What is desireless action?

Acharya Prashant
4 min readJan 4, 2020

What do you work for? You work for satisfaction. Call it ‘deep contentment’. You work for the sake of that. And therefore, work is never very satisfying because work to you is not the last thing. Work is just a middleman for the sake of a result. Therefore, work is just a necessary evil for you.

Had it been possible, you would have removed the work, the process, the time interval from between, and you would have said, “Is it possible to come directly to the result?” And that is why man wants to keep gaining in efficiency.

Man wants to keep gaining in efficiency.

Do you see what is this continuous movement towards more and more efficient processes, machines and systems? It is because man works for a purpose. It is because the work and the time invested in work is itself not very likable. So man says, “Minimize the work, and maximize the result.”

‘Nishkaam karma (desireless action)’ means — work is life.

Work is life, anyway.

Even when you think you are not working, you are actually working. So, no point fooling oneself with the effort to minimize work.

Even when you think you are having leisure, you ‘are’ actually working.

Therefore, why not work in a way that transcends work.

That is ‘nishkaam karma’.

Work cannot be avoided. Life is work. You are working even when you are sleeping, you are working even when you think you are relaxing. Why not choose work with such deep discretion that work does not remain a load that you have to reduce, work no more remains something that you want to outsource? Why not come to a situation where you are no longer seeking happiness in the reduction of work?

Have you seen how the common man celebrates when his work burden is reduced? That is ‘saakaam karma’ (desire-oriented action). Have you seen how students like to achieve results without working? Were it possible to achieve a hundred percent marks without labouring at all, students would have been the happiest. Because as a student, or as a worker, you find no joy in the process, for you joy is a destination. Mostly, for most people. That is ‘saakaam karma’.