Karma Can Be Transformed Into Yoga
Sri Swami Sivananda
This article is a chapter from the book Yoga And Realisation.
If you always keep the goal of Self-realisation before you all the time you will have quick progress. No doubt, you are eternal; no doubt you have eternity before you. You are deathless. You are beyond the bounds of time. It is true; but let this not slacken your efforts to realise the Self in this birth. You do not know when you will get this human birth again. You cannot realise in a sub-human or in a super-human birth–either as an animal or as a god. In both of these series of births, the soul only enjoys or suffers according to the fruits of the Karma that he performs in his human birth. After this momentum is over, he will have to take a human birth again with another chance of realising the Self. This will enable you to realise how very important it is that we should strive our utmost to realise the Self here and now. Not a moment of this life is to be wasted. Every day you must introspect and find out if you are progressing. This is very, very essential. Otherwise, you are in the gravest danger of being led away from the path. Introspect. Find out. Maya is ever ready to delude you and lead you astray. Take care. She has ever so many forms. Pride of service, arrogance of position, conceit of achievement, attachment to accomplishments, desire for comforts, greed for power, anger at those who obstruct your seizure of power, and an innate craving to override, oppress, and misbehave towards others on account of an inborn superiority-complex–those are some of the heavenly damsels that always surround you to tempt you from your high goal. Beware!
If you are able to turn every act into a brick to construct a canal through which will flow freely and continuously the thought of God, your heart will be filled with the nectar of bliss. The Bhava that “Work is worship” must be kept up. This will effectively counteract the allurements of Maya and nullify her temptations. Know that you are, in essence the Atman, the Akarta and Abhokta. God works through you for His own inscrutable purpose. How, then can you claim any merit or suffer a demerit? The one Atman that is in you–nay, that you are–is everywhere. Naught else is there in the entire universe. Everything is dear to you only because everything is your own Self. Who can cheat you; and whom can you cheat? Who can do you any harm; and how can you do any harm to others? Love, love, love! For everything is your own Self. Will you wantonly cut your own throat? That is what you are doing when you injure another–in thought, word or deed. Again, supposing your finger hurts your eye by mistake, will you cut if off? Similarly, you should not retaliate when your brother hurts you by mistake. You should accept whatever comes–applause and criticism, praise and condemnation, love and hatred, gain and loss–as God’s kindly gifts. Take every one who comes into contact with you as a manifestation of God Himself. Bow to every one; prostrate even before asses. Develop humility to the maximum extent. “To become humbler than the blade of grass” should be your ideal. If you feel that everyone is but a manifestation of God, you will not only tolerate but positively love criticisms. When another man criticises you, at once think he is right–for he is God. You should analyse the ideas entertained in the criticism only afterwards and arrive at a mature judgment. By this method you would very easily conquer the temptation to offer a rebuff. You will develop patience, understanding; and you will have goodwill on all sides from everyone. You should introspect in silence and solitude and analyse the points of criticism. Solitude will calm your emotions and the conclusion you arrive at will be sound. Karma Yogis should never let emotions and excitement get the better part of themselves.
By following these instructions, any action–sacred or secular, even if it is service of the family–may be converted into as act of worship, leading to the most sublime goal of Self-realisation! May you all become perfect Karma Yogins!