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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Karma Yoga - The Yoga Of Selfless Service

By Michael Russell

The Definition of Karma

Karma is the sum of all our acts, both present and past. It is not only action, but the result thereof. It is important to understand that all actions have results, not only in the material plane but also in the spiritual world. Even though, as a result of a wicked action, one gets pleasure in this life, one will have to pay the penalty for that action in a future one and the cosmic law is the law of balance - as you sow, you shall reap. There is a hidden power in Karma called 'Adrishta', which causes the individual to be affected by the fruits of Karma.

What Makes Up Karma

Man has a threefold nature. He is composed of Iccha, which is desire or feeling, Jnana, which is knowing and Kriya, which is willing. These three make up a man's Karma. Desire, thought and action are all components, which make up the thread of a person's Karma. Karma is the fruit of desire, thought and action and can cause either pleasure or pain. The truth is that it takes multiple incarnations to reap the fruits of a person's Karma. It is only after all the negative fruit have been reaped, that a person can achieve consciousness of the Godhead in this life and union with the Godhead after death, not having to suffer any more incarnations. This state yogis call Samadhi.

What Karma Yoga Is

Karma Yoga is the devotion of all actions and their results to the Lord, in whatever way you picture Him/Her. It is the Yoga of being conscious of the Divine while doing all actions, realizing that all everything comes from the Lord and is of the Lord. It is not being attached to the results of action and being in equanimity whether the results of your actions are successful or not.

It is practiced by serving humanity selflessly and is action, which purifies the Antahkarana (the heart and mind) in preparation for achieving consciousness of the Divine. Karma Yoga is service without attachment or egoism.

Although all actions cause Karma and all actions on the material plane are made up of both good and bad Karma, you cannot avoid Karma by doing nothing at all. What causes bad Karma is egoistic actions, done with the idea of achieving personal benefit. Action done without the idea of benefit is liberating, producing good Karma. Action done with the consciousness of the actor being an instrument of the Lord, as being a part of Nature's cosmic activity, is liberating. Karma produced this way becomes Karma Yoga. It frees you from the bonds of Karma and allows you to enjoy peace. It prepares the yogi for knowledge of the Divine.

Karma Yoga allows the yogi to be a better Adhikari (spiritual aspirant), a better student of the Holy Scriptures (Vedanta). Unless the heart and mind are pure, study (or Jnana Yoga) becomes a vehicle for empty debate. This debate has more to do with the egoism of the debaters, than any sincere desire to get at absolute truth. Impure persons might know the scriptures, but the scriptures remain on the lips; they are not taken to heart. It is only through selfless service that the aspirant can purify the mind enough to properly understand and fully take to heart the Holy Scriptures of Vedanta.