Just as an actor in a drama should act according to the stage director’s plan and not his own whims, so should a person perform his earthly duties not to satisfy egotistical desires but to fulfill the divine plan for his life.
According to the divine plan, a soul exists in this world only to discover the purpose of life. Once he discovers that purpose, that soul does not have to reincarnate again. God intended to liberate each of us after a short wisdom-guided existence in this world, but we, through ignorance, prolong the misery of earthly life by reincarnating again and again.
A soul who is guided by cosmic wisdom knows that he came to this earth principally for the divine plan, through the medium of his own past actions. The person who has mastered his desires quickly sees that endless rebirths are caused by self-created desires. Such a person forsakes all fruits of actions and performs all actions with the sole desire to please God and to fulfill the divine plan. Actions performed with the thought of pleasing God produce no new karma.
Identify your deepest innate ambition.
No matter how wonderful the vocation you may be following, if it does not satisfy your heart, you can be certain you are not following the right path. Though they don’t know it, most people form their innate heart’s desire between the ages of three and twelve. Observe yourself carefully and you will find running under the current of your many desires a specific definite desire, which has been ignored. That ignored desire which has been always with you, coaxing you to open your mind and listen, is the real archangel of success which you should follow.
Perhaps someone started you on the path of working as a traveling salesman. You try your utmost, you think and plan, but you do not succeed. If you analyze yourself, you may find that from childhood you had an inclination to have a quiet home with a little garden to grow vegetables, where you could rest and enjoy peace, and perhaps occasionally paint a picture of the landscape.
Perhaps this desire to grow vegetables came percolating up through your subconscious from a prenatal existence, or by early residence on a farm, or perhaps it was strongly urged by someone who knows you very well. If your enthusiasm and ambition are already seized by the desire to be a farmer, why attempt to walk uphill against your own already formed tendencies?
The way best suited for you, based on a compromise between your idealism and the practical demands life, is the path you should follow. For instance, do not give up your desire for gardening, even if you can only have a garden in your backyard, even if you have to take a job in a city to earn money for your family’s basic needs. Live in the country if possible and spend most of your weekends finding your peace and enjoyment by working in your garden.
Whatever path your heart’s desire tells you is the royal highway of your life—that is the path you should follow in order to reach the abode of lasting peace and happiness. People are never happy travelling in the wrong direction.
Include service to others in your plan.
Along with identifying your innate deepest ambition and building your moneymaking methods around it, the divine plan for your life requires that you not only consider the happiness of your own heart, but also try to include in your happiness the happiness of other needy ones.
Every day try to uplift a physically, mentally, or spiritually sick individual as you would a member of your own family. Only then will you fully satisfy your soul. Most people are unhappy because they forget to harmonize their earthly duties with the demands of the divine plan.
Make service rather than money your goal and you will see the entire plan of your life change. You will never be left out. The wise who perform all actions with the consciousness of God know that the divine plan does not compel a soul to be born again and again into this misery-making world. You are on the right path when you concentrate not on the fruits of your actions but on performing your duties only to please God, in the understanding that all duties are assigned to you by Him.
Working with non-attachment
People are wrong when they assume it is impossible to carry out business projects successfully without desiring the fruits of one’s actions. The truth is that when people in business work mainly for themselves and their own material gain, they are not nearly as alert, wise, and happy as when they perform their duties just to please God.
To work with non-attachment does not mean one should work like an automaton without any thought of the results to be gained from one’s activities. It means, rather, that one should find contentment in working energetically to fulfill the divine plan in life without thinking of oneself as the sole beneficiary of one’s actions.
The fruit of actions performed only to please God not only satisfies the divine plan but benefits the actor without entangling him in mundane desires. Thus, any individual who performs duties only to please God can remain in the world in a state of liberation and, after death, will not be forced to be reborn.
In other words, every individual can eat, sleep, walk, exercise, look after his family, safeguard his health, earn money, and do good deeds in the world to please God rather than to satisfy selfish desires. A person who performs actions only to please God is untouched by success or failure and enjoys the satisfaction of a peaceful conscience which is happy to work for God. It is only when our actions fail to fulfill the divine plan for our lives that we suffer.
Obstacles to fulfilling the divine plan
As a soul tries to find out what activities he should perform according to the divine plan, he discovers that he has to work out many tendencies born of his egotistical desires in former incarnations. The Bhagavad Gita teaches that the devotee should work out such tendencies by performing all actions just to please God.
For example, if by virtue of egotistical desires one was a businessman in a former incarnation, and later, through disillusionment with business life followed by death, was reborn in the house of a spiritual teacher or a yogi, such a soul should perform the duties of his present life with the thought of pleasing God alone.
If this particular individual feels the urge to repeat a material business life, he should eliminate that desire through discrimination, telling himself, “I will pursue only the divine duty of knowing God in this life, and nothing else.” If, however, he does not find satisfaction with an exclusively spiritual focus, he should also carry on a material activity, saying to himself, “Since I am impelled by desires of a former incarnation to carry on a business, I will work out this desire by performing my duties to please God, not my egotistical self.”
Strong prenatal evil tendencies can be severed by the sword of wisdom. When one is unable to do that, finding his spirit willing but his flesh weak, he should ask the aid of God to release him from activities compelled by powerful subconscious tendencies which suppress his power of discrimination.
Earth life is not predestined.
Earth life is not predestined. Every human being is given free choice to accept the divine plan of existence or to follow the path of ignorance and misery. Hence each person should use his free choice to find out those duties of life which please God and ensure liberation from the wheel of birth and death.
If, from today, you live according to the laws of God, then no matter how small the part you may be playing on the stage of life, you will know that you have been playing your part rightly, as directed by the Stage Manager of all our destinies. And remember, your part, however small, is just as important as the biggest parts in contributing to the success of the divine plan. Make a little money and be satisfied by living a simple life and expressing your ideals, rather than have lots of money and worries without end.
The voice of inner conscience
Even though it may be difficult for a person to know what his life’s duties are, still, if he lives rightly, the voice of his inner conscience will guide him to the right thing that he should do in everything. Essential to this process is the practice of meditation, which alone can truly change a person. Through the regular practice of meditation, a person can more quickly work out the errors of many lives, regain the forgotten perfection of the soul, and begin to perform all actions only to please God. Such a person lives on earth with divine approval and great inner satisfaction. At the end of this life, he is devoid of all reincarnation-making desires and becomes liberated in God.
Such people, when they meet failure in spite of mathematically planned business ventures, are not discouraged but try continuously to work successfully to please God alone. Similarly, when they meet with prosperity they are not unduly elated and are content with the thought that they have pleased God by successful activity.
Hence, the Gita says: “Avoid egotistical activity and non-activity; concentrate on intelligently, ambitiously, and intuitively acting only to please God through the guidance of conscience.”