I read an online article recently about something called KARMA YOGA. This article was very … um… la-la-land-ish, but overall, I really liked the concept. From the article: “I understand why spiritual people give to the poor. Giving means selfless action. Giving for the sake of love. Selfless action is a direct path to becoming one with God. It brings the highest peace and happiness. Giving does not mean loosing anything. Giving means diving into an ocean of Love and bliss.” An OCEAN of love and bliss. That’s nice.
So how can we go about doing our Karma Yoga in order to have this ‘ocean of love and bliss’ available to us? Let’s break it down. The word karma is derived from the Sanskrit kri, meaning ‘to do’. In its most basic sense karma simply means action, and yoga translates to union. Thus karma yoga literally translates to the path of union through action. However, in Vedantic philosophy the word karma means both action and the effects of such action. Karma yoga is described as a way of acting, thinking and willing by which one orients oneself toward realization by acting in accordance with one’s duty (dharma) without consideration of personal self-centered desires, likes or dislikes. One acts without being attached to the fruits of one’s deeds. A good summary of this theistic view of karma is expressed by the following: “God does not make one suffer for no reason nor does He make one happy for no reason. God is very fair and gives you exactly what you deserve.
Karma is not punishment or retribution but simply an extended expression or consequence of natural acts. Karma means “deed” or “act” and more broadly names the universal principle of cause and effect, action and reaction, that governs all life. The effects experienced are also able to be mitigated by actions and are not necessarily fated. That is to say, a particular action now is not binding to some particular, pre-determined future experience or reaction; it is not a simple, one-to-one correspondence of reward or punishment. Karma is not fate, for humans act with free will creating their own destiny. According to the Vedas, if one sows goodness, one will reap goodness; if one sows evil, one will reap evil.
Karma Yoga is a form of giving whereby you are not attached to the fruit of your actions. Your actions are not for your own personal benefit or for receiving anything in return. It is a sacrifice of self, time and effort for others. Although the actions are performed without any attachment to GAIN from those actions, you ARE gaining tremendous spiritual wealth and happiness. And shouldn’t that be enough? A lot of us spend time trying to ensure that we have a healthy body and a healthy mind. Whether we believe in traditional “Karma” or we think that if we aren’t good, God will strike us down, helping those in need is simply the RIGHT THING TO DO. Meditate on that 🙂