Wednesday, June 29, 2011



We habitually think of tasks to be done like objects outside ourselves to be conquered and cleared. We see errands to be removed from our to do lists, so that we may eventually find freedom and ease. And yet all that is, is an expression of pure consciousness. And all that has form, all that is before us, around us, within us, is the result of an eternal love affair between matter and consciousness. The Hindus call this Lila, the Divine Play unfolding, of which we are a part.

There are many different kinds of yogas. The most commonly known physical practice of yoga, Hatha yoga, is only one aspect of a broad life science. In karma yoga, the aspiring yogi is asked to practice seeing action as a means to self-liberation. He learns to see the tasks that are before him as an opportunity to serve and realize God. In this practice, serving is not seen as something done to another, to one who is believed to be separate from oneself. All that is, is seen as a reflection of oneself and of the divine. To serve another is to serve God.

The revered humanitarian, spiritual master and modern saint known as Amma (Mother) or The Hugging Saint speaks of our inherent interconnection: “The sun shines down. Its image reflects in a thousand different pots filled with water. The reflections are many, but they are each reflecting the same sun. Similarly, when we come to know who we truly are, we will see ourselves in all people."

She teaches spiritual aspirants to “fill your hearts with love and express it in all you do”. She goes on to say, "Do your work and perform your duties with all your heart. Try to work selflessly with love. Pour yourself into whatever you do. Then you will feel and experience beauty and love in every field of work. Love and beauty are within you. Try to express them through your actions and you will definitely touch the very source of bliss."

The word karma is derived from the Sanskrit word “kri”, meaning “to do”. In its most basic sense, “karma” means action and “yoga” means union. Karma Yoga then is the path of union through action. Karma yoga is described as a way of acting and thinking without thought of personal gratification, or one’s desires, likes or dislikes. One acts without being attached to the fruits of one's actions.

In the sacred Hindu text The Bhagavad Gita, Krishna, the manifestation of God, teaches karma yoga. Krishna explains that by working without attachment one attains the Supreme. He teaches us to surrender all our works to Him, “without desires for profit, with no claims to proprietorship, and free from lethargy and fight.”

Krishna explains that work done without expectations, motives, or anticipation of its outcome purifies one's mind and gradually makes us fit to experience the divine in all things. He states that it is not necessary to become a hermit, or be without action, in order to practice a spiritual life. We don’t need to run off to an ashram, or lock ourselves away from our busy lives. We need to act with consciousness. It is precisely through action, through non-resisting what is, through meeting what is with openness, alertness and ease, that we meet the divine.

Take a moment and consider this: What if we shifted our perspective and saw all the tasks in our lives as an expression of pure consciousness arising, as an expression of divine play, a call from God bringing us back to God? What would life be like? What if we were not separate from all those tasks? What if that task that we resist is actually our teacher, guiding us to wholeness? What if by learning to act lovingly, with integrity and kindness, action is leading us to live each moment in the divine? 


  1. A true yogi is in a constant state of karma yoga and thus connected to all things. I know so many lulu lemoners who miss this point completely. Asana alone is not yoga.

  2. You're funny, Rishi. To act without attachment to the fruit of one's action.... not quite there yet. I believe that Love should be the principle and inspiration while performing Karma Yoga. The love we are feeling now can be used as a stepping stone to reaching Divine Love.

  3. LOL "Lulu lemoners" :D I've pretty much stopped going to yoga studios because of the proliferation of lulu lemoners and the disconnected, over-commercialized state of the yoga industry in the west. Also because most of the really good yoga teachers I met in the 1990s have died, quit teaching, or both.