Monday, 5 August 2013

Do your best and God will do the rest

Involvement without attachment
That should inspire us to be completely involved...

There is no scarcity of people’s stories where hard work has gone in vain, unrewarded. There is also no scarcity of such stories where results and gifts are handed on a platter to people who do nothing at all. Amid these two extremes, we find a broad spectrum of people who get results disproportionate to their efforts. Thus, we find people of the first extreme getting frustrated with making efforts and people of the second extreme wondering why efforts have to be made at all when ‘luck’ seems to be ‘gifting’ people at random. And there is confusion on the efficacy of efforts in the intermediate area of the spectrum.

Blessed is he/she who is able to stay out of and go beyond the spectrum mentioned above! It is indeed a great blessing to be able to persevere with one’s efforts without getting affected, positively or negatively, by the results the efforts bring. This holds good for all kinds of efforts - at home, at the workplace, in school and generally in life (which includes one’s spiritual efforts as well). This ability to separate oneself from the results of one’s efforts has been described in the Bhagwad Gita by Lord Krishna as Karma Phala Tyaga  (giving up the fruits of efforts).

My Lord and best friend, my Swami, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba explains this beautifully. He says that one must have the ability of involvement without attachment. And that - involvement without attachment - is precisely what I feel is the meaning of this famous proverb:
Do your best and God will do the rest.

Two reassuring incidents with Swami come to mind at this point. They are similar in the way they panned out and probably that is the reason why I always remember them together. Thinking about them, I feel that also carry the same message in slightly different ways.

Goodness and Godliness

This incident is set sometime in the years 2000-2001. It is the experience of a student who joined the Sri Sathya Sai Higher Secondary School for his XI grade in 1986. He graduated in 1991 with a Bachelors degree in commerce. Let us call this student Govind for identity sake.

Govind had decided to spend all his life with his Lord and master, his beloved Swami. Therefore, he continued to be closely associated in many ways with different projects that Swami undertook. Then came the time when his mother told Swami that it was time for her son to get married.

Swami always stresses to the children and youth to consider their parents as God. Matru Devo Bhava, Pitru Devo Bhava He says - regard and revere your mother and your father as God. He called Govind and told him to get married. Govind was hesitant. He feared that the girl who would become his wife would also take him away from Swami. He expressed the same to Swami and said,
“Swami, I don’t care what kind of a girl she is. She should be a Sai devotee.”

When he said so, Swami slightly reprimanded him. Swami said that he should not simply say that he didn’t care what kind of a girl he married. The girls should be virtuous and good. It didn’t matter it she wasn’t a ‘Sai-devotee’. Govind was adamant about his point of view. He tried to reason out with Swami. His heart pounded harder even as he thought of the possibility of him being pulled away from his Swami in case his wife did not ‘believe’ in Him.

Godliness attracts goodness naturally.
That was when Swami made a statement that reassured Govind. That statement continues to be such an inspiration for me. I always think of it in many different contexts. Swami told him,
“Ay! You just look out for virtues. Ensure that you select a good girl. I will ensure that her goodness is attracted to my Godliness.”

Wow! What a statement! What a reassurance! There is the obvious message that when one has put in one’s best efforts and done his/her best, God is always ready to do the rest. However, there is also a different, subtle message for me who claims to be His devotee.

I realize that I become Swami’s devotee only when there is goodness in me. I don’t become a devotee because of ‘knowing’ Him for 50 years or having got dozens of interviews/opportunities to touch His feet/have darshan. At the same time, I also learn that if anyone does not ‘accept’ my God, it does not matter. As long as they are good people, it is enough. Goodness automatically gets attracted to divinity/Godliness in due course of time. So, I need not unduly worry if people criticize or ridicule my Lord - as long as they are good beings! Nothing taints the Lord.

Is there a shortage of ‘goodness’ in the world?

Well, it is indeed heartening that goodness gets attracted to godliness. But again, in the ‘practical’ world as we call it, we feel that this is not happening. Bad seems to be proliferating at such a pace that there seems to be no ‘sufficient goodness’ to get attracted to Godliness! What do we do? It is here that the importance of being good oneself cannot be overemphasized.

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
Now that is a cliche that we have heard again and again from many places, at many times. One of the most beautiful expressions of this cliche can be found as the epitaph of an Anglican bishop buried in the crypt of Westminister Abbey in AD 1100. On the grave are the following words:

“When I was young and had all energies, I wanted to change the world. I found it difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation. When I realized that the nation was too large a place, I began to focus on my town. I couldn’t even change the town and so I decided that changing my family would be sufficient. Now, on my deathbed, I know that the only thing I can change is myself.
Suddenly I realize that if,long ago, I had changed myself, I could have impacted my family. With its support,  I could have made an impact on our town. That impact could have changed the nation and, who knows, one day I could indeed have changed the world!”

Once again, the inspiration and reassurance from Swami is wonderful.

Role models and inspiration

Time and again, Swami exhorts the importance of one’s efforts. In fact, in the summer course discourse delivered on the 28th May 1993, Swami said,
There is nothing that cannot be achieved through man’s efforts. He can even bring the whole ocean into a glass and drink it up completely. When he was born, he knew no alphabet but he is soon able to write complete books. However, the problem comes with one’s mind.

A little more insight into this can be gained from a student’s experience.

It was one of those memorable Trayee sessions in which Swami had stressed on the importance of one putting in one’s best efforts. A student who was thinking ‘practically’ raised his hand and raised a doubt along with it. He asked Swami,
“Swami, you tell us that you will transform the world through us. But isn’t that such a tough task. There are so many people in the world and the number of students are so few. How can it ever happen?
Swami smiled at the student and then said,
You take care of following and practicing the ideals I have taught. That is all that needs to be your worry. When you are ideal, I shall make sure that the world notices you and gets inspired by you. That is my job and you don’t worry about it.

Isn't that another beautiful reassurance? Again, it carries a subtle for me. When I put in efforts, my focus and energies must be only on the efforts. Keeping an eye on when the fruit is coming or why it is not coming does not help. At the right time and circumstance, God will deliver the fruit for He always knows best.

That is where I feel that the monk’s epitaph can be slightly modified. Yes, it is indeed true that changing oneself can change the world one day. But for that to happen, one should change oneself only with the focus on changing oneself. If one changes oneself BECAUSE he/she wants to change the world, there might be a problem! That is precisely the Karma Phala Tyaga that Lord Krishna spoke about. In view of that has been discussed so far, I would like to modify the famous proverb in this manner-

Do your best and then just rest. God will do the rest and, whatever that is, it will always be the best!

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  1. What it boils down to is that we need to be sincere, do our best every and each time and surrender the action to HIM as our loving offering. That's all, then move on to our next task.

  2. Arvind ji,
    Whatever you right is great stuff.Excellent.
    God bless

  3. This particular hub stands apart from other hubs. It has a treasure house of illumination and enlightenment. Be blessed by Swami always forever!saisarannaga

  4. "Is there a shortage of goodness?" - to this, i remember an analogy by Prof. GV - in a huge silent meditation hall even a child's cry seems unbearably loud (probably our ears arent tuned to hear silence)...similarly when the natural order of the world is to be good, every bad event get noticed!

    1. :)

      I too remember that analogy he gives. You will find it interesting that the analogy was given to him by Swami Himself in an interview.

  5. Oh yes! I remember that analogy... That really feels good to hear. :)

  6. Superb article brother.i randomly went to read the article precisely thinking of the same thing...involvement without attachment.Not only does Swami's message get across as we are not attached to what we are doing plus any reaction does not affect us as the sense of doership is not there.

    this is the hallmark of a true instrument of Bhagwan Sri Sathya Sai Baba...and I think this is what Swami wants each of us to become.sairam

  7. Thanks...I read this at the right time for me... :)..Thanks

  8. Sairam brother, thanks for posting this. It has indeed made me understand some of my mistakes!

  9. "When you are ideal, I shall make sure that the world notices you and gets inspired by you. That is my job and you don’t worry about it.”.... No Wonder now a days people look-upon Swami's students with great love, respect and get inspired.... SAIRAM....

  10. Very vividly remember the afternoon at Trayee when the incident narrated in the latter part of the article happened. Just a few of us were seated with Him and a question was posed to Swami - "When we are just one amongst many in the world, what are we supposed to do? How can we really bring about a change?" Swami answered this in just two words - "Don't Care.".....We again asked -"Swami, what do you mean by 'Don't Care'. If we do not care, how can we be change agents." .... and that's when Swami explained with the words quoted in the article....The last sentence came out so emphatically from Him - "That's not your job. That's Mine."........ Just wanted to add this t your wonderful article Arvind. God Bless !!!

  11. Thank you Rajesh. I shall be soon changing the words in the article to incorporate your valuable addition. :)

  12. Avantika Soma Mishra Sairam bro. aravind. Before my marriage I was also apprehensive that the guy I marry is not a sai devotee then what will happen to me..But Swami really did attract my husband's goodliness towards HIS godliness....and today I along wid my husband visit Parthi regularly....go for bhajans and other Sai activities.

  13. Really great... Thank you brother....


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