The truth about the nature of ‘beneficial work’ has to be understood, as also of ‘baneful work’ and of ‘non-work’. The way of work is difficult indeed to understand. (
All outgoing energy following a selfish motive is frittered away; it will not cause power to return to you; but if restrained, it will result in development of power.
— Swami Vivekananda (CW, 1:33)
One’s own Dharma (duty), even though not glamorous, is better than duty alien to one’s growth (Para-dharmaã), however well performed. For even death in doing one’s duty leads to one’s good, while a duty alien to one’s growth is burdened with the fear of downfall.
If you really want to judge of the character of a man, look not at his great performances. Every fool may become a hero at one time or another. Watch a man do his most common actions; those are indeed the things which will tell you the real character of a great man.
— Swami Vivekananda (CW, 1:29)
To work alone you have competence, and not to claim their fruits. Let not the longing for fruits be the motive force of your action. At the same time let not this attitude confirm you in indolent inaction.
One of the greatest lessons I have learnt in my life is to pay as much attention to the means of work as to its end …. All the secret of success is there: to pay as much attention to the means as to the end.
— Swami Vivekananda (CW, 2:1)
Engage yourself in action with the mind steadfast in Yoga. Abandon attachments, O Arjuna, and be unperturbed in success and failure. This unperturbed sameness in all conditions is Yoga.
It is the level-headed man, the calm man, of good judgment and cool nerves, of great sympathy and love, who does good work and so does good to himself.
— Swami Vivekananda (CW, 1:79)