Selfless Service

“You have control over doing your respective duty only, but no control or claim over the results. The fruits of work should not be your motive, and you should never be inactive. ” – 2:47 Bhagavad-Gita

Personally, this is one of the most difficult concepts to grasp.  What is the purpose of works if not to seek a desired result?  Without the result, why consume the effort? 

 I confess I struggle with this daily.  Some people are able to focus on the task and not the result.  Do the ends justify the means?  In spirituality, we are hoping that there exists a greater end, a greater purpose than just the immediate result.  I have always focused on the immediate result. 

Hinduism has taught that everyone, everything has a role to fill in this universe.  We are all a part of God, but we are not the same, identical part.  We are cogs in the machine.  And so we are accountable to all other cogs to complete our purpose for being without question.  Only the knowledge that it is our purpose should be enough to justify the means. 

This is the true rationale behind the caste system.  However, our human nature demands that there should be a difference between one’s selfless role in the universe and one’s selfish relevance in the universe.   

I think this is what separates Christianity from Hinduism.  Christianity focuses on our relevance.  We want to be identified and selected as individuals, and so Christianity includes this belief that God has cast more relevance on humans. He chose to make us in His image.  He chose us to have control over the other forms of life on the Earth.  We are his chosen people (first the Jews, then the Church body).  He even loves us.  And finally, when all is said and done, we are chosen to go to spend eternity with him in heaven.  In fact, we get rewards in heaven based on our works.  I always found that confusing, but that’s a different post altogether. 

While Hinduism is demanding we accept our duty as components in the God-universe machine, Christianity is bribing us to accept that role with rewards in a different reality.  Christianity is in fact playing on our inherent selfish nature, but asking us to wait until the next reality in order to gain the reward.  To me, there is something honorable and romantic in fulfilling one’s purpose for no other reason than that it is your purpose.  There is honor in the samurai or soldier who fights in battle without questioning why he is in battle or in the secret service agent who takes a bullet for his president even if he voted for the other guy.  In this regard, I feel that Hinduism is the more humble and more noble religion.  And thus, the more difficult to follow. 

1 thought on “Selfless Service

  1. I was just reading about the caste system in my sociology textbook. According to that, the legitimizing rationale of Hinduism is that your actions and thoughts in this life affect which caste you’ll be placed in your next life. Be good and you’ll move up in the system. Be bad and move down.

    What makes their logic different from ours? With Christianity we only get one chance, one life. If I understand correctly, in Hinduism you just keep yourself in mind for the next earthly life you’ll have: social class, wealth, respect, possessions. Focusing on a monetary end. How is that nobler?

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