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Gita Lesson - 0805: Attitude and Action

Bhagavad Gita
Unit - 08
Lesson - 0805: Attitude and Action
By Raja Subramaniyan

All the sufferings in the world are related to the mind. Therefore, the solution should also be part of the mind.

As a part of the creation, man is continuously engaged in action. The apparent motive or objective of his actions is to make the world as a better place to live so that the sufferings in the world are removed or reduced. Whether he has such an objective or not he is bound to action.

These uncontrollable and continuous actions do not seem to solve the problems of humankind and the problems continue to exist even after thousands of years of effort.

The solution to the problem is a change in the attitude with which work is done.

Due to ignorance, man thinks that he is separate from the world and he is doing the action. In reality, he is just an instrument in the hands of God. Out of the millions of action that happens through him, he assumes ownership only for a selected few and claims that he is the doer of the actions. Therefore, his attitude towards action is harmful and it causes suffering. He thinks 'I will do this and gain this benefit'.

So long he has this attitude, he will continue to suffer and there is no possibility of solving all his problems. His action will always appear to be inadequate and the results will always be insufficient. After completion of a particular task, the next one will appear with a promise to give happiness. This will be an endless search.

The problem is resolved by having the right attitude. The right attitude means to acknowledge the fact that the life happens to us and we do not live life. If all the actions are done in line with the prescription of Karma Yoga, then there is no suffering at all in life and one can live joyfully.

This right attitude will come only with the right knowledge. Therefore, one has to follow the prescription with faith that it will solve the problem. If one doubts the words of Lord Krishna and continues to do Karma as mere Karma and not as Karma Yoga, he is doomed to suffer forever.

Everyone is continually doing various actions. In essence, there are no differences in the action or in the result.

Example: Whether one is a president of a country or a cobbler sitting on the platform, the fundamental nature of work done and result obtained remain same.

There are certain tasks to be completed, people do action to complete the task, and the next task is taken up. It remains same for everyone. The apparent differences between two persons with respect to work and results are of no consequence.

However, those who do not do Karma Yoga are affected by the process and they are like people fallen in quick sand. Every effort to come out of a problem will sink them deeper into the problem. This is because actions done without the right attitude strengthen the likes and dislikes of the person. He is deluded by attachment and therefore cannot see the solution.

Actions do not bind those who do them as Karma Yoga. In this case, the likes and dislikes do not get enough power to be converted as attachment. If one functions in this way for sufficiently long period, his intelligence will be relived of the accumulated covering caused by attachment and he will be ready to receive the self-knowledge.

Self-Knowledge reveals the fact that we do not do any actions at all and life is happening to us. We have no role to play because we are part of the action.

Example: A pen does not do any action in writing. It appears to be involved in lots of action resulting in a great work of literature.

Similarly, all the human beings function as a tool in the hands of God. We do not have to worry about what is going to happen in the future, just as a pen does not have to worry what to write next.

If we gain this knowledge then our attitude while doing our action will be right and we will remain happy forever.

Right knowledge leads to right attitude. However, it is required that we develop a right attitude towards work in order to gain the right knowledge. This appears to be cyclical. There are many alternative ways of coming out of this cycle. We can choose what appeals to us.

Alternative 1: To have faith in Lord Krishna's words and blindly follow the instructions of the teacher

This means all our duties are imposed on us by God and we have no choice except to obey his command. Just as a servant obeys his master, we should obey the command of God and do our duties to the best of our abilities. The only purpose of the servant doing an action is to fulfill the wish of the master. Similarly, the only purpose of all our actions should be to fulfill the command of God.

Alternative 2: To thank God for giving us this great opportunity to live life

We have taken many things from nature including air, water, food etc without which we cannot exist. Therefore, we need to do our duty as an offering to God. Our proficiency (skills and capabilities) is the gift given to us by God. Our efficiency (quantity and quality) in action is our return gift to God. Therefore, we need to do our best all the time.

Alternative 3: To see the logic in the functioning of the world

It is observed that everything in the universe is functioning according to a predetermined order. It is our duty to do our part to keep up the movement. Therefore, we need to do our duty to the best of our abilities. Running water is healthier than stagnant water. Similarly, we should allow the wealth to keep flowing in the system and not accumulate or hoard. We need to contribute to the welfare of the society and community for our own well-being. Therefore, we should work without any selfish motive.

The advantage of following this path is the benefit one gets even while putting the effort. For example, we do not get bored of doing our work. Repetition is the part of any work. If we change our attitude according to the prescription, we can avoid boredom and enjoy our work. It is not possible to achieve this by any other means.

Thus, if we shift our focus from the external results of an action to the internal results (attitude change) then will gain benefit in the short run and in addition, we will reach the goal of gaining mental maturity soon.

If we do not, our actions will continue to bind us to suffering without any prospect of getting relief.

Chapter 3: Karma Yoga [Verses: 31 - 32]

3.31 One who executes his duties according to My teaching and who follows this teaching faithfully, without being critical, becomes free from the bondage of actions.

3.32 But those who criticize this teaching of mine, disregard these teachings and do not practice them regularly, are completely deluded and doomed to bondage.

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