“…Never consider yourself to be the cause of the results of your activities…” (Lord Krishna speaking to Arjuna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.47)
We all know certain people who seem to be luckier than others. No matter what the situation, things always seem to work out for them, while for others the opposite situation is true. No matter how much effort they put in or how hard they try, things always go wrong for them.
In the 1980s there was a popular children’s television cartoon show by the name of Inspector Gadget. The show focused on the crime fighting escapades of the main character, Inspector Gadget, who was sort of a bumbler. He had all these special gadgets at his disposal to help him fight crime, but he never knew how to operate them properly. Each episode had a similar story line: the villain, Dr. Claw, had some elaborate scheme hatched up and Gadget was deputed to try and stop it. However, he would always be led astray, going completely down the wrong path. Gadget always had his niece Penny there to help him. She would always manage to solve the mystery along with help from her dog Brain, and then give the credit to her father. In this way, Dr. Claw’s plans were always thwarted, leaving him to utter his famous phrase at the end of each show, “I’ll get you Gadget!”
In the sport of tennis, the most prestigious tournament is Wimbledon. Occurring annually in London, it is the title coveted by all tennis players, for it has a rich tradition associated with it. World number one Roger Federer, who many consider the greatest player of all time, has won Wimbledon six times, while fellow player Andy Roddick has never won it. The two have played against each other in the final round of Wimbledon on three separate occasions, with Federer winning every time. In the 2004 final, it appeared that Roddick had Federer’s number. Playing very well and taking the opening set, he had Federer on the ropes. In Wimbledon and the other three Grand Slam tournaments, the first player to win three sets wins the match. Towards the end of the second set, Federer was up 6-5 with Roddick serving to force a tiebreaker. In tennis, players alternative service games in a set until one player wins 6 games leading by 2. If the score reaches 6-6, then they play a twelve point tiebreaker to determine the winner of the set. Roddick was two points away from forcing a tiebreaker when suddenly, one of Federer’s shots hit the net chord and dribbled over, giving him a set point. Federer would win the next point to even the match at one set all. Roddick still played tough though, as he was leading in the third set when all of a sudden it started raining. Federer regrouped during the rain delay and rallied to win the third set and eventually the match.
In the 2009 Wimbledon final, the two met again, and this time it really looked like Roddick was going to win. After winning the first set, Roddick went up 6 points to 2 in the second set tiebreaker. The first player to win seven points leading by at least two points wins a tiebreaker. With four set points in hand, it seemed for sure that Roddick would take a commanding lead in the match. However, Federer rallied and pulled off a miracle by coming back and winning the tiebreaker, leveling the match at one set all. Roddick would continue to hang tough, as the two played an epic fifth and deciding set. In most Grand Slam tournaments, players don’t play a tiebreaker in the fifth set. This means that play continues until one player has a lead of at least two games. The two duked it out, until Federer finally won 16-14, making it one of the greatest tennis matches ever to be played. Once again Roddick came up short. In tennis, if a player can regularly hold serve, meaning win the games in which they are serving, they have an excellent chance of winning. Roddick not only held serve regularly, but he didn’t lose serve for the entire match until the very last game. He played the match of his life, and STILL lost.
Now obviously being successful in tennis or other sports requires more than just luck. However, the lesson we can take away from these examples is that we are not the doer. As much as we may think ourselves to be the cause of actions and results, we are not. Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and His energies are responsible for making the world go around. Our karma also plays a role, determining our future fortunes and misfortunes.
“The bewildered spirit soul, under the influence of the three modes of material nature, thinks himself to be the doer of activities, which are in actuality carried out by nature.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.27)
This is the central tenet of the Vedas. When Krishna incarnated on earth as the pious prince Lord Rama, He underwent many hardships. Things always seemed to go wrong for the Lord, with His father exiling Him from the kingdom and His wife being kidnapped by the demon Ravana. As bad as things got, the Lord and His younger brother Lakshmana always remained steady. In the Ramayana, the two brothers make many references to the fact that destiny and fate control everything and that we are not the doers. If a higher power is in charge of everything, then we have no reason to overly lament over bad times or to overly rejoice over good fortune.
Now this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t act. It’d be very easy to just say, “Well, I don’t have any control over anything, so I’m just going to stop all of my activities altogether.” The key is to act without attachment to the results of our actions.
“Be steadfast in yoga, O Arjuna. Perform your duty and abandon all attachment to success or failure. Such evenness of mind is called yoga.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.48)
The easiest way to do this is to perform everything for the pleasure of the Lord. Acting only to please Him and to make Him happy, we free ourselves from the effects of karma. Happiness and sadness, distress and relief, these are the dualities of material nature that come and go. We should rise above them by directing our actions towards pleasing the Supreme Lord Krishna. If we become attached to Him, then His wife, the goddess of fortune, will see it to that we always have the proper means at our disposal to carry out our service. Often thought of as the giver of wealth, she actually provides good fortune to us so that we may use it properly. Goddess Lakshmi is always serving the Supreme Lord in the spiritual world, so she bestows her blessings on those people who will act in the same way. By sincerely taking to devotional service, we can be assured of always having good luck.