--> Skip to main content

Giving Up Attachment To Work For Peaceful Life

‘Act like an instrument’ is Sri Krishna’s sterling advice in the Bhagavad Gita.  ‘All actions are performed by the gunas of Prakriti (sattva, rajas and tamas). But he whose mind is  deluded by egotism thinks, “I am the doer.” But he who knows the truth about the gunas and action remains unattached, perceiving that it is gunas as sense organs that are occupied with gunas as sense objects.’ (3.27-8)

There are two ways a spiritual aspirant tries to free himself from the sense of doership. If he follows the path of devotion, he cultivates the attitude, ‘Not I, but You are the doer.’ In Sri Ramakrishna’s words, he looks upon himself as the machine and God as the operator. By ‘I’ the devotee aspirant means the body-mind system he usually identifies himself with. By negating this ‘I’ he gradually gets rid of his attachment to body and mind and becomes more devoted to God, who dwells as his inmost Self. An aspirant on the path of knowledge says on the other hand, ‘It is the body and mind that act, not I.’ By ‘I’ he refers to the Atman, his higher Self. This weans him from his identification with the body and mind, strengthening his identification with the Atman.  

Thus though there is an apparent difference in both the methods, the purpose is the same: giving up identification with the body mind complex.

In the fifteenth chapter of the Gita Sri Krishna advises Arjuna to surrender himself to the primeval Purusha from whom has streamed forth eternal activity. (15.4) Defining yoga as equanimity, Sri Krishna asks Arjuna to perform actions being steadfast in yoga and giving up attachment and remaining unconcerned about success and failure. (2.48) When an aspirant learns to act like an instrument, he neither hates disagreeable work nor likes agreeable work. (18.10)

Sri Ramakrishna advised his householder disciples to live in the world like a maidservant in a rich man’s house. She performs all the household duties, but her thoughts are fixed on her own home in her native village. ‘Do all your duties, but keep your mind on God. Live with all – with wife, children, father and mother – and serve them. Treat them as if they were very dear to you, but know in your heart of hearts that they do not belong to you.’

Source – Excerpts from Prabuddha Bharata Editorial June 2003 Issue.