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It was a pleasant evening of  summer vacation in 1996. We were playing cricket as usual. We were about 15-16 boys and kids of our colony. Few of us were in teens, me and my friend used to lead and divide team and lead them to play against each other. My friend – an all-rounder – was a very sincere, serious and fully dedicated to the tasks given and therefore respected by all friends alike. I knew his this nature because we were together in NCC too. This event happened 20+ years back. Yet I remember the day, because it taught me about work, games and spirituality. Though it took me 20+ years to learn the lesson.

That day in the very first match of 6 overs, we’re all out at 8 runs score. This was the first match for evening, my team discussed to lose this match and we will play next better. We’d given up even before beginning our bowling. I took the first over, and bowled slow delivery to my friend. He understood our thought process, instead of playing the ball, he caught the ball and threw it at me angrily. He said – if you want to play, play seriously! If you dont, either I or my team wont continue playing with you guys. Go back bowl like you would otherwise!

Actually it hurt my ego. I felt humiliated and realized that they too deserve a fair play. So, this time around – knowing that we are going to lose – I bowled the best I could. In first over we took 4 wickets and gave away 2-3 runs. Our team size used to be 7-8 mostly. So, we realized we are in the game! But the problem was – my friend was still on the crease and we had weak alternative bowlers. We’d no chance, I gave the ball to my bowler and went to field at boundary (long on).

I don’t know what was going on in my friends mind, whether it was his overconfidence or desperation to finish the game quickly he hit a big shot. I ran like mad to catch and jumped to catch the ball, bruised myself but my friend was out. This was the moment – similar to Sachin Tendulkar’s wicket in 90’s for Australia – we realized even with 8 runs score and 29 balls spare, we can win. It was just a matter of few more balls and we won.

The lesson

I learnt a lesson when I was reprimanded to immense humiliation. Though I could comprehend the learning only now when I read an interpretation of Bhagavad Gita Chapter 4, shloka 22 by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (Guruji). A friend of mine from The art of living shared this interpretation with me. I am sharing a select part of the message which can help identify inference.

यदृच्छालाभसन्तुष्टो द्वन्द्वातीतो विमत्सर: |

सम: सिद्धावसिद्धौ च कृत्वापि न निबध्यते || 4.22||

yadṛichchhā-lābha-santuṣhṭo dvandvātīto vimatsaraḥ

samaḥ siddhāvasiddhau cakṛitvāpi na nibadhyate (4.22)

“Being free of jealousy, having that equanimity of mind, Arjuna, do your job!”

…When you don’t think whether you will succeed or not, you will be able to give your hundred percent. Often it is the result which makes you not give your hundred percent… If you know you are going to lose, then you will not be sincere about playing the game... When you don’t worry whether you win or lose, or you don’t even consider its effect, you give your hundred percent, that is really playing, that is a real game.

“It is the same with work. Work has to be like a game.”

A yogi considers even his work as a game, so be a yogi. Yogi means ‘one who does things in perfection.’ Every little thing he does will be perfect because he has that equanimity of mind. Only when you consider your work as a game, can you ever be detached about whether it is going to be successful or not. It doesn’t matter anyway.

My friend taught me the above lesson – I learnt and understood that lesson recently.