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Gita does NOT say that! || Acharya Prashant, from archives
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
7 min
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Questioner (Q): In Gita it’s written that “Keep doing your action and don’t bother about the result”. So that’s what was my life’s motto: to be the jack of all trades until you find the one. Do whatever gives you mental pleasure and do that freely. You want to do something, you can do that, just do that, that was my motto till today. I was a cultural person, I was a sports person, I was a nerd and everything.

People around me keep telling me, “Why don’t you give full potential to one activity, like studies and all?” Someone told me to take placement, but I didn’t want to do that. Now I am feeling a little guilty. I think that people might be right. It’s a fast-changing competitive world. I cannot always be like myself.

So, my question is, how to do away with this guilty consciousness? I don’t want a big balance check. I want to check all the things that are in my bucket list, not a big balance check.

Acharya Prashant (AP): See, the Gita is probably the most misunderstood scripture among the popular ones. The Gita does not say at all that you must do whatever you do without caring for the result. Such a thing is not only not said, but also impossible to execute. The Gita does not ask you to just randomly follow your whims and desires.

The first thing it says is, “Do not do anything for your personal pleasure or gratification.” And when you do not do something just for your personal pleasure or gratification, then and only then will you be able to execute it without bothering for the results. As long as you are doing something for your own benefit, in your own self-interest, it will be impossible for you to not care for the results. You will be result oriented because to the ego, to the common actor, the result comes first. You first covet a result and then you initiate an action to achieve that result. In such a scenario, how can you be unmindful of the result? You can be unmindful of the result only if it is not for yourself that you act. So, the Gita is not at all telling you to follow your pleasures or your interests in a free and indiscreet fashion. Nishkaam karm , action without bothering for rewards is about a higher centre of action. You have to say, “My action is not coming from a deluded point, my action is not coming from blind desire, my action is coming from a higher point and because it is coming from a higher point it has blessed me with detachment for the results. The action itself is so potent, so lovable, so powerful and so inexorable that I have forgotten to bother about what will happen next. This action is love itself. How can I ask for what will happen tomorrow when today itself is so beautiful?”

That’s what the Gita is saying. The Gita is not asking you to make a mess of today and then say, “I do not care what happens tomorrow.” But mostly that’s the way people misinterpret and misuse the Gita. That’s also the way so many popular gurus have sold the Gita. It’s very harmful. First thing, right action, only the right action can give you detachment from the result of action. Right action and detachment will always go together. If you have right action, then detachment, you will get for free. You don’t have to work for detachment.

False action, deluded action and you will find it is impossible to get rid of attachment. You will always have one eye on the result. In fact, if you have one eye on the result, you must tell yourself, “What I’m doing is not right. Else how could have I worried so much about the outcome? This worry itself is an indication that I am not living rightly, not choosing rightly, that I am not right.”

So, you said you have an entire bucket of hobbies, interests, and things to pursue. You must investigate this bucket quite carefully, right? In this bucket, you might find gems that would be worth cherishing and nourishing. And in this bucket, you also might find trash. Obviously, you must throw it away. No point in keeping gems with trash. So, have discretion first, figure out what is worth doing.

See that a lot that we decide to do or pursue is just conditioning. People around us are doing this or that and it’s not always the people around us or the situations around us that compel us to do something. More dangerous is the bodily impulsion. External compulsion is easier to detect. Since it is easier to detect, so it is easier to resist. Bodily impulsions, inner slavery is more difficult to detect because it is inner. Since it is inner so we feel it is our own. We do not call that compulsion as bondage at all. We start calling it as an internal desire. Please see that a lot of what we call as desire is not actually internal. It might be bodily, physical, hormonal, social, situational whatever.

Once you get rid of a lot of things that just need not be pursued, you will be left only with the gems. And those gems deserve all your attention, all your love and the added benefit that you get is freedom from worries. You don’t want to worry whether the sun will rise at all tomorrow. Today is sufficient because today is extremely occupied. Today is so lovable that it has enveloped you completely. You are left with no time, no space, no need to worry for tomorrow, and that’s a beautiful life.

Q: I also believe in one thing: we have two births. One birth is the normal birth, and the second birth is when we know what is the higher purpose of our life.

AP: Let’s go for the second one.

Q: But I have to try to find the purpose, right? I have to try different things.

AP: You have to try very, very hard, and you have to try without being attached to any of the trials. You must remember that these are mere attempts. They should not become fixations. When you are experimenting with something, the experiment is not the conclusion. So, let the experiment, let the trial remain a trial. Do not get possessed or fixated. Keep moving on and surely one does come to something that is worth giving one’s life to. There, do give your life!

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