, and by the way defines what each type of realization means. Each person has a tendency to develop some specific aspect, but in fact we can, and it is convenient to do so, to work with all aspects. At first all we can hope to feel is an intuition of truth, something that resonates to us as real, but still distant; with practice, is seen more and more clearly, the mind is opening to new ways of seeing, to subtle knowledge, until finally the knowledge is “fully” realized.

Meditation on the realizations

  •  When the ego is active, love can only express itself as “I want.”
    I love you  because you make me feel good” is what the ego expresses.
    And if you stop being pleasant for that person, you fail their ego, you lose your utility for him. Then that ego says, “I do not love you anymore,” even saying “I hate you because you have failed me.”
  • When the ego is inactive, love shines on its own.
  • Love without ego is constant, demands nothing, does not seek to be useful.
  • If you remain calm with the ego inactive, and watch closely, you will feel your own love, shining in you.
  • The moment the ego reactivates itself, it loses that wonderful sensation, because the ego is incapable of realizing it, he is always waiting to get everything through something or someone, it never gives anything of itself.
  • If you immerse yourself in that feeling of inner love, you will see that it expands, which seems to encompass everything.
  • You will look around and everything will look bright, beautiful, because beauty and love both belong to the same plane, are aspects of the same thing.
  • This state is called the realization of love.

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  • When the ego is inactive, the mind becomes calm, ceases to seek, it relaxes.
  • If in that state you look attentively you feel the peace of a calm mind.
  • If you look more deeply, you perceive that someone is observing that peace, someone subtle, is not the ego, is not a thought, nor is it material, seems to be nothing, it is purely conscious presence.
  • This state is called the realization of your deep being, or realization of the Self in you, or simply, self-realization.

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  • Keeping the ego inactive, with the mind in deep calm, watch your surroundings closely.
  • You will feel one with everything. The separation between you and the world is a thing of the ego. It is relative, and ultimately false.
  • By observing both the world and yourself, with the relaxed mind, your consciousness is simultaneously containing your environment and yourself, your body, your emotions, your mind, everything is in your consciousness, forming a unity.
  • This state is called realization of non-duality.

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  • Meditating on the functioning of your body, a very complex biological machine, with innumerable cells, living beings cooperating with each other to keep you alive, we see the diversity of life creating an unity of life, you.
  • Breathing, feeling life in you, looking at the life around you, with the calm mind, you feel that all life is one, you are a focus in an ocean of life.
  • This state is called the realization of the unity of life.

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  • Looking, with the calm mind, how the world works out there, so complex, how everything seems to work alone, with mathematical exactitude, governed by natural laws, the whole cosmos functions like a precision clock, you feel there is an intelligence there, subtle, immense, that is in everything.
  • That same intelligence keeps you alive, second to second.
  • Your own personal mind is part of that intelligence,  it is an individual focus of that cosmic intelligence.
  • This state is called the realization of the unity of mind, or realization of the Universal Mind, “the Universe is a creation of the Mind.”

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  • Observing from the relaxed, open, centered mind, the Love that expands and is in everything, the unity of Life, the unity of the Mind, the non-duality of Consciousness, and your very profound being, encompassing all these aspects of reality with your consciousness, you experience a state of total oneness with Love, with Life, with Existence and with Mind.
  • This state is called the realization of the Self.

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Contemplative attitude

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Short contemplation

You are walking in the countryside, thinking of your things, paying little attention to surroundings; then, distractedly, you look away and watch a wonderful landscape, it was there for a long, but you didn’t notice it yet. In this moment, your mind stop, no thoughts, no worries, you only contemplate the panorama, and for a short time, you experience a silent and peace mind, a  mind only observing without any intellectual motion. However such state is not lasting, your mind is not trained for to keep silent, and after a moment the thoughts return. But for a moment, you was contemplating.

Escaping

Sometimes our mind exhaust us with tones of worries, remembers, pending tasks, and other stuff. in that times we want to escape to another place, hoping the distance from our habitual environment also be a distance from our habitual thoughts; sometimes it works, up to a point, sometimes not, because we took our mind with us wherever we go. Anyway, for a lot of people the only way to rest from their own mind is escaping to another physical place, or doing something distracting, like watch a movie, talk with friends, etc. All of this escaping ways are short, they are short relieves.

Lasting contemplation

At the beginning of the Christmas holidays I felt the need of escaping: after months of hard, continuous work, days of shopping, endless queues, family meals … come near. I really desired be calm, not all of these Christmas stuff, but, how can tell it to my family? It was impossible. Suddenly the idea came into my mind: wait a second …

you are looking for the state of contemplation, through escaping far away, to a calm and peaceful place, but you can adopt the contemplative attitude right here and now, no need to physically escape, instead, escape from your thoughts now!   

An attitude is a mental disposition, also a mental state related to such disposition. A trained mind can be directed to a mental disposition at will. So, then, I put my attention behind, behind my thoughts, in the center of the mind, an action to which every experienced meditator is accustomed, having done it daily for years: centering the attention in the middle of the  field of consciousness. I wrote about this meditation ability time ago in this blog: Centeredness of attention

The result was I found myself contemplating all my field of consciousness, thoughts included, also external things. The dis-identification of my own thoughts, a natural result produced by the centering of attention, brought me the peace I was looking for.

Ant it really works well … I was able to pass throughout all the “holidays” very peacefully, like I was alone in a far mountains watching a spectacular sunset. Have been the best Christmas I remember in many years. Obviously, the next challenge is keep such state even at work; hope I’ll be successful.

Life’s ups and downs and emotional states

Instability of life

Life is change, we know it. Things happen around us at very fast speed, and those things are not always good ones. On the other side, life needs stability for flourish: our body has basic needs that have to be fulfilled every day, even every minute, so living beings have to adapt to a ever changing environment.

Human beings are the most unstable of all living beings: not only our bodies are weaker (civilization effects) as other beings, but additionally we have the most developed nervous system of all creation on Earth; such system is able to change from stability to high instability in seconds, responding to external triggers, or even internal ones: a thought can change our mood almost instantly.

Instability of emotions

As a result, emotions usually changes very fast: we can move from positivity to negativity in one minute; that’s the case when something goes really wrong, but also sometimes happens without any external event, it simply happens. While the change in reaction to external circumstances is normal, even good, because a negative emotional state is information our body-mind gives us (like: hey! pay attention! something is going really wrong!), on the other side changes without any external trigger may be counterproductive.

Anyway, instability always must be a stimuli for adaptation to the events, this is their natural function. Emotions not are an exception: is normal experience emotional changes, but such instability must be brief, the person must recover their stability as fast as possible; otherwise, suffering will visit us, for a lasting unstable state is not healthy.

Due to our highly unstable nervous system, is very important for us to know coping techniques; coping with emotional instability has different variants, depending on the causes. Such techniques fall in two categories: psychological ones and spiritual ones, although there is some overlap between them.

Coping with emotional instability through psychological techniques

Without going into the field of therapy, simply being in the self-help, the techniques of Positive  Psychology are highly recommended for coping with “bad emotions”; most of such techniques are existentialist: recommend to full live your emotions, accepting them as part of life. Other recommendations and techniques are designed for improve our positive emotions, our ability for generate them voluntarily. This is a key point: emotional states usually are automatic, they come and go without our intervention; here we have a cognitive work for to do: 1) understand the mechanism of our emotional states, and become full aware of it,  2) intelligently use such understanding for become able of have the choice, for stopping the automatic mechanism, and choose how emotions will last and how will not.

The roots of Positive Psychology go back to Aristotle’s Practical Ethics based on the concepts: ‘Optimal functioning’, ‘Friendliness towards self’ and ‘Pursuit of a blossoming life’. Modern-day leading Positive Psychology researchers are noted. For further lecture, see, for example, Positive psychology: An overview (Mia Leijssen).

Coping with emotional instability through spiritual traditions

Spiritual traditions recommend meditation for overcome the difficulties of life and also for achieve peace of mind and a wise sense of life. Now a days, scientific approach and traditional ones are starting to be entangled: the effect of meditation have been widely study for scientists, who are checked it. The most studied traditional technique is the so named Mindfulness, although is not any  technique but a stable and peaceful state of mind, which you are reached by applying various techniques. The traditional techniques have a point in common with Positive psychology: they invite you to explore yourself, like a benevolent observer, discovering the mechanisms that are running automatically on you. When you become full aware of such mechanisms, the you start to become able of control it. 

Moreover, beyond the emotional states, spiritual development through meditation can be seen as a purging process in which you gradually root out the obstacles that keep you from your essence. In this sense, treading the spiritual path is not usually the easiest road to follow. In doing so you might be confronted with your darkest corners and your not so attractive traits. But in this process of growing awareness you also strengthen your life foundations. For further reflect on this path, you can read Spiritual Development, Surrender and Sacred Ground (Mia Leijssen).

Conclusion

In this short post we have seen the source of emotional ups and downs, the need of stabilize emotional states for live a healthy life, and two big categories of techniques for do it, such categories now a days are not longer opposed, instead, are full compatibles, so we can follow only one of them or both at the same time.

 

Luck and attitude in life

Get lucky in life

It is often said “he is lucky” or “he has luck” referring to someone when things are going well for him, or when he achieved some desirable object or perhaps a way of life, not because it has worked hard for it but because somehow he has been given it with apparently little effort or any effort. Maybe there is a point of envy in that thought, because that gift that has made life to that person, has been denied to us, we have not been that lucky. In addition, tacitly it assumed that this gift of life will provide satisfaction, well-being, or comfort, if it were not so, then it would be pointless to think that was lucky. This is a the popular concept behind this term, which also entails a certain emotion of envy.

However, that certain life situation, or object, is really valuable, provide an increased well-being, depending entirely on the person; it is a well known fact, but still often forgotten. There are countless cases of famous people who have become rich in four days, with very little effort, maybe had some special talent and were lucky to be discovered and to be given a chance, but despite that luck, that success, they have been unhappy, have fallen into drug abuse, even suicide.

On the contrary, some people with nothing, or very little, and being in adverse circumstances, show a state of happiness that really is enviable, as this African refugee girl:

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Happiness in the middle of poverty

The positive attitude of this girl gets her emotional state is relaxed and happy regardless of external circumstances.

In addition, it also happens that we value things that are given us very differently, depending on the people: what for one may be something valuable for another will be worthless. Even often it happens that over time we don’t give value to something that initially had it, and then we believe that we are not lucky, not valuing what we have now; as is known, there are things that are valued only when we lose them.

So “get lucky” is very relative, because it really depends on our attitude to life, being the key that make us able to enjoy the gifts we are given. So let’s talk now about attitude.

The attitude towards life

The attitude of a person is a predisposition to take life in a particular line, acting accordingly.

So, we can have constructive attitudes, in which our perception of life tends to want to create, to collaborate with others, to see opportunities, or the opposite, destructive attitudes, in which we want to eliminate things we do not like, criticize, we see problems in all, etc. Similarly, in the broadest sense, there are positive attitudes and negative attitudes: the first value what we have and try to use it the best way for enjoy a satisfying life, which creates positive emotions towards life, such as joy or happiness; in the second attitude, refusal, we don’t value what we have, or value little, and instead give much value to what we  don’t have, so that the person experiences also negative emotions such as frustration, anxiety, envy, even rage because the sense of injustice (life does not treat you like you think you should treat).

Luck, strictly speaking, is like a lottery, is random, we can not influence it. But the attitude, that’s entirely ours, and we can re-educate them for the better. So in summary, we have said that the real lucky in life is to have a positive attitude towards it, it is what makes us appreciate what we already have, make the most of, and have a full life; if life brings us good things, they are welcome, if not, nothing is wrong. And how can we acquire this attitude for life? For sure there will be objections here … “but I have circumstances that are hard“, “but I have a past that weighs heavily” etc. etc. Well, let’s leave it clear: the attitude is completely independent of personal circumstances, a real positive acquired attitude, is firm, stable, maintained whatever the circumstances be.

Moreover, even adverse circumstances, as there are, and many, seen from a positive attitude become opportunities for personal growth, strengthening the person face of adversity; I remember a good example of this attitude given us for Socrates, the ancient Greek philosopher, with somewhat humorously, but that encloses this positive attitude we’re talking about:

Young people, do not hesitate: become married; if you are lucky enough to find a good partner, you will be happy people, and if not, you will become philosophers, which is always useful for mankind. “- Socrates –

Notice that Socrates mentions “if you are lucky” because it really is needed in the choice of partner, but if luck is not with us, we can still grow as human being.

How to get a positive firm life attitude: positive psychology

The attitude belongs to the realm of interiority of the person, an aspect that has gained attention in recent decades not only in the traditional field of humanities, but also in science. The so-called positive psychology, is dedicated to studying the positive attitude from the scientific point of view, defining indicators and tests to measure and studying its effects on subjective well-being of the person; also provides techniques, many of them old acquaintances of humanity, now rediscovered. Positive Psychology try to strengthen all aspects of life that are related to the positive attitude.

For example have a circle of good and real friends is a factor that increases the positive attitude, and is especially recommended for those who have a problem of affection, because friendship is a form of love, and one of the best, without contraindications. Also is a positive factors do not push yourself too hard and have a good self-esteem. As mentioned in Friendship blessing of John O’Donohue:

May you be blessed with good friends.
May you learn to be a good friend to yourself.

May you never be isolated.
May you always be in the gentle nest of belonging with your soul friends. –
John O’Donohue –

How to get a positive firm life attitude: meditation

Another way to improve it is the transcendent way, which trains self-awareness so that the person learns to not pay attention to negative thoughts and emotions, related to negative attitudes, and instead focus the mind on the positive, through meditation techniques. Conscious relaxation methods are very suitable for people without experience in meditation who also have concentration problems due to stress situation.  

In the trascencendent way there is also work to be done, but not strengthening of some psychological factors, as in Positive Psychology, but rather is a liberation of the conscience of the individual from the yoke of their own negative thoughts:

Happiness can not be found
through great effort and willpower,
but is already present,
in open relaxation and letting go
– Lama Gendun Rinpoche

In a similar line of liberation, freedom from thoughts that bind us to a negative attitude, expressed Eckhart Tolle:

True salvation is a state of freedom ― from fear, from suffering, from a perceived state of lack and insufficiency and therefore from all wanting, needing, grasping, and clinging. It is freedom from compulsive thinking, from negativity, and above all from past and future as a psychological need. -Eckhart Tolle-.

Whatever the chosen way, it is our responsibility worked ourselves to become really fortunate, regardless of the circumstances.

Centeredness of attention

The focus of conscious attention

Attention is a function of the mind used to select which object we put into our field of consciousness; so sometimes the ability to be attentive and one’s conscience is confused. The ability to be aware incorporate the focus (attend) of any cognizable object and also its perception, while the consciousness field consists of all objects focused.

We say that the mind is concentrated when attention is held in a single simple object: the field of consciousness is narrow. Not the usual state, on the contrary, attention tends to change constantly from one object to another. For example, while we are doing a routine activity our thoughts come and go, and usually our attention follow them, so we are doing the activity almost unconsciously, unattended, in automatic mode, we can even seem absent during the activity, because our conscious attention is trapped in random thoughts.

This constant mental rumination is dysfunctional, as has been scientifically proven: produces a feeling of uneasiness and discontent. The various relaxation techniques and meditation seek to reduce this background mental activity calming the mind (for example, walking beside the sea, attending sensations) and moving the focus from thoughts to other objects, such as the body itself.

Attention captured by thoughts

Normally, our focus of attention are the body itself, the sensory information, and the thoughts, the latter being preponderant. Also, being the psychological self (also called ego) a mixture of thoughts and memories (we can say we think ourselves), the preferential attention to one’s thoughts is closely related to the sense of self: when a thought emerges, we believe that we ourselves are thinking, and obviously we full attend that thought. We could say that thoughts, self, and attention are entangled, making it difficult to discriminate between them. As more enmeshed they are, the person most difficulties will have for stop the automatically attending to all that the mind randomly propose him, whether good or bad, positive or negative, important or trivial; there is an identification of the person with their thoughts.

Centeredness of care

In conscious relaxation we relax and attend to the pleasant sensations that produces relaxation,  and in meditation we learn to calm our mind. When we have acquired some practice in such techniques, it becomes evident, and this is a fact proved by experience and also by science, there arises a new deeper self, one that is not any thought but is directly experienced, lived. For this deep I, which is also commonly called the inner witness, we have not yet scientific theories that explain it is, but we know the effects produced by: a mental stability and peace is achieved. Such deep I is experienced at first stages as something vague, like a calm presence that is watching without acting.

When we have some practice to feel it, we can start trying a more advanced meditation practice, one we know as centering of attention from the inner self, or simply centeredness. It consists of, from the inner I, acting as if we were him, observe the entire field of consciousness: our body, emotions, sensory information, and thoughts, but not jumping from one to another, as usual, instead,  watching them all at once, like all of them were a unique pack; all the possible objects of consciousness are incorporated into a wide field of consciousness, observed from the deep self.

We call the body-mind centering the ability to align or combine three human capacities: thinking (mind), feeling (emotions, feelings) and make (body) – Luis Lopez – Relaxation in the classroom.

Centeredness … is learning to stand and stay (in the deep identity) as long as we can. I am that who are seeing, feeling, doing physically – A. Blay – Self

Centeredness in the sense of identity merging with pure attention, it is not ideas about oneself. This enables addressing all aspects of the person at the same time and also have a sense of freedom of action upon them.

Centeredness exercise

I transcribed below the exercise of centeredness as I am doing in my daily practice; remember that it is not an exercise for initiation to meditation, if you try before having achieved a certain mental stability, through initial relaxation exercises and meditation, chances are that no results are obtained. But if we have already experienced, we became aware of this profound I that observes everything that happens without action, beyond thoughts, then we can try this more advanced practice.

Preliminaries
We find ourselves in our favorite meditation position, in the right place. Relax the body, releasing tension. Breathe deeply, slowly, deliberately, two or three times.

Then we made our favorite relaxation exercise or meditation, in order to calm and relax the mind. Whatever the technique chosen, to the end we have to be in a relaxed state but mindfully. We dedicate a minimum of 10 minutes and a maximum of 20 to this stage.

Centering
Then we close our eyes and take care of our body: we note their presence, we focus our attention on it,  without any purpose, without judging or thinking about it, we just attend, we are there. Note also their weight, the pressure points that body weight exerts on the chair or mat. We spend about three minutes.

Then we attend to our senses: in succession, focus each of them, touch (throughout the body, the clothes we wear, the air in contact with skin), smell (which smells detect?), taste (what flavor we have in the mouth?), hearing (noise both inside our body, in the room, and also far away). About three minutes.

Then we attend to our emotions, our emotional state: what is? We feel that physical, soft feeling, which is the emotional state when we are relaxed, focusing our attention there for a few minutes.

In the next stage we attend our thoughts, our mind: “observe” the interior space where thoughts arise, perhaps at that time does not arise any but the space is there. If you experience any, then observe how thought appears and disappears again in the space of mind. We were there about  two minutes.

Now try to attend to all of the above, but not in sequence but in block: the entire field, including the body, senses, emotions and thoughts. To do this, we can imagine that “we step back” to gain perspective and mentally become able to cover everything with our attention. We stay there all we can, experiencing the feeling of cover the whole field of consciousness without identifying with any of its contents.

Exiting: As usual, breathing deeply, gently mobilizing joints, opening eyes and slowly getting back to normal physical consciousness.

Untangling

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Whereas those who, being impelled by their desires, work with a selfish motive become entangled because they are attached to the fruits of their actions.  – Bhagavad Gita –

The most common human being have their mind, desires and sense of “I am” entangled, confusing the three as if they were an unbreakable block; therefore, is unable to resist their desires, believing he is his own desires.

With meditation and deep reflection, however, we become able to untangle the desires and our sense of I. As a result, desires lose a large part of their power, because they depend on our identification with them.

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With time, we also disentangle our thoughts and our “I”, and also thoughts are dramatically reduced, following the same mechanism as desires: most of our mental rumination is due to our identification with our thoughts. Indeed,  desires and thoughts exists thanks to our automatic identification with them.

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In such estate, still there are desires and thoughts, depending or our residual identification with them, but now we are able to see them as something external to our self, and they are not able to control us anymore.

Eventually, while we are in a full mindfulness state, thoughts and desires almost disappear, only self left: that is realization of the self.

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Despite contact with the material body, O Arjuna, the soul neither does anything nor is entangled. – Bhagavad Gita –