If you could identify with the title then probably you are suffering from something called as the “Arjuna syndrome”, the classical age old dis-ease which was instrumental in launching one of the most brilliant self developmental advice given in the history of mankind. We all know this “Arjuna syndrome.” Those moments in our lives when the only thing the brain is filled with is confusion, frustration and dejection. The most effective pill for this dis-ease, is a gradual dose of Bhagavad Gita Wisdom, administered verse by verse and allowed to sink in through regular day to day practice.
Bhagvad Gita has its eternal message given from various angles. Among them, the concept of Karma Yoga is its original contribution, and even in this concept, the practice of detached action is the key to all round health of ailing Arjunas like us.
But how do we work without getting entangled in it and what comes with it?
Sri Krishna says “Yogastha Kuru Karmani” means, being rooted in Yoga keep doing your work. What means being rooted in yoga? It means being clear about your intent and focusing your mind, body, energy in direction of the intent. This is when the action becomes a yajna (sacrifice) and the work becomes worship. Sometimes we may not even know where we are going but our inner voice says it’s the right way, follow that voice. Other times people around us manage to plant seeds of doubt in our mind about the efficacy of our actions, this is when we need to “just do it” by following that inner voice.
Krishna also mentions not to be attached to the fruits of our action (sangam tyaktva). This, sounds next to impossible since our whole education system is achievement driven. Even our youth and adult hood is about being the best and rising above the rest. Gita says that the error is in the premise that fulfillment of desires can make a person happy. Allowing the desire to run it’s course is not an argument which Gita buys. This is because the course of fulfilling desires is either an endless pit or has the ability to lead us in direction of self destruction.
The only way out of this is to develop the right kind of attitude. Renunciation or at least simplifying our desires is a mental act and it has to have discrimination as a background. In order to renounce our attachment to something lower, we need to know what to drop and to attach ourselves to something higher. This higher could be God, nation, community, family or even the purity of the intent in itself. A pure intent here means, the intent that assumes wider implication, wider than the triad of “I, Me and Myself.” In this way, step by step, the ladder of detachment from the “I”- driven pursuits is climbed, till a time comes when the actions happen in spontaneity, which means without a grounding in the “I”-ness.
When this kind of attitude is developed the motivation and energy to work comes from the Universe itself, as it is not the “Individual” that is toiling anymore. This is when the dhriti, or fortitude and enthusiasm for work shines. Though detached in action the persons enthusiasm does not dampen.
Over a period of time we keep widening the scope of our intent and thus the scope of work happening because of it. “Love” becomes the basis of action and not some paltry selfish pursuits. This is where Sri. Krishna’s phrase “sarva bhuta hiterataha,” one who is interested in welfare of all Beings, comes to fruition.
Reminds me of a beautiful saying of Swami Vivekananda, he said “Duty is seldom sweet. It is only when Love greases its wheels that it runs smoothly, it is otherwise continuous friction.”
Lastly, as intent becomes pure and wider in its scope and the action stems out of fortitude, one assumes responsibility for the result, whether it is success or failure. It becomes natural to be even minded in success and failure. Thus, the work ethics of Bhagvad Gita teaches us to evolve towards making work an act of worship. It recommends us to try and be free from working under the influence of individual centered desire and to look for the greater good of all. Managing to establish this state makes a person a Karma Yogin.
This is when the confused, frustrated individual is permanently healed of the “Arjuna syndrome”. Life becomes an ever flowing river, the river in which the “Karma” yogi frolics through the work.