I was wondering to myself one day: “Am I on the right path? Am I doing what I am meant to? Am I fulfilling my potential? What more can I do right now to make my life worthier?”
My mind then flew back to these words from the Bhagwad Gita that I’d read recently, of all places, in the August 17 edition of Forbes India:
One does not attain freedom from the bondage of karma
by merely abstaining from work.
No one attains perfection by merely giving up work
Because no one can remain actionless even for a moment
Everyone is driven to action, helplessly indeed
by the gunas of nature…
The one who controls his senses by the mind and intellect
and engages the organs of action to Nishkam Karmayoga
is superior, O Arjuna
Perform your obligatory duty
because action is indeed better than inaction.
Even the maintenance of your body
Would not be possible by inaction.
When I recalled these words so dear to my heart all these years, my first reaction was a sense of worry: “What if I’m not doing what Krishna says? What if I am supposed to be doing something else? What if, what if, what if?”
Then almost instantaneously, I recalled another verse from the Gita when Krishna tells Arjuna:
Surrendering completely all activities unto Me,
with consciousness firmly established in knowledge of the self
being without any desire for gain,
free from proprietorship,
fight without grief.
This is in fact what is meant by Nishkam Karmayoga: to do without expectation of result, to surrender one’s action to God, and be free from desire for gain or a sense of ownership over what transpires. We are mistaken when we think we are the ‘doers’, said Krishna; we are only a fraction of the components that come together to make anything happen. Our duty is thus only to perform our action as an offering, as a sacrifice to Krishna, without claiming any glory or craving any reward. As I like to put it, our duty is thus only ‘to show up’. To operate from the core of our being, with purity and grace, our actions a mirror of the deepest calling of our hearts.
I looked at my life, the choices I’d made, the path I had taken and the various dreams that still floated in my mind. I then let go of all my doubts and fears and asked myself: Had I shown up? I had, some of the time. I had been forced to, some of the time. I had not, some of the time. But what is past does not matter in this instant. What matters is if I will show up from this point forward.
I cannot revise the past, but I can revise what I learn from it. I cannot control today but I can control what I make of it. I cannot create tomorrow but I can create an authentic self to live through it.
I am small in the scheme of things, but my world is unimaginably large.