Action without result

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An anonymous reader of these reminders was inspired to write the following after reading some essays by Paramhansa Yogananda:

Even if I knew that tomorrow
the world would go to pieces
I would still plant my apple tree.
- Martin Luther

We often base our actions on the anticipated results. Soon enough, though, we realize that result oriented action is the cause of our attachments and the subsequent happiness/sorrow is based on the outcome. Does this imply that we should lead an ambitionless existence ? No. One should have noble ambitions but must strive to detach oneself from the results. To understand this, one must understand the difference between "detachment" and "indifference". Although commonly thought of as the same, they are not. Indifference is to be callous, not to care, while detachment is to not be disturbed by the outcome. One can be full of compassion and awareness while performing the action and still be detached.

For most of us, though, the result is often the motivating factor to perform any action. How then can we enjoy an action without the dangling fruit that drives us? The answer lies in the consideration of the things we do for pleasure, without thought of gain or fame. It is so much more enjoyable when one makes a garden of flowers and takes infinite pains just to satisfy a hobby than when he/she is compelled to tend that garden in order to eke out a living. We can name many activities that are pursued for their own sakes rather than for gainful results. All duties performed under the compelling whip of material desire and attachment produce misery, but when they are worked out as a sort of a hobby, without fear or want for specific results, the incentive endures, yielding pure pleasure.

Meditation is the embodiment of this thought. It is the joy of being, the joy of doing without attachment to the fruits.


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