The fruitive activities one performs in this world, whether according to social norms or Vedic standards, give different results. Again, by experiencing the fruits of those labors, one creates new sets of activities and their concomitant results, which in turn give rise to newer sets of activities and their results. All these activities and their results cannot automatically be labeled karma-yoga. We can see that the process of performing fruitive actions and experiencing their results is like a mammoth tree sprouting endless branches and twigs. Can the performer of actions who experiences the endless fruits of that mammoth tree ever enjoy peace and benediction? No. Therefore it is said, "In the dispensation of providence, mankind cannot have any rest." Even in this lifetime, one who performs fruitive work is totally entangled in the cycle of karma as he sits on the tree of material existence. As a result, the soul must enter 8,400,000 species and suffer the threefold miseries, never finding any rest or peace.
Yet people find it impossible to renounce fruitive activities. Even the so-called sannyāsīs who make a show of renouncing such activities must still perform many activities, at least to relieve their hunger. Śrīpāda Śaṅkarācārya, seeing the condition of the sannyāsīs during his time, commented, "One takes on many different garbs just to fill one's stomach." And trying to give up all activities is no solution. When Śrī Arjuna, a warrior, wanted to forsake his duty of fighting a war, the Supreme Lord, Kṛṣṇa, advised him, "Perform your prescribed duty, for doing so is better than not working. One cannot even maintain one's physical body without work." (Bhagavad-gītā 3.8)
A person should never give up his prescribed duty without scriptural authorization, for this will cause chaos in the world. Since it is impossible to maintain the body without activities, it is impossible to totally renounce activities. On the other hand, the tree of material entanglement, which thrives on fruitive activities and their results, can never bring forth any hope for peace. It is for this reason that the Supreme Lord has explained how one is to perform activities:
Work done as a sacrifice for Viṣṇu has to be performed; otherwise work binds one to this material world. Therefore, O son of Kuntī, perform your prescribed duties for His satisfaction, and in this way you will always remain free from bondage. (Bhagavad-gītā 3.9)
It is another kind of "dispensation of providence" when the fruits of actions do not bind one. To perform all activities only as a sacrifice for the satisfaction of Lord Viṣṇu is true freedom from the results of activities, or the real art of karma-yoga. Through this process of karma-yoga one is freed from the shackles of fruitive results and one's inherent eternal loving devotion for the Supreme Lord gradually manifests. This type of karma-yoga is also referred to as desireless actions, or naiṣkarmya, or in other words activities performed without expectation of any sense gratification. One who works in this way offers all the results of his actions to the Supreme Lord instead of enjoying them himself.