This is a read and chew, chew, chew, chew, kind of paper… It may require the kind of inquiry one takes up in order to understand Quantum Mechanics. Be that as it may, it still gives a how-to-do step-by-step guidance to an important touchstone of Indian Spirituality.
“Take up to Yoga and arise” was the concise message that Lord Krishna had for a dejected Arjuna at the battle field. So what is Yoga and specifically ‘Karma Yoga’? And how does it make one ‘rise’? Can it really pitch me to excellence? Can it really unleash my highest potentials?
For those that are unfamiliar with the basic precepts of the Hindu spiritual studies it will suffice at this point to consider the following as a postulate:
“Being human in our approach is considered to be a resultant of ‘ignorance’ where we wrongly attribute a personality to the body-mind mechanism. The dawning of an unshakable realization that this presumption is an error; and there by discovering and surrendering everything to the ‘True Self’ that lies deeper within is considered ‘enlightenment’ or ‘nirwana’ or ‘Self realization’ or ‘wisdom’.”
This would mean that a spiritual explorer is advised to seek to transcend from ignorance to self-realization and for that he must take to any possible ‘exercise’ that will help him make progress in his journey. This is where the various ‘yoga’ comes into play; and Karm Yoga is one of them.
‘Yoga’ can be defined as that mental-spiritual posturing (which may also consist of posturing in the physical world) in which there is a human-in-ignorance who takes to yoga at the beginning and even as the yogic process is successfully completed, in the place of the ‘personality’ there is a mind-body mechanism in which the ignorance is dispelled; the ‘mind’ or ‘personality’ becomes silent, and the ‘Self realizes itself’. Yoga is therefore the ‘exercise’ that catalyzes an ignorant individual to transcendence…
Karma Yoga: When talking of Karma Yoga it is usual for people to quote one passage from the ‘Bhagwad Gita’ which goes like this…
“Established in yoga, O Dhananjaya (Arjuna), perform actions, giving up attachment, and unconcerned as to success or failure: this equanimity is called yoga” 3:48
Truly speaking, this is just the punch line; karma yoga, as such, consists of taking to certain mental postures and it is entirely described in a set of passages ranging from 3:39 to 3:53
The following passage inaugurates this narration:
“The (requisite) mental attitude towards the self has been just taught to you, now hear about it in respect of the way of action (Karma-Yoga), being endowed with which (attitude), O Partha, you will get rid of the bondage if actions”. 3:39
Note how the ‘yoga’ is referred to as a ‘mental attitude’ and also note how the consequence is referred to as the point where one gets ‘rid of bondage of actions’
Without quoting the passages let us consider the steps that constitute Karma Yoga…
Assurance that there is nothing to lose:
‘You will get rid of the bondage of actions…’
‘There is no waste of undertaking…’
‘There is no chance of incurring sin…’
‘It is a religion, and even a bit of it saves you from great danger.
It has to do with one pointed determination and focus on the Lord:
In this exercise (yoga) your mind achieves one pointed determination. The alternate to this is an irresolute thought process which is multi-branched and endless or infinite… This alternate path does not lead to excellence and it does not lead to one-point concentration in God
Beware of delusion and of wanting enjoyments of fruits of action; especially when people speak flowery words to that effect from the scriptures
You will come across people who will regard Heaven as their highest goal, they will be enamored by the panegyric statements in the scriptures and of sayings of spiritual masters and will assert that there is nothing else (higher than this). They will quote flowery familiar words from the Great texts prescribing numerous kind of rites that produce birth, actions and their results as a means for enjoying power. But at the same time they will be dull-witted and full of desires and attached to enjoyment and power. Their minds will be carried away by the flowery words… and though they speak of the scriptures they do not have one-pointed determination that can lead to concentration in the Lord. Beware of this pitfall
What must your understanding be in respect of the volumes of knowledge in the scriptures?
Know that these verses from the scriptures are like small reservoirs and their purpose is served by a large lake… When transcendence is attained in an individual, it forms a huge lake and can serve almost the same purpose as these numerous reservoirs. So be reassured that all that is in the Vedas is taken care of in the path of he that takes to Karma Yoga…
Do the following and you need not bother anymore about the lessons that come from all the scriptures…
As a summary of all that the scriptures teach you, know that the Vedas elaborate on the three gunas (Sattwa, Rajas and Thamas). All that you need to do is to rise above these three gunas and always be established in goodness (sattwa), regardless of whether you the individual is blessed with acquisition, preservation and self-possessed… This should the substratum when you take to Karma Yoga...
The attitude when approaching action:
a) you have rights to work but never claim the result
b) as such do not make the result as the motivation for your action
c) and at the same time do not interpret this as you want to be attached to inaction
Established in yoga perform actions giving up attachment—unconcerned as to success or failure…
This equanimity is Yoga
Take refuge in wisdom:
Work done with desire is far inferior to that done with wisdom
Those who are impelled by desire are miserable
Endowed with wisdom one gets rid of both good and evil
Therefore take to Yoga
Yoga is skill in work
There is no fear of evil from those who truly practice karma yoga
Endowed with wisdom
Giving up the fruit resulting from action,
And freed from bondage of birth
They go to the abode which is free from evil
The transition happens in due course and the final point is when understanding rests in the Supreme Self:
When your understanding will get beyond the maze of delusion, then you will have attained the difference to what is to be heard and what is heard
When your understanding (now) perplexed by hearing will rest in Samadhi (the Lord), unwavering and steady, they you shall attain yoga.
Yoga leads to one point concentration in the lord and there is nothing to lose
Yogic Transcendence results in a lake where Vedic sayings are small reservoirs
Rights for actions—yes: Rights over results—no: Motivated by results—no:
Equanimity is Yoga
Refuge in Yoga is refuge in wisdom
Yoga is skill in work
Yoga is an abode which is free from evil
When Understanding rests in Samadhi you shall attain yoga
Having understood the steps involved one must take up his duties in the world with this attitude in mind… he will eventually move into the realm of the ‘Heroes’… into the ‘zone’… into the world of the charmed and charismatic…