The Malady of Active Laziness

There is a wonderful term that Sogyal Rinpoche uses in his book: The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. The term is ‘Active Laziness’ and the malady of active laziness is something which we all suffer. The story to illustrate this in the book is about a very poor man who manages to accumulate a sack of grain and he had had to work very hard to achieve this:

“He was proud of himself, and when he got home he strung the bag up with a rope from one of the rafters of his house to keep it safe from rats and thieves. He left it hanging there, and settled down underneath it for the night as an added precaution. Lying there his mind began to wander “If I can sell of this grain off in small quantities, that will make the biggest profit. ………..  I’ll become rich …….Plenty of girls will be after me…….we’ll have a child …what on earth are we going to call him?  Looking round the room, his gaze fell upon the little window, through which he could see the moon rising.

What a sign….I’ll call him ‘As Famous as the Moon.’ Now while he had been carried away in his speculation, a rat had found its way up the rope……”

Extract from:  The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche

In the story the rat gnawed through the rope which resulted in the bag of grain falling on the man killing him. As his mind distracted him with all sorts of thoughts about this and that he was not paying attention to the present which resulted with him not noticing the rat nor the bag falling onto him. And as a result of this he died with none of his distracting thoughts coming to fruition.

The story illustrates a form of active laziness that we all suffer from.  We fill our minds with so many thoughts about improving our levels of comfort or wealth that we actually forget to be present and live in the moment.  We talk about all the important responsibilities we have without actually taking responsibly for one of them or taking action in the present to make them happen.  In the western world we cram our lives with constant activity to achieve wealth and comfort that we forget to look at the wealth and comfort of our soul. Our mind distracts us to the level that we lose sight of the real meaning of life.

We are constantly active amounting more material possessions not realising that when we die not one material item will follow us into the after-life.  We are lazy about improving our spiritual attributes as they don’t seem so important in this material world.  But when we die, all that will follow us to the after-life and the next reincarnation are the spiritual attributes. The activity we do in the material plane of existence with our thoughts and ambitions for more wealth and bodily comfort is a waste of time when we die.  The improvement of our inner-life that we are so lazy about is the most important part of each incarnation. It is our spiritual growth that will matter when we leave the earth and rest before the next life-time.

Our time on earth during this life-time is but a tiny dot on the landscape of the time that we will spend in the after-life and subsequent reincarnations.  Maybe it is time to stop the Active Laziness and instead focus on what is important.  The physical body or new home is not as important as the spiritual soul and the development of compassion towards others rather than just ‘Me, me, me’.

Replace the Active Laziness with Active Living and wake up to what is important in life.

Books written by Sogyal Rinpoche can be bought using the link below:

The Tibetan Book of Living & Dying            Living Well Dying Well


Curated by Liz McCaughey


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