Doing good deeds and practicing Detachment In Action
कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन । मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि ॥ २-४७॥
ma karma-phala-hetur bhur, ma te sango ‘stv akarmani.
You are entitled to (or have a right to) perform rightful actions. But you are never entitled to the fruits of your action. Never be motivated by the fruits of actions nor be attached to inaction. This is one of the most iconic verses of the Bhagavad Gita and has been quoted countless times by many seers, sages, and scholars since time immemorial. This is also the central idea behind most other teachings in the Gita. We are instructed by the Lord to always focus on our duties and rightful actions. All sorts of anxiety and stress occur only when we fret about the results of our actions. We all have that one friend or relative who is always depressed, feeling ‘I did so much for everybody or I have given so much, but what have I received in return?’. The happiest people are those who never seek or worry about credit for their actions. They just do what they think is right and then move on.
Detachment from results is the way to a happy and painless life.
If you reflect on your own life you will realize that most of your painful memories are based on either something unexpected happening or something expected not happening. ‘Expectation’ is always the cause. Many western and eastern philosophers have established this fact over and over again. Even in Buddha’s teachings, one of the Four Noble Truths is that “the cause of all sufferings is attachment”.
If you look at nature, you see such detached actions everywhere. The honey bees gather honey but have you ever come across a honeybee which was looking depressed because someone else was enjoying the honey that it gathered? Have you ever come across a hummingbird which stopped singing because nobody was listening? Your good self (higher self) always wants to do good deeds. However, your saboteur within will either prevent you from doing them or it will make you feel bad about doing good deeds by making you focus on the results of your actions.
In order to succeed on the spiritual path and in life as well, one must practice detachment in action. One must practice doing good work, dedicating the work to God and not being attached to the fruits of one’s labor. This is not easy. As humans, we are wired to expect results for even the smallest of actions. However, with practice, Detachment in action can be achieved. Even with partial success, you will feel the difference in your lives. Spiritual path is like the cold road covered with snow. Good action is like the car and detachment in action is like the machine that clears the snow from your path. Together, you can reach your destination.
Raghuvamshi, Vinayak. Lord Sri Krishna’s Commandments: Timeless secrets from priceless scriptures (Kindle Locations 246-255). Tellwell Talent. Kindle Edition.