Karm Yog for Everyone

There are two ways of remembering God and Guru.
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Date: 5th June 2014

There are two ways of remembering God and Guru.  The first way is to sit down and meditate on Them.  The second way is to work in the consciousness “I am doing this work for Their pleasure.”  The second way may be more difficult, but it takes us to a higher level of Divine love.  This is because it develops the spirit of seva, or service.

Even though your present job may be burdensome, you can easily do the second kind of remembrance.  Whatever you earn from your job, use a portion of it to serve the mission of your Spiritual Master.  In this way, by offering the fruits of your work to God, you will develop the consciousness that you are working for His pleasure.  You will then not look at your work as separate from your devotion, but as an integral part of it.  

This is the Karm Yog of the Bhagavad Gita:

यत्करोषि यदश्नासि यज्जुहोषि ददासि यत् |
यत्तपस्यसि कौन्तेय तत्कुरुष्व मदर्पणम् ||

yat karoṣhi yad aśhnāsi yaj juhoṣhi dadāsi yat
yat tapasyasi kaunteya tat kuruṣhva mad-arpaṇam

Arjun!  Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever austerities you perform, and whatever you give away, do it as an offering to Me.

Along with working in this spirit, whenever you find the time, you should also practice the first kind of remembrance.  For some time in the day, do no other work; simply sit and think of God and Guru.  This will help you eliminate worldly consciousness from your mind and strengthen your devotional sentiment.  Also, whenever your yearly schedule permits, do go and spend some days with your Gurudev as well. 

You may be thinking that if you did not have to work at all, then you could have spent all your time in devotion.  However, there are two kinds of vairagya, or detachment.  The first kind is when you find the world as painful and burdensome, and want to run away from it.  Shree Krishna calls this rajasic detachment (detachment in the mode of passion):

दु:खमित्येव यत्कर्म कायक्लेशभयात्यजेत् |
स कृत्वा राजसं त्यागं नैव त्यागफलं लभेत् ||

duḥkham ity eva yat karma kāya-kleśha-bhayāt tyajet
sa kṛitvā rājasaṁ tyāgaṁ naiva tyāga-phalaṁ labhet

Giving up one’s work, thinking it to burdensome and painful, is to be considered rajasic detachment, and it does not lead to Divine fruits.

The second kind of detachment is where you continue working, while giving up attachment to the results.  In other words, you practice equanimity in pain and pleasure, success and failure, hardship and luxury, favourable and unfavourable situations.  Shree Krishna calls this sattvic detachment (detachment in the mode of goodness):

कार्यमित्येव यत्कर्म नियतं क्रियतेऽर्जुन |
सङ्गं त्यक्त्वा फलं चैव स त्याग: सात्त्विको मत: ||

kāryam ity eva yat karma niyataṁ kriyate ‘rjuna
saṅgaṁ tyaktvā phalaṁ chaiva sa tyāgaḥ sāttviko mataḥ

Performing one’s work, simply because it is to be performed, while giving up attachment to the fruits, is sattvic detachment.

Hence, the proper path for spiritual progress is to practice devotion along with our prescribed work, even though it may be painful and burdensome.  When our detachment develops to such an extent that we no longer find our work burdensome, no matter how difficult it may be, only then should we consider giving up work, and performing devotion full time.  However, this step of Karm Sanyas is to be taken only under the guidance of the Guru, when we are qualified for it.  For the vast majority of the people, Karm Yog is more suitable, where they continue doing their work, but make their consciousness Divine.

While doing Karm Yog, you can remember God and Guru in various ways.  Practice to feel Their presence with you.  Think that They are watching you; make Them your witness in every activity that you perform.  This will help keep your mind in the Divine realm, while you do your worldly duties with the body.

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Meenakshi Goyal
Meenakshi Goyal
06/06/2014 10:30 am

Thank you swamiji for keep reminding us these wonderful teachings given by Lord Shri Krishna….It awakens the sleepy souls…:-))

GL Sahni
GL Sahni
21/06/2014 5:38 am

There r times when one feels that work hampers sadhna 4 God realisation. Such teaching at thosle crossroad give right direction.Teachings by a Guru who himself practises, are all the more effective. Thank U Swamiji.These have special significance 4 me as incidentally I was reading 2nd chaper of Bh. Geeta.

G.L.Sahni : camp Bangalore

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