A request and a disclaimer: Before you begin to read this blog, request you to first read the blogs titled ‘A curtain raiser to the blog series on karma yoga, The seed for karma yoga and the other blogs in this series’, as this sets the context for this series on karma yoga. For this blog series on karma yoga, I draw my learnings from the Bhagavad Gita Home Study book and a few other discourses of Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati. The language and explanations used by Pujya swAmiji is profound. I wish I do justice by aligning my understanding to his explanation, as I parallelly try to relate it to day to day living. Any error in the way I have blogged, is due to an error in my understanding alone. To understand and introspect further on this topic, I have chosen the dialogue mode – between two of my favorite characters – MAnvi and her thAthA.. Both of them have aged by a few more years. MAnvi has grown far more deep and wide in her spiritual journey; MAnvi’s thAthA knows that his contribution is a catalyst in this journey of hers.

MAnvi: thAthA, can we continue discussions on the topic of karma yoga? I thought I needed time to contemplate but more questions and thoughts arise in me and I think it is important for me to understand this deeper.

MAnvi’s thAthA nodded in acquiescence.

MAnvi: thAthA, many situations pan out in life. When they are unfavorable, sometimes I say, “Oh, maybe I needed to go thru this” and many times I ask, “Why me?”.

On the other hand, when situations are favorable, many times I say, “Well, I worked hard to get this” and some times I say, “Wonder why this good fortune!! I am not sure if I merit this.”

thAthA: As much as one thinks that life is unfair to them, when situations go abysmally wrong, one also wonders why life is so good to them, when situations are in favor of them. Interesting way to look at it, MAnvi.

MAnvi: thAthA, when a situation is unfavorable or favorable to us, some score is being settled or crossed (to signify that this is completed) respectively.

thAthA: Explain what you are saying, MAnvi.

MAnvi: Let me take each situation independently, thAthA. When I go thru’ unfavorable situations, I am going thru a period of pain, fear, anxiety etc. I tell myself that it is a situation that needs to be faced by me. I may learn to handle the emotions and move on. But in the period between when the situation happened and the time I moved on, it must have been tough. Maybe this tough period I am going thru because I did something that was not favorable to someone and I am going thru this tough period. I may not know what I had done or when I had done it but I have done something unfavorable to someone. This is the result of my own karma isn’t it? And somewhere some score is being settled.

On the other hand, when I go thru’ a favorable situation, it is indeed a joyful period. Moving on isn’t easy with all the positive emotions at play, and I wish I can stay in those emotions longer and longer. But life doesn’t stop for me. It moves on and so do I!! This joyful period is also the result of a karma that I have done, which was favorable to someone, is that right? And somewhere a score is being crossed as though to say that it is completed, thAthA..

So either a score is settled or a score is crossed. At the end of everyday, what needs to be settled and crossed has been done. The next day is a new day for another set of scores to be settled and crossed.

thAthA: Are you saying that everyday starts with a score board that shows only 0? This signifies that it is a fresh start, and you don’t resume where you left off the previous day?

MAnvi: Absolutely thAthA. The previous day’s account is closed and a fresh one for that day starts when I wake up. You know what may help?

  • Going to bed every night, after spending a few minutes, going over the favorable and the unfavorable moments of the day
  • Being aware that every day brings with it many favorable and unfavorable moments; and that some score is settled and some score is crossed
  • Considering oneself fortunate for having been given a day when one could do something favorable to some one (ethically of course!). This is storing some grace below my belt, because this may give the necessary strength to handle a situation that is unfavorable (some day, some time)
  • Look at those moments of pain and pleasure faced in a day as just scores.. They may not seem balanced for that day but the next day is a new scoreboard.

thAthA, somewhere the thought that the next day starts with a new scoreboard, makes me go to sleep with a hope. Be it pleasure or pain, at the end of the day I have exhausted those experiences. The next day brings with it, its own experiences of another set of favorable and unfavorable situations and with it, moments of pain and pleasure. They will be settled and crossed by the end of that day.

I wonder thAthA, if looking at every situation as scores to be settled or crossed, will help me take pleasure and pain with equanimity, as though they are one and the same.

thAthA: A very different dimension, MAnvi. I quite like the idea of spending time before going to bed, over the favorable and unfavorable situations that happened thru the day; every favorable situation experienced is a score crossed and every unfavorable situation experienced is a score settled.

MAnvi, this is what I call ‘Living life one day at a time.’

MAnvi had heard her thAthA making this statement ‘Living life one day at a time’ many times but only now understood its deeper meaning. Silence reigned between them as each of them were lost in their own thoughts.