Few things can package promise like a seed does. A seed smaller than a grain of sand can grow into a banyan tree that feeds and shelters several generations of birds and animals. The millions of tonnes of rice that feed us today, originated as seeds cultivated in China about 10,000 years ago.
Farming requires conditions that are just right – sufficient sunlight, a steady supply of water, the correct temperature and essential nutrients in the soil. A rice farmer’s duty is to facilitate the best conditions for the plant, under several constraints. She controls some of those conditions – she may till the land, water the saplings or enrich the soil. But she has limited control over the vagaries of the weather or the attack of a pest.
Once she has done everything in her grasp, the farmer waits. Several factors that she does not govern can influence the outcome of her labour. She is not the creator of that outcome. She is merely its custodian.
Every moment given to us is filled with possibility, just like the seed of a banyan tree or a grain of rice. We only control a few of inputs we can bring to these moments in our life, and not their outcomes. Investing our best efforts in doing so becomes our dharma. It is this principle that the Bhagavad Gita illustrates in its iconic statement – कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन, translated as “You have a right to perform your prescribed duties, but you are not entitled to the fruits of your actions.”