Renouncing the Fruits

I can feel the cool mornings waning… I’ll miss them when they go. I used to absolutely hate the cold until I trained myself to love it (mindfulness can do anything) and now it’s my favorite to bundle up against the chill and feel a sharp wind on my cheeks while I work and warm up from the inside.


Last fall I planted a few hundred delphiniums into these rows. A big portion of the transplants didn’t make it, so last week I did it again.

Farming is humbling like that.

I’m grateful for the reminder that what happens isn’t up to me—that my hours of labor might be for nothing. Because the work might be for nothing, I have an obligation to be present with the labor itself and to enjoy that, because the labor itself will become the sum of my life.

The results—whether or not the transplants ultimately survive—don’t belong to me. The act of planting today does. I have an obligation to fully live these moments, all of them, regardless of what might happen and even when I am uncomfortable, because these moments are everything I have.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna instructs Arjuna (the warrior hero of the myth) to “renounce the fruits” of his actions. From Chapter 5:

One who neither hates nor desires the fruits of his activities is known to be always renounced… Though always working, such a man is never entangled… whereas a person who is greedy for the fruits of his labor, becomes entangled.

When we plant, we might hope for a healthy crop as a reward for our hard work. But if we rest everything on the outcome—if we only plant for the hope of the reward and not for the joy of planting itself, we will suffer when at some inevitable point the plants are taken. 

Eventually everything is taken. 

I don’t see that as depressing anymore; I see it as an opportunity to celebrate what’s here right now.

On this day, what was “right here right now” was another few hundred delphinium plugs that needed planting. So I planted them, and I enjoyed the day, and maybe one day soon they’ll reward us with blooms—or not. 

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