April 2011

Success is not in the trophy won but in the race run. – Chinmaya

 The above quote reminds us of the famous verse from the Bhagawad Gita: Karmanyevaadhikaaraste maa phaleshu kadaachana.

The verse says that we have the right only in performing actions and that we have no right to insist upon their results. Here, in the above quote, running the race is the action and winning the trophy is the result of those actions.

 We are, therefore, asked to concentrate upon the work at hand rather than worry about the future results. The present is the only moment where the action can take place, and hence anxieties regarding the results will only bring out inefficient actions. Actions thus performed with a disturbed mind, cannot but produce inferior results.

 The famous musician, Arturo Toscanini, celebrated his eightieth birthday. Someone asked his son, “Walter, what according to your celebrated father, is his greatest achievement?”

 Walter replied, “For my beloved father, there is no such thing. Whatever he happens to be doing at the moment is the greatest thing in his life, whether it is conducting a symphony or peeling an orange!”

Living in the moment means letting go of the past and not waiting for the future. The past and future are illusions, as they too exist only in the present.

 Life is a great and wondrous mystery, and the only thing we are sure of is what is right here right now. As life is a succession of moments, we are successful when we live each and every moment. It means living our life consciously, being aware that each moment we breathe is a gift.

 A famous quote says, “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That’s why we call it the present!”

 It is said that God made the world round so we would never be able to see too far down the road!

To bring our entire attention to the present – our head, heart and hands – to the work at hand, not allowing our mind to wander either into the dead past or into the unborn future, is itself called Yoga.

 Also, referring to the above quote, if actions are performed keeping the ‘trophy’ in mind, then we are only postponing happiness to the future, uncertain and unknown. Vedanta says that happiness does not lie in the object, but it is the very nature of the subject, the Self. Hence it is not impossible to remain happy and contented even while ‘running the race’.

From the standpoint of worldly wisdom also, we find that it is not the end result which determines our joys and sorrows. It is the way we respond to those results that determine our state of the mind.

 Little Raju was very much excited. His class was all geared up to present a play during the forthcoming School Day celebrations. He had set his heart on being selected to play a part in it. Day after day, he chatted on excitedly about the role that might be offered to him, and how well he would play it.

 His mother, however, had her own fears. She felt that he may not be chosen to play a part, and feared that he might be terribly disappointed.

 On the day the roles were allotted, she went to pick him up after school. As usual, Raju ran up to her, eyes shining with pride and excitement. “Mama”, he gushed, “I have been chosen to clap and cheer!”

 One who has cultivated to think positively ever remains happy irrespective of the outer happenings.

Looking through the eyes of spirituality, the purpose of any action is served only when it purifies the mind. This happens when all our actions are performed as a worship of the Lord, taking their results as Prasadam from Him. When actions are performed with this attitude – called the attitude of Karma Yoga – the mind gradually gains purity. With such a pure and quiet mind, one gains the knowledge of the Self, which is the very purpose of life.

While performing actions, if this spirit of Karma Yoga is missing, then those very same actions bind us. In this sense, even if the outer ‘trophies’– of name and fame, victory and wealth, powers and pleasures – are won, we will still be considered only a failure, as we have failed to win the inner ‘trophy’ – our true Self.

 All may not get the outer trophies as they are limited in number, but the inner trophy, the only real trophy, is available for all, provided we ‘run the race’ with the right attitude – the attitude of Karma Yoga.

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