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Karma Yoga Pays the Bills
Shale: I like this quote by James:
“What does it mean to say that I am the light, the knower and the knowing? It means that there is nothing that can be added to me that will make me more than what I am. It means that nothing can be subtracted from me that will make me less than what I am. And how does that translate into practical terms? It means I can relax completely. It means that fulfilling desires is completely optional. It means that fear of undesirable outcomes no longer motivates my behavior. It means that I am quite content to let the day evolve on its own irrespective of my ‘to-do’ list. When I lie down to sleep at night the events of the day dissolve quickly and I fall asleep effortlessly. I am not inclined to start ambitious projects. It means I understand that people wouldn’t be what they are if they could help it, and do not become agitated when they act like jerks. It means I’m not disturbed when the mind thinks a stupid thought or an unkind emotion passes through it. It means that being there for others does not require special effort.”
Daniel: It’s a nice quote.
Shale: Thanks for this, Daniel. I’ve been keeping an eye on your posts and finding them quite stimulating. The one quoted above crystallised a thought that has been taking shape for a while now.
Daniel: I’m happy that the posts have started to crystallise; it’s the natural process of self-inquiry, and there is nothing more beautiful.
Shale: I like the idea of being able to “let the day evolve on its own, irrespective of my ‘to-do’ list.”
Daniel: Being able to “let the day evolve on its own, irrespective of my ‘to-do’ list” is brought about by the application of 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.
Shale: But I feel like if I do that, then I will spend more time doing fun stuff and less time doing the work which pays the bills.
Daniel: There is a beautiful text called the Bhagavad Gita. It speaks of doing work/action that we don’t necessary want to do. This is what Krishna is explaining to Arjuna. We must always act, for this life is the field of action. Even the renunciant must act. What he renounces is action based on his personal likes and dislikes. The right attitude is doing what is to be done, whether we like it or not.
Paying the bills is just another duty. Whatever action we do, it should be done in a karma yoga spirit, meaning we do what we need to do and receive the results as a gift (prasad). Karma yoga is not a path. It’s a life committed to performing action as yoga. Action is yoga when it is performed with the right attitude.
Shale: Or is it about finding a balance, like when to work and when not to?
Daniel: It’s more about attaining a balanced attitude. Whether we’re doing something we like or don’t like is not the point. What’s important is the spirit in which it is done.
Shale: How do I integrate the me that is eternal, unchanging awareness, with the me which is a physical body which needs food to eat and a place to sleep?
Daniel: There is nothing to integrate. There is only something to understand. You, awareness, have been/are and will continue to shine regardless of what this body-mind entity called Shale does.
Shale’s duty is to qualify himself (prepare the mind) so that when he applies self-knowledge it will clearly reflect. The mere application of knowledge does the work. Here is a link that outlines the topic of qualifications: NonDoodle.com/funny-truth/qualifications/.
Shale: I would love to truly let go of worries of the future, but I find this difficult. If I don’t think about the future and try to plan and act on those plans, then is it not quite likely that my physical body will be unprepared and suffer at some point?
Daniel: When self-knowledge becomes firm (which takes time and repeated inquiry) concern for the past, present and future will naturally dissolve. Why? Because you identify yourself as awareness, and awareness is not affected by time. You are timeless.
There is the apparent reality – mithya (which encompasses Shale and his experiences) – and there is satya, the absolute reality. Its important not to confuse the two. Plans, actions, bodies and suffering, etc. all occur in mithya. And this is where it may get a bit tricky! Though mithya depends on you – you, awareness – are free of mithya!
It’s not about not thinking about the future, but rather understanding the “orders of reality” (even though there is just one!). Here is a link to an article by James that explores this topic: ShiningWorld.com/site/files/pdfs/publications/articles/Isvara_Jiva_Jagat_and_the_Gunas.pdf
Remember, Shale will always be limited, and because his actions are limited, so too will the results be limited. But thank Isvara you are not Shale! but rather the limitless-self-lit awareness that knows Shale and his experiences. Freedom is not for Shale, freedom is from Shale.
~ With love, Daniel