Attachment to results confuses cause and effect
When we want to achieve something difficult, we often envision the result and that vision inspires us to strive determinedly. While envisioning the result can be inspiring, we need to avoid attachment to the result.
Why? Because the result is the effect of several factors of which our action is only one. When we become attached to the result, we set ourselves up for illusion in both success and failure – in success, we become proud thinking that we are so great that we have achieved the result. In failure, we become dejected thinking that the failure reflects our ineptitude and worthlessness, thus eroding our self-esteem.
But instead if we understand that our part is as one cause, then we can do our part diligently without becoming distracted or disheartened. The Bhagavad-gita (02.47) recommends that we focus on the work, knowing that that alone is in our hands. By knowing that we alone are not the cause of the result of the work, we can avoid becoming obsessed with the result. By knowing that our efforts do contribute to the result, we can also avoid the apathy and lethargy that breed inaction and irresponsibility.
A farmer who gets so caught in dreaming about the harvest as to neglect carefully plowing the land or sowing the crops sabotages their chances of getting the harvest. Similarly, we too sabotage our chance of getting the result by obsessing over them. In bhakti-yoga, with Krishna as the Lord of our life and work, we understand that he will be pleased with our endeavors even if the results don’t come about.
By thus keeping our head clear about what the cause is and what the effect is, we can avoid getting distracted by thoughts of the effect while also maximizing our contribution to the cause.
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