Are You Making The Right Moves In Your Life?

Control and Effort in Life

by Jayaram V

Notes: I have translated the Bhagavadgita twice. The first one was a loose translation. The second one was a word to word translation with a detailed commentary. The commentary is however different from what you will find here. In this section I will share with you my thoughts about the knowledge, philosophy and wisdom of the Bhagavadgita as I understand it from my perspective. Jayaram V

Most of us want to be in control of our lives. I have a friend who cannot sit comfortably when others drive a car, even if he does not own that car. He would politely ask the owner to let him drive the car so that he could be in control. I have another friend  who once said that he would not like to flow with the currents of life but prefer to swim because he was afraid he would drown if he did nothing. These are people who cannot relax because they are insecure and cannot easily trust anyone or anything.

Life is uncertain. We cannot always predict what is going to happen or make things happen. For most people it is a problem and a cause for concern. Even if you are comfortably situated in your life, you cannot be sure whether your actions will lead you in the right direction and solve your problems or make matters worse. However you may try, your life is mostly on auto pilot. In many ways, you do not choose life. Life chooses you.

For example, you do not get to choose your birth, family, parents or blood relationships. The circumstances surrounding your birth are also beyond your control. Similarly, you do not have control over many functions of your mind and body such as your heart beat, blood circulation, breathing or other involuntary functions. You meet many people by chance who may become an important part of your life and influence your thinking, actions and destiny.

Still, it is natural on our part to control what we can even if it means a lot of effort and stress. When we have a problem, our first instinct is to resolve it and control the situation. Whether we succeed or not, the illusion of activity or showing some response, gives us a sense of security, and the assured feeling that we are acting responsibly. It also helps others around us know that we are not sitting idly but acting according to the approved norms of society and meeting the approval and expectations of others. While they may not fathom our thoughts or motives, by showing our good selves we can impress them and make them feel positive about our actions and intentions.

From an early age we learn to fall in line and seek the approval of others by living according to their expectations. From an early age, we learn to act habitually or instinctively to fit into the world and make ourselves acceptable. The truth is despite these efforts we do not experience peace and tranquility since we are seldom certain whether the actions which we perform out of anxiety or social necessity really improve our lives and lead us in the right direction. We cannot certain whether we should give up control and let things happen or take control of the situation and try to reach a chosen end. At every step in our lives we are presented with innumerable choices, and we cannot easily determine which of them may be good for us.

We face this dilemma because we do not possess the required purity (sattva) to cultivate right  knowledge or wisdom with which we can make wise choices or right decisions. Our thinking and perception are clouded by many factors. They affect our thinking and judgment, rendering our minds turbulent and unstable, whereby we make mistakes or wrong choices. It also compels many to distrust and control everything. Project managers know that even with all the advanced methods of planning, organizing and controlling, more than half of the projects in the USA fail, get delayed or exceed the budget. What this means is that with all our knowledge and abilities, we will never know how far our actions and decisions will bear fruit. Therefore, the Bhagavadgita says that the best way to live is to do your work according to your discernment and devotion to God and not to worry or feel anxious about the outcome.

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