The Library

Karma Yoga



Karma yoga is described to Arjuna by Lord Krishna in The Bhagavad Gita as the Yoga of Action.  More importantly it is usually defined as the `Yoga of Self-Transcending Action`.


Karma yoga recognises a basic truth (dharma) that we all have duties and our future is affected by our response to those duties.


In its fullest form the principle of `karma` is the basis of the belief in reincarnation.  The law of Karma is also the law of cause and effect: by our actions we create our own future; and yet Karma Yoga is not an attempt to `buy` favours.


In Karma yoga we seek to recognise and fulfil those duties which we have in life in a spirit of self-lessness.  We realise our duties and fulfil them with no ulterior motive.  Indeed if we fulfil a duty in a spirit of what benefit we can get from it we are the net loser.  A small action of selfless kindness is of greater value than a major public display of generosity in our own self development.


The word `duty` has negative connotations for many people today.  We resent feeling obliged to perform actions when they are intrusive in our lives or even mildly inconvenient.  We try to avoid emotional responsibilities, just as much as financial or other material ones.  Elderly parents are sometimes dismissed - `We have no duty towards them.  They chose to have us`. – is a statement that one sometimes hears.  We blame the government, big business, junk food manufacturers, the brewers and so on, for all the ills of our society. 


In Karma yoga we are reminded that we all do have duties – to ourself, to our family and friends, to society, to the world in which we live as a whole, even to the planet itself, and ultimately to god.  We should accept those duties joyfully seeing them as an opportunity to serve, to share our skills, to give as much as we can in whatever way we can.  And to do all of those things without thought of rewards, merit marks or `Brownie points`.


Derek Osborn                                                      06 05 14

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