In the Bhagavad Gita, one of Krishna’s many lessons is learning to love the action, and not just the fruit of the action. This is a concept that is foreign to many people. We get caught up in the reward of the action rather than enjoying the actual process of getting to the reward. Think about it; we sit in class and think about the grade rather than really wanting to gain knowledge, we work hard in jobs we hate for the money, and we run or swim or bike even though we hate it to be in shape. The focus should be shifted to what we are doing in this very instant of time rather than what the outcome of the action is. The outcome is short lived and the action lasts much longer. Actions take up about 98% of our lives and the fruit of that action makes up about 2%. That means that 98% of our lives are being wasted doing something that is not enjoyable. The action should be enjoyed. Love to learn, love to work, love to run, love to breathe, just love everything that you do and life will be good. The outcomes are just an added bonus. “I love my work, and I’m making money!” is a much more appealing thought than, “I spend most of my time at my job and I’m miserable, but hey I made some money!”
Rock climbing is a perfect example of this type of thought process. When you’re working on a project, you have a general plan of how you’re going to top out, but the concentration isn’t solely on being on the top. The focus is on the process of getting there. Completing each move is an accomplishment in itself. If the only focus is topping out, it is highly unlikely you will get past the current move. To complete anything, the concentration has to be on the rock, where you’re at in the current moment, no straying thoughts, just present and in tune with everything going on around you.
Loving the action is also tied to living in the present. Sometimes life gets hard and stress and unhappiness cause a shift in focus from the present to a happy memory or a daydream of how the future may play out. Memories are good to have and reflect on periodically but they are not a good place live. Learn from the mistakes, laugh at the comedic points and smile because it happened. Wishing that things were the way they used to be won’t do any good, because life is constantly changing and there is no way to time travel back to those events. The key is to move on and accept that the past has happened and that the present is what’s real and concrete. We can change our circumstances to make the present what we want it to be. The future is also not a place to live. Daydreaming about how life may play out doesn’t mean that it will happen. It’s a good way to have some direction, but our current actions are what lead us to the future and we will see what will happen when we get there. Live in the space of time that can be controlled.
Living in the present can be compared a book. Your life is a book that you are writing. The page you are on is what is happening at the current moment in time. Previous pages are events that have already happened and later pages are blank because they haven’t been written yet. Flipping back to look and reflect on previous pages is possible, but the story must go on, so we must return to where we are currently at in the story. Reading ahead, there are only blank pages, so all we can do is imagine what we think may be there. We won’t know what will be on the page until we get there and those pages will remain blank unless we keep writing.