When work doesn’t work, detachment works

Sometimes, we work at something, yet nothing seems to work. We struggle to improve a relationship, but things keep going south. What can we do when work doesn’t work?

We can seek detachment. To see how detachment works, we need to understand that all work has two results: outer and inner. When we work on a relationship, the outer result is that the relationship improves and the inner result is that we become more mature and empathic. The outer result is determined not just by our endeavor but also by destiny. If destiny is unfavorable, then that result doesn’t come despite our best efforts. 

Does this mean that we passively resign ourselves to fate? No, not at all. It just means that we don’t work solely for the outer results. Attachment fixates our vision on those outer results, making us believe that without such results, the work is useless. Detachment frees our vision to look at inner results too. Even if we don’t improve a particular relationship, becoming more mature and empathic makes us a better person and improves our overall prospects in other relationships. Pertinently, the Bhagavad-gita (02.47) recommends that we work with detachment.  

Detachment works best when it is based not on material frustration but on spiritual illumination. Gita wisdom offers such illumination by explaining that we are at our core souls who are on a multi-life journey of spiritual evolution. We evolve as we expand our capacity to learn and to love. If we learn about the ultimate reality, Krishna, and direct our love from the world to him, we re-envision our work as an offering of devotion to him. Even if the outer results don’t come, detachment and devotion ensure that our heart grows and goes closer to him. And that is life’s most enduring and fulfilling result.  


Think it over:

  • What are the two results of all work?
  • When work doesn’t work, how does detachment work?
  • How does detachment work best with spiritual illumination?



02.47 You have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of action. Never consider yourself the cause of the results of your activities, and never be attached to not doing your duty.

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  1. That was so amazing.
    Would relieve us from so much pressure while we work so ambitiously in todays world.

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  2. If based on JAPA,every work works

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