Whatever is due to you will come and nobody can stop that or cheat you. If ever anybody does seem to cheat you, know that it is an aftereffect of what you have done to someone at some time in the past. You must have cheated somebody earlier, so now another person is cheating you. This is what is known as karmic philosophy. If you had never ever cheated anyone, then no one would cheat you; they won’t even have any idea of cheating you. So, whenever any pain comes to you like that, it can be accepted as your past karma that you are now being given the opportunity to purge.

Mother Nature always provides for our living but we don’t have trust in that. We tend to say, Oh I must take care of myself, nobody else is going to take care of me. This thinking is a lack of faith in God and in Nature. When you were born neither you nor your mother demanded that food be provided for you. No mother has ever consciously prepared milk on their own for the baby. God, or the Cosmic Consciousness, knew that there is a life growing inside and it is this Consciousness that prepared milk for the child. God takes care of every individual soul without being asked to do so. Won’t that same Consciousness do the same even after the child has grown? It will. But we don’t have that kind of confidence.

Ayurveda, an Indian philosophy and  approach toward healing, is found in the Vedas, which are the ancient Hindu scriptures. Ayurveda is appropriately made up of two words: veda and ayush. Veda means book of knowledge and ayush means heathier living. Together, these words mean the book of knowledge about healthy living. And the book begins with this advice to people who practice medicine: If you are ever going to sell this medicine, neither you nor your patient will be happy.

In those days, medicines and knowledge, or teachings, were never sold. Teachers just shared what knowledge they had and, in turn, the students voluntarily took care of the teacher. Although this tradition is thousands of years old, it continued when I was a boy. I was taught by the village school master who was the only teacher in the entire school. Any student could be admitted into the school at any time; there was no opening day or closing day for the school. Just imagine, there were 40, 50, and sometimes 60 students and this one teacher would take care of everybody. He even wrote his own text books because, in those days, school books were not yet widely used. The traditional way of learning the letters was that the teacher would write the alphabet on a palm leaf, using an iron pin as a pen. To make it visible, he would smear the markings with turmeric powder.

When a student was admitted to school there would be a big festival, and according to their position, the parents would bring all kinds of gifts to the teacher. If the boy was from a rich family, the offering to the teacher would be enough to take care of himself and his family for six months. The offering would include clothing, food, money and sometimes even cows for milk; everything was given. When a boy from a poor family would come, the parents might offer vegetables from their garden. There was no particular fee that everybody should pay, but once enrolled into the school all were  treated equally. That is the way knowledge should be imparted—not that you are asked to pay me for sharing what I know. When the business mentality comes in, teaching loses its beauty, its divine charm, and then, naturally, later on the teacher will say “I want more money or I won’t teach.”

And with this current so-called civilization, every day we are increasing our expenses. It’s not only that we need food and clothing and shelter, we also need many other things. We have expanded our needs and many of these are undesirable things that we can live without. In the name of civilization, if we don’t have a big television we feel we are outdated. If you don’t have two telephones in each and every room, including the bathrooms, you are considered to be a poor person. You have to have televisions in every room, so that you won’t miss that beautiful wonderful news every day! You can hear about a murder in one room, a theft or hijacking in another! And another thing, in the name of modern civilization, you can’t wear the same dress every day and even if you have 15 or 20 dresses, another occasion means a new dress. So with all that, even if you get a $1000 dollars a week, it’s not enough. The more you get, the more you find ways to spend it.

We really never learn to live a simple life and that may be the reason why we have inflation. But in those days, people lived with fifty dollars a month and they were quite happy. But you say, “Prices went up, we need more money.” But who increased the prices? You did! When you buy things that are not needed, the prices will go up. On the other hand, if you don’t buy unnecessarily the prices will remain the same. It’s all economics.

Understand that all the great things, all the things that are connected to your well-being, are given free. If Mother Nature wanted to charge us for all that she is giving we would never have enough money to pay for it. How much would you pay for the sunlight, pay for fresh air and fresh water? If you think you pay for the water, that’s incorrect. It is for the person who bottles it up, not for the water. So, our lives should always be an offering, a giving. Never stop giving. Then you will feel so light and that is what we call Karma Yoga. When you live to give, there is a beauty in your work and the entire work place will recognize it. They will never ask you to leave. They will even beg you to stay because of the beautiful vibrations that you give.

Everything you do can be Karma Yoga whether you are at school, in an office, or anywhere you work. Treat your work as your service to humanity. Don’t ever think that you are only working for some reward. Don’t measure the value of your service in dollars. Instead, offer your service with joy. Whatever dollar amount comes, just let it come. Don’t always compare the amount of money you are getting with how much you should be giving, because then it is no longer service. It’s When you bargain or sell your talents that is called business.

If you conducted business that way your mind would be always free from anxiety, joyful. It’s beautiful to think, I’m offering; I’m just giving what I can. The minute you expect something in return you are anxious, and you think, Will I get it or not? All kinds of anxieties will follow. So, we should learn to live a dedicated life, a life of giving and loving—that’s what you call Karma Yoga.

By Sri Swami Satchidananda