Karma Yoga

Karma yoga, or the “yoga action” is a form of yoga based on the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita, a sacred Sanskrit scripture of Hinduism. Of the three paths to realization, karma yoga is the process of achieving perfection in selfless action. Karma is also the word used to describe the consequence of this act, thus the word also refers to the Universal Law of Cause and Effect.

Karma Yoga is primarily the practise of selfless service to humanity whereby a spiritual seeker attempts to give their actions selflessly without hoping for merit, fame or glory. This tendency for a human being to have attachment to ‘reward’ from action is termed in the Bhagavada Gita: the ‘fruits of action’ – meaning whatever one might gain from action, especially from the observation and applause of others.

Practising Karma Yoga eventually takes the seeker to the point of mental purification, oneness with humanity and inner peace by continually offering action selflessly to God and humanity. Ultimately Karma Yoga practise brings true Knowledge of the Self and prepares one to be receptive to the divine light of God.

There are two types of Karma:

  • Sakama karma-yoga. (selfish actions)
  • Nishkama karma-yoga. (selfless actions)

Selfish thoughts and actions deepen the duality between “mine” and “yours”. Being selfless however, leads us above and beyond the limit of our little ego, to the unity of all beings. Sakama Karma binds us to the Wheel of Death and Rebirth. Nishkama Karma frees us from this.

The rain, the tree, the river and the Saint are all regarded as symbols of selflessness. Rain comes for the benefit of all – humans, nature and animals equally. The tree offers its shade to all that seek shelter and yields its sweet fruit even to those who hurl stones at the tree to knock the fruit down. The river is also there for everyone. The deer quenches its thirst in the same river as the tiger and a Saint gives his blessing to all without distinction.

Nishkama Karma is the way to avoid creating new Karma and may even resolve earlier Karma. To offer understanding, forgiveness and help are the selfless actions that liberate us from the cycle of Karma.

Share This