I’ve been spending some time lately thinking about the term karma yoga. There’s lots written up about karma yoga (it’s one of the six branches of yoga) and what it means, but I found a handy term to get me started here:
- Karma Yoga is the path of service for in this path, it is believed that your present situation is based on your past actions. So by doing selfless service now, you are choosing a future that is free from negativity and selfishness. Karma Yogis change their attitude towards the good and in the process, change their souls, which leads to a change in their destiny.
In reading through multiple documents on karma yoga, I’ve come to the conclusion that…ok…I’ve come to no real conclusion. My understanding and ability to explain my thoughts is spotty. But I’m working it out. This post is an attempt to work out some of my ideas and hopefully get you thinking about karma yoga too.
My general understanding is that karma yoga, at least in part, is about acting in a selfless way in the service of others. I thought about the term a couple of weeks ago. I had heard it many times but had never engaged with it. All of a sudden, I felt the need to engage with it.
See, often when I read about karma yoga I get the feeling that the author is saying karma yoga is about your volunteer work – that selfless service means you do something for free. And while I am sure volunteering can fall under this umbrella, I was not convinced that only volunteering counted. However, most people who give examples about karma yoga tend to focus on people volunteering for. That’s what got me stuck on the word volunteer.
But it’s more than that, right? Or, at least, it’s not limited to that. You can provide selfless service and still receive a form of compensation – can’t you? I understand that having non-attachment to the implications of your actions is key. So in this sense doing something for money isn’t karma yoga. However, doing something because you want to be of service to others, and then receiving some form of compensation for it, seems like it could fall under karma yoga. I think.
At any rate, this idea of karma yoga has been running around in my brain. I’m starting to work it out. How do you understand the term and what do you see as examples of it?