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Karma Yoga

Karma yoga is service to God which is realized through help provided to people in their evolutionary advancement. In this service, there must be no selfish personal interest.

What does service to God mean?

If we analyze the Teachings left to people by, for instance, Krishna, Jesus Christ, Babaji, Sathya Sai Baba, then it becomes clear what God implies by service: He needs our efforts on self-development and our help to other people in this matter.

Helping other people on this Path — this is what service to God is!

But one should not interpret this kind of help too narrowly: only as preaching, conducting religious classes or writing religious books.

No. In order to live on the Earth fruitfully and to evolve, people also need housing, food, clothing, fuel, transport, safety, medical help, education and many other things. Therefore, karma yoga means helping other people in everything that is good.

The most important characteristic of karma yoga is the right motivation: that is, one should not act for gain or reward, even in the form of a salary. One has to perform actions for the sake of helping other people, as acts of selfless giving. This does not imply, however, an unpaid work. So, the short definition of the term karma yoga sounds like this — “selfless help to all worthy people in everything good”.

It is very important to emphasize that one develops correctly not through parasitism, panhandling or endless repetition of prayers or making ritual bodily movements — but through creative work and active love for other evolving beings, which is expressed in actions for their good.

 

Let us look at some quotations about karma yoga:  

In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says about karma yoga the following:

3:7. … He who has conquered his indriyas and freely performs karma yoga deserves respect!

3:8. Therefore, perform righteous actions, for action is better than inaction; being idle, one cannot support even one’s own body!

3:9. Secular people are enslaved by action if it is not performed as sacrifice. Perform your action as offering to God, staying free from the attachment to the “earthly”.

 3:19. Therefore, ceaselessly perform your duties without any expectation of reward. Verily, performing action thus does man attain the Supreme!

3:25. The unwise one acts out of selfishness, O Bharata! The wise one acts without selfishness, for the good of others!

5:2. Both sannyasa and karma yoga will bring you to the highest good. But, verily, karma yoga is preferable!

 

Let us now read several excerpts from the Teachings given to people by Jesus Christ:

“Whatever be the gifts which each has received, you must use them for one another’s benefit…” (1 Peter 4:10)

“Let no one seek own (profit), but each one another’s (wealth)!” (1 Cor 10:24)

“… Truly I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it (did not help) to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me” (Matt 25:45).

 

Babaji paid much attention to karma yoga in His preachings. These are several excerpts from the book The Teachings of Babaji (published by Haidakhandi Samaj, India, 1990):

“There are many kinds of yoga, but karma yoga is of supreme importance! Karma yoga must come first, and then others types of yoga can be added”.

“The great people who lived in the past thrived by doing karma yoga!”

“Karma yoga teaches you to lead a true life! Only karma yoga is able to transform the world. Inaction is the cause of pain and all troubles!”

“We must perform those actions which will benefit others — and not only other people but the whole of Creation!”

 

In conclusion, let us read several sayings of Sathya Sai Baba from the book Yoga of Action. Significance of Selfless Service (published by Center of Sathya Sai Baba, Saint Petersburg, 1997):

“Service performed without selfish motives is the first step on the path of one’s spiritual progress.”

“Any kind of activity performed only out of selfish interests… is meaningless!”

“If service is based on selfish interests, it is not service at all!”

“Service is the best spiritual practice for getting rid of wicked habits of the mind!…”

“Sacrificial attitude is the main criterion of service. Egoism is the first one of the qualities that must be sacrificed.” 

“In service there must be nothing ostentatious!”

“Serve not for the sake of reward, attention, or gratitude, not for the sake of feeling proud of your wealth, abilities, position, or fame. The only true motive for service is love!” 

“Service to man is service to God”.

“Man has to dedicate all his gifts to service to mankind, to all living beings!”


See also:

Yoga

Bhagavad Gita
 

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