Monday, May 24, 2010

".... phal ki chinta mat karo"

For a long time, I had been perplexed with the saying from Gita: "Karm karo, phal ki chinta mat karo". I would interpret it as "do your work without worrying about the results". In this adage, I always laid more emphasis on the results part, i.e. how is it possible to work for something without having any desire for the results or how can one feel motivated enough to accomplish a task without desiring success.

Turns out that I had been laying emphasis on the wrong word, maybe. The word which should have got my focus was worrying. I now perhaps understand that Gita may not be telling to have ambivalent orientation towards success. Nor is it telling that results of one's efforts will be ordained by destiny or an omniscient God. It may be rather telling just not to worry excessively about how and why our efforts may end up as failure.

We can keep working with a problem-solving mindset and result-oriented approach. But once we have put in the efforts, we should let the results fructify in their natural course of time. We should not play in our mind the scenarios in which failure may ensue. We should not become impatient with the amount of time it takes for the outcome to show itself.

I guess that difference between focusing on worrying rather than results is subtle, but it does make quite a difference in the spirit with which we approach the teaching. Thinking that the results are pre-ordained can make us fatalists. But, knowing that worrying will not change the result after our efforts have been expended is a way to keeping our calm and peace intact while the outcomes play out within the visible and invisible rules of the game.

Any takers? :)

Update (20 Aug 2011):
My understanding of this phrase has probably further increased. Recently I realized that this teaching tells a person to not worry about successful result of their actions both before and after the action is done. My earlier understanding was focused on not worrying after action had been taken. Now I also appreciate that one must not inordinately delay an action worrying about whether success is achievable or not. If one keeps worrying that the task at hand is too big and that chances of success are dim, then the action will be delayed or may not happen at all. Hence, the action must be taken and one should not let worrying about attainability of result be a reason for procrastination or inaction.


Dwiti said...

This is how I look at it...
Do your best..
and then leave the rest..

to take the natural course, that is...

Anonymous said...

Brilliant. Thank you. Never looked at it that way.