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He sees non-doing in all doing PDF Print E-mail
Gita - Gita Articles

karma[y akarma ya+ pa%yed akarma[i ca karma ya+
sa buddhim|n manu^ye^u sa yukta+ k&tsnakarmak&t

One who sees inaction in action and action in inaction, is a wise person. Such a person is a yog$ and has accomplished everything. (See also 3.05, 3.27, 5.08 and 13.29) (4.18)

 

Karma is being done all around
There are vibrations
And there are noises all around
Inside though is all peace and quiet
There is no doer in sight
Such is the ways
Of the wise
He sees non-doing in all doing
And doing in non-doing
And thus becomes the doer of it all. ||4:18||

Krishna starts talking about basics of karma yoga in the second chapter (2:47). The understanding of the basic equation is important. It is often interpreted as not to worry about results. This shloka (verse) is often quoted for understanding of karma yoga. Do your work but do not worry about the results. This forms a common understanding of karma yoga.

I see it differently. Krishna to me is shifting the focus. We focus our life on results. We always want our life to have a certain direction. Krishna wants to shift the focus to the doer and the act itself. Arjun is in a competition. He has to shoot an arrow in one eye of a bird. There is Arjun, there is a target and there is an action to take place. There will be a result that is inevitable. Either Arjun gets the target or misses it completely. The stakes are high. Arjun can worry about the result or not worry about the result. In both cases the focus is on the result. Even if he ignores the result, he still is focusing on the result. Krishna says that Arjun has to know that the result depends on multiple factors. This knowledge will help him cover all the grounds that he can cover. The grounds that he can not cover have to be left alone.

This is just the preparation part. When the time of action comes, Arjun’s focus has to be on the doer and the act itself. The time comes. Arjun has the bow and the arrow. He is steady inside. The mind has come to a halt. All he can see is the target, the one eye he has to penetrate. The arrow leaves his bow and the target is made. Arjun in this moment and time is in karma yoga.

This happens then but it also happens today. Let me take you to an operating room. You are a surgeon. You have been trained appropriately and are prepared to do the surgery. The surgery can have a favorable outcome or there may be complications. You are going to remove a gall bladder. You might get more money if you remove appendix as well. Where should your focus be? If you are focused on money or preventing complications, you are in trouble. The focus has to be on the skill and steadiness of the surgeon (doer) and the act (the surgery). All the attentiveness has to be there on the process itself without any interference in the mind on the issue of the outcome. The outcome depends on preparation and the process as we all know. In the time of surgery most surgeons are in the state of nishkam karma. And the result then is bound to be good. Complications have to be low for such a surgeon.

Many believe that this is karma yoga. I think this was just the beginning. Krishna has just shifted the focus. You have just started looking inside. The doer-ship has become important. The focus is on the subject and not on the object. Now you can become witness to what is going on inside of you. This is meditation. Your life becomes a meditation. Now you are able to look at yourself even when you are outside of the operating room. You can witness that there is stillness inside irrespective of whatever karma you might be doing. You are driving a car. The car is going to Jaipur from Delhi. There are many other cars on the road and you have to watch. You just do the driving. You are not all the time worried about an accident. Accidents can happen, but you do not spend all your time thinking about an accident to happen or not happen. You talk to your co-passenger and go about driving. All this time you could be looking inside as well. If you have become meditative, you are able to take the depth of meditation with you wherever you go. In fact you do not have to take it with you; it travels with you all the time. Now, you can not get rid of it even if you make an effort.

There comes a time when you come to this realization that Krishna is talking about. The first realization is easier to come to and that is, “karmanya akarma yah pasyed (He sees non-doing in all doing.” It is possible to see that there is non-doing in all doing by becoming a witness. There is utter stillness inside that is always present even in the midst of many activities going around. This realization is where Krishna wants to take Arjun. This is perhaps the end of the journey on the path of karma yoga. We still have to explore the second half of the shloka and we shall do that in our next column.

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