The Fruits of Action

“The Vedic Meditator is someone who allows charm to be the driver of action.”

Thom Knoles

Desire is one of the most misunderstood facets across all Wisdom traditions. Teachers often teach, and readers often misinterpret, some of the writings of the texts, both from Veda as well as other ancient wisdom cultures, as meaning that desire is bad, or that the key to enlightenment is to eliminate our desires.

One such example of this misunderstanding is the Vedic epic Bhagavad Gita, specifically Chapter 2, Verse 47, in which Krishna tells Arjuna, “Live not for the fruits of action.”

The misinterpretation of this text leads many to think that desire itself is the cause of suffering, and thus attempt to suppress or ignore desires in the hope of avoiding suffering.

Thom sets the record straight in this episode, clarifying the purpose of desire, and giving us a technique whereby we can ensure that our desires are not just aligned with Nature, but serve to meet the need of the time.

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Episode Highlights


What’s the Point of Taking Action?



Bhagavad Gita and the Mahabharata



Arjuna and Krishna: The Central Characters of Mahabharata



Krishna’s Guidance



The Song of God



Krishna’s Message on the Fruits of Action



What is the Need of the Time?



What is Cosmic Desire?



Beyond the Scope of the Intellect



Let Charm be the Driver of Action



Surrender to Nature’s Intelligence



Cosmic Intelligence in Action



We Don’t Want Options



Move Beyond Fruits


Jai Guru Deva


The Fruits of Action

[00:45] What’s the Point of Taking Action?

Thom, could you please clarify the meaning of Verse 47 in Chapter 2 of Bhagavad Gita, which says, “You have control over action alone, never over its fruits. Live not for the fruits of your action, nor attach yourself to inaction.” Isn’t the point of taking action to enjoy the fruits of the action?

[00:55] Bhagavad Gita and the Mahabharata

In our analysis of Verse 47, in Chapter Two of The Bhagavad Gita, we have quite a lot to consider.

This is a very, very interesting part of a larger epic known as the Mahabharata, and there are many states of consciousness on display in every statement that’s made and in every answer that’s given.

First of all, let’s just set the scene properly. Bhagavad Gita. Bhagavad is the Sanskrit word for supreme divine personality, what we might say in English, God. Bhagavad. Gita means a song. Song of God. The song of God, Bhagavad Gita, is made up of the central chapters of a massive epic.

Twelve volumes of three four hundred pages each make up the Mahabharata. Maha means great. Bharata means both the name of the royal family of India, as we might say, the house of Windsor, which currently is the ruling house of the United Kingdom. Great Britain, Northern Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales is ruled by the House of Windsor.

The House of Bharata, the name of the royal family of ancient India 5,000 years ago, became also the name of the country of India, Bharata, B-H-A-R-A-T-A, Mahabharata. The great Bharata was attributed to Sage Vyasa. Sage Vyasa of enlightened vision.

Vyasa, who was also known as Badarayana, who was also known as Krishna Dvaipayana. But he holds a title of Vyasa, the sequential elaborator of knowledge of a particular epoch.

[03:12] Arjuna and Krishna: The Central Characters of Mahabharata

And as one of the masters of our tradition that brings us modern-day Vedic Meditation practice, we hark back to many different masters in time, and central among the early masters is Vyasa, Veda Vyasa, who is attributed with the Mahabharata and its central chapters, the Bhagavad Gita.

In this particular part of the story, Vyasa is relating his tale to a god. This god is the elephant-headed god Ganesha. We won’t go into great details of Ganesha for the moment, but he is the transcriber of Vyasa’s tale, Mahabharata.

And in this particular part of the story, there is a scene on a battlefield. There’s a no-man’s land, one mile wide, dividing two armies.

One army comprised of two million combatants, eager to fight, ready for battle. And another on the opposite side of the no-man’s land, another army of about 1.5 million combatants, a little less eager to fight, ready to fight, but watching their general, whose name is Arjuna, watching their general very carefully, and their general is situated on a chariot, a war chariot, harnessed to six horses, out in the middle of the no-man’s land, and he’s being spoken to by Krishna.

Krishna is the depiction here and symbolic of pure consciousness embodied the Avatar. . Avatar, in this instance, means the perfect embodiment of Totality Consciousness.

[05:07] Krishna’s Guidance

Krishna is speaking to Arjuna, and on one side of the army, on the side with the two million combatants who are eager to fight; let’s think of them as the ones who are the would-be debauchers of the civilized state of India, the destroyers of Vedic culture. And they have a ruler, a blind king by the name of Dhritarashtra. We won’t go into great details of Dhritarashtra right now. He happens to be the uncle of Arjuna, the general of the other side, who’s sitting on the chariot listening to Krishna.

Dhritarashtra can’t see, and he’s a very ancient old man, and his hearing is also somewhat impaired, but he happens to have sitting with him a young clairvoyant by the name of Sanjaya.

And Sanjaya, a clairvoyant, clairaudient boy, is listening to and witnessing the conversation between Krishna and Arjuna. Krishna, the avatar, the embodiment of Totality Consciousness, and Arjuna, the nephew of the blind king. Arjuna and his brothers and their army of 1.5 million comprise the force that is wanting to destroy the destructive power of Dhritarashtra’s army.

And Dhritarashtra asks Sanjaya, “Tell me everything that’s happening on the battlefield. What is Krishna saying to Arjuna?”

[06:38] The Song of God

And so we have Arjuna asking Krishna certain questions and Krishna answering them. Krishna, God, Avatar. And when Krishna speaks, he doesn’t just speak. He always sings the song of Krishna, the song of God, Bhagavad Gita. Bhagavad, God; Gita, Song; Song of God.

And in this Song of God as reported by Sanjaya to Dhritarashtra, and then this captured by Vyasa of enlightened vision, who is reporting it to his transcriber Ganesha. And so now we see Ganesha’s consciousness as transcriber and editor, Vyasa as the speaker of the story, who is cognizing the clairvoyant and clairaudient pronouncements of Sanjaya, being made to the blind king Dhritarashtra, and Sanjaya commenting on what it is that Krishna is saying to Arjuna.

You see how many layers are in this, and each one of these layers represents a state of consciousness that filters the message. Every state of consciousness is a prism or a lens that changes the nature of the message, correcting it and fine-tuning it, and so on.

In other words, these words are not just words spoken by somebody. These words are a group effort of many different consciousness states, a composite, a composite of many different consciousness states.

[08:16] Krishna’s Message on the Fruits of Action

So now we have heard the words spoken in chapter 2, Verse 47, Krishna saying that, and I’m paraphrasing here, that we should only ever be concerned with action and not the fruits of the action, not where the action is going, but with the action only itself. Nor should we try to opt out by going into inaction, not acting at all.

That when we’re faced with the need of the time to act in accordance, as best we can, with the laws of Nature, as we know them, we act and trying to align ourselves with the laws of Nature, carrying out an activity in a way that doesn’t flagrantly violate the laws of Nature because we know intrinsically from within ourselves if we violate the laws of Nature, then this is unsustainable behavior which backfires.

It ends up creating cascades of change which end up robbing us of the happiness that we were engaged in when we were engaging in action that was in accordance with the laws of Nature.

So, for example, if you have a desire to eat a Hershey’s chocolate bar just before bed, and it was so yummy, but you’re so tired at the end of chomping into that chocolate bar that’s packed with cane sugar that you don’t really want to brush your teeth and clean the chocolate and the sugar off your enamel, so you just conk out and go to sleep with all the chocolate all over your teeth.

Then, one of the things that’s likely to happen is that the sugar will be extracting the calcium from your enamel, and there’ll be bacteria setting into the little holes there that are created, and before you know it, the dentist is there with that drill in your mouth, making that whirring sound and saying, “Let me know if this hurts too much.” And so, if we’re going to eat the Hershey’s chocolate, then we naturally want to brush our teeth afterward.

[10:27] What is the Need of the Time?

Now, what is it that Krishna is actually saying about don’t concern yourself with the fruits of action? Don’t concern yourself with the outcomes of action. Concern yourself only with action.

And this goes to a basic Vedic principle that is discovered by, and it’s something which rather than if you do this, as Krishna says, then you’ll get a particular result because that’s attending to the fruit of action itself when you consider it. Don’t be engaged in the fruit of action; be engaged only in the action itself. And if you think to yourself, “Oh goody. I’ll be a good person, and I’ll only engage in the actions and not the fruits, because I want to do what Krishna’s telling us to do.”

Ah, that was a trap, wasn’t it? You were engaged in the fruit of action. By not engaging in the fruit of action, you see, there’s a circular way of looking at this that it itself represents a trap.

To what extent would you spontaneously find yourself engaging only in the life-supporting activity, activity that is spontaneously in accord with the laws of Nature?

And the laws of Nature are changing from minute to minute. What is the need of the time? The laws of Nature that dictate what is it that’s evolutionary, these laws of Nature are changing from minute to minute.

What is it that is the right thing to be doing? What is it that is not the right thing to be doing, which will backfire, which will create unsustainability? The answer to that question changes from minute to minute.

[12:07] What is Cosmic Desire?

So what is the experience of the Vedic Meditator? First of all, one of the things that we recognize in Vedic philosophy is that desire toward action, in a mind of a meditator, the mind of someone who has been settling down into the unboundedness of Being twice every day…

We practice Vedic Meditation in the morning and in the evening, for about 20 minutes each time, and when we do so, we make an interesting discovery; that the impulse of that which is evolutionary that comes from deep inside of us, an impulse of desire, the desirability of an action, is not the property of my own mind, my own individuality.

That which is made charming, that which is made desirable, a thought of that which is desirable, a thought that is imbued with charm, a thought toward action, comes from the unbounded field of Being from inside me. It is not the conception of my individuality. My individuality is simply a means whereby cosmic desire is fulfilled.

What is cosmic desire? Desire is the mechanism that Nature uses to make something move from A to B. Desire is simply the mechanism that is used by Nature to get an enlightened human who’s got inner contentedness, has baseline happiness anyway, doesn’t need to be made happy because they are baseline happiness, the way to get such a being who has baseline happiness to move from A to B, to put into place those things that meet the need of the time. Time is changing at every given moment.

[14:03] Beyond the Scope of the Intellect

The processes that need to be engaged in to bring about evolution, to bring about ever-increasing sophistication, are different. Different modes of activity are required. What was required 10 minutes ago might be completely different to what is required now, or it could be the same for an hour, or it could be the same for 10 hours, but it’s never the same for a year, or for 20 years, or for 30, like that.

The need of the time is constantly changing according to one evolutionary requirement having been met, and now another different evolutionary requirement needs to be met, which will require different action.

So, what does the Vedic meditator experience? I find that I come out of my meditation imbued with all of the qualities of bliss, of the inner state of Being, and charm appears. Charm may appear for me to simply continue sitting. Or, charm may appear for me to get up and move in a particular direction, but I’m not making an intellectual choice about it.

I’m allowing charm to dictate what it is that I do that is evolutionary because the perfect timing of my action is not going to be something that my individual intellect can figure out given all of the different moving parts on a cosmic scale of what it is that represents an action which, when you perform that action, it’s going to be perfectly attuned with all the laws of Nature and bring no harm to the evolutionary process. This is beyond the scope of the ordinary human intellect to figure out.

[15:59] Let Charm be the Driver of Action

And so the Vedic Meditator is someone who allows charm to be the driver of action. And so, let’s use an example. I might be sitting here in my little cabin in the high mountains of northern Arizona and suddenly get an impulse to hop on an airplane and go to Rome.

And from inside me, I don’t really have any particular reason to want to go to Rome. My mind might naturally wonder what I will experience when I go to Rome, but if I got a sufficiently strong impulse of charm to pack a small bag and just go to Rome for three days, or let’s call it three days, but it could turn into thirty, who knows, then what would stop me from going to Rome?

As a seasoned Vedic Meditator, there’d be absolutely nothing that would stop me. ” Oh, there are appointments.” Those can be changed. “Oh, there are expectations.” Those can also be changed. ” Oh, there’s nothing going on in Rome that you particularly want to be involved in.” That could also change. All I know is, Rome is charming. Rome is coming.

And so then a seasoned Vedic Meditator has learned how to allow the process of charm absolutely to dictate action. What is the fruit of the action? Where is it all going? The Vedic meditators answer to this is, let’s see. Let us see. Literally, we will see. We’ll see. We’ll see.

[17:32] Surrender to Nature’s Intelligence

Charm turns out to be the best possible navigator. Charm turns out to be the best possible navigator. If I start the process of heading off to Rome, perhaps I need to first get to an international airport, which in my case is two-and-a-half-hours drive away across a desert.

Then perhaps halfway across the desert, what if the charm, the desire to go to Rome vanishes, and if it vanishes utterly, then I’m not concerned with the fruit of action. I change plans and see what is now charming, and what might be charming might be return to the home, or it might be go off into the desert and pick some cactus flowers down there in the lowlands of Arizona.

What am I doing in all of this? I am surrendering my individuality and all of its potentials to the cosmic deciding power of Nature’s intelligence. I am not the owner of the machinery. I am The Universe having a human experience.

I am not a human racing around looking for the fruits of action, trying to get myself happy by attaining fruits. I am a means whereby cosmic intelligence carries out its intentions. My individuality, my individual status and structure is surrendered entirely to the intelligence of Nature.

Put a thought into my mind about moving or not moving. Make it desirable. Make it charming. That’s all I need. And movement will occur. And it will occur for so long as the fuel of charm continues fueling it. And one finds in this a kind of frictionless flow. I’m able to move, even enormous amounts of effort might be expended, but they all feel frictionless to me.

[19:36] Cosmic Intelligence in Action

It doesn’t feel like effort, even though others might look at me and say, “Wow, you’re really putting a lot of effort into that Rome trip.” From my perspective, fueled by charm, the whole trip would be just completely frictionless flow. This is another way of assessing that the charm is continuing to fuel things.

And where is all this going, might ask somebody who is a loving controller, who wants to know why you’re doing what you’re doing and why you’re not doing something else that suits them better.

The answer is because my individuality exists at the behest of Cosmic Intelligence and that Cosmic Intelligence deep inside me is the best arbiter of where this individual machinery, this brain, this physiology, these muscles, this body, the ideas and thoughts, and all the rest of it, where it should be placed.

And so, I’m not living my life according to what is the highest and best use of me in order to get fruits. What are the fruits? We’ve all experienced this in our youth growing up.

[20:44] We Don’t Want Options

Somebody saying, “Well, you could become an artist, but you know Michelangelo didn’t lead a very happy life waiting for funding from the Medici family and waiting for the go-ahead from the Pope to paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling, and he always had that rascal Leonardo da Vinci constantly competing for the same available funds from the same available sources.

“And the two of them were both great artists, but evidently, it wasn’t really the source of happiness. Maybe you’ll be better off being a lawyer. Go to Stanford and get that degree because at least you’ll know you can earn lots of money.

“And then, also, since you’re my child, you’re going to need lots of money to look after me when I get into my old age, and I haven’t really made much of a good plan for my retirement, so I’ll expect you to be funding me.

“Lawyer, doctor, whatever it is, doesn’t really appeal to you to be either of those, but those are the two number one top income-producing professions. Or perhaps you can be risky and be an entrepreneur and form a business, but money, money, money, money is the need.”

“If you have money, you have options,” say those who are supposed to be, who purport to be the wise ones. Money equals options. And then you listen to Thom Knoles’ Vedic Worldview podcast, and you hear Thom say, ” Options equals a working definition of hell.”

Having options, table full of options, table full of hell. We don’t want options. We want to clear off all these options down to doing the one thing, which is the evolutionary thing, which doing that will bring about the largest pulsations of evolution. We want to be the individual status and structure that represents the totality of The Divine. Other options, alternatives to that are all very lousy.

[22:47] Move Beyond Fruits

How do we get to be the means by which that Totality Consciousness operates on Earth? We have to allow our attention effortlessly to settle into the state of Being twice every day, make contact with that field of Being, and let charm dictate our actions rather than, “Let me figure out all the fruits. Let me go through the pros and cons list. Let me make an individual decision out of my individual status and structure.”

This is what everyone’s been doing in the lead up to hearing about this, and it didn’t work. That’s what I’m putting to you. It didn’t work.

It was designed to create permanent happiness, this kind of fruits-based thinking, “What are the fruits of actions? What am I going to get from it? What is in it for me?” But in the end, actually, all that ever comes is temporary happinesses followed by misery, in between trying to plot out the next temporary happiness.

So we have to have that baseline happiness. We have to meditate twice every day. Vedic Meditation, not some inferior form. Vedic Meditation. And then, letting our attention settle down into that consciousness state, identifying with that deep inner unboundedness, and letting Nature speak to us through charm. This is the whole idea of Chapter 2, Verse 47 of Bhagavad Gita.

Jai Guru Deva. 

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