As long as you feel that you are doing something, then you are responsible. But when you don’t feel that you are doing anything, and you feel that you have completely surrendered into the hands of a Higher Power that does everything, where is the karma for you? When there is no action for you, then there is no reaction for you. As long as the doership is there, as long as you feel that you have done something, you have to face the result.

For example, if somebody asks you to take some flowers and sell them for $10, where will the money you collect go? Will you pocket it? No. It will go to the person who gave you the flowers to sell; you are only an agent. So when you become an agent of the Inner Reality, the result goes to It and you are not responsible.

When I do something for my personal gain, that binds me. But when I do something for the sake of somebody else, I am not bound up and have no karma. That is why the Bhagavad Gita says that you have a duty to act, but you have no right to expect a result.

You don’t need to worry about karma if you just do things for the sake of doing and leave the rest to the nature. Then you are free from any reactions. That is the secret of karma. No karma will ever affect us if all our actions are done with a selfless attitude, without expecting anything in return.

When I say “anything in return,” I mean don’t even expect any appreciation such as a smile, or a thank you. You just do for the sake of doing, finish it, and forget it there. Then no karma will affect you. The Bhagavad Gita speaks about this as an actionless action, or in other words, inaction in action.

If we could live such a selfless life we could realize that we are all parts of the whole. We are doing everything for the sake of the humanity, even the so-called “selfish” actions such as your own eating, your own sleeping, and your own building of a home for yourself. With the proper attitude they too can become selfless actions. You need not change the action, just change the attitude behind the action.

If somebody asks you, “Why do you eat?” Instead of saying, “I want to build up my triceps and biceps” say, “I have to eat to have enough energy to serve others. I am breathing to live so that I can serve others.” Then you’re very breathing, you’re very eating, and even sleeping becomes selfless and there is nothing from it that you have to face as a karmic result.

By Sri Swami Satchidananda