The central message of the Bhagavad Gita is simply this, “Do what you have to do and don’t dwell on the results”. This appears strange and even nonsensical to most of us living in the 21st century. The entire world appears to run on goals, deadlines and targets. Won’t people become lazy if goals aren’t set? How does one measure success in that case?
To understand the message of Krishna and the Gita, one has to understand the broader context of the intended audience. The gita is not meant for lazy people. Telling lazy people not to bother about the results of the action can lead to disastrous consequences. The Gita and indeed most of ancient Indian texts were aimed at seekers – at those people who were looking to elevate themselves to the highest human possibility. These texts were not usually read by or indeed this knowledge was not given to people who did not deserve it. It was strictly passed on from Guru to student with great fidelity.
Now, in our lives, this central message of the Gita i.e. “forsake the clinging to the fruits of action and just act” is for those of us who work hard to achieve something – money, status, fame. However, we all know that these things such as money, fame and power are extraneous to us and are fleeting. They are here one moment and gone the next. Look at the rich and famous who have fallen from their peaks. Good examples include movie stars who were unassailable at the peak of their career and delegated to the dusty history books in a few years. Imagine that if you had built your entire career, your entire life on getting money or fame – to lose it all. Would we survive?
Moreover, any action that is motivated by extraneous influences – things that supposedly bring joy to us – don’t actually create long lasting joy. These actions are motivated by a subtle greed – a thirst for more. They are born in dissatisfaction. This means that our lives become a journey from “things are not okay at the moment” to greater “things are not okay at the moment”. This is not a wise way to live and takes you away from staying centered and joyous.
On the other hand, when we do something we love – say it’s playing a musical instrument or dancing or being with nature – whatever stirs the inner soul strings – we feel comfortable. In these moments, we are with ourselves and connect with the source of true joy. We don’t get anything – no appreciation, no money, no position – but we appear to be helplessly happy. This is what Krishna appears to be saying. He says, “Do your action as an expression of your inner joy and not in anticipation of results”. The difference is being joyful and doing what you love and doing things expecting joy to arise out of the result of the action.
But does this mean we forsake results? Certainly not. Fix the general direction in which you or your company needs to go. For example: you can say that you want to improve the number of people your product or services positively affects. Let the action be motivated by the love of what you do. When the action is centered around joy as opposed to dissatisfaction – watch the magic. In the long run, you are bound to achieve your goals without the stress, without the feeling of more and more. This becomes a journey from fullness to fullness.