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Do your duty, don’t worry about reward
We live in a result-oriented world. The expectation of a specific result is often the motivation to act. However, when we perform every action with an eye on the end result, the action becomes inferior.
For example, you want to spread happiness, but if you try too hard to find out whether the other person has become happy, you lose your happiness.
Trust yourself and act: The anxiety about the outcome of the action is what pulls you down. At the beginning of a project, if you start worrying, then your whole enthusiasm for the project gets dampened. When you are aware of your potential, jump into the action without bothering about the result. Creativity and enthusiasm can spring only when you are well rested, and not if you are anxious about the outcome of your actions.
Handling doubts and choices: When you are in doubt, any activity you do will bring more doubts. When you have a choice, the grass on the other side will look greener and this will prevent you from enjoying what you have in hand. There is no choice between a plate of rice and a plate of sand. The choice is between whether you should have rice or bread. .Choices bring conflict and there is freedom in ‘choicelessness’. So, when you are bothered by a choice, relax.
Take a break: How can you be centered when there is conflict in the mind? There is a Chinese saying that when you are in doubt, take a pillow and go to bed. In the ancient Sanskirt text Narada Bhakti Sutras, Sage Narada says, Karmanyapi Sanyasyati. Take a break, not just from activity, but also from the fruit of the activity. One who is not concerned about the outcome and is centred on the action, goes beyond conflicts.
Go through and transcend it: This doesn’t mean that you should stop acting. Though one who is wise is beyond all actions, yet he continues to engage himself in action. You can transcend only what you have gone through. You can only let go only what you have. So, to let go of the result, you need to have the result and to have the result, you need to act.
The rare, perfect balance: All actions happen through the power of Consciousness, which expresses itself in three ways- gyana shakti (power of knowing), ichcha shakti (power to will) and kriya shakti (power to do). If there is co-ordination among the three shaktis , then life is very smooth.
Some people have the power to act, but without the knowledge of what to do. When this happens, people become restless. And there are people who are not very active, but whose minds are sharp. Then there are people who lack the desire to complete the action. Lethargy is the manifestation of lack of ichcha shakti. Yoga, meditation, breathing practices and good food habits can help in striking a balance between these shaktis.
Get tempted to act: Keep doing your work, and drop the result of action from the mind. All the result of the action should just serve as the motivation for you to start acting. Krishna used the fruit of action to motivate Arjuna to fight. He told Arjuna that if you die in battle, you will attain heaven and if you win, you will rule the world. When you are bogged down by inertia or despondency, you need motivation to do something and the expected fruit of action acts as the motivating factor. Once you start acting, let go of the expected result. Just focus on the work. This is the way of the wise.
— The writer is the founder of Art of Living Foundation and can be reached www.artofliving.org