Karma Yoga: what goes around comes around
Karma Yoga exists to bring balance within individuals. It is one of the paths of spiritual liberation in Hinduism. It can be translated as the “yoga of action” and centres on the practitioner taking action without the involvement of ego. It is a selfless act done for others or for no personal gain. Through work, one may reach spiritual liberation. It’s dedication to the art of work without attachment to the outcome.
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Karma Yoga explained
The western idea around karma is namely the idea of “what goes around comes around”. Whilst this sound bite is not untrue it does not paint the full picture. Karma as understood in ancient Hinduism is both action and the result of action. What we give to the Universe it shall return to us. This isn’t much different from the Christian philosophy that you “reap what you sew”.
The main difference between Hindu and Christian interpretations of Karma Yoga are that Hinduism focuses on multiple lifetimes as opposed to one. Karma may be returned to you at any point during your multiples lives, this explains the current imbalance in the world where ‘good’ people suffer and those hurting our planet and humanity seem to get away with it.
Karma itself isn’t limited to our physical understanding of the world. It includes the thoughts we have. Thoughts, however small are said to make a physical imprint on the mind, a samskara, as we repeat the same thoughts or actions, these imprints or grooves in our mind deepen. That is why it can become harder over time to break habits and patterns of behaviour.
Good karma and bad karma do exist in that we must always help those that are suffering as we are all connected as one, if we hurt someone we hurt ourselves, if we help someone we help ourselves.
Karma Yoga and work
We renounce the fruits of our labour as a gift to the Divine, this helps us detach from our ego and removes the need for external gratification, which if we depend on to be happy eventually results in stress and depression.
By working selflessly for others, we purify our hearts. This is the aim of Karma Yoga. You will not find a Karma Yoga class at your local studio. This is about taking personal action and looking outwards, to help others less fortunate. Karma Yoga is an asana free zone!
How can I practice?
Karma Yoga, like all other yoga, is best practiced consistently. Think about a regular weekly slot volunteering. Share your skills with young learners. Help the elderly. The options are endless. Or simply start to detach yourself from the paid work you do. Not the process of working, but the reaction it gets. Your job is only to deliver without hurting others.
Karma Yoga can bring an individual freedom and peace of mind. With regular and consistent practice, one may become engrossed in their contribution to the world instead of how the world views them. By giving rather than receiving, practitioners may feel a seismic shift in their emotions as well as increased feelings of self-worth and confidence.
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