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Karma Yoga

Karma Yoga



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Published by N.Ganeshan
The Art of Working
The Art of Working

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Published by: N.Ganeshan on Nov 18, 2007
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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How does an average person work? He works with a sense of weight anddrudgery or he works with feverish intensity. Either will break him. If he works with indifference you cannot expect him to achieve anythingsignificant. Because his heart is not in it and his mind and his energiesare divided. If he works with nervous excitement, he will not last long.Sooner or later he will break down himself. The truly great do not differentiate between big tasks and little tasks. They want to do well what they do whatever may be the task. Men of vision, men of genius, never feel that any work is beneath them. Thereis nothing beneath us and nothing beyond us. That should be ourattitude. “There are no menial jobs, only menial attitudes.” said WilliamBennett. By doing well small tasks whole heartedly, with concentrationand skillfulness, we evolve within ourselves a power which will enable usto perform greater tasks. Opportunities will come when we have provedour fitness.
Karma Yoga
is the predominant topic of the Bhagavad Gita, though thebook deals with other Yogas as well. Lord Krishna says in the Gita “Thyright is to work only, but never with its fruits; let not the fruits of actionbe thy motive, nor let thy attachment be to inaction. (Gita, Ch. 2, Verse47). Every action, following the causal law, will surely produce its fruit; why long for it? ‘Wretched are they who work for results.’ If an action isdone without attachment to its fruit, evenness of mind is sure to follow.Action should be natural and spontaneous, prompted by the exigenciesof a situation.Swami Chinmayananda said beautifully, “In fact, the reward of anaction, when we understand it properly, is not anything different fromthe action itself. An action in the PRESENT, when conditioned by aFUTURE time, appears as the fruit of action. In fact, the action ends orfulfils itself as reaction or fruit in future.” Lord Krishna’s advice here is acall to man not to waste his present moment in useless dreams andfears, but to bring his best to the PRESENT and vitally live every momentbecause future shall take care of itself without fail.
Karma Yoga is not merely work.
Karma Yoga means to perform work tothe best of our ability and with awareness, without being overly attachedto the outcome or the results (or to the fruits, the term used in Yoga andin theBhagavad Gita. Ideally, moment to moment, work is an end initself, the sense of self-importance diminished and work is done more
and more without the obsessive sense of ‘me’, ‘I’ and ‘mine’. One becomesan instrument of action.In fact, Karma Yoga flies in the face of what we have been conditioned toexpect from work since the day we were born: payment, a pat on theback, self-expression, a sense of achievement. Yoga is not saying that weshouldn’t be paid, nor that we shouldn’t enjoy our work or develop ourtalents. All this is a natural part of life. It is not renunciation of actionitself, but renunciation of the longing for the fruit, that is the secret of karma yoga. When we do that we are able to be open to inner guidanceand to flow in the stream of grace. The Intelligence-Power that sustainsthe universe has a plan and a purpose. When we are in harmony with It we are free, even while involved.Martin Heidegger, the German philosopher, once said: “The artist shouldturn himself into that which wants to be revealed and permit the processto happen through him.” This doesn’t only apply to art: it also applies toevery act in our lives. Karma Yoga is the endeavour to transform everyact, every thought and every feeling into a work of art. Acts should berevealed through us. The Ineffable, the Inner Presence, should be allowedto express Itself perfectly, moment to moment, through the medium of our personality. Then we become an artist in the real, or Spiritual, senseof the word.In our ignorance, we feel that ‘I am doing’. This creates pride in us andbrings about strife and disharmony. We don’t know, or realise, that weare only given the mandate to be able do or act by an ineffableIntelligence which is far vaster and more all-encompassing than ourpersonality. If we know this - really know it - then the ego-sense tends todiminish; moreover, we start to see the same Intelligence workingthrough everyone and everything in the universeWhen the individual no longer considers himself the doer but only aninstrument, then work becomes spiritualised. The individual becomesefficient in action and develops equanimity of mind at all times and in allsituations.In every form of success or accomplishment, let us try to give lessrecognition to the ego, and more to the Intelligence which underlieseverything. After all, as personalities, there is a severe limit to what wecan do, even though we may think otherwise. The following story fromtheMahabharataillustrates this point very clearly:

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