Radio 2 - Pause for Thought
17th October 1998
Good morning. Who today thinks that how you play the game is more important than winning? Never mind professional football, our local coach couldn’t pacify my six-year-old with such quaint words as he cried his eyes out having lost 4-1. And this week, I’m trying to convince my daughter of the same idea as she contemplates with dread her forthcoming school entrance exam.
She’s not the only one facing the test. In many ways, mine is harder. How do I maximise her chances of success – without becoming an OAF – an Over-anxious Father with unrealistic expectations for his children?
India’s scriptures recommend a combination of attention to detail in our efforts along with an attitude of detachment from the result. The philosophy behind this is that our own efforts are within our control, but the results aren’t. Life is so complicated that any outcome is the result of a myriad of incidental events – our own actions being just part of the equation. Even the best endeavour of a doctor to save a life; a businessman to make a profit; or a parent to raise a child may not in themselves yield the desired result.
That’s not to say that our actions are unimportant. Their value is in the quality of the effort. Why, because the universal law of karma judges us not on the final result, but on our application in all the activities of our life.
The danger is that, in our attachment to achieving our end goal, we justify using questionable means. For example:- an Oaf who forces his kids to succeed and fills them with a sense of despondent failure if they don’t? Or the political party which accepts dubious donations. Or Maradonna’s famous “Hand of God”. It may be that the result is achieved – maybe it would have been anyway. But, in karmic terms, we have simply decreased our good karma and simultaneously increased the amount of bad karma awaiting us in future.
Whatever we want to achieve, we should do it in a way that there is an overall increase in our stock of good karma. That means not only avoiding treading on others’ toes, but also positively helping them.
So, what are the exam tips for a parent with Oaf potential, but who is keen not to cause undue distress for his daughter. One:- inspire her to focus on doing her best without worrying how it all comes out. And Two:- be satisfied that whatever the result, there’s no loss – we’ve all gained from the exercise.
Oh, and three:- keep my fingers crossed!
© BBC This script was commissioned by the BBC for broadcast as “Pause for Thought” on Radio 2.