The sheer brilliance of the wisdom of the Universal Master is reflected in these verses. Whenever I get a chance I refer to these verses to explain how one should lead one’s life.
Kṛṣṇa says many, many things in these few words. He says, ‘You have the right and responsibility to work. You have no responsibility or right to the results of that work. Do not focus on the result and make it either a pattern of greed to chase or fear to stay away from. Do what you have to do with a centered mind, a complete inner space without worrying about whether you will succeed or fail.’
mā karmaphala hetur bhur mā te saṅgo’stv akarmaṇi II 2.47
Nothing more can be said or ever needs to be said about why and how one should perform.
Many people wrongly communicate and misunderstand these verses. There are people who stay away from work that they fear may end in adverse negative results. As long as the results can be positive either to themselves or others, they will carry out and complete what they are assigned sincerely. But when they think that something bad may happen, that they may fail, they will stop doing whatever they are doing.
One of the biggest problems human beings have is this—you love to be successful, but you deeply believe that you are a failure. This is one of the biggest paradoxes. This shows the lack of integrity in your thinking.
Understand, some of your actions may be a failure, some of your decisions or dimensions may be a failure, but YOU are never failure, because you are still breathing!
There are others who feel that doing nothing and disengaging from all action or akarma is the best solution, since all actions result in reactions and they accumulate karma. Of course, almost all of us go on blindly doing whatever we are told to do when we see money or material rewards in front of us.
Kṛṣṇa says, ‘Stop! Who do you think you are? You are here to do My work. You have no right to take the results that are Mine.’
His position is similar to that of a landowner who has sharecroppers working on the land. The sharecroppers have no right to anything but their sustenance wages. They need not worry about whether the land will yield well or not. All that they need to do is honor the work they have committed to and fulfill their own responsibilities to their peak capability in caring for the land. They just need to be in integrity and authenticity to their work. That’s all! The landlord is the owner and ultimate beneficiary.
Listen. Awareness of what Kṛṣṇa says here is the solution to all our day-to-day problems.
Do what you have to do as your right and responsibility, without worrying about the results. Do not act with hopes of a certain reward. Do not stop doing what you need to do because you are afraid of what may lie ahead.
Constantly bring integrity to your thinking, authenticity to your feeling, responsibility to your actions, enriching to your lifestyle! You will see, you will realize an extraordinary space in your life, what Kṛṣṇa calls as being balanced in success and failure and being complete in yoga, siddhy-asiddhyoḥ samo bhūtvā samatvaṁ yoga ucyate (2.48).
With integrity, you will literally clean your inner space of the constant unwanted beliefs that you carry, like the strong belief that you will be a failure. This continuous belief holds you from taking responsibility for your actions, makes you worry about the results, and leads you towards failure! When you start thinking with integrity, you will diagnose those self-fulfilling negative prophecies that you constantly give to yourself.
When even a small thing happens, you immediately declare failure. We go on doing this. The first thing to do is to declare your integrity, not your failure. When you start thinking with integrity, you will diagnose your own self-fulfilling negative prophecies.
If you have a strong idea or self-doubt what you are doing is going to be a failure, the moment you think that it is a failure, it is a commitment and word you are giving to you. Do you understand? So if you give that word, you naturally have to fulfill it. Do you want to fulfill that word? No. Then tell yourself that I am not going to fulfill it. It means that whenever you have a thought, ‘I am a failure,’ you should know—this is a commitment I am making to me, and I have to honor it. You may say that it comes on its own. Then complete it! Consciously disown and complete with it.
Listen! Not fulfilling your everyday commitments will only make the weeds hide behind your unconscious patterns. Swami Vivekananda is very clear, yoga can happen in you, only along with responsible actions. Karma yoga does not happen without responsible actions.
Sometimes, you execute actions the whole day, but there is no feeling of responsibility for it! When you have not lost the inspiration to take responsibility, nothing is lost. I tell you, if you take responsibility, even death cannot come near you. Death waits for you to complete your responsibility. So for anybody who wants to live long, just practice authentic responsibility for your actions. Do not worry about the outcome of your work—mā karmaphala hetur bhur (2.47)!