Gita in Action: Unattachment to Reward

Gita in Action: Unattachment to Reward July 31, 2014

One of the key elements of the Gita’s teaching is the unattachment to the result of one’s actions. This is a really tricky thing to wrap one’s mind around.

I am able to most clearly see it in the little things in life. The ways in which being super invested in the part of an action that you don’t have control over hurts your own peace. Because we can control what we do, but we have no control over what others are going to do or how they take what we do. We can try to influence them, we can talk and explain, but in the end we only have control over ourselves and our own actions.

In that way it makes sense to me that the Gita advises us to do our own right action and then let the universe take care of the rest.

For a simple every day example let’s say you are driving and you let someone in who is trying to merge in front of you. You feel good about yourself for being nice to this person. But they don’t give a little wave to acknowledge that you chose to let them in. If you’re expecting to get that sign of gratitude, then you’ll be disappointed and come away from the experience agitated and upset. If you didn’t expect it, then you’re going to feel good whether or not the other person acknowledges you.

If we can master this, then we’re going to be happy a lot more of the time! Because we’ll be happy and satisfied with our own actions but not perturbed by how others respond to those actions.

Once we get that down, the only thing left to upset us will be when others act to harm us. That’s a step for another day! I think if you practice feeling your satisfaction from what you’ve done and not from the gratitude of the people around you, you’ll find that your life has significantly more peace and happiness in it.

If you do give this a try, let me know how it goes!


Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Sri

    “What is the lesson of the Gita? It is what you get by repeating the word ten times. As you repeat ‘Gita’, ‘Gita’, the word becomes reversed into ‘tagi’, ‘tagi’-which implies renunciation. He alone has understood the secret of the Gita who has renounced his attachment to ‘woman and gold’ and has directed his entire love to
    God. It isn’t necessary to read the whole of the Gita. The purpose of reading the book is served if one practises renunciation.”
    “The Divine Mother has revealed to me the essence of the Vedanta. It is that Brahman alone is real and the world illusory. The essence of the Gita is what you get by repeating the word ten times. The word becomes reversed. It is then ‘tagi’, which refers to renunciation. The essence of the Gita is: ‘O man, renounce everything and practise spiritual discipline for the realization of God.’ ”

    – Sri Ramakrishna

    • Ambaa

      I’m afraid I can’t agree that one doesn’t need to read the whole Gita!

      It’s a short book and it is packed with important insight and huge life lessons.

      • Sri

        Do you remember these lines from Katha Upanishad?
        “This Atman cannot be attained by the study of the Vedas, or by intelligence, or by much hearing of sacred books. It is attained by him alone whom It chooses. To such a one Atman reveals Its own form.”
        Ratnakara attained gnana and became Valmiki just by repeating the name ‘Rama’. Many saints attained knowledge of Brahman without reading spiritual scriptures. But, it is not possible for everyone. Most of them are in search of spiritual truth through scriptures. But, most of them attained knowledge of Brahman through renunciation of worldliness.
        Sankhya yoga in Gita says:
        “Dhyaayato vishayaan pumsah sangas teshupajaayate;
        Sangaat sanjaayate kaamah kaamaat krodho’bhijaayate.
        Krodhaad bhavati sammohah sammohaat smriti vibhramah;
        Smritibhramshaad buddhinaasho buddhinaashaat pranashyati.”
        When a man thinks of the objects, attachment to them arises; from attachment desire is born; from desire anger arises. From anger comes delusion; from delusion the loss of memory; from loss of memory the destruction of discrimination; from the destruction of discrimination he perishes.
        Gita preaches renunciation of worldliness by mind.
        Now a days soft and hard copies of all the scriptures and their translations are available everywhere. But, centuries back thousands lost their life just because not to get converted. Most of them do not have read any spiritual scriptures. They were ready to die for their bakthi. This enormous amount of mind power and self control came from bakthi.
        For being a Hindu he need not read the entire scriptures. Even a single word with bakthi is enough. Experience is the real way to gain knowledge! All the scriptures are mere suggestions!


    I am kind of disappointed with this article, because it does not address inner core of Gita. Why? and what? and the whole function behind it, when it it was recited to Arjun.

    I think the biggest point you missed in this article is your Jatti Dharma and what one should do and why. The other things that you didn’t discuss was Karma and Phal and it’s relationship with the Gita and this is a central core of Gita.

    I have one question, If Hitler was drawing in a pool of water and he couldn’t swim and you are the only one who can save him. Would you save him and if you answer is YES, then why should you and if your answer is NO then why should you not save him. At this point I am assuming he is only a child of about 10 years. Before you answer this question Think about it because this requires you to read the full Gita.

    • Ambaa

      This post was not meant to be an explanation of the entire Gita.

      It’s one core lesson that I try to apply in my life.

      I will be having more in-depth Gita discussions once I finish with my Katha Upanishad posts. There’s far too much in the Gita to sum it up in one post!

  • Vidyadhara Buddhiraju

    A great deal of confusion must result from “reading” any part of the gita. We can go round and round in circles chiseling each word of commentary that can be written about it.

    Really it is an experiential thing therefore rather than a question of scholarship. What the Gita is proposing here is the center of Karma Yoga.

    Yogaha Karmasu Kausalam.

    Yogaha (yoga in nominative case singular)
    karmasu ( karma / work locative case, plural , in actions )
    kausalam ( dilligence, skill etc nominative case singular neutral gender)

    Yoga is diligence at work.

    karmasu = in karma(s) (works / actions)

    Really this the point. It is not unattachment to the result of the action. If you were unattached to the result then you could just be screaming pointlessly into empty space. By the way even screaming with a positive and deep attention, into empty space could be yoga too.

    A better phrase could be, working without getting entangled with the results. So indeed you must pick up such a course of actions that will allow you to focus your attention. This is the following of the swadharma.

    In karma yoga there is nothing left to be done if your actions have produced their results. The result is no longer an action item. The action itself is the yoga.
    Whereas in Bhakti the love for your chosen object of love is yoga.
    With Dhyana (jhana / zen), the unwavering attention to the object of the dhyana is yoga.
    In every case the yoga is the process of bringing your life energies to a focus. At which point your guru will assist you to make a jump into the infinite beyond.

    The possession of an object, the result i.e., is not a process. An object can become a means to focusing your attention. But the object is not the end in itself.