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From Yoga to Karmayoga

Spiritual practices such as meditation have several stages. One is that which helps us cleanse the mind and change old habits, attitudes, and ways of thinking and behaviour. As we regularly practise focusing the mind, contemplate the original goodness of the soul, and remember the Supreme Soul, the quality of our consciousness changes. We begin […]

Spiritual practices such as meditation have several stages. One is that which helps us cleanse the mind and change old habits, attitudes, and ways of thinking and behaviour. As we regularly practise focusing the mind, contemplate the original goodness of the soul, and remember the Supreme Soul, the quality of our consciousness changes. We begin to see ourselves in a better light than before, as we recognise the innate virtues of the soul and begin to experience the peace that is our natural state of being.

Looking within and examining our thoughts and feelings also makes us aware of our shortcomings. If we are honest and persistent, we recognise the beliefs and prejudices that limit our mental horizon and lead us to negative ways of thinking. These discoveries do not trouble us much when we know that we are originally pure beings and the scars within have developed over a long time as the soul has journeyed through various lives, having many different experiences. They will heal and vanish when I pay attention to being my true self – remembering that I am a soul, a pure being of light, a child of God, and connect to the Father to draw His divine qualities into myself.

Regular practice of such meditation gives us a positive outlook towards the self and the world, bringing peace, contentment, and joy into our life. But going beyond that, we can reach another stage, that of Karmayoga, wherein our state of mind is such that we go about our worldly tasks without any attachment to the task and uninfluenced by its result.
The Bhagavad Gita says: “Better indeed is knowledge than practice; better than knowledge is meditation; still better is the renunciation of the fruits of actions; peace immediately follows renunciation.”

Real renunciation, the Gita says, lies in renunciation of selfish actions, and even more in the renunciation of the desire or greed for the fruits of any action. Selfless and virtuous actions, and actions conducive to the welfare of others should not be abandoned, but they should be performed without attachment or greed.
The intention plays a crucial role in determining the quality and ethical nature of our actions. Our intentions reflect our underlying motives for acting. Ethical theories often emphasize that morally right actions are those performed with good intentions, such as promoting well-being, justice, or honesty. For example, donating to charity out of genuine concern for others is generally considered more ethical than doing so for personal gain or to impress others.

Some ethical frameworks primarily evaluate actions based on their outcomes. However, intention still matters in these frameworks because it can affect how we judge the morality of someone’s actions, especially in cases where the outcomes are unforeseen or unintended.
Actually, the intention reflects our state of mind, including our values, beliefs, and attitudes. It indicates whether we acted out of compassion, duty, self-interest, or any other motive.

An action may be performed with great skill, but that alone does not make it great. The nature of the action, the intention behind it, and its result also matter. Actions done with expectation of reward bring bondage. When there is no such desire, the heart is purified, says the Gita. Similarly, someone may have an extraordinary talent, but if it leads to vanity or is used merely for selfish gain, that becomes a stain on their character and may even cause their downfall.

Only when there is no attachment can we perform actions with full integrity and remain peaceful and happy regardless of the outcome.

B.K. Surya is a Rajyoga teacher at the Brahma Kumaris headquarters in Mount Abu, Rajasthan.

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