We are often deluded by the result and ignore the pursuit of something.
If you observe human behavior, we tend to focus more on the outcome / result / consequences of an action and ignore the potential or value that lies in the pursuit.
Let’s take an example.
I want to pursue this business degree. After I get this degree, I will get a job that pays me well.
Here the subject is “pursuing” the degree because he/she has observed that this degree gives a return on investment. The pursuit is a function of the result which the subject anticipates. Pursuit (Degree) is not the goal, result is the goal. Had pursuit been the goal, it would have been this way
I want to pursue this business degree. After I get this degree, I will help businesses who are struggling to make profits and help them to scale up their Enterprise.
In this case, we see that the pursuit is not fueled by anticipation of a (selfish) desire or result. The pursuit is just for the pursuit itself and is often followed by another pursuit.
Bhagvad gita tells us that more than the result or consequences of an action, it is the pursuit that matters. The result of a pursuit is just the fruit. You have no control on the fruit anyway, anticipating a fruit is not what wise men do. Wise men pursue something because he sees value in the pursuit, not in the result.
A story from Mahabharata
So here is a small incidence from Mahabharata where Dronacharya shows us the value of pursuit.
After the education of Pandavas and Kauravas was finished, Dronacharya demanded Gurudakshina from his pupils. He demanded the captivity of King Drupad from all his pupils but decided to first send Duryodhana and his brothers to accomplish this task.
On this, Yudhisthira, the eldest Pandava, questions Dronacharya
Why did you send Duryodhana and not us? Do you have doubts on our war skills? Do you think that we cannot beat Drupad’s army?
I have no doubt on your war skills. The army which has the spear of Yudhisthira, the mace of Bheema and the bow of Arjuna can never be defeated. However, I want to teach Duryodhana a lesson which can only be taught in the battlefield. You have already received that lesson. Hence, I decided to send Duryodhana first and not you.
May I know what is that lesson?
The lesson of Vainglory. He has excessive vanity (“Abhimaan”) and he takes immense pride in his abilities. He is a skilled warrior. After Balarama, nobody can stand infront of his mace, not even Bheema. But “Abhimaan” (ego) is the enemy of a warrior. He needs to learn this lesson of humility.
Duryodhana attacks Drupad’s army but fails to capture Drupad. His army is flanked from all sides and he makes a speedy retreat. A fallen Duryodhana returns to his guru with empty hands
Hey Gurudev, I have failed to give you your gurudakshina.
This is when Dronacharya shows us the value of pursuit and not the result
The result is insignificant. You have pursued an objective, learnt a lesson and that is my gurudakshina.
“Mahatva prayatna ka hai, aur maine apni Gurudakshina le bhi li hai”
Dronacharya focuses on the pursuit and pursuit alone, not on the result. He knows that eventually Drupad shall be captured. The result is not important. The intent of achieving a result is important and holds more significance.
Here is a Pursuit – Goal diagram. The lines represent “Pursuit” while the squares represent a “Goal” or result. Note that in the end, it is the entire journey that holds more significance, not the interim stations.
Pursue the “Pursuit”, not the Result
One of the central shloka in Bhagvada gita tells us to focus on the “Pursuit” and not the result
Karmanye vadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadachana,
Ma Karmaphalaheturbhurma Te Sangostvakarmani
Let’s understand what this Shloka is trying to say
- Karmanye vadhikaraste – You have right only in the work
- Ma phalesu kadhachana – You have no right to claim the fruit of your work.
- Ma Karmaphalaheturbhurma – Never be attached to the result
- Te Sangostvakarmani – Let not the fruits of action be your motive, nor let your attachment be to inaction.
In real world, we see the opposite happening.
Everyone is focused on what results his action will bring and not focusing on the present pursuit. The subjects fail to realize that they have no control on the result anyway.
A subject needs to go beyond worldly motives and how this world observes the cause of the subject.
- If you love writing and want to take it up as your profession, please keep writing. Do not think what your friends are doing or how much money you will earn by taking a path less taken. You have right only to write, you have no right on how your readers will take your work or what fruits you will reap from your effort.
- If you want to start a business, please start now. Do not think about what might happen if it crashes or blows up. You are again focusing on the result and getting deluded by it. If you want a business, just do it. You have no control on what can be the result of your endeavor.
- If you want to be a dancer, go dance. Do not think how society will perceive you as an individual. You have the right to dance, but no control on what outcome may come from the action. So just dance
Thou hast the right to work but not to the fruits thereof.
Stand firm like a rock. Pursue for the sake of pursuit alone and nothing else.