Karma Yoga - The meaning of Karma
Karma yoga is simply an attitude towards action. It is the understanding that a person's actions can be devoted to gratitude in an appropriate and timely manner, without being in charge of the results. All results of actions are Prasad, as a gift of grace, that fulfill one's needs. I There is no need to complain, whine or become depressed when you do not get what you want. The whole point of karma yoga is to understand that you are not the doer. It is not necessarily devotional and all smiles, forgiveness and a happy world, it is what is in your path, taking whats good and bad. Karma yoga never fails, because it is an attitude you take towards action, not the action itself. However, if you are contravening dharma, karma yoga does not work. It only works if you are acting in accordance with your inborn nature (svadharma) and in accordance with universal dharma.
Karma yoga means fully dedicating your every thought, word and action, before they are performed, on a moment-to-moment basis, to Isvara. Karma yoga is performing one’s duty, cultivating the right attitude toward life. Thus likes and dislikes often prompt you to perform an action which is not conducive to peace of mind, it goes against meaning of Karma. So performing actions in harmony with the natural order (dharmic actions) and avoiding actions that disturb the order (adharmic actions) is karma yoga.
Karma yoga is keeping one’s attention on the motivation behind one’s actions and adjusting one’s attitude when it is found to be vasana-producing.
When rajas is strong, the mind cannot observe itself. It is caught up in the future, the thought that things need to be different, so the mind acts to correct the situation, usually in negative ways; it does not act to correct itself.
When tamas predominates, the mind is too dull to discriminate; it is prone to denial and avoidance.
Rajas and tamas always work together. Where you find projection (rajas) you will find denial (tamas).
Sameness of mind towards success and failure with respect to action is another definition of yoga.
When a result is looked upon as a success, attachment arises and when it is looked upon as failure aversion arises.
In fact there is no such thing as success and failure. Every result is in accordance with the laws of action. Laws are not made by anybody; they are made by the dharma field, or Isvara, so they can never go wrong.
Every result is a right result. The more you appreciate the laws, the more you are in harmony with the things around and you can find your place in the scheme of things.
Action never really fails; it only produces results.
A given expectation may be said to have failed – only the expectation is the problem.
It is only a matter of wrong judgment because we are not omniscient and we cannot have the knowledge of all the factors that shape the results of the actions.
Only Isvara has all knowledge of these factors. As stated, another definition of karma yoga is an attitude of gratitude, a loving consecration of one’s actions based on the understanding that life is a great gift that requires reciprocation.
We must remember that we have the freedom in choosing and performing an action and whatever result comes is in accordance with the laws governing the action. This attitude of taking the result as it is, maintaining equanimity of the mind both in success and failure, is yoga.
Failure to appreciate this fact results in low self-esteem, the feeling that “I am a failure.”
The solution to low self-esteem is the understanding that one’s knowledge of all the variables in the field that produce results is and always will be limited.
Therefore the results of one’s actions can never be known.
Action can produce likes and dislikes (vasanas) only if the result is looked upon as a success or failure.
When the result is looked upon as a function of the invariable laws of action or, what is even better, if it is looked upon as the grace of the dharma field, no new likes and dislikes are created. With this attitude towards the result actions born of likes and dislikes becomes the means of eliminating the very likes and dislikes themselves.
The mind becomes free from the agitations of elation (rajas) and depression (tamas). Such a mind is tranquil and contemplative, sattvic.