Karma Yoga – An Often Misunderstood Practice
By Stephanie Adams, all rights reserved
Karma Yoga is often misunderstood. In modern day conversations, we say I better do X so I can get good karma. Well, Karma is about doing something from an spontaneous and inspired heart space without regard to the fruit of your actions. Even if you are doing something “good”, if you are doing it in hopes to have “good karma” you are missing the point and practice of true Karma Yoga. If any of us are at war, we are all at war, at a deeper level. There is a karma collective on this planet and in this universe, as well as individual karma. Individual karma, allows you to experience the lessons and growth you are supposed to experience.
Ask yourself: Is there joy, ease, and lightness in what I am doing? If there isn’t, then time is covering up the present moment, and life is perceived as a burden or a struggle…It may be sufficient to change the how. “How” is always more important than “what.”…When you act out of present-moment awareness, whatever you do becomes imbued with a sense of quality, care and love—even the most simple action..a powerful spiritual practice…non-attachment to the fruit of your action is called Karma Yoga. pp. 56-57, , The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle
“Karma is internal, occurring within the spirit…we can think of Karma as a complex network of spiritual cause and effect in which we place our trust. Everything returns to its own state of balance. If we live well, in peace and love for others…our spiritual enrichment will inevitably travel back to us, perhaps along circuitous paths. We may not see the immediate effects of living in this way, but they will inevitably return to us and enrich our spirit by accumulation. In this way we are thoroughly in control of our destiny…
At a more profound level still, many people believe that karma and reincarnation are inextricably linked. This enables us to understand the differences in fortune that we experience in our lives on Earth – some rich, some impoverished, some at peace, some at war, and so on…our previous lives should not be visualized literally; material concepts cannot describe the ineffable.” p. 130 Discover Inner Peace, by Mike George.
Here is what Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras say about karma:
Karmas (actions and reactions). When you do something, there is a reaction ultimately to everything we do. But what comes first the chicken or the egg, the action or the reaction. Karma refers to everything we do or have done and its far-reaching affect on everything else. (YS 2:12) Karmas bring about the fruits of pleasures and pain.
When we practice truly detaching ourselves so that we can have preferences without attachments we can be free from disappointment and pain and can continually practice converting everything to happiness. Pain is avoidable if it has not yet come. What we overcome is future sorrow avoided. (YS 2:13-2:16)
“In the Bhagavad Gita, one of the oldest and most beautiful spiritual teachings in existence, non-attachment to the fruit of your action is called Karma Yoga. It is described as the path of ‘consecrated action’.” p. 57, The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle
We can flow with Karma by:
· Acting with loving kindness from your true nature whenever you are inspired to do so without being distracted by what you “should” or “should not” do, but by what inspires the true goodness within you.
· Leading by serving – be a great example by serving others with joy and gratitude and without expectation – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe states it perfectly:
“Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you help them to become what they are capable of being.”
· Surrendering to the idea that “everything happens for a reason” and that we can choose to focus on the negative or the positive aspects of any event or experience.