Set Thy Heart Upon Thy Work; But Not On Its Reward


Having born in the materialistic world, we are bound to follow the system that the world runs with. There are two ways that the life can be lived in, either as a sage or as a householder.

In either case, once we take up the way of life, it is inevitable that at some point or the other, we will think about the outcomes and would wish for the desired results. This is human nature. This is something that we can not escape from.'

Set thy Heart upon thy work but not on its reward

Well, what Krishna says in The Mahabharata is - Set Thy Heart Upon Thy Work; But Not On Its Reward. While this is known to all and is believed to be true true as well, what they do not know is the true interpretation of the phrase and the way to apply it in life.

Doing a work and not thinking about the outcome, doesn't that sound absurd? How can we aim towards improvisation, without thinking about the result? After all, modern world says that the goals should be result oriented.

Just imagine, you put in the best efforts at your workplace, and the results achieved are not as desired. It might demotivate a person and, at the same time, another person might put in more efforts to get them done better. Similarly, if your goals are achieved, a person might be so happy that he might start giving more hours to the work and, at the same time, the other person may get satisfied and feel no need to work more.

In all the cases, one does think about the result and that is how, one gets pushed to work.

Now, let us take the other case. That of being not attached with the work. Consider going to work as a duty of yours. Something that you will have to do in all cases and all weathers.

Now, your effort in such a case should be that you have to dedicate yourself to the work wholeheartedly, with all your devotion and all your strength. Make it your passion, but it should be the work and not the outcome. You have to start loving it. And once you fall in love with it, there are almost no chances of losing the battle.

Worrying about the outcome, one might not be able to concentrate on the work. And loving the work, one might not think about the outcome. But, for sure, the results will be all in your favour. And this is what is also known as enjoying the process what a man has to go through, as mentioned by Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita.

It is a general observation that a work done with a free mind is much better than the one done under pressure. This is where, the importance of liberating oneself from the attachment with the goal comes into play. But the only condition is that one has to love the work and enjoy the process.

It does not mean you keep on doing it for the sake of doing. You have to love good work, aim for perfection and not be affected with the result. It goes unsaid that loving the work means loving good work.

When a man is already happy, chances are that his happy mood will affect the work happily, meaning that the results would be positive. And, similarly, it goes for a not-so-good mood. This is why Krishna says this as well that one must always be in a state of equilibrium, mentally. Equilibrium can also be denoted by 'ananda', which means pleasure. Enjoying the work radiates positive energy and affects the work accordingly.

When Krishna used to play his flute, did he ever play it with the aim of attracting people and the Gopis and Gopikas? Well, he did it for the sake of enjoyment and the result was always beautiful. Not only the Gopis and Gopikas were spellbound, but the whole nature would fall in love with the music. And this is how he wants our actions to be too.

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