Karen Karuna Kreps met Swami Satchidananda (Sri Gurudev ) in 1967, while she was in high school. She wanted to become his secretary, but her parents wanted her to go to college and have a career. Sri Gurudev told her to go to college and then decide what to do. She went to New York University so as to not leave the New York Integral Yoga Institute and lived in the IYI for Freshman and Sophomore years. She went on to work in publishing, first in print and then online. She continues to serve Sri Gurudev to this day, through her work and life’s example. Here, she shares reflections on this journey.
For me, as a child of the ‘60s, I often felt torn between the material world and spiritual growth. Before Yoga was in vogue, I felt the business world shunned those like me who followed an alternative lifestyle and who didn’t chase the almighty dollar. I didn’t talk that much about Yoga early in my professional life, but kept it private. Yet, it was my involvement in Yoga that gave me the sharp focus that made easy the tasks of entry-level publishing—Xeroxing, collating papers, proofreading. When I could sit and meditate for an hour, it was nothing to collate papers. Yet, much of business involves socializing and networking, so not drinking and eating meat could bring scrutiny.
Thankfully things have changed massively. Yogis today can be more open, and Yoga may become an asset, if you can work it into a resume or a job interview—because it shows a certain moral fiber, character strength and discipline.
A lot of the business world is about self-promotion and prestige, but I think there’s a place for a yogic approach in business, for being a team player and having the spotlight shine on someone else. As a Bhakti Yogi, I can choose to be, not necessarily worshipful of but dedicated to serving my clients. As a Web developer, I enable people to communicate clearly, organize their ideas and use new technology in ways that helps them market and reach their customers. When I step out of the selfish need to promote myself, I can get behind a figurehead and be a Shakti force, playing the backstage role while my clients use social media tools to say what they need to say.
I’m grateful I had Yoga to guide me, the yamas and niyamas and Gurudev’s teaching: that a perfect act is one that brings no harm to anybody and at least some benefit to someone. When I reflect now, I see how important it is to be strong in one’s personal practice and faith. We each can play our roles in the business world without so identifying with the roles that we lose our peace if things change, when reorganization occurs. The teachings provide perspective. With nonattachment to our professional roles and the rewards that come from those roles, we can work to gracefully and efficiently navigate the seas of change that are the nature of the world.
Sri Gurudev taught us that Yoga is not about standing on your head; it’s about standing on your own feet, a life sadhana, a code of conduct. It’s a compass, keeping you on the right path, yearning to contribute as an act of service. The goal of Yoga is to be happy. He taught us that it’s by non-attachment and service that we experience lasting happiness. We might wonder how that fits in with business. It fits beautifully. If your business provides service and can satisfy your needs—provide a comfortable home, allow you to contribute to charity, to be generous and support the ashram or other organizations doing good in the world, it makes you an active, productive part of society. I think, as yogis in the West, we can show the world a way of being spiritual in the marketplace—wearing a suit instead of a loincloth.
About the Author:
Karen Karuna Kreps, RTY/500, was honored with the title of “Guru Tattwa Ratnam” or “Jewel of the Guru’s Teachings” by Sri Gurudev. She served as Senior Editor of this magazine for many years and developed many of the Integral Yoga websites. She is an independent Web content developer in Austin, Texas. For more information, visit: netingenuity.com.