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Actions without Attachment to the Fruits

Whenever you perform an action, there will always be a consequence, a resultant fruit from that effort. However, there is no rule that says that you alone should enjoy the fruit of your actions. A grandfather might have planted a seed which subsequently developed into a fruit tree. And this grandfather might have died before the tree produced any fruit. But the fruit of the tree might have been enjoyed by his grandchildren, some time later. Here is a case where a person performing an action did not personally enjoy the fruit; but some others had the chance to enjoy them.

The grandfather might have knowingly planted the tree without ever expecting to enjoy the fruit; he undertook the task originally with the broadminded view that the tree in the courtyard would give fruit to the generations who came along later; fruit which would be greatly enjoyed by them. And so, the fruit of his broadminded action was reaped by succeeding members of his family.

With what motive did the grandfather plant this particular tree? He might have done it with the slightly selfish motive that it would give enjoyment to members of his family. But the selfishness that comes from doing everything only for your own enjoyment is much baser and meaner than this grandfather's slight tinge of selfishness. The inner urge which leads you to undertake actions which are primarily for the welfare of others is always greater and nobler than the narrow feelings that lead you to act completely selfishly, expecting to derive all the benefits of your actions only for yourself. In this sense, the grandfather's action must be considered far superior to that of an individual who acts only for himself.

But, clearly, there is an even greater action, one that goes beyond all selfish considerations; that is when you perform an action as an offering to God. That is the greatest of all actions and that is what you should strive for. You should endeavor to perform all your actions selflessly and disinterestedly, offering them to God, without expecting to reap any of the fruits. Such action is truly yoga.