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Action without attachments to its fruits (action without desire)

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I read Bhagavad Gita today and it's central teaching is of action without attachment to its fruit or in other words: action without desire for specific results.

Almost every sacred text emphasizes the importance of dropping desires and non attachment, buddhism included. But this is a difficult concept to grasp with the mind, at least it is for me. How can you have action without desire for a result of a given action? The desire for a specific outcome is the very motivation of the action. When you remove it, what will you do? What will motivate you to do anything?

I guess if one's life is without bigger problems, one could act out of attitude of playfullness. But when life gives you challenges, for instance: you have children and are very poor and they are sick and hungry, you will perform actions with a clear fruit in mind: to make money. I can't imagine how you can be indifferent to results then.

Can there be any other cause of action, other than desire for a fruit?

RE: Action without attachments to its fruits (action without desire)
Answer
1/13/16 3:56 PM as a reply to Michał G..
howdy,
i picked up my BG last week and was again impressed with the similarities in fundamentals with buddhism.  my tao te ching also expresses the concept of action free from result as being an admirable way to be.

obeviously in every mundane task there is a goal and steps which lead to it and lots of subtle and gross intention along the way.  those intentions and the goals do not have to be tied to desire or greed using those terms in the buddhist sense.  those two terms, along with ignorance are the basis for wrong action.

if actions are done mindfully and the intentions are seen clearly und without delusion that theorhetically precludes attachment.  if your goal is not unskillful and your actions and intentions along the way to that goal are pure it seems to me thats what this points to.

the word desire is not equivalent to goals or results as you worded it IMO.

just my thoughts

cheers

RE: Action without attachments to its fruits (action without desire)
Answer
1/13/16 4:39 PM as a reply to Michał G..
@ OP:

I used to be really into reading books on Bhakti Yoga and the lore of Hindu sadhana in general, before getting deep into Buddhism.  So I basically think the idea is from Karma Yoga, which states that acting and offering up the fruits of one's actions to Brahman is an entire path to enlightenment, in-and-of itself. In the Bhagavad Gita, they go through this heiarchy of types of actions, with the highest one being to act with only Krishna in mind, before, during and after the action.  

I think its pretty bullshit, to be honest.  Not an effective way to deeply transform the mind, which is supposedly what Yoga is all about.  Bhakti does work, to the extent that it is practiced in some form of meditation, such as Kirtan.  But the idea that offering up the fruits of one's actions could be the main mechanism towards enlightenment, seems wrong.

However, in terms of how to do it (Karma yoga),  I think it simply invoves having faith/trust in the method and the surrounding belief system, and then just forcing yourself to act with a selfless mind because you think it will be worth it.  So its probably more so just about religous fervor than technique.  

RE: Action without attachments to its fruits (action without desire)
Answer
1/13/16 6:38 PM as a reply to Michał G..
Michał G.:


Can there be any other cause of action, other than desire for a fruit?


My High School Football Coach told us to do our absolute best on every single play, just do your job, and take care of your assigned responsibilties, i.e. hitting the guy in front of you.  He then said the scoreboard will take care of itself.

Action---->  Fruit

Psi

RE: Action without attachments to its fruits (action without desire)
Answer
1/13/16 9:46 PM as a reply to Michał G..
Hi Michal G.,

The key as Tom M. says is action without attachement to results. This doesn't mean that you don't establish a goal and act with the goal in mind, just that you don't become excessively attached to the goal.

I have a particular problem with action when I know the goal is extremely unlikely to occur due to circumstances beyond my control, though if it did succeed, the results would be very positive. This happens a lot in high tech, actually, it's the typical scenario for a startup. But as long as I know that the goal is reasonably likely to occur, perhaps even in some modified form, I'm usually pretty good at carrying through on the action.

Hope that helps.