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Beautiful Karma-Dharma Yoga
“Now listen to the wisdom of yoga which will free you from bondage to action. In this yoga, no effort is wasted, nor are any unsuitable results produced. Even very little karma yoga protects one from great fear.” ~ Bhagavad Gita
Karma yoga is the chief tool in purifying, qualifying and preparing the mind for liberation. Irrespective of the type of activity you perform, it is a practical practice that accommodates all temperaments. Whether you are like that Mexican mouse Speedy Gonzales (rajasic in nature) or dull like Eeyore the donkey (tamasic), no problem, karma yoga’s got your back!
Not only does it prepare the mind to reflect and contemplate subtle investigations like, “What is liberation and how can I realize my limitless nature as awareness?’’ but provides the platform for a practical lifestyle. Karma yoga, in conjunction with guna management (triguna vibhava yoga), is the springboard to liberation. But let’s put liberation aside for now.
What is karma yoga? Karma yoga is the understanding that the person (jiva) has the right to act but is not the dispenser of the results. He/she performs appropriate and timely action whilst understanding that results are dished out according to the needs of the total.
The total cares no more for the action figure (jiva) as it does for the microbe critters that call your body home. Sometimes you get what you want. And sometimes not. Understanding the (sad or comforting – depending on how you see it) fact that results are not up to the person gives the doer of the action peace of mind, which in return allows him/her to maintain a clear (sattvic) mind fit for the application of moment to moment self-inquiry.
A mature person who has investigated the nature of experience comes to terms with how things work on this fickle island of duality (mithya). For every upside there is a downside and for every downside there is an upside. To depend on something that is uncertain and constantly changing is not fun or smart. Apart from liberation, the only remedy to secure ourselves within this insecure environment is by building our life on the rock of karma yoga.
How is it possible to secure something that is by nature totally insecure – the world of constant unrest? You can’t. But you can rest your mind. Understanding and accepting the nature of uncertainty supported by the logic of karma yoga disarms the tiresome urge to try to manipulate situations. You perceive all results equanimously, not worrying about what was, what is or what is to come. Your precious energy is reserved for steady self-investigation.
Or look it from this point: everything on this island is freely given. What is left to do but receive everything as a blessing (prasad) – including the not-so-pleasant experiences? Karma yoga is an attitude of gratitude.
“You can choose which actions you wish to perform, but you have no control over the results. Don’t think of yourself as the author of the results of your actions and don’t be attached to inaction. Remain steadfast in yoga and act without attachment to the results. Remain the same in success and failure alike.This steadiness of mind is called yoga.” ~ Bhagavad Gita
It is important to note that the person does have “authority” with regard to acting appropriately and timely (dharmic action). So how do we apply this karma-dharma yoga? We do exactly that: act appropriately, in a timely manner, and accept what comes as a blessing. Perform action in accordance with the dharma field and make peace of mind your quest at all times. It’s a simple methodology, but not an easy one. It requires a rare quality: a mature attitude.
Karma yoga is simply practical investigation. What have you done to be here right now? Are you needing to make an effort to illumine the eye equipment to read these lines? Are you needing to remind your lungs to keep expanding and contracting to supply life-sustaining oxygen to your body or removing from it a waste product called carbon dioxide? Who blinks the lashes and keeps the tongue moist so that the sense pleasure called taste can occur?
Is it not totally amazing how each thing in life is so perfectly jibed?! Any healthy-minded person with common sense is able to work out the fact that everything – I mean EVERYTHING – has and continues to be freely handed to them.
This understanding brings about a beautiful quality called appreciation, and appreciation results in good manners. Good manners is following dharma. There is nothing more important than good manners.