Verse 4.37: As a blazing fire turns firewood to ashes, O Arjuna, so does the fire of knowledge burn to ashes all reactions to material activities.
Motivation. It's the hidden catalyst behind everything we do. Whether we acknowledge those reasons or turn a blind eye to them, the fact remains, we are motivated beings.
Those motivations lead us to act which naturally bring some type of result; that is essentially what karma is all about.
This verse, however, indicates that there is a missing component to the karma equation. That component is intention.
The difference between motivation and intention is a subtle, but an important one. Whereas motivations deals with the reason or willingness to do something, intention reflects a specific purpose or attitude in performing an action.
It is the intention behind our actions that deems whether any karma is associated with it. An action in and of itself is neither good or bad. It is neutral. It is our intention that colours it.
Today's verse highlights the power of intention.
It also encourages us to do the inner work that is necessary. This begins by taking a good look at our motivations. Although we can try to change our intention without looking into our motivations, it can, sometimes be premature. Looking into the reasons why we do things, forces to face what we are looking for, whether it be validation, power, security, love, etc.
Personally, it is something I struggle with on a daily basis since it can be extremely confronting and disheartening. It's much more convenient to turn a blind eye to our motivations.
But turning a blind eye handicaps us. When we see the reason why we do things, we become aware of not only ourselves but why we behave in certain ways with certain people. From there, we can start to tangibly work on transforming our intentions.
Every week now, we are challenging ourselves to practically apply the Gita in our lives. This week's challenge is to take five minutes out of your day to reflect on one action you took and ask yourself why you acted the way you did. Feel free to leave your observations in the comments below!