Karma and Karma-Yoga

Karma is a Sanskrit word for action, or work. The law of karma is a cycle of cause and effect. With every action there are consequences. These consequences can be rewards for actions that are selfless and punishments for actions that are selfish.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna explains to Arjuna that ending the cycle of karma by practicing Yoga is how we become liberated. The law of karma binds us to this world because every action causes a reaction; we continue coming back through reincarnation to experience the consequences of our past deeds. This liberation is when, instead of reincarnation, we join with Krishna, the Source, Bliss, also known as ananda.

Knot of Destiny Design – Source: G. Griffin Lewis The Practical Book of Oriental Rugs (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1913) 116

Karma-Yoga is the practice of action without attachment to the results. When you are attached, you are always looking for rewards. Detachment allows you to be in the moment, instead of thinking of what comes later. Being in the moment is being with the Source.

In Karma-Yoga, the type of work we do is known as our dharma, or our duty. Our dharma changes depending on our environment and circumstances. For example, throughout the day I may find myself doing my job as an electrician, where I use tools to do electrical work, but at home I may find myself preparing a meal; all the tasks I do can be done in a state of bliss when I stop thinking of the outcome and stay concentrated on my task. By transcending the motivations of the ego, our work becomes a flow and takes us into a state of meditation.

Egyptian Water Lily – Source: Everybody’s Cyclopedia (New York, NY: Syndicate Publishing Company, 1912)

“When you move amidst the world of sense, free from attachment and aversion alike, there comes the peace in which all sorrows end, and you live in the wisdom of the Self”(Bhagavad Gita)

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