Do you wish for more time for your spiritual pursuits? What if you could feel more connected to your inner self and grow spiritually even as you continued doing your everyday work?
Sound too good to be true?
Karma Yoga is the tried and proven method that does exactly this.
Karma means “action” and yoga comes from the Sanskrit root word, yuj which means “to unite.”
Any path or means to quiet the mind and re-connect (unite) with the Self within you is called a yoga.
Karma Yoga has nothing to do with yoga postures, or the law of karma.
It’s the art of doing right actions with the right attitude.
The Right Actions
The spiritual masters of Vedanta tell us that there are three types of actions. From the lowest to the highest, they are: prohibited actions, selfish actions and our duties.
Avoid—Prohibited actions: Prohibited actions are actions that bring sorrow to ourselves and to others. They are generally considered as sinful actions such as lying, cheating, stealing, and the like. They backfire as negative reactions (pain and sorrow) to the doer of those actions. These should be totally avoided.
Gradually reduce—Actions prompted by selfish desires that are not prohibited: These are actions that we do for personal pleasure and entertainment such as indulging in our favourite foods, watching sports, listening to music and so on.
Must Do— Duties: Duties come to us as part and parcel of our roles and relationships with others such as being a parent, an employer or employee, resident in a community or citizen of a nation.
Most of these duties are done daily, but we may also be called to perform occasional duties. For instance, you may need to visit someone at the hospital, attend a funeral or a wedding. Or, you may need to fulfill your duties as a volunteer at an annual fundraising event for your favorite charity or do jury duty.
Since duties are done for others, they help to lessen our selfish tendencies, and cleanse our mind of impurities such as anger, greed, jealousy and conceit. In other words, they help us grow spiritually. This is the reason why daily and occasional duties must never be neglected.
Doing your duties is only one part of Karma Yoga. The other important component is the right attitude. The right attitude is the key to growing spiritually.
In Karma Yoga attitude you do your duties…
- efficiently to the best of your ability
- without personal likes and dislikes
- without craving for either material or intangible rewards. Tangible rewards are money, power, position, gifts and favors. Intangible rewards are praise, admiration and appreciation from others.
You simply do your duties to the best of your ability and that’s that. Your actions are guided by what you know is right and ought to be done. The only reward that you seek is the satisfaction of doing the right job in the right way.
Towards even greater growth and Joy
Doing your duties with the right attitude brings inner growth. To gain joy from your work, you can infuse your duties with love for the people, cause, company, organization, community or nation that you do them for.
There’s one more thing I’d like to share with you—If your duties are lovingly dedicated to God, the divine Cause or Universe, they bring you even greater joy and satisfaction.
Since we gain our abilities and faculties from that divine Source, It alone is the enabler and the real doer of our actions. Therefore, we offer all our actions to It with feelings of gratitude and surrender.
There is a special Sanskrit prayer that you can chant when offering your actions. You can listen to me chanting it and follow along. The words and meaning are below.
kaayena vaachaa manasendriyair vaa
buddhyaatmanaa vaa prakriteh svabhaavaat
karomi yadyat sakalam parasmai
narayanayeti samarpayaami—Shrimad Bhagavatam 11.2.36
It means, Whatever I do with my body, speech, mind, sense organs or intellect and ego due to my own nature, I offer it all to the Supreme Lord.
Narayana is a Hindu name for the ultimate cause of the universe. You can substitute it with any divine name that you revere. The idea is to break down our ego by surrendering everything that we do to that higher power.
Kaayena – by the body
vaachaa – by the speech
manas – by the mind
endriyair – by the senses
vaa – or
buddhy – intellect
aatmanaa – my own ego
vaa – or
prakriteh svabhaavaat – as a result of my own nature
karomi – I do
yadyat – whatever
sakalam – all
parasmai – to the supreme Lord
narayana – the Supreme Lord
iti – thus
samarpayaami – I offer
Surrendering all your actions to the higher power is how you can use your work to grow spiritually and gain happiness in life.
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