Friday, November 5, 2010

Action for Action's Sake

On Wednesday, I checked a translation of the Bhagavad Gita out of my church library, thinking that it might serve as a useful focus for morning meditations.

That assumes, of course, that I arise and meditate on a regular basis. Which I don't. Not by a long shot. But that's a topic for another post.

Anyway - back to the BG...there's a concept in one of the very early chapters that I'm playing with in my mind. I believe it's true from a spiritual perspective but I keep thinking of all the times I struggle with this truth as compared to the very few times in my life when I seem to get it.

Here's the verse:

You have a right to your actions,
but never to your actions' fruits.
Act for the action's sake.
And do not be attached to inaction.

Leaving aside the fact that I wish there was a comma after the word "sake" and the first word of the last line was lower case like the first word in the second line, I really love this verse. As a mom, I've recently felt a shift in how I want to relate to my kids. I attribute a lot of this shift to an article I read, which inspired me to (begin to) let go of the idea that I can mold my kids to become a particular type of person. I started to really look at my kids, realized how awesome they are, and decided to just try to enjoy my time with them and support them as much as I could in the process.

So...I suppose the motherhood thing was one reason this verse spoke to me, but that's not the only reason. It's a pretty radical notion when you think about it. Pretty much every career expert out there tells us that we need to network and "build our brand" so that we can grab control of our future and of course we need to eat healthy and exercise so that we can all look like _____ [insert your concept of most beautiful man or woman here]. Cause and effect is something that we're brought up to respect - and, in my humble opinion, it matters. I want my kids to know that their actions have consequences. Otherwise they could grow up to become insensitive dolts who think the world revolves around them. Oops. There I go - trying to mold them again.


My point, and I do have one, is that it's rather interesting to play with the idea of not allowing yourself to be attached to the results of your action. In other words: you raise and nourish and love your children because those actions are what you value. You might hope that they grow up healthy and strong, and provide you with precious grandchildren in your old age - but you shouldn't be attached to that hope. One never knows what will happen.

I think I kind of get it when it comes to my writing: I'd like it if a lot of people read my blog and my words were inspiring to others - but the truth is that the act of writing and re-writing my buzzing thoughts gives me immense satisfaction. Few things make me this happy.

Here's where I really struggle with the presumed truth of the verse - dog training. The whole reason we try to teach our dogs to sit or heel or stop barking like an idiot everytime someone rides by on a bicycle is so that we can change their future actions. I guess the anonymous author of the BG might argue that we're supposed to just enjoy that time with our dog for what it is and let go of any future expectations...but I'm just not seeing it.

In other words, I'm beginning to have a somewhat yoga attitude about my kids, my writing, and even my career - but not when it comes to my dog.


Megan Willome said...

Well, Jenn, you must be a pretty good writer because I started out not liking the BG quote, but then you helped me see the wisdom in it.

You go, girl!

mica said...

I just learned a great word for "insensitive dolt who believes the world revolves around them"...solipsistic. Do you already know this word? Was I the only one who didn't? I have probably used it a hundred times since I learned it last week. Love you!

JennInAustin said...

That word rings a bell, but it wasn't in my conscious vocabulary. I love it but it feels awkward when I try to say it out loud! Maybe my pronunciation is off...