I was referring Bhagvad Gita in some other context and found that its philosophy is a great tool for personal effectiveness and success in life. In one word in which this holy book could be summarized is ‘Karma Yoga’. I tried to make some inferences related with philosophies of ‘Karma yoga’ in context on our personal and professional life. The question I tried to find answer for was how the philosophy of Gita can enhance my personal effectiveness and ensure a sure success in life?
In chapter 2,47; lord Krishna says “Only your rights to perform your prescribed duty are in your control, however, the fruits of your action are not. Therefore never consider yourself as the cause of the result of your activities and at the same time never attach yourself with inaction”. Action without attaching yourself to the fruits of action is a concept however at the same time lord says “direct your actions towards the supreme or ultimate goal of life, the Moksha. In our context the ultimate goal of life could be the real goal we want to achieve in this life. The goal of life could be anything depending upon personal choice. I want to become a CEO, or I want to be the best musician, sportsperson etc, or some short-term goal like I want to become sales and marketing head in next 5 years, or some financial goal like I want to have a worth of 100 cr assets in next 7 years or goals something else, measurable, individualistic of your own. If I extend the inferences of Bhagvad Gita’s Karma yoga, the starting point is focus on your karma.
To meet your goal of life you have to do set of sub goals which will direct you towards ultimate goal. Each sub goal need certain set of activities and the quality of performance of these set of activities are in your full control; however, the results of these set of activities may defer as you wish, as Gita says the fruits of your action is not in your control. So, it’s difficult to stay on the path to ultimate goal with such uncertainty in between. The Gita further says that you must act like a yogi, thus perseverance is must. How to deal with failures in between? In such situation Gita says take both success and failures with reasons firm and free from any doubt (Chapter 5, 9). In this context even rejoices of success can divert you from ultimate goal.
Next question is even if one is not attached with results in between activities and ultimate goal, how should one ensure the desired result in between to certain the ultimate result, which matters? Between activities and its results there is a natural process which is not in our control. This natural process consist of the environmental factors, quality of system in which the activity is performed, the activities and results of other individuals etc. To understand this let us take an example; suppose I want to drive home safely. In this case my quality of work is the driving skill, speed, following traffic rules, condition of vehicle like brakes, petrol etc. The quality of work is in my full control in this case. Now let’s assume there comes a sudden rain, roads become slippery and another individual, whose quality of driving in not in your control skids his car and smashes with yours. Now, even with my activities were in place, I could not control the outcome I desired. This is natural process, which is why the concept of luck or chance exists. Bhagvad Gita, gives a solution in the form of devotion to your work and believe in supreme. In chapter 3, 11 and 12; lord advises that do ‘yagya’ which will elevate demigods and in return they will fulfill your wishes even without asking for it. This needs proper analysis to understand in our context.
‘Yagya’ actually represent two things 1) your contribution to the natural process, the environment, the society etc 2) devotion with trust. In Hindu mythology the ‘Yagya were performed to get a certain result like rain, parenthood, or health etc. The context is changed, along with quality of activities; we need devotion and trust in supreme. We must also make sure that our activities should not negatively influence the environment and other individuals surrounding us. The people who does not believe in supreme power may devote them self to the Karma and trust them self to get the same ‘Yagya’ done.
So the karma yoga can be summarized in two actions 1) focus on quality action with devotion and trust in supreme or our inner self 2) Positive contribution to natural process.