Karma Yoga

Karma yoga is the Yoga of action. Karma Yoga is the practice of selfless service to humanity whereby a spiritual seeker acts without expecting praise or rewards.  In fact, by letting go of the result, the karma yogi is more effective because their energy is not wasted on expectation of a result.  This seems counterintuitive because our society is so results oriented.  Karma yoga involves doing one's best and letting go of the result.  This allows the karma yogi to give all of themselves to the action itself.

The point of all the yogas is to spiritualize our entire life instead of compartmentalizing our days into “secular” and “spiritual” areas. Karma yoga is particularly effective at this because most of us work in some capacity whether we get paid for it or not.   

What is important to note is that karma yoga is not an action but a shift in attitude. You don’t have to quit your job and join Greenpeace and you don’t have to feed the lepers of Calcutta.  Any action can be karma yoga.  Any job.  Okay, if you’re a drug dealer maybe not.  It’s not necessarily what you do; it’s how you approach your work that matters.  Do your best and give the result to God.  That’s it.  Start there.  Just that act alone will have a major impact on your life.  Approach your job like a spiritual practice and watch what happens.  You'll probably be more effective and you may even find a renewed love for a job or task that might have been routine and tedious. 

Famous Karma Yogis

Mahatma Gandhi

Martin Luther King

Jimmy Carter

Dorothy Day

J.D. Salinger

According to the Gita..

 

Do your duty to the best of your ability, O Arjuna, with your mind attached to the Lord, abandoning worry and selfish attachment to the results, and remaining calm in both success and failure.

The calmness of the mind is called Karma-yoga. (2.48) Working to the best of one's abilities without becoming selfishly attached to the fruits of work is called Karma-yoga. (2.50)

One is given the power and the ability to do one's respective duty in life, but one is not free to choose the desired results. To work without expecting success or good results would be meaningless, but to be fully prepared for the unexpected should be an important part of any planning.

Do your duty in life ¾ to the best of your ability ¾ as God's personal servant without any regard for the personal enjoyment of the fruits of your work.

How to Incorporate Karma Yoga into your life

 

  • No matter what you do, do your best and then let it go. 

  • Do good anonymously

  • Make up your mind to do something nice for someone every day

  • Think of a task as worship – no matter how small and seemingly inconsequential

  • Show Up!

Are you a Karma Yogi?

  • You like to be busy

  • You find it easier to express your love through action instead of words

  • You often get lost in your work

  • You get resltless if you have to sit still for long

Resources for Karma Yogis

Idealist is a website that connects people to jobs volunteer opportunities locally and around the world. You can search by location or area of expertise.