A talk by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
It’s often believed that if people become spiritual and dispassionate about the outcome of their actions, they will stagnate; there will be no progress. In fact, the opposite is true. Creativity and enthusiasm can spring only when you are well rested; and you cannot rest if you are anxious about the outcome of your actions.
When we perform every action with an eye on the end result, we get lost in the end and don’t enjoy the means of getting to the end. But when we perform some actions as an expression of joy and do not bother about the result, the action itself brings fulfillment. When we act expecting joy, the action becomes inferior. For example, you want to spread happiness, but if you try to find out whether the other person has become happy, you get entangled in a vicious circle. In the process, you lose your happiness!
Anxiety about the outcome of your 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, just jump into action without bothering about the result. 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 prevents you from enjoying what you have in your hand. When you are bothered by a choice, relax.
The choice is never between good and bad; it’s always between bad and worse or good and better. Choices bring conflict and there is freedom in ‘choicelessness’. How can you be centred when there is conflict? There is a Chinese saying: that when you are in doubt, take a pillow and go to bed!
In Narada Bhakti Sutras, Narada says, “Karmanyapi Sanyasyati”. Take a break, not just from activity, but also from the fruit of the activity. It will bring deep rest from doubts and conflicts. One who is not concerned about the outcome and is centered on the action, goes beyond dualities, beyond conflicts. The wise one is beyond all actions. Yet he continues to engage himself in action. You can only let go of what you have. So to let go of the fruit of action, you need to have the fruit and to have the fruit, you need to act!
This is so beautiful. If you have never acted, then how can you drop either the action or the fruit of action. So be active. Keep doing your work, and drop the fruit of action. The fruit of action is there 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. Jesus did the
same. When you are bogged down by laziness, you need motivation to do something and the expected fruit of action acts as the motivating factor.
But once you start acting, let go of the expected result. Just focus on the work on hand. This is the way of the wise!