Karma Yoga

Whenever we make a decision at our workplace, select eatables from a menu in a restaurant, or pick our attire for the day in the morning, we perform karma. We have full right over our karma, and God guarantees this entitlement in Hindu thought. However, what happens as a consequence of our karma lies outside our sphere of influence. While we may gain big profits from our professional decision, we may also acquire a loss; while our selection of food may bring us nourishment, it may also cause disease; and while our selected attire may impress our colleagues, it may spoil our interactions in a meeting. For every possible action, how the universe reacts and what we gain at the end of the day is decided by the Divine alone. We have no right over the results or “fruits,” as they are often termed. Though the Lord’s reply is dependent on our own karma and favorable fruits are promised for good deeds, the calculation of response by the universe incorporates the aggregate of all karma we have performed in the past and the present. This is why performance of a good deed may not bring us immediate favors. But every action is noted down in our mind and by the universe, which, in reality, may not be two separate diaries.

The karmic sequence, also known as the wheel of karma, goes on forever. We perform karma, enjoy the fruits when they are favorable, and weep as they appear in the form of penalties. Then, according to our karma, we are reborn at a new location under new circumstances or even make it to a non-human species. And this process of accumulating karma or impressions continues in every birth, for we are bound by nature to perform actions. However, if we ever become tired of this cycle, there is an easy way to break it and attain never-ending bliss. We can use the laws of creation as blessings by a simple move—by renouncing our attachment to the fruits that our actions produce. And this surrender of the “outcome of our karma” to God is known as Karma Yoga.

Surrender of the fruits of our karma refers to performance of all actions with level-headedness in success or failure. It is about making a professional decision with little focus on profits but with a higher vision in mind regarding the company as well as society. It is about selecting food items from a menu with no concern for taste but their nutrition value and simplicity in preparation. And it is about choosing our attire with no heed to fashion or “what others will think of us.” The logic is simple: We can surrender karma to God only when they are absolutely perfect according to our capability and understanding and when we have already scrutinized how our actions would affect universal dharma. By the time Karma Yoga gets perfected, as the Gita says, we achieve complete elimination of all our desires, equanimity in joy and sorrow, control of all our senses, and complete disinterestedness to the world. This position leaves our mind with no choice except to firmly focus on the Supreme Self.

While renouncing the results is not the only way to break the cycle of rebirths and free ourselves, Karma Yoga is said to suit people who desire God realization but have responsibilities or dreams in the material world and find it difficult to develop love for God. Because running away from our responsibilities and leaving our dreams unfulfilled for spirituality may be devastating, if we feel that establishing an industry is a better way of helping others and it interests us more than remembering God (bhakti) or meditating on him for knowledge (jnana), we must set up a manufacturing facility. And we can also work for both realization and our material dream in unison with Karma Yoga till we are ready for the final surrender.

Text is excerpted from Devotional Hinduism: Creating Impressions for God; iUniverse Inc, 2008.

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1 Response

  1. Sophia says:

    Thank you for your post on karma- very enlightening and uplifting. Please check out my blog if you have a moment!

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