Karma Yoga

When our lives and activities become more established in sattva (the mode of goodness), then due to the loosening of the grip of self-interest, the desire to serve begins to dawn within the heart of the jiva. Such a person becomes increasingly desirous of the wellbeing of others and less concerned about their own story. Consequently such a person devotes some of their activities to serving and benefitting others. Such activity accumulates good karma and makes the material world a much more enjoyable place to inhabit, as the fruits of negative karma become less frequently interrupting to the pleasure of the senses.

Eventually a life such lived, with such an accumulation of good karma would award the abode of the heavenly planets where enjoyment can continue for a considerably longer period of time than here on our Earth Planet, but which however will gradually run dry, and like a ticket in the amusement park, when the ride is over you have to get off and buy (earn) another ticket if you wish to ride again. It is a finite experience and a place that always returns to human birth, and thus the cycle of samsara (birth, death and rebirth) continues to turn.

Karma Yoga is the activity that awakens at the beginning of our becoming conscious.
We realise that our actions carry consequences and so we become more conscious and discerning regarding our activities due to some fear being present that inauspicious circumstances will follow our actions if we act from our lower nature. As a result this perception helps us to begin a new way of life where we are developing the faculty of discernment and begin to consciously choose what we invest energy into. We become more conscious that our actions not only carry consequences for ourselves but they also have an effect on others either positive or negative. Initially we perform activities in the hope that some beneficial result will come if not material then certainly spiritual.

It is the training ground where we learn the art of selflessness. So there is a progression beginning at becoming self disciplined about our choices because we want a beneficial result, progressing to offering any resultant reward from activities to Krishna (God) to finally only performing activities which are a type of service to Krishna which ripens as seva, which is not only selfless, but selfless in the direct service of God. This is the territory of Bhakti Yoga. Essentially Karma Yoga is referencing material reward seeking activity progressing toward seva, and seva itself is transcendental activity for the exclusive enjoyment of the Lord or deity toward which the seva is directed.

The result of Karma Yoga is an enjoyable life and potentially promotion to the celestial spheres or heavenly planets in the next life where enjoyment last a lot longer. The result of Karma Yoga is higher degree of success in the pursuit of personal pleasure. However naturally the destination is still under the jurisdiction of the law of karma and thus material existence. This is one of the reasons that people are motivated to give charity initially. It’s a win win situation and a huge progression from a selfish unconscious existence, to one where love, compassion and devotion are developing, however enhanced personal enjoyment and alleviation of suffering is not considered the final destination as in the material creation suffering quickly follows enjoyment being it’s closest companion.

Through the process of Karma Yoga we begin to develop a higher taste, rather than desiring momentary enjoyment one sublimates the desire for personal result by trying to work in the service of God, and due to the absence of personal agenda begins accumulating sukrti (pious credit) which later fructifies as a spiritual benediction, such as a birth conducive to devotional practise, such as being born into a family of devotees in a holy place which is wholly conducive to continuing the journey to the next level without distraction as opposed to being born into a wealthy family conducive to further sense enjoyment.

This path involves the dedication of all work as an offering to God, with no thought of personal reward. A karma yogi attempts to see the Lord dwelling in all beings as the Paramatma and first and foremost serves that One. Once the aspirant is established in Seva in this way then they are no longer a Karma Yogi but a Bhakti Yogi. This practice can be performed at all times, under all conditions whether that is at home, the office, construction site or within an ashram.

Sri Krishna says in Bhagavad Gita Chapter 2 Verses 43-44

They say “There is nothing worth knowing beyond this. (enjoyable consequences in the heavenly planets)” Desirous of enjoying the fruits of their actions and seeking the attainment of heaven, those fools are attracted by the apparently enchanting words of the karma-kanda section of the Vedas, wherein many processes of sacrifice and other rituals are described which yield wealth, sense enjoyment, good birth, and the fruits of one’s actions. Deluded by these flowery words and enamored by worldly pleasures and opulence, the intelligence of such indiscriminate persons does not attain the resolute determination of exclusive and uninterrupted dedication to the Supreme Lord.

Karma Yoga Exchange Program