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Andy: Dear Ramji, I have a question about karma yoga. I thought I would get New Year’s Eve shift off so I could party but an older woman with kids wanted it. She asked if I would work but I reacted very negatively toward her and got what I wanted. Everybody in the factory was angry at me. So on the way home from work I saw how petty I was, particularly since I have more or less given up my party habits since I got serious about self-inquiry. You will remember that I wrote you about my life with the Ganga Mira people, who are totally tamasic and selfish. So I thought what better way to worship Isvara by letting her have the shift, to show appreciation that HE has given me such a great job. I have so much time to reflect on the teachings and play my mbira instrument there. Since I left the Papaji crowd and got serious about Vedanta my life has started to relax a bit. Actually, there is very little stress. And I make a woman and her children happy so they can party and be happy. And she will now be available to cover for me if I need to change my schedule.
Is this true karma yoga? Or is it just my fear to stand my point even if people are angry with me? I am confused about karma yoga or always playing the underdog, that’s my point.
James: Yes, it is karma yoga. You transformed a tamasic/rajasic tendency into a sattvic state of mind. You practiced one of the most important values – accommodation – and eliminated a negative value, selfishness.
People get angry when there is a violation of dharma. And your original anger – not letting go of your time slot – actually made you angry, as it should because you were missing an opportunity to serve the Lord. So you thought about it and generated a win-win solution. And the situation revealed your main jiva issue, low self-esteem. We are always underdogs to Isvara. Swamiji got really angry at me one time for my selfishness and he gave me “doormat yoga” – yes, those were his words. He said I should let the world wipe its feet on me! He was right. In the eyes of God no one is more important than anyone else. So good job, Andy!