A few days back a friend asked me if it was possible to work without motive as suggested by the Gita.
There are several stages in the path prescribed in the Gita.
A person who is lazy and does not have any motivation to work, has to work with a motive. He should have aims in life like to become rich, secure, famous and enjoy luxuries of life. While doing so, he should take care to stick to righteousness.
When a person keeps working with a motive, there will come a time when he finds that the ends for which he is toiling is actually not worth much. It is at this stage that the philosophy of “work without motive” comes. He has to work, but without eyeing at the fruits.
When a person keeps working without motive, there will come a time when he finds that it is not he that really does that work. It is as if an invisible power makes him do what he does. This is when the philosophy of “giving up the doership of action” comes.
In the first two stages, the doctrine of Karma, the concept of free-will, etc are all applicable. In the third stage, the philosophy that “everything is predestined” applies. It is a gradual process of discovery of the Ultimate Truth.
Now how do I know which stage I am in and what philosophy should I apply to my life?
If this question arises, I am not in stage 3. For a person in stage 3, this question will not arise at all. This stage comes out of experience and not effort.
If I work enthusiastically, if I have strong likes and dislikes, if I am anxious about success and failure, if I can give a list of achievements in life, I am in stage 2.
If I am not motivated to work, if I keep complaining about work, if I do not have any remarkable achievements in life, I am in stage 1.