Karma literally means ‘doing actions’ and spiritually it means the effects of the actions done in past being seen in the present life of a man- the soul progressing across Time from Ignorance to Knowledge, from Knowledge to greater knowledge. Yoga means union with God, with the Divine Consciousness. Karma yoga thus means doing actions, united with the Divine Consciousness, not for ego but for the good of all, leaving the fruits of the actions to the Divine.
Universe An Ecstatic Dance
Act in Blissful Consciousness, Not for Fruitive Desire
The universe is the manifestation of karma yoga. The non-living things seem stationary from the surface, but the atoms in them are oscillating all the while, without even a moment’s pause, energized by a power they know nothing about.
Streams and rivers are flowing day and night before finally merging with oceans. Planets are constantly moving around the sun and the universe is expanding in its own bliss, into nothing, for nothing, without any tangible cause for such expansion. The cosmos with its countless galaxies is spinning incessantly in a divine dance of ecstasy- a causeless bliss felt in all such actions.
This is what karma yoga is: doing actions spurred by the divine energy, full of bliss, with no desire for the fruits of the actions done.
In the midst of the Kurukshetra battlefield, Lord Krishna says to Arjuna, “I am complete in myself. All things are within my reach. I don’t have any dream or aspirations. Still, I am also not free from karma yoga. If I stop working even for a moment, the whole universe will collapse.”
Not just the divine incarnation but everyone else must do actions: they cannot live idly, doing no action. This is the inexorable law of Universal Nature. None can escape it while in life.
Thoughts Are Fate
Thoughts Bind Us, Thoughts Free Us
Let us explain. If we indulge in bad thoughts, we will do bad actions and these bad thoughts and bad actions together will continue birth after birth, the wheel of karma spinning endlessly, keeping us trapped in a miserable cycle of karmic cause and effect, with no escape.
But if we think good thoughts and do good works, we will continue with them and our mind will never allow us to do anything but good.
What our mind thinks is of monumental importance from the point of view of Karma. For its consequences appear and reappear in repetitive births, with no escape.
Science of Divine Work
Spirit In which We Act Greater than Actions
Karma yoga is deeper than Karma. Karma becomes karma yoga when it is performed without attachment for the Divine, seeing All in the Divine, as the Divine, the One Soul having become Many.
It is the divine secret of perfect work, the science of divine work: doing our destined work with utmost devotion while leaving the rest to the Divine.
No work is inferior or superior when seen from the viewpoint of karma yoga. A surgeon doing a critical surgery is as good as a labourer digging a well or a cobbler mending shoes.
What matters is the spirit in which the work is done: whether it is being done with attachment to the results of the actions or done in a spirit of non-attachment, with unflinching devotion and loving surrender to the Divine who is the Doer of All works, leaving the results to Him.
However, works done in the spirit of karma yoga do not go unrewarded by the Divine. It brings a divine bliss, a rapture, an ecstasy compared with which the evanescent pleasure of the senses seems absolute trash.
This intense bliss we can never enjoy if we work with attachment, for attachment brings craving and craving brings frustration. When we work in the true spirit of karma yoga, we feel like we are working as the Divine works, for the bliss of working, not for the fleeting pleasures, not for satisfying ambitions.
We can realize through a little study of ourselves that ambitions, though satisfied, can never satisfy the deepest urges of our soul.
Man Is Divine
Change Within & Life Will Change
Every man is potentially divine, the divine potential sleeping beneath his surface self. So, one can turn over a new leaf, new-form life, leaving the old, beaten tracks, and begin living in the new consciousness that is filled with light and delight, freed from the downward pulls of nature. Even a cruel, notorious dacoit may become an all-renouncing saint if he turns within where the guiding light of the Divine ever glows.
The spiritual history of mankind is replete with instances of such magical transformation of individuals, from notoriety to sainthood, under the loving influence of the Divine.
This is what Yoga signifies-starting anew, turning within, living within, in the Divine. And Karma yoga means living within and working from within, in perfect accord with the Divine Will working in us, without ambition, desire of fruit, craving for pleasure.
Karma Yoga All-Inclusive
Every Action of Life Can Be Karma Yoga
All life can be and should be yoga. Similarly, all actions- physical, mental or spiritual- are karma. We mistakenly identify karma with our 9 am-5 pm office work. We think the day’s work is over once we leave office and return home. But, viewed from the standpoint of karma yoga, all that we do whether in office or at home or elsewhere is part of karma.
Life lived from the yogic consciousness encompasses everything we do-from working in office to driving car back home to sitting in meditation to spending time with family, all included in the gamut of karma yoga.
What is important is to keep the mind steadily, unflinchingly fixed in the higher consciousness, remaining always united with the light and peace of the Divine Consciousness, not allowing the mind to come down to the surface distraction as it is prone to.
This is how we can triumph over the mighty pulls of the gravitational forces of nature and lead a new life, deeper, fuller, fulfilled in the Divine, ego abolished, all found in the One.