Remember two words: one is action, another is activity. Action is not activity; activity is not action. Their natures are diametrically opposite. Action is when the situation demands it and you act, you respond. Activity is when the situation doesn't matter, it is not a response; you are so restless within, that the situation becomes an excuse to be active. Try to see the delicate distinction. For example, you are hungry, then you eat -- this is action. But you are not hungry, you don't feel any hunger at all, and still you go on eating -- this is activity.
Action is beautiful, action comes as a spontaneous response. Life needs response, every moment you have to act, but the action comes through the present moment. You are hungry and you seek food, you are thirsty and you go to the well. You are feeling sleepy and you go to sleep. It is out of the total situation that you act. Action is spontaneous and total.
Activity is never spontaneous, it comes from the past. You may have been accumulating it for years, and then it explodes into the present -- and it is not relevant. But the mind is cunning and will find rationalizations for the activity. The mind will always try to prove that this is not activity and will try and con (convince) you into believing it is action - that it was 'needed'. But it was not needed, the situation never demanded it, it was simply irrelevant -- only you cannot see. There was no need for it.
These rationalizations help you to remain unconscious about your madness. These are the things that Georges I. Gurdjieff used to call "buffers". You create buffers of rationalization around you so you don't come to realize what is the situation. Buffers are used in in trains, between two compartments; buffers are used so that if there is a sudden stopping there will not be too much shock to the passengers. The buffers will absorb the shock. Your activity is continuously irrelevant, but the buffers of rationalizations don't allow you to see the situation. The buffers blind you, and this type of activity continues.
excerpted from the book
"Creativity: Unleashing the Forces Within" by Osho
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