Yogi Hari's take on karma yoga.

Karma means action. Any action performed in thought, word or deed will have a reaction. This is called the law of karma, or the law of cause and effect.

The ancient rishis 1 went into detailed investigation of this law and discovered that the whole of creation is bound by this law of cause and effect. In fact, our very embodiment and existence is an effect of karma.

Lord Jesus declared very clearly that whatever you sow you shall reap. You cannot want to sow corn and reap wheat. So whatever action you perform in thought, word or deed, you will reap its fruits. Karma is action it can either be good, bad or mixed and in order to reap its fruits, you have to embody.

Through countless embodiments we have accumulated a vast storehouse of karmas and this is called Sanchita Karma. In each embodiment we come to work out a portion of this storehouse of karma and this is called Prarabdha Karma. In the process of working out this karma, we are creating additional karma and this is called Agami Karma. Thus we are caught in an endless process of birth and death and this is referred to as samsara, or bondage.

The goal of life is to be free from this process by realizing that we are spirit or soul. In order to reach this state of realization, all the karmas have to be worked out or burnt up so that there can be no more cause for further embodiment.

As embodied beings, we experience this world through our senses and interpret it through our mind and intellect. The very nature of the senses is limiting, and depending on the state of the mind, that is how we perceive things. By disciplining the senses and purifying the mind, the mind becomes still and we are able to reach a fourth state of consciousness called samadhi, where we will experience our divinity.

Yoga is the technology that is used to achieve this state of purity and stillness of mind. Every effort that leads us closer to this goal is called Karma Yoga. Every effort that creates a disturbance in the mind will take us away from the goal and this is called karma.

Actions that promote lust, anger, greed, hatred, jealousy, envy and fear pollute the mind and lead to unhappi-ness. Actions that promote the opposite qualities of love, compassion, mercy, generosity, forgiveness, etc. will purify the mind and lead to happiness, freedom and liberation. Thus our very actions can bind us or liberate us. When the action is done to free us, it is called Karma Yoga.

All actions are motivated by desires. When the action is motivated by egocentric desires it becomes karma. Actions that are not motivated by egocentric desires will not create karma, and thus take us closer to the goal of liberation.

If we act in the spirit of Karma Yoga or selfless service, we will experience expansiveness and freedom, which are followed by peace and happiness. We can relate to our actions as service in different ways, depending on our station in life. As a family person, we do our duty as service to our family and society. As a sage or a yogi, we perform our duty by serving the world at large. To us the world is our home and all the people our family.

Every selfless act that we perform expands our heart and consciousness a little more. When we taste this sweetness of selfless service, we will want to repeat it over and over again until it becomes our nature to serve. In this way we are transforming ourselves.

When we want to see what we look like, we look in the mirror. To know and become aware of our mind, we observe it through our actions. Did I do my job well today to the best of my ability? Did I stick to it until it was completed or did I procrastinate and make excuses to put it off? Did I experience dislike and disgust or did I love what I was doing? Did I experience greed and anger or love and selflessness? Thus in quiet moments we can reflect on our day and be aware of our mind and predominating personality. We become aware of what is beautiful and noble and we can promote more of that. Whatever is undesirable, we can make the effort to eradicate it.

So in order to cultivate a strong will and beautiful personality, act selflessly without constantly being stressed by the results. We should focus all our attention on doing our duty. In this way we will reach perfection in action and that is Yoga.

Through serving, loving and giving, your heart becomes purified, then you are able to meditate and realize your divinity.

1 Rishis are seers, holy ones or teachers who lived in ancient times and divined yoga from the universe.

Yogi Hari is a master of Hatha, Raja and Nada Yoga. He has produced tapes and cds on bhajans and chants as well as videos on Hatha Yoga. He conducts workshops internationally and at his ashram in Fort Lauderdale. Contact him at 1-800-964-2553 or www.yogihari.com.

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