Miles to Run
“Beyond the very extreme of fatigue and distress, we may find amounts of ease and power we never dreamed ourselves to own; sources of strength never taxed at all because we never push through the obstruction.” — William James.
An aeroplane wondered how on earth (or in space) rockets fly so fast and so far. It thought, ‘while I have to run several thousand feet to take off and cruise only within earth’s atmosphere, these rockets take to the air from where they are and disappear into God knows where, within what appears like a few seconds’.
So, the aeroplane asked a rocket: “Hey just a sec, can you please tell me how you fly so fast and….?” Shhhhhhh…the rocket has already gone. But seconds later its voice reached it from the sky: “Let them fire your ass. You will know how then.”
There are different types of energies that produce different types of results — especially when they are used in different ways! All of us — from an office-goer to an athlete — are in the business of finding energy, and moving forward.
Writes Scott Jurek, one of the most dominant ultramarathon runners of our time, in his autobiography: “It’s a hard, simple calculus: Run until you can’t run anymore. Then run some more. Find a new source of energy and will. Then run even faster.”
The same ‘hard, simple calculus’ applies to business as well. Run (your business) until you can’t run anymore. Then run some more. Find a new source of energy and will. Then run even faster.
Bhagavat Gita talks of three types of mental energy: tamas, rajas, and sattvic.
Tamas, in the language of rocket science, is the energy of inertia. It says that an object at rest likes to stay at rest. Who really wants to get up from the bed? But when we suddenly remember that there are jobs to be done and bills to pay, we jump out of the bed — and escape from the ‘tamasic atmosphere’.
What follows is action, action, action. Pulls and pushes. The rajasic state! Then a certain “pace” sets in. It’s another type of inertia. For the law of inertia also says “an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction”.
If we stay the course for some more time, probably another desire or fear may arise. Of beating competition, saving reputation, avoiding penalties, obtaining rewards,… Some “unbalanced force” — as the physics says — comes to act on us. And we run.
At one point in time, we get really tired of running. We may want to slow down or even quit. But if we stay the course for some more time, we may pause, reflect, contemplate. And boom…there is another source of energy — this is beyond desire or fear. The sattvic energy.
In Gita, Lord Krishna tells Arjuna: “O Arjuna, there is nothing in the three worlds — heaven, earth, and the lower regions — that should be done by Me, nor there is anything unobtained that I should obtain, yet I engage in action. (3.22). Because, if I do not engage in action relentlessly, O Arjuna, people would follow My path in every way.”
When we see ‘a larger purpose’ or realize our ‘duty’ or ‘responsibility’, we are driven by our sattvic source. Then we run even faster.
Technically speaking, there are qualitative differences between energies — the sattvic source may be superior to the rajasic or tamasic one. But each form of energy has a role to play. Like how rockets use different types of energies — solid, liquid or hybrid — at different times of their flight, we need different types of energies in different combinations at different phases.
Miles to go…err…to run. Stay the course. There is always a newer source of energy waiting to be tapped.