Verse 4.17: The intricacies of action are very hard to understand. Therefore one should know properly what action is, what forbidden action is, and what inaction is.
In Chapter 2 we discussed at length what karma (action), vikarama (forbidden action) and akarma (inaction) are. For anyone who would like a refresher, you can check it out here. Today, however, I'd like to talk about the real life application of these concepts.
Before getting to that, I'd like to share a beautiful quote from one of my favorite bhakti yoga mentors since it relates perfectly to this topic of application.
"It's very important to practice spirituality for practical application of spiritual knowledge."
Let's meditate on that for a moment, shall we? What does it actually mean? It means that we may hear lots of beautiful concepts and ideas but unless we actually try to implement that knowledge in our daily lives, it won't actually translate to wisdom. That's because wisdom is "the art of converting an experience into learning."
If we don't strive to apply what we've heard, then chances are we'll never really learn.
That's what our lives can become if we choose to live a life of learning. Since we are constantly performing actions, whether consciously or unconsciously, we get the perfect opportunity at every moment to tune into our motivations. Why are we doing something? Is it for our own satisfaction? Is it to make ourselves feel better? Is it really helping others? By posing such questions, we are forced to evaluate what is driving our actions. And trust me, if we actually attempt to do this even a little bit, it's amazing how introspective we'll become of our own thoughts and motivations.
Of course, we'll find that many times we'll skip out on checking into our motivations and you know what? It's ok. After all, for some of us this may be a slightly foreign concept to first reflect and then act. And like any habit, it takes practice and time. Even if we are starting to reflect after the fact, that's a step in the positive direction.
If and when we do reflect afterwards, it won't be uncommon to look back and perhaps cringe. Yes...that too is part of the process. It's may be uncomfortable to recognize what motivates our behaviour and distorts our consciousness. But that too is part of the learning process.
If we are unable to see the obstacles that prevent us from acting in positive and selfless ways, then we won't learn how to overcome them.
Life is all about the journey and in it there is the potential to learn so many lessons. Karma is one of the ways these lessons are dolled out. The Gita gives us practical knowledge as to why we face our current situations (i.e. results of our past actions). Equally important, the Gita teaches us how our reactions to these circumstances will impact our future. So...are you ready to live a life of learning?