Karma Yoga, Paths to God, Understanding Self

Career and Karma Yoga

To live is to be in Karma. By remolding the understanding and enactment of Karma, Karma Yoga brings all humanity within its ambit and provides a definite path to personal emancipation in the Supreme Consciousness.

In our adult life, most of us are engaged in some job and career. It is essentially putting ourselves in service for the society in some way. There is a common misconception that such service amounts to Karma Yoga. In this post, it is argued why career cannot be Karma Yoga in most cases, and if at all it is possible to mold a career in the terms of Karma Yoga.

The first three posts on Karma Yoga develop the foundation on which this post is laid. It is recommended that one reads them before continuing.

Part I – Here Karma is analyzed into its components, using which the idea of Karma Yoga is laid down.

Part II – The fundamental principle of Karma Yoga to be followed by a Karma Yogi is discussed in detail.

Part III – The scope of Karma Yoga is laid down, and its impact on the personal and the social life of an individual is discussed.

Career is our Identity

Who we are and what we do are almost inseparable from each other.

We can be doctors, engineers, in a corporate position, in academics or research, artist, skilled labour, farmers, independent retail businesspersons, and so many other occupations out there. But we are always one of these. We identify with our job and career so intricately that we never really think of ourselves separate from that.

It is so because of two reasons. The first one is that we employ our skills or faculties and put them in service. Second, we get paid for that.

As if the first was not enough to give a feeling of ownership of the service delivered, the second puts an undeniable stamp on it.

Career or job, for the above reasons, cannot be separated from the sense of ownership of it.

For the same reason, it can never become Karma Yoga for an individual.

Karma Yoga necessitates detachment from the Karma with recognition that it is an act of God, only delivered through the medium of the person. It also necessitates that the person only act as per their duty, without keeping any expectation of personal gains from such action. As discussed above, in the case of a career or a job, both these conditions are blatantly violated.

The notional thought that our career becomes our Karma Yoga is, hence, totally misplaced.

Supposing that some of us are noble enough not to identify oneself with their job, and can view it as it really is, which is duty or service to society based on the faculties bestowed upon us through the grace of God. But still the second requirement would never be fulfilled because the person would invariably be paid for their service. If someone claims that they do not engage in their career because of expectation of receiving monetary gains only, then simply ask them to keep up their service without it, and their hypocrisy will be instantly in the open.

That said, there had been instances in history where a person had dedicated their entire salary to charity purposes, all throughout their career. However, such noble determination requires a strength which only one in a billion would perhaps be born with.

Living in Karma Yoga

Is there no way that we could convert our career into Karma Yoga?

Only if you can remain constantly in the truth that it is all God’s work you are doing through God-gifted faculties and position to carry out the work.

Also, the work is done as service to various manifestations of God only, in human form or otherwise.

You have to see Karma as starting from God and ending in God.

Along with that detachment from monetary gains is necessary. The money from the job should be utilized only for meeting the minimum expenses in order to live a simple life and carry out further Karma Yoga without difficulties.

A generous part of the money must also be donated to charities. This helps one dissociate themselves from the earned money more and more. The recognition that money is not a personal possession but only a means to meet a few necessary obligations in life thus gets more established in a person.

Extreme Careers

The common notion about being in the path to God is adoption of a sattwik lifestyle endowed with the qualities of peace, love, non-violence, etc.

For that reason, it might appear that molding one’s career into Karma Yoga is only suitable for the saintly types, or those who are already in an elevated level of spirituality.

However, people in extreme careers are more likely to be naturally attuned to Karma Yoga than anyone else.

Let us analyze with the example of a security or a defence personnel in field duty.

Such a person has to fire on fugitives and may also have to kill them. Though this is a violent act, it is their duty to do so. Their skills, aptitude, training and position put them in this extreme duty. All the while, this is the most selfless service than anything else since it endangers their own lives for the sake of their service to society. What greater sacrifice could be made by one?

On top of that, such people have to be always ready for service. As such, they are mostly occupied with the thought of duty and not what they gain from it. Their earnings may as well be utilized without much of their knowledge, since they may be stationed far away from their homes.

If these people are honest in their job, they are in principle living the life of a Karma Yogi with more veracity than others. If they are also attuned to the fact that their service is actually a service of God done through them, they become true Karma Yogis through and through.

In this way, even an executioner or a butcher can become a Karma Yogi.

In fact, as already put forward, Karma Yoga encompasses every human being without discrimination, only they need to remold their life in terms of it.

Duty and Social Reform

All work can be broadly divided into four categories.

The first is the work of knowledge generation and retention, in which are engaged people with stronger mental faculties, such as memory, intelligence and wisdom. The second is the work of protection and administration, in which people with skills of combat, discipline and public welfare are engaged. The third is the work of resource management and distribution, by which all people in the society get access to required resources. The fourth is generation of such resources and other daily activities through which a society remains operative.

An individual is bestowed with skills and inclinations in line with one of the above four types of work more than the others.

As could be observed, the above four types of service are fundamental in keeping a society functioning properly. In absence or corruption of any one of these, the society starts to degrade and becomes harmful for everyone.

Karma Yoga binds an individual to their respective duty without expectation of personal gain, thus removing any possibility of corruption in the service they are engaged to. When everyone in the society follow the path of Karma Yoga, the society becomes an ideal one, free from corruption and sustaining each and everyone in it.

Thus it can be seen that Karma Yoga is the most promising ideology not just for personal spiritual aspiration of God Union, but also for social reform by which all people in the society would be able to live comfortable and happy lives.




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