Excerpts from God Talks with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita
by Paramahansa Yogananda
O Arjuna, as the ignorant perform actions with attachment and hope of reward, so the wise should act with dispassionate nonattachment, to serve gladly as a guide for the multitudes.
—The Bhagavad Gita III:25
The Gita repeatedly warns man against egoistic attachment to the changing scenes of life, since
attachment is the root cause of all human suffering.
Working because of an attachment becomes a necessity; and when that necessity is not fulfilled, man experiences misery. Yet, the question in the ordinary man's mind is: "What is the sense in working without desire or attachment? It must be insipid to work without an incentive!"
The answer lies in a consideration of the things we do for pleasure, without thought of gain or fame. It is so much more enjoyable when one makes a garden of flowers and takes infinite pains just to satisfy a hobby than when he is compelled to tend that garden in order to eke out a living.
The material man takes life seriously and makes it full of worries, sorrow, and tragedy. The divine man makes life an enjoyable game. The desire-infested man is full of mental ups and downs and mind-corroding moods, while the desireless yogi is evenly happy although he is variously active. (bg p.388)
The wise man, remembering that he is made in the image of God, does not act miserably, like the ignorant materialist, but acts in happy detachment. Acts of creation are not necessary for the perfection of an already perfect God. Creation, therefore, is a "hobby" of God. He is blissful with it or without it. All His children must learn to work in the world with that same divine attitude of nonchalant interest. As a boy builds a playhouse and then tears it down, just to be busy playing, so man should keep busy in the world but be indifferent to all material changes—even to the destruction of his work by divine ordinance.
This does not mean that a poor man should not try to be prosperous nor that a restless man should not try to be calm, nor that a sick man should not try to be healthy. But man should look after his body and seek prosperity and mental health without any consequent violent agitation within. Jesus advised his followers to take no heed for their bodies, not to trouble about what they should eat or wear. He knew that they must feed and clothe themselves, even as he himself did, but he wanted them to understand that the way to supreme happiness lies in doing necessary material duties without attachment.
Only fools take life so seriously
that they are constantly hurt.
The wise look upon childhood, youth, old age, life, and death as passing dramas; hence everything entertains them.
When one becomes momentarily identified with a tragic picture, he feels miserable; but when he realizes that it is only a part of an entertaining variety show, he feels happy.
God wants man to behold the changing pictures of personal and worldly life as a sort of variety entertainment. Often at the end of a plotful melodrama the audience feels: "That was a good picture!" (bg p.387)