Practices of Yoga - Karma (Action)

Lesson 8/16 | Study Time: 10 Min
Practices of Yoga - Karma (Action)

Para-Vidya is simply for acquiring information, but more importantly, for putting that information to use by translating it into action, and into practice. Because Para-Vidya or the science of Yoga is a practical science that is to be applied in living your life. There should be the desire and the determination to start applying the instructions contained in the science of Yoga to your own life and conduct—to your mental actions and verbal actions, as well as to your outer physical actions. It is the practice that will ultimately bring the fruits of your knowledge in the form of a rare experience including Self-realization that nothing else in this world can.

1. Karma Yoga

Karma means action or deed. Any physical or mental action is Karma. Thinking is mental Karma. Karma is the total of our acts, both in the present life and in the preceding births. Karma means not only action but also the result of an action. There is a hidden power in Karma or action termed 'Adrishta' (unseen) which brings in fruits of Karmas for the individual. The consequence of an action is not a separate thing. It is a part of the action and cannot be divided from it.

According to the Gita, any action done with Nishkamya Bhava (without seeking any favor) is Karma. Lord Krishna says: "Work incessantly. You must work but not expect the fruits thereof." The central teaching of the Gita is non-attachment to work. Breathing, eating, seeing, hearing, thinking, etc., are all Karmas. Thinking is the real Karma. Raga-dvesha (likes and dislikes) constitute real Karma. The Doctrine of Karma forms an integral part of Vedanta. The Law of Karma is one of the fundamental doctrines not only in Hinduism but also in Buddhism and Jainism. As a man sows, so he shall reap. This is the Law of Karma. It expounds on the riddle of life and the riddle of the universe. It brings solace, satisfaction, and comfort to one and all. It is a self-evident truth.

A close study of this law encourages the hopeless man, to the desperate and ailing. Destiny is created by man's thoughts, habits, and character. There is every chance for his correction and improvement by changing his thoughts and habits. The scoundrel can become a saint; the prostitute can become a chaste lady; a beggar can become a king. This mighty law provides for all this. The Doctrine of Karma only can explain the mysterious problem of good and evil in this world. The Doctrine of Karma only can bring solace, contentment, peace, and strength to the afflicted and the desperate. It solves our difficulties and problems in life. It encourages the hopeless and the forlorn. It pushes a man to the right thinking, right speech, and right action. It brings a brilliant future for that man who lives according to this universal law. If all people understand this law correctly and discharge their daily duties carefully, they would rise to sublime heights on the ladder of spirituality. They will be moral and virtuous and have a happy, peaceful, contented life. They can bear the burden of Samsara with patience, endurance, and strength of mind. There will not be any room for complaint when they see the inequalities in birth, fortune, intelligence, capacities, etc. There will be heaven on earth. All will rejoice even in suffering. Greed, jealousy, hatred, anger, and passion will vanish. Virtue will reign everywhere. We will have a glorious Satya Yuga now with peace and plenty everywhere. Blessed is the man who understands and lives in the Law, for he will soon attain God-consciousness and become one with the Law-giver! Then the Law will no longer operate on him.

Karma Yoga is the consecration of all actions and their fruits unto the Lord. Karma Yoga is the performance of actions dwelling in union with the Divine, removing attachment and remaining balanced ever in success and failure. Karma Yoga is selfless service unto humanity. Karma Yoga is the Yoga of action that purifies the heart and prepares the Antahkarana (the heart and the mind) for the reception of Divine Light or attainment of Knowledge of the Self. The important point is that you will have to serve humanity without any attachment or egoism. The action of some kind or the other is unavoidable. You cannot keep quiet without doing anything. What binds you to phenomenal existence or Samsara is not the action but the idea of doer ship and enjoyer ship. Karma binds when it is done with a selfish motive, with the expectation of fruits. But when action is done without the expectation of fruits, it is liberating. Work unselfishly. Feel that you are only an instrument and that the Lord is working through you. Surrender the actions and their fruits to the Lord. You will be freed from the bonds of Karma and enjoy peace. The practice of Karma Yoga prepares the aspirant for the reception of knowledge of the Self. It makes him a proper Adhikari (aspirant) for the study of Vedanta. Ignorant people jump at once into Jnana Yoga, without first having preliminary training in Karma Yoga. That is the reason why they fail miserably to realize the Truth. The mind is filled with likes and dislikes, jealousy, etc. Selfless service is the only way to remove the impurities lurking in the mind. One thing that is an indispensable requisite in the practice of Karma Yoga is that the Karma Yogi should have non-attachment to the fruits of actions. He will have to dedicate his actions to God with the feeling of Ishvararpana. Non-attachment brings freedom from sorrow and fear. Non-attachment makes a man bold and fearless.