A request and a disclaimer: Before you begin to read this blog, request you to first read the blogs titled ‘A curtain raiser to the blog series on karma yoga, The seed for karma yoga and the other blogs in this series’ before you read this one, as this sets the context for this series on karma yoga. For this blog series on karma yoga, I draw my learnings from the Bhagavad Gita Home Study book by Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati. The language and explanations used by Pujya swAmiji is so profound, that I wish I do justice by aligning my understanding to his explanation, as I parallelly try to relate it to day to day living. Any error in the way I have blogged upon these values, is due to an error in my understanding alone. To understand and introspect further on this topic, I have chosen the dialogue mode – between two of my favorite characters – MAnvi and her thAthA.. Both of them have aged by a few more years. MAnvi has grown far more deep and wide in her spiritual journey; MAnvi’s thAthA knows that his contribution is a catalyst in this journey of hers.

MAnvi: thAthA, I am just wondering. ‘Taking pleasure and pain with equanimity, as though they are one and the same’, is acceptance, isn’t?

thAthA: MAnvi, you have brought in a beautiful word here – Acceptance..

MAnvi’s thAthA went quiet for sometime. MAnvi also stayed quiet as she knew that he would share thoughts that were profound; and if she interrupts him, it would impede his thinking.

thAthA: What is acceptance in this context? That

  • life is moments of pleasure and pain?
  • these moments of pleasure and pain are not the same, as the residues they leave us with are different?
  • they are not different either, as they are at the end of the day just residues?
  • the words ‘with equanimity’ and ‘as though’ indicate that pleasure and pain are different but the whole sentence of ‘Taking pleasure and pain with equanimity as though they are one and the same’ indicates that ‘pleasure and pain’ need to be looked at with sameness – which is Acceptance?

MAnvi was speechless when she heard this. The depth to which her thAthA could think has always left her speechless and spellbound.

thAthA: If I may extend this, it is ‘Acceptance of Reality’ also.

MAnvi: Could you explain, thAthA?

thAthA: MAnvi, I am going to ask you a few questions and I want you to answer them in your mind..

  • Do you have likes and dislikes?
  • Are there things you want that make you happy?
  • Are there things you want that you would like to retain?
  • Are there things you don’t want?
  • Are there things you have that you want to avoid or let go off?
  • What you like or want to have or want to retain, gives you pleasure?
  • What you don’t like or don’t want or want to avoid and let go off, gives you pain?

MAnvi, let’s take the example of tossing a coin. When a coin is tossed, we call for either head or tail. If we get what we call for, we are happy (pleasure), if we don’t then we are unhappy (pained).

  • Tossing the coin is in whose hands? Ours
  • Calling for heads or tails is in whose control? Ours
  • Whether the tossed coin falls the way we want it, is in whose control? Not ours.

There are some actions that are in our control and some that are not within our control. Isn’t that reality? And we accept that as reality, isn’t it?

What is within our control, we can change, most times :-). This gives us pleasure. What is not within our control, we cannot change :-(. This gives us pain. We know that and we do make our attempt to accept that as reality.

Is not having a complete control of what happens, a limitation MAnvi?

MAnvi: It certainly is, thAthA.

thAthA: Which means limitation is reality isn’t it, MAnvi?

MAnvi’s “Yes, thAthA” took sometime coming, as she was completely engrossed in the way her thAthA was taking this discussion.

thAthA: So

  • Recognition and Acceptance of Limitation is Acceptance of Reality?
  • When we accept the reality that there are things we can control and we cannot control; and there are things that will give pleasure to us and pain to us, we recognise and accept our limitation
  • Reality is that once we do something, the result is not in our control.

The recognition and acceptance of this limitation will help us in ‘Taking pleasure and pain with equanimity, as though they are one and the same. MAnvi, you may want to fight against this limitation because it makes you feel helpless.. But remember..

It is not ‘being limited’ in doing what you want to or need to do; it is about ‘Recognising, Acknowledging and Accepting limitations’. That is sameness of the mind or ‘samatvam’, which one gains when they ‘Take pleasure and pain with equanimity, as though they are one and the same.’

thAthA and MAnvi stepped into silence. So engrossed they were in their own thoughts that both were oblivious to each other’s presence and yet sensed each other.