A long time ago, there lived an old farmer and his two sons in a small village.
The older son, like his father, was always calm and composed and followed whatever he was told, while the younger one was the personification of pessimism who was not only always skeptical whenever the father or anyone else said something, but also had the habit of inventing reasons to worry about things.
One night, the only horse that they had, ran away.
The pessimistic son and the neighbours of the farmer said, “What a stroke of bad luck! What a terrible loss!” The old farmer simply said, “We’ll see what happens.”
However, the pessimistic over-thinking son continued with his grumbling. He said, “Now that bad luck has struck us so badly, our crops will fail, we won’t be able to earn the money we need to see us through the year. This bad luck will also make us all sick and we will perish!”
The father looked at his gloom-ridden son and said, “Stop your nonsensical brooding and learn to be patient. We’ll see what happens.”
A few days later, the horse returned home. However, he did not return alone but brought along with him a herd of fine wild horses.
The pessimistic son and the farmer’s neighbours now said, “What a stroke of good luck!,” The old farmer simply said, “We’ll see what happens.”
The following morning, the pessimistic son threw a saddle on the back of one of the horses and climbed over the animal to take a ride. The horse neighed, reared, which means it stood on its hind legs with its forelegs off the ground, and threw the young man on the terrain breaking his leg.
Now, the injured pessimistic son and the neighbours of the farmer said, “What a stroke of bad luck! What a terrible loss!”
The son said, “I will have to walk with crutches for some more time which means I will not be able to work. We won’t have enough money and so we are all going to struggle for a living.” The old farmer simply said, “Be patient. We’ll see what happens.”
A few days later, the king of the land announced a state of emergency and passed an order that all young men would be drafted into the army since a powerful evil enemy was at the outskirts of their nation and was just about to invade. All the young men obeyed the king’s order, stopped whatever they were doing and rushed to take their positions to fight the invincible attacker.
The older brother and the farmer’s neighbours were overjoyed when they were informed by a soldier, who had come to collect the young men, that the pessimistic son of the farmer did not need to go to join the army. It was because he was injured and hence he was allowed to rest at home while the others marched into certain death at the hands of the mighty and brutal enemy.
The pessimistic son and the farmer’s neighbours now said, “What a stroke of good luck! The wild horse has in fact saved my life! Let us celebrate!”
The old farmer simply said, “Stay calm. We’ll see what happens.”
Both the times the pessimistic son had feared the worst, but whatever happened turned out to be in his favour.
His over-thinking did not help him in any way. Over-thinking clearly means thinking more than what is necessary. One might ask, ‘What then is necessary?”
Whatever the answer to the question is, it can be said that over-thinking always has a negative connotation to it. Over-thinking usually does not have a creative element to it but it most often has a pessimistic flavour.
Two common questions that ‘over-thinkers’ usually ask themselves are:
A. ‘What if things do not go the way I want?’
B. ‘What if I failed?’
The person soon goes deep into imagining all the negative things that they fear could happen should their project fail or not take place at all. Doing so, in fact, amounts to sowing seeds for a future containing all the undesirable elements that the person feared would happen! It could also mean suspecting close people or at least beginning to lose trust in them.
On the other hand, dreaming is much better than worrying because dreaming leads to creating new ideas and creations. Almost all human inventions are results of dreaming. Now try naming one positive advantage of over-thinking!
Over-thinking can lead to rifts in relationships or hinder people from executing their duties well because of wasting time on thinking unwanted things. Over-thinking usually comes from fear, which in turn stems from ego, and attachment to objects that they fear they might lose.
The simple story of the old farmer shows that life is a grand act that goes on all by itself anyway, but it is people, who with their expectations as well as interpretations of different events, complicate it and unnecessarily experience disturbing feelings such as fear, pain, anguish, jealousy, frustration and depression. This, however, is a rather tricky theory. One could ask, “So if things are happening all by themselves, why should I do anything at all? Won’t my monthly salary reach me even without me going to work?”
Now, let us take a look at what Krishna teaches about work in the Srimad Bhagavad Gita.
Srimad Bhagavad Gita Shloka SBG 3:04.
न कर्मणामनारम्भान्नैष्कर्म्यं पुरुषोऽश्नुते |
न च संन्यसनादेव सिद्धिं समधिगच्छति || ३ ४ ||
na karmaNaa-manaa-rambhaan- naishkarmyam purusho ‘shnute
na cha sannya-sanaa-deva siddhim samadhi-gacchati (SBG 3:04)
One cannot achieve freedom from reaction simply by not doing work and one cannot attain perfection merely by renouncing.
Srimad Bhagavad Gita 3:05
न हि कश्चित्क्षणमपि जातु तिष्ठत्यकर्मकृत् |
कार्यते ह्यवशः कर्म सर्वः प्रकृतिजैर्गुणैः || ३ ५ ||
na hi kash-chit-kshaNa-mapi jaatu thist-ha-thya-karma-krt
kaaryate hyavashaha karma sarvaha prakrti-jairguNaihi (SBG 3:05)
No one can remain inactive even for a single moment because of the qualities born of material nature (Prakriti).
Srimad Bhagavad Gita 3:08
नियतं कुरु कर्म त्वं कर्म ज्यायो ह्यकर्मणः |
शरीरयात्रापि च ते न प्रसिद्ध्येदकर्मणः || ३ ८ ||
niyatham kuru karma thvam karma jyaayo hya karmaNaha
shariira yaathraapi cha the na prasiddhye dakarmaNaha (SBG 3:08)
Do the duties prescribed for you because action is better than inaction. Even the maintenance of the body cannot be done without doing work.
Work should not and cannot be avoided. All kinds of work create Karma. KARMA is in fact, the EFFECT CAUSING ACTION done by people and also the EFFECT of the action. Well, everything that happens in life can be said to be a result of past Karma and whatever will happen in the future, either a continuation of remaining PAST KARMA or the result of new PRESENT KARMA.
Shloka SBG SBG 4:17 talks about the nature of action as described in the Vedas. They are Karma, Vikarma and Akarma, which mean Action, Forbidden Action and Inaction, respectively. Karma stands for all action and for work that is prescribed or rather, the duties of a person.
2. Vikarma is work that does not agree with that which has been prescribed.
3. Akarma is work or action done which has no reactions either because of renouncing all attachment to its fruit or because of doing it sincerely as a prescribed duty.
Krishna says that all actions done by people are actually done by their Gunas. Gunas cause action. Srimad Bhagavad Gita 3:27.
प्रकृतेः क्रियमाणानि गुणैः कर्माणि सर्वशः |
अहङ्कारविमूढात्मा कर्ताहमिति मन्यते || ३ २७ ||
prakrtehe kriyamaanaaNi gunaihi karmaaNi sarvashaha
ahankaara-vimuud-haathmaa karthaa-hamithi manyate (SBG 3:27)
All actions are done by the three Gunas or the qualities of nature. But he whose mind is deluded by false ego and arrogance, thinks “I am the doer”.
Srimad Bhagavad Gita 18:40
न तदस्ति पृथिव्यां वा दिवि देवेषु वा पुनः |
सत्त्वं प्रकृतिजैर्मुक्तं यदेभिः स्यात्त्रिभिर्गुणैः || १८ ४० ||
na tadasti pruthivyaam vaa divi deveshu vaa punaha
sattvam prakrutijair-muktam yadebhih syaat-tribhir-guNaihi (SBG 18:40)
There is neither on earth nor in celestial abodes, not even among deities, a being that is free from these three Gunas or qualities which are born of Nature.
How can Gunas cause action? The three Gunas, namely Sattvika, Rajasika, and Tamasika, and their different combinations create propensities in people and form their mental disposition.
The mental disposition of people created by the Gunas and their combinations creates the general attitude of people which determines the kind of action they perform and the Karma they collect.
Gunas, form the general nature and attitude of people according to which they act.
Gunas lead to Attitude which in turn leads to Action and Karma.
Everyone knows that a person’s attitude usually shows on their face and shapes their general appearance. A person’s countenance either attracts, does not attract, or repels people as well opportunities. Those who worry usually cannot hide the worried look on their face.
Those who are angry look angry.
People are normally not attracted to or impressed by those who are angry, sad, or do not look energetic, happy, and friendly.
If truth be told, worrying and complaining amount to being ungrateful for the blessings one has already been receiving.
What is most important to comprehend is that worrying, which is nothing but creating images of unpleasant and undesirable negative events that have not happened, changes nothing but only causes unwanted mental sufferings that mercilessly eat away the ever depleting wealth called ‘time on the planet.’ There is nothing creative about worrying, whereas, on the other hand, dreaming is highly creative. It is about creating images of positive, pleasing, and useful matters in the mind. Dreaming has certainly been a prime factor in human evolution and development. The positive images that are dreamt by a person have high chances of becoming reality.
But in the event they do not become reality, they at least make the dreaming person feel good and not miserable like the way the process of worrying so efficiently does. Complicating life is not at all necessary. Some simple Mind Management Steps that one could follow to dream constructively and set clear goals in life are:
1. With social responsibility as the chief guiding factor, dream and create images of the life you desire – starting with the ‘macro level’ or the overall picture from a broad perspective. When you think of the welfare of others, the entire natural system will surely support you.
2. Figure out a route to get to the situation in the ‘macro’ images.
3. Work on the means of travelling on the chosen route to get to the goal.
4. Start visualising details in the ‘micro-level’, or in other words, create mental images with finer details of the goal.
5. Tell yourself “It would be awesome if I could succeed, but if for some reason or the other I do not succeed, this would make me wiser and intellectually richer by adding one more great experience to my ever-growing treasure trove of personal learning experiences.”
6. Let go of all your attachments to whatever you wish to do, execute your work to the best of your ability, and do not bother or worry about what the outcome of your work might be.
Finally, always bear in mind that Life is happening NOW.
Your past is creating your present over which you have no control, but you can certainly ‘design’ your future through noble actions that are not selfish in nature but benefit society.
Worrying is of absolutely no use simply because doing so will not improve anything but only make you sad and scared apart from damaging your chances of a better future.
Over-thinking, Brooding, and Complaining use up the time that could be spent on visualisation and in investing for a bright future.
Whatever is happening now is a result of past Karma which cannot be changed but you can be careful in the present and create as well as control the future because your future depends on your present Karma.
Krishna says in SBG 18:57, “Using the Yoga of your intellect, dedicate all your actions to Me, have Me as your highest goal, devote yourself intensely to Me and you will always be under My protection. Be fully conscious of Me all the time.”
You will take no one or nothing with you when you leave, not even your own body but your Karma will surely go along with you. Strive to be a Karma Yogi by performing work with the welfare of society in mind and renouncing all attachment to the results of your work.
Be a Responsible Soul.
Whenever a negative thought creeps into your mind, simply look at it sarcastically through your mind’s eye, laugh at it and tell it, “Nice try,” and also that you have stopped worrying because doing so is nothing but sheer waste of your precious time.
Think, but never worry.
Dream, but never brood.
Don’t worry, be happy.