Cultivating The Karma Yoga Attitude To Life

Doing karma, engaging in action, is inevitable for anyone. If that be so, how about using karma as an instrument of yoga? Karma yoga offers this option. The term ‘karma yoga’ is used often by different people differently. A rich businessman, who is busy making money for self and family, claims that he is doing karma yoga. Some people think that doing your duty without expecting any reward is karma yoga. But this is not the whole story. Is it possible for an average person who has a family to support and desires to fulfill, to be doing karma yoga?

Let’s see karma yoga from the perspective of attitude. What is the karma yoga attitude to work and why is it so important? The Bhagwad Gita says that karma yoga does not only mean detachment to the outcome — karma yoga has six tenets:

1.Whatever activity we do should not be against the normally accepted socio-ethical code of conduct of a society. Not deceiving people, not appropriating anyone else’s rights, not harming others. are all part of this. Even if such a code is not spelt out anywhere, it means ‘Do not do unto others what you would not want them to do unto you.’

2. Whatever role we have chosen to play in life or which God has given to us should be performed most diligently, without any laxity and with utmost care. Any role that is performed either as an officer, spouse, parent, or student, should be performed with full diligence. Neglect of one’s own duty is not permitted.

3.Our focus should be mainly on the present activity at hand and not on the fruits which that action is likely to bring for us. If a cricket player keeps one eye on the scoreboard always, his game of cricket will surely be spoilt. The anxiety for result spoils the quality of work inputs and such a work does not qualify as karma yoga. That does not mean that fruits will not come. Any action done with diligence is bound to give us good results, but we do not have to be obsessive about fruits. Our job is to focus on the activity.

4.Acceptance of whatever results come as God’s prasad (blessings). Despite doing our best, if results are not as per our expectation one should still accept them by understanding that the results of any effort are not decided only by present karma but have links with past karma too.

5.Absence of sense of doer-ship or ego. If extraordinary results come then also we must not have ego or feeling of ‘I did it’. We must remember that many factors, many people are responsible for our success. Parents, teachers, co-workers, family, society, God –all have played a role in making you perform so well in life.

6.Share whatever fruits you have got in life with all others, whether it is money, knowledge or credit. Appropriating selfishly all that God has given to us is against the concept of karma yoga. Most religions prescribe that a certain portion of one’s income to be spent on charity.

In short, any activity done without ‘selfishness’, ‘carelessness’ and without ‘ego’, can become a karma yoga – a state of blissful action. Such an attitude in everything we do is the karma yoga attitude to life. Karma yoga makes our life happy and contended. And in the long run, it bestows on us purity of mind, which paves the way for true knowledge and ultimate liberation.

Source : Dr Hasmukh Adhia –


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