How much to invest--of yourself

Bhagavad-gita 2.47


After ten years of blood, sweat and tears serving in an ashram in India, an elder approached and asked me: 'You're leaving now, how do you feel about your years here.' My response was brief, 'the lessons have been invaluable, but I could never relive the circumstances that taught me them'. Had I invested way too much of myself in my work?

At the top is a line of an ancient sanskrit verse, it's about performing your work as yoga. Generally yoga is thought to be physical but so much of it relates to attaining a good state of mind. The meaning of the line is that work should be carried out with an air of detachment. Attaining such equanimity is karma-yoga or the yoga of work. 

There is a deep secret in this, and not one that undermines the necessity of being passionate about what you do. There is a difference between putting yourself into something and putting in your very best effort. Understanding this can save you the rollercoaster ride that you never planned. 

Consider this line by Michael Neill, author of Supercoach: '...the trick to goal setting is to fully involve yourself in making things happen without investing your self-worth or emotional well-being into their achievement.' An important realisation that brings us to the secret, the mistake is to assume that our personal happiness exists out there in goals and achievements beyond ourselves. The truth is that happiness is here in the now, at this very moment, because we are constitute of the stuff. Projecting or objectifying it elsewhere and anchoring our self actualisation to it, is no less than tossing ourselves overboard. It is the beginning of unhappiness. 


As Neill posits, the trouble begins when our self-worth and emotional wellbeing get wrapped up in pursuits. With this you can be sure that trouble is lurking in the not to distant future. Two points to meditate on are: accepting that not all things are within our control, and that no matter what the outcome may be, our happiness and self-worth will not be effected. Consider this line of scientist and inventor Thomas Edison: 'I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.' Doesn't that just some up the whole spirit of it--passionate to succeed and perfectly aloof in failure. If only people knew that Edison practised yoga.

So there we have it, happiness is in detachment and detachment has absolutely no counter effect on the absolute passion that's required to succeed in what we do--that's yoga.     



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