Right Effort

By Osho Shailendra, Posted on Aug 1, 2009

Work with all sincerity, but accept the result with gratitude. Work with joy to achieve the goal, but do not expect that result will always be as per your desire. This is Sam Vyayam or Right Effort or Right Acceptance, one of the constituents of the Eight Fold Path of Lord Buddha. 

Right effort is a subtle balancing between two extremes- lethargy and straining. Neither be too lazy, nor too hard a worker. Then it becomes an effortless effort. It becomes a joy, as children playing with their friends, as a painter creating a painting, a poet writing poetry, a singer singing out of inner urge, a dancer dancing out of joy. Then work becomes worship.

I learned this art of joyful effort and thankful acceptance of result in my early childhood. Living in a big joint family helped me a lot. In a small family it is possible to fulfill the desires of a single child, but in a combined family it is not feasible. One child wants one kind of food, another likes something different. It is not practicable for parents to provide everything which they demand. My father was a cloth merchant. He would call the tailor and give him the fabric of his choice, for preparing the clothes for all the children-same design, same color, same pattern for each one of us. The tailor never took measurements. He said, “There is no need. I shall make shirts and pants of different sizes- small, medium, large, extra large; later on you can select which one fits whom.” We also did not bother about finer details. We accepted whatever the tailor had made. My father often told us, “What we wear is less important, how gracefully and thankfully we put our garments on, is more important. What we eat is less significant, how sensitively we enjoy our meal is more significant. We may not be always able to control the food we get, but we can always be the master of our mood.” 

 I still have the same habit, that whatsoever food, dress or anything else is provided to me by my wife, Osho Priya, I enjoy it. Surprisingly everything is so beautiful, ordinary meals are so delicious, small jobs are so satisfying, and our whole life is so much full of contentment at each moment that I really wonder why people keep on complaining? Every small thing just taking tea is a celebration. I do my work with great pleasure. Work itself is so rewarding, who cares about the result? Of course results do come on their own accord. When we are sowing the seeds and taking care of plants with joy, love, sincerity, and playfulness; is it necessary to become serious, anxious, and worried about the fruits? Is our miserable mind anyway helpful in bringing the fruits early?

Zen Masters say in a haiku:

Sitting silently,

Doing nothing,

The spring comes,

And the Grass Grows by itself.

This is exactly Niskam Karma Yoga  of Lord Krishna, who says in Bhagwad-gita:

Karmanyewadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadachana

Ma Karmaphalheturbhu Ma Sangostav Karmani.

That means:

You have right to carry out the work as you wish, but you do not have right to get the furtive results of your choice. So do not insist for getting the results right now as per your objective. However, you have to continue your work further to get your objective and commitment fulfilled.

The statement of Lord Krishna has unfortunately not been properly understood by the masses. It is better that we discuss this a little more.

Every action has three aspects:

1)    The objective of the action, which is always in the future,

2)    Duty or Karmanya is to be done in the present, and

3)    The result of the action is always in the past.


Lord Krishna says to remember the objective of the action, begin with the end in mind. But whenever result comes, immediately it becomes a matter of the past. So learn a lesson from it and be free from the past. We have the right to mould the present only by discharging our duty efficiently and playfully. We have no control or right to past or future. That’s why Krishna’s life story is called Leela, a non serious play, or transcendental pastimes.


He further exalts that we should accept results as a gift of God, rather than our own possession. This will facilitate us in living with acceptance.

Living with Acceptance: Right effort leads to Tathata or living in suchness,acceptance, and gratitude to the Existence. It means no complaint, no condemnation. 

It has three stages:


The first stage is that I am the doer of the action. I have got some objective in my mind. But I know that the results may be according to my objective or may be just opposite to it. But I will accept it, since it is not dependent upon me only. There are multiple factors which influence the outcome of our efforts.


The second stage is that of course I am the doer. I also have some objective in my mind. But I do not know what is good for me. So, whatever happens is best for me. The result may be as per desired objective or contrary to it, it is always good for me; it is a gift from the Existence, from God. I shall receive it with gratitude.

Osho puts it in such sweet words:

  • “…Therefore, I leave myself entirely to your pleasure. I cannot choose for myself for I am ignorant and stand in darkness… I have no means to test the authenticity of my path. What shall I do? I surrender myself at thy feet – thy will be done… I sit at Your command, I stand at Your command; whatever I do is Your command… What pleases You, is best for me. The path You choose, is the path for me. In Your will lies my salvation. I shall not care to choose, lead me where You please. If it is Your will that I should wander, then that is the path for me. If it is Your will to leave me in darkness then I shall take it to be the light for me. (The True Name, Vol-1,Chapter 8)

The third stage is that I do not choose even my actions. Whatever comes to me, it comes through you. Not only result, but also the actions come from you. Not only for the results, but also for the duties assigned to me, I remain always grateful to you. This is the highest of Tathata or suchness in Buddhist terminology, Samarpan or surrender in Hindu terminology, and in Christian parlance- "Thy will be done"… the last words of Christ on the cross!

Surrender to God’s will is the greatest decision one can take.

One of my nephews, Maitreya, is suffering from a congenital heart disease, mental retardation, grandmal epilepsy, and the inability to speak. He gets irritated very easily and becomes violent many times in a day. He does not understand the rules of society, morality, manners, etiquette, etc. Although unable to speak the normal language, but all the time he keeps on talking loudly in his own meaningless gibberish and few symbolic sounds. Whatever he disers, he wants to get it immediately. If his need is not satisfied, he starts shouting, throwing things, hitting people. He is physically weak, but becomes very energetic during such tantrums; even four strong persons can’t control or hold him. He can not go to sleep and does not take meals till his desire is fulfilled. Such fits of temper occur almost daily.

It’s quite difficult to live and adjust with a mentally ill person like Maitreya. Unexpectedly he may go crazy, he may destroy anything. He is five years younger than I am. He often destroyed my school notes, text books, toys, paintings, pens, etc. Somehow, this proved to be a blessing in disguise. Gradually I learned to accept his mad behavior. Looking at his miserable life full of demands, anger, violence, all the family members felt pity for him. In my subconscious, desires and misery became synonymous. More demands, more unhappiness, less wishes, less despair.

 I became very accommodating, accepting, cooperating, and learned patience, tolerance, serenity, tranquility and dropped expectations. I may have just finished a painting, and the next moment it may be thrown into the water. I learned to enjoy while painting, without thinking about the future, which was always uncertain. In fact, the future is always uncertain, Maitreya’s mad behavior made it clear to me. Even the greatest pieces of art were thrown into the water or garbage bins one day. Normally the process takes a long time, many years. My nephew did it quickly, that was the only difference. This was the great lesson for me- I am the master of enjoying the work while doing it, but I can not have control over results. I am thankful to Maitreya. By teaching this small lesson, he made my life full of fragrance of desirelessness and deep acceptance.

Living in Osho’s Ashram in Pune, India, and in Oregon, America was also a great opportunity to strengthen the feeling of Acceptance. Osho created so many devices in his communes, to develop the art of suchness. They may look illogical to the outsiders. But life is such! It is beyond logic. It is beyond mind. Suchness is the stepping stone to take a quantum leap from mind to the state of NO MIND known as Samadhi.

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