Karma Yoga: The Greatest Yoga

There is no greater Yoga than Karma Yoga. From morning to evening you are doing some action, so everything can be Karma Yoga. Everything should be yogic, from the minute you start brushing your teeth to the minute you go to bed. For Karma Yoga there is no time limit, every time is the right time. You can do it anywhere: inside the church, outside the church, in the street, at home, on the train, on the plane, wherever you are. You become a constant practitioner. You are a yogi throughout the day, throughout your life.

Subramuniya Bharati, a great and saintly poet who lived in India earlier in this century wrote, “The essence of scriptures is Karma Yoga. That alone can save us. Service, service, service, that is enough for us.” Mere service alone is enough for your yogic or spiritual practice. Even if you don’t have time to meditate or do asanas, it doesn’t matter. If you have an opportunity to do Karma Yoga, do that first. Through Karma Yoga your heart, mind and body will soon be cleaned. It even takes care of your health. When you serve well, you get real hunger; you eat well, you digest well, and you sleep well. There’s peace in the mind and ease in the body.

Either do your service for others with the thought, “It’s our home, our city, our world,” or do it as God’s service, “All for Jesus, all for Allah or all for Krishna.” It may be difficult to be always doing something for others. You may not respect and love everybody that much. Maybe you would wash the clothes of a person you love, but if you see some other person’s clothing also mixed in, and if you don’t like that person, you will say, “Oh, must I wash all these things?” You differentiate because you don’t love everybody equally. So when you can’t do it for humanity, do it in the name of God. “I am living in God’s home. Every foot of ground on which I step belongs to God. Every tool I use belongs to Him. The kitchen, the garden, the office, the altar, all belong to God. All are God’s children. Through everyone and everything, I am serving God.”

When you feel that way, you will work with even more zeal than an ordinary person. Because you are doing everything for God, you will have more interest than the person who works just for his own benefit. There is a joy in doing something as an offering.

Only through service can you brush aside your ego and petty limitations. That is the only way to put your little self aside so you can get His blessings and His peace. See how the whole philosophy comes in, just in the path of service? Master Sivanandaji always said, “Serve and love. Serve with love, because without love you cannot serve. You become a yogi just by serving. Everything else comes automatically. Lose not even a single opportunity to serve others.”

If you do everything in the name of God, nothing will affect you. Don’t use the will that has been given you to carry unnecessary burdens. Instead, use your will to realize His will. Then you become a beautiful instrument in the hands of God.

A papa was carrying his child in one arm and a package in the other when the child said, ” Papa, let me hold the package so that you will be carrying less.” The papa laughed and gave the package to the child. Ultimately, everything is being carried by God, but childish or egotistic people still like to carry things themselves. The ego says, “I have to do it for myself.” Fine, do it, and when you do it, you will become responsible for it.

That is what we call karma. You do something by yourself, for your sake, and then you have to face the result. If you do something instead for God’s sake, for the benefit of humanity in His name, without the least personal expectation, it becomes Karma Yoga. The benefit might come, but you don’t expect it. There is no personal motivation, and you are free from the results, either pleasure or pain, virtue or demerit.

You can practice all the other Yogas with ease, but the most difficult one is Karma Yoga, because the ego will pop up at every moment. But the secret is to forget yourself, to place yourself last and put others first. Then Karma Yoga will be easy. You will be the happiest person.

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti.

~Sri Swami Satchidananda

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