Five Steps I Take Towards Achieving A Goal

[Krishna's lotus feet]“A person who is not disturbed by the incessant flow of desires—that enter like rivers into the ocean which is ever being filled but is always still—can alone achieve peace, and not the man who strives to satisfy such desires.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.70)

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आपूर्यमाणम् अचल-प्रतिष्ठं
समुद्रम् आपः प्रविशन्ति यद्वत्
तद्वत् कामा यं प्रविशन्ति सर्वे
स शान्तिम् आप्नोति न काम-कामी

āpūryamāṇam acala-pratiṣṭhaṁ
samudram āpaḥ praviśanti yadvat
tadvat kāmā yaṁ praviśanti sarve
sa śāntim āpnoti na kāma-kāmī

1. The contemplation

This is the step where I think about what it is I want. I have endless choices, it seems. I can go in this direction or that. I can also stay put. Others might view that decision as inaction, but the wise person sees action within inaction and vice versa.

कर्मण्य् अकर्म यः पश्येद्
अकर्मणि च कर्म यः
स बुद्धिमान् मनुष्येषु
स युक्तः कृत्स्न-कर्म-कृत्

karmaṇy akarma yaḥ paśyed
akarmaṇi ca karma yaḥ
sa buddhimān manuṣyeṣu
sa yuktaḥ kṛtsna-karma-kṛt

“One who sees inaction in action, and action in inaction, is intelligent among men, and he is in the transcendental position, although engaged in all sorts of activities.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.18)

2. The identification

This is where I settle upon what it is I want. I have identified a particular goal. This is the direction in which I will move. I am ready to proceed.

3. The preparation

The goal is there, but I need to prepare prior to taking action. Depending on the complexity of the process, the preparation might be lengthy, such as with studying for a standardized examination required for entering a professional field.

4. The execution

[examination]This is where I go through with what needs to be done. Since I have prepared for so long, I might be nervous in the process. I may overthink what actions to take, at what time to strike, and how to be free of hesitation. Nevertheless, there must be action as the initial cause for any result to manifest.

अदृष्टगुणदोषाणामध्रुवाणां तु कर्मणाम्
नान्तरेण क्रियां तेषां फलमिष्टं प्रवर्तते

adṛṣṭaguṇadoṣāṇāmadhruvāṇāṃ tu karmaṇām
nāntareṇa kriyāṃ teṣāṃ phalamiṣṭaṃ pravartate

“Unseen and indefinite are the good and bad reactions of fruitive work. And without taking action, the desired fruits of such work cannot manifest.” (Lakshmana speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 66.17)

5. The review

In the aftermath I assess whether things went according to plan. If I succeeded, was the desire worth it? Should I avoid the same in the future? If I failed, where did I go wrong? What mistakes did I make? How can I do better next time? What corrective measures should be applied?

In learning the science of self-realization, through the presentation of Krishna consciousness, there is repeat emphasis on the concept of removing desire. Being free of material desires, kama. No more hankering or lamenting. Remaining steady through the constant flow, of ups and downs, like the ocean that is not bothered by the rivers rushing in.

ब्रह्म-भूतः प्रसन्नात्मा
न शोचति न काङ्क्षति
समः सर्वेषु भूतेषु
मद्-भक्तिं लभते पराम्

brahma-bhūtaḥ prasannātmā
na śocati na kāṅkṣati
samaḥ sarveṣu bhūteṣu
mad-bhaktiṁ labhate parām

“One who is thus transcendentally situated at once realizes the Supreme Brahman. He never laments nor desires to have anything; he is equally disposed to every living entity. In that state he attains pure devotional service unto Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.54)

Upon accepting this information there may be a point of confusion. What should happen when adversity strikes? Let’s say that my child is suffering from an illness. I take them to the doctor for help. Is it wrong to pray to God for fixing the situation? Is that a material desire?

What if calamity is set to strike the region in which I live? A storm has the potential to devastate the area. My home and possessions are in the line of fire. They could potentially be destroyed. Am I violating the principles of self-realization, sanatana-dharma, by looking to the all-attractive one for help?

We see from the above review of the steps involved in achieving a goal that I certainly put in the effort already. Whether I am realized in the self or not, there is action applied. That action has a desired consequence. I am hoping for the endeavor to be saphala. I want to succeed.

Within that work, what is the harm in worshiping the Supreme Lord? How am I violating the terms of the relationship if I acknowledge the need for help in finding success? I approach the situation with full awareness of the need for cooperation from the material elements. I know I am not the doer.

प्रकृतेः क्रियमाणानि
गुणैः कर्माणि सर्वशः
कर्ताहम् इति मन्यते

prakṛteḥ kriyamāṇāni
guṇaiḥ karmāṇi sarvaśaḥ
kartāham iti manyate

“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)

The proper understanding is that the devotees of the Supreme Personality of Godhead are without personal desire. They do not want anything for themselves. They want to be successful in their work, but that work is dedicated to God. The fruits of that labor are essentially sacrificed, making the work itself on the level of transcendence.

यत् करोषि यद् अश्नासि
यज् जुहोषि ददासि यत्
यत् तपस्यसि कौन्तेय
तत् कुरुष्व मद्-अर्पणम्

yat karoṣi yad aśnāsi
yaj juhoṣi dadāsi yat
yat tapasyasi kaunteya
tat kuruṣva mad-arpaṇam

“O son of Kunti, all that you do, all that you eat, all that you offer and give away, as well as all austerities that you may perform, should be done as an offering unto Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.27)

[Krishna's lotus feet]The true test is within the aftermath. Is my allegiance towards Bhagavan tied to the outcome? Will I only worship if I am successful? Is failure not an option? We see from the history documented in Vedic literature that many notable personalities failed in their specific endeavors. They were not always successful. They sometimes succumbed to evil forces, but the promise told through Arjuna is true. The devotees never perish.

क्षिप्रं भवति धर्मात्मा
शश्वच्-छान्तिं निगच्छति
कौन्तेय प्रतिजानीहि
न मे भक्तः प्रणश्यति

kṣipraṁ bhavati dharmātmā
śaśvac-chāntiṁ nigacchati
kaunteya pratijānīhi
na me bhaktaḥ praṇaśyati

“He quickly becomes righteous and attains lasting peace. O son of Kunti, declare it boldly that My devotee never perishes.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.31)

In Closing:

Many steps to goal indeed,
Preparation before to proceed.

Then work in execution calling,
Either on success or failure falling.

No harm if with Krishna connected,
Because higher sanction expected.

But still with devotion choosing,
Whether victorious or losing.

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