What Is Karma Yoga?
Karma yoga comes from the Sanskrit word that literally means “action or doing”. Karma yoga is a path of action and it stands for selfless acts done for others. It is believed by some yogis that karma yoga is the best way to develop one’s spiritual self.
Karma yoga is the yoga of work or action, and this path is specifically oriented with dedicated work wherein an individual’s selfless acts are offered as a spiritual offering to his personal God. It is the path that leads an individual to salvation by doing selfless acts. Salvation is the ultimate goal once an individual reaches the state of self-realization.
Karma yoga is discussed in the Bhagavad Gita, the sacred text of Hindu. It teaches everyone to do work without focusing on the results. As when one is attached with the result of an action, the tendency is to become stressed, competitive and aggressive towards others. By understanding Karma yoga and its path, an individual who follows this principle will be able to work well without any stress which feels very satisfying and leads to life fulfillment.
When an individual practices karma yoga, they are able to purify their heart and therefore learn to act selflessly when doing acts that serve others. In karma yoga, an individual learns how to become kind and have compassion in their heart without expecting any benefit or gift in return. An individual is able to learn about not focusing on the ego of self and it gives freedom and moves him toward the ultimate goal of self-realization and the path to enlightenment. By performing selfless service to others, it allows an individual to release their focus on their ego and act from relying on pure intentions. It also shows an individual that service is the heart and soul of karma yoga.
Principles of Karma Yoga
- Have pure thoughts – When an individual has the right attitude towards everything, it makes a big difference. Practicing Karma yoga gives an individual a pure, loving, and caring attitude towards everyone and everything around him. By avoiding all negative thoughts and qualities and embracing positive qualities that will help with the ultimate goal of an individual which is for self-realization.
- Have pure motives – An individual’s reason when doing an action or performing service for others is important. One must avoid thinking of the benefits it brings them and have the pure intention of doing an act and performing it well. When practicing Karma yoga, one must not weigh the work he does while expecting to reap benefits and rewards. They must be selfless in performing services and acts towards others.
- Focused on one’s Dharma (Duty) – An individual must know their duty in life and perform it well with passion and enthusiasm. They must be positive and put their focus on getting the work done. Learn from all the lessons life teaches and do what is required in this life. Help the needy and do your best when performing your duties.
- Give your best – When doing or performing an action, one must give their best. They must use all of their best qualities and incorporate it in all the activities that they do. They must always try to perform better than their previous actions. An individual must always give their best and focus on the positive part of life and minimize negative thoughts and qualities that hinder them from being successful.
- Relinquish the results – When doing an action or performing service, one must do it without thinking of the results or the effects or the rewards it will bring. One must not focus on the results, whether it will be beneficial. What is important is performing the job, being dedicated, and being passionate while doing it. All work and duties are important and no one is supposed to be superior to others. When an individual is performing an act of service with full focus is better than the results or benefits it will bring. An individual must know that they are an instrument that needs to do a specific duty or work done in their life. Do not allow any attachment to the duties as one must be willing to give anything up when required.
- Serve others – One must be willing to serve others and they should treat others the way they want to be treated. Perform selfless acts with passion and eagerness. Always have in mind that everyone is a part of the same universe and considered as one, as everything is bound by a single energy, a universal power. An individual must be humble all the time, renounce prideful acts and always be willing to adjust and adapt to different situations.
- Embrace discipline – When an individual is disciplined, they will be able to and perform their duties well. They must be focused on the job or the service that needs to be done. Everyone learns from the job they perform and he must be able to incorporate it into their life as it will help with the ultimate goal of self-realization.
Benefits of Karma Yoga
Performing Karma yoga offers different benefits to an individual who practices it.
- It helps to purify one’s heart and have pure intentions.
- Negative thoughts and qualities disappear, such as anger, hatred, and jealousy.
- It helps an individual improve and enhance good and positive qualities such as love and humility.
- Karma yoga helps an individual realize deeper things in life.
- It teaches about selflessness and makes an individual service oriented, helping others especially those who are in need.
- It helps an individual become aware of himself and this path helps him develop his inner spiritual side.
Karma yoga is both action and result of an action, as every action an individual has done previously results to what they are experiencing today. It is a chain of events or a cycle of life. What one has done in his past will come back to them. When an individual disengages his own ego from the process of the work or action and offers all the results to their personal God or inner self. An individual who practices karma yoga must reorient their actions to the path of God-realization.