Performance matters, but performance is not all that matters
Sports players often have their pet superstitions. An Australian batsman would insist that all the pavilion commodes be covered whenever he went out to bat. An American tennis champion would wear an earring in just one ear as a good luck charm.
We might feel amused by such superstitions. Yet beyond their idiosyncratic specifics, such good luck charms reflect an underlying acknowledgment that human performance is not all that matters. Undoubtedly, sports is performance-driven; players know that their performance is vital, even indispensable. Yet their real-world experience of competitive sports frequently convinces them that in determining results, something other than performance contributes significantly, even decisively. That unknown, they try to appease through their pet rituals.
Gita wisdom explains that this unknown is ultimately God’s will. He usually bestows results according to not just our present actions but also our past karma. We can’t change our past karma, but we can change our present actions.
The Bhagavad-gita (02.47) guides us towards such pragmatic focus by urging us to work without considering ourselves the cause of the result. To the extent we consider ourselves the determiner of the results, to that extent we subject ourselves to feelings of inferiority and inadequacy when the results don’t come, and to feelings of superiority and supremacy when the results do come. And both keep us distracted from comprehending the reality that we are not the sole performers.
If we understand our role in the overall scheme of things, we can do our best with the abilities and resources we have – and we can do it in the mood of devotion to Krishna, the giver of those abilities and resources. Thus, we can not only maximize our chances of success at the material level but also relish our growth in spiritual wisdom and everlasting devotion.
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