Karma yoga is a way of performing actions, in which we put our 100% effort without being attached to their outcome. When action is performed selflessly with full focus and attention, it brings fulfillment and freedom. Karma yoga can be applied to everything you do - from the most trivial, ordinary tasks to greater, more challenging works.
All actions are motivated by some expectation about their outcome. When we don’t have the outcomes of our actions as desired by us, our expectations are thwarted giving rise to misery. If the outcome of actions is as we desired, we feel happy. So, the outcomes of our actions are sources of happiness or misery. We are totally dependent emotionally on the outcomes of actions; we have lost our emotional freedom by getting entangled in them. Karma yoga teaches us how to achieve liberation through our actions by surrendering their outcomes to an Almighty Power. By renouncing the outcomes of actions, we go beyond them and their entanglements. When we do something with absolute involvement having no attachment to the outcome, we, in fact, break Karmic structure and attain emotional liberation.
The Bagwat Gita explains Karma yoga as follows:
The Bhagwat Gita says that nobody can shirk or avoid doing work (Karma) as we are bound to do work. All acts that are performed with selfish attachment to their outcome put us under their bondage. Only by surrendering the fruits of all actions to the Supreme Being, we can achieve liberation – the real goal of all human beings.
Karma Yoga as a way of being in the moment of Now –
Our monkey mind never sits still. It always jumps back into the past and ruminates over occurrences of unpleasant events or it wishfully dreams about the future. It is not at all bothered about the present reality taking place in the moment. This results either in unhappiness over the unpleasant events of the past or expectant hopes of the future. We had undergone misery as our hopes and desires were not met as we wished them in past. Similarly, they may not be met as we wish them to be in future, causing us immense misery. Therefore, only way to avoid this misery is to become grounded in the present moment.
Past is gone by and it’s no use ruminating over unpleasantness of the past. Future is full of uncertainties; some of them are going to make us badly miserable. As a matter of fact, we spoil our present worrying over unpleasantness of the past or worrying over when or how things will happen in the future.
As the Bagwat Gita says that nobody can avoid doing work as we are bound to do so by nature. Our mind is incessantly creating different thoughts that are the seeds of our actions because our thoughts are translated into acts – good or bad. As we think, so we act.
All acts are inseparably associated with certain outcomes, which cause us to worry about them. The Bhagwat Gita says that if we renounce the selfish attachment to the outcomes of acts, we can break free of their bondage. Therefore, we must do every act sincerely with total involvement and renounce any expectation about its outcome.
Paradoxically, oftentimes our mind flits back into the past to ruminate over the events that had not occurred as per our expectations. Notwithstanding, we have to renounce rumination over the unpleasant outcome of such past events, as we cannot change them; we can only learn lessons from them.
Karma yoga implies renouncing the attachments to expectations of the future as well as unfulfilled expectations of the past as they are the real source of our misery and unhappiness. They prevent us from doing acts with our 100% involvement in them.
A way to develop the attitudinal change is to perform all acts in the name of the Almighty Power and then rest assured that the outcome, whatever it may be, will be in congruence with what we really deserve, as the Almighty Power knows what is truly best for us. If we find that the outcome is not what we wanted, if simply means that we lacked in our efforts and will have to give our best again to achieve what we wanted.
So, apparently, by developing a dynamic shift in our attitude as propounded in the precept of Karma Yoga, we can gradually become grounded in the moment of Now. And it’s only the moment of Now that can give us lasting peace and happiness.
The bottom line -
The above quote underscores the fact that nothing is permanent except the present moment of NOW. The past was once Now and the future will also be Now. Why hanker after things impermanent? So, always try to be being in the moment of Now for permanent peace and happiness!