Conventional wisdom seems to dictate that if we can fulfill our desires, we will be happy. So, from childhood and youth, we are constantly chasing our desires to achieve that illusory peace. We pursue opportunities, put in frenzied action and believe that there is a point when we will be satisfied.
However, in my own experience, I found this to be a false proposition. As a new immigrant to the United States, I had bought into the premise that one should plunge into action, work hard and juggle multiple jobs and roles to make more money and grab that elusive joy. But I found that no matter how many goals I managed to reach, there was always another out of my reach and I was constantly pushing myself, overwhelmed by anxiety to get to the next objective and craving for something I could no longer define!
Forced to take a pause and re-examine my life, I found some answers in a Bhagavad Gita class, taught by Gautam Jain, which suggests a solution to this problem in Chapter 3, entitled Karma Yoga. It proclaims that Karma Yoga is the path of self-less action that leads one to happiness, peace and success in the world, while also moving us forward to a spiritual goal by reducing our desires.
I decided to make a fresh start by choosing the right field of action, aligned to my interest and nature, and work for a cause greater than just myself. Working for a non-profit organization, where I could help serve an extended community, instead of the narrow focus on myself, my promotion and bonuses, allowed me to focus on the act of doing. Paradoxically, letting go of expectations and mere outcome-driven action, helped me to become more productive and feel more at peace.
In a nutshell, practicing Karma Yoga involves mindful action geared towards the benefit of all, letting go of the rewards for any action, and gaining the capacity to enjoy much more in all situations, rather than seeking more. As soon as we work in a spirit of selfless service without a personal axe to grind, we find our stress melt away and automatically achieve success because a calm mind is more productive and capable of attaining goals. The underlying attitude to any action should be “What can I do for you?” instead of “What is in it for me?”.
The Bhagavad Gita and the application of Karma Yoga shows us how to harmonize actions, intentions, and attitudes for success in our current lives while also cultivating inner transformation for a permanent bliss. Karma Yoga can be summarized as follow:
- Working in a field aligned to your own nature (swadharma) which allows one to excel and enjoy the action
- Pitching up a higher desire or goal which is not constrained to your own selfish interest
- Working for the sake of action, rather than focusing on the end result or craving for rewards
- Using the knowledge of Vedanta to curb or restrain your senses from over-indulgence
“The blog above are thoughts of a student of the online weekly lectures”
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