Attachment to the Fruits
We planted a peach and a pear tree in our yard a few years back. The kids and I had grand dreams of eating the fruit straight from the tree. My daughter kept talking about getting out of the car after school and picking a pear to eat on her way inside. I knew that this may not be exactly how it would go. After watering the trees twice a day for a year (except in winter), we got a few very small fruits from each tree and had to pick them when they were almost ripe, so that the neighborhood birds and squirrels and pedestrians didn't get to them first. The next year, no fruit. This year's yield was better. About 10 little delicious peaches and pears from each tree! So much watering, for as much fruit as we could've gotten from the farmer's market for about 5 dollars.
The Bhagavad Gita (2:47), an ancient epic tale of Hindu scripture, states:
"To action alone hast thou a right and never to its fruits; let not the fruits of action be thy motive; neither let there be in thee any attachment to inaction."
(translation by Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan)
In our goal driven, results seeking culture, this seems like a rather insane idea. To just throw out any need to see results of our hard work? But looking at this idea more closely, we can see how being able to release any attachment to the fruits of our labor could benefit our lives.
What if we choose to see each action as a reward in itself? Cleaning, just to be cleaning and not to get it done and be on to the next thing. Having a conversation in order to deeply connect with another individual, and not just to pass the time while we are both waiting for something else?
In our relationships, maybe we can give what we are inspired to give to others as far as care and attention, without any expectation of reward or return. And maybe we can even let that person give what they have to give, or even not give at all. We have a choice to continue to water and nurture our relationships, enjoying the process of feeding a relationship without and end goal for where it is going. Not having specific expectations for our relationships can set us free to let the relationship evolve into what it is meant to be. It could even help us to release barriers which were in fact restricting the relationship. When we do receive what we like to receive in relationship, it will then come as a pleasant surprise and not as an expected action to make things "even."
In our careers, it seems ignorant to think of letting go of the fruits of our labor. But is is just that action that may set us free to let our careers evolve. Of course, in our society, we need to make enough for our basic needs and those of our dependents. But if we can focus more on the deeper reason for what we do, instead of on our compensation, we can allow our career path to take the turns and twists that they will take. This opens us up to paths that we may never have imagined would present themselves to us.
I have experienced this personally in my path of teaching yoga. I have had to let go of opportunities that just didn't seem to feed who I truly am, and have been rewarded by other opportunities presenting themselves, which more clearly aligned with my deeper purpose. Still, when I offer a class or a workshop, I try to be mindful to present what I have to offer with genuine love, and then to let it go our into the universe and affect others in whatever way that it does. I cannot become attached to the way that my offerings land with everybody. My teaching comes not from me, but through me, and therefore, they are not mine to keep.
Of course, we can still set intentions for where our labors will bring us. We can set forth our "preferred outcome" and make efforts for things to go that way. They just might end up going that way! We might eventually be picking fruit from our trees to eat after school! But for now, I can enjoy the process of watering the trees (every morning!).
When we let go of our absolute need to have things go a certain way and even enjoy the process, we will find deep peace and freedom in allowing life to take it's natural turns and twists. We can give up control to the Universe, God, the Natural Order, or to who or whatever we think is in charge. This may be when our deepest blessings emerge.