“To action alone hast thou a right and never at all to its fruits; let not the fruits of action be thy motive; neither let there be in thee any attachment to inaction”
This quote comes from the ancient Sanskrit Hindu scripture Bhagavad Gita and every time I look at it I feel a sort of freedom and relief. There is a certain lightness to it.
What does it mean? Well, this is just my interpretation and frankly I think that it's a bit hard to explain. But I'll give it a try because it's been helpful for me.
This quote tells me to understand that I cannot control the results of my action. I can't control how someone reacts to what I say or what I do. And that I should do what I do just because it is something I want to do rather than because of some outcome I'd like. But at the same time I should not let these two ideas lead me to become passive and get stuck in sitting on my hands and not taking action at all.
Basically, I do what I think is right and that is my responsibility. And then the rest (the possible results), well, that is not up for me to decide about or try to control. I let it go.
What are the upsides of using this in your life?
You become more stable in yourself. You stop grasping all the time for what people think and feel about you. You become less needy. One obvious side-effect of this can be better social interactions. When you stop caring so much about what people may think of you then you relax and say what you want to say instead of trying to protect some image you want to uphold. You become more authentic.
- You focus on the process. I for instance use this when I workout. I don't take responsibility for the results in my mind. I take responsibility for showing up and doing my workout. The results come anyway from that consistent action. And this makes it easier for me to take this action when I know that is all I need to focus on. Instead of using half of the energy and focus I have available on hoping that I “reach my goal real, real soon”. Focus on the process and you will be a lot more relaxed and prone to continue than if you stare yourself blind on the potential results that never come as quickly as you want to and puts you on an emotional rollercoaster from day to day.
- It brings more enjoyment out of the doing. Because now your focus is just on the doing and not split between the doing and the potential results.
You become less tired. You don't grasp emotionally for some desired result. And so you don't use so much energy for worrying etc. It's energy efficient.
You can switch between mindsets. I like to play around with them. Sometimes you plan and review where you going and how things are going. But most of the time you just focus on the process, on doing what you do instead focusing on those fruits.
This may sound boring or like you zap all the excitement out of it. But in my experience it makes it easier to get things done. Action is taken with less effort, over thinking and mind made suffering within.
Just like being present this isn't easy to keep up for longer periods. So you have to plug away and work at it like any other habit.
When you can slip into this mindset life becomes a lot easier. Because you are detached while doing. You are centered in yourself and taking relaxed and calm action. You feel free from many of the emotional chains you have built up in yourself over the years. You are not carrying around a world of things you could never control anyway on your shoulders. You feel kinda light and liberated.