Karma Yoga – yoga of action

Post By: Published on: December 15, 2016 Reading time: 4 minutes

School of Yoga explains karma-yoga:

  • All our actions (karma) are a manifestation or our identity (asmitā).
  • After we act, we anxiously await the result of our action. Furthermore, we do this because the feedback reinforces our impression of ourselves, our self-worth (asmitā).
  • When the action is acknowledged, we experience an enormous feeling of achievement, action or ownership. However, when the feedback is negative, we become depressed, withdrawn and negative.
  • Our actions are a manifestation of our values and conditioning (dharma). Consequently, we decide that we like or dislike anything based on this conditioning.
  • When we like the feedback, we draw closer to the object (rāga) and when we don’t like the feedback, we push the object away (dveṣa).
  • This movement of drawing close or pushing away is action (karma).

School of Yoga explains characteristics of the bond (bandhana);

Existential bond:
  • The first feedback which we receive confirm our existence. Consequently, this feedback becomes a critical need for us.
  • As a result, once we receive this validation of our existence, we immediately try to secure the source of this feedback.
  • So, we immediately build a bond with the entity which acknowledges our manifestation and try to maintain the bond to ensure that we never have to worry about our existence.
Transaction bond:
  • Once our existence is validated, we begin to transact with the other entity and a give-take or stimulus-response transaction is generated.
  • So, the bond generated in this manner is called a transactional bond

School of Yoga explains transaction bonds;

Sambandana (equal bond) in Sanskrit (sama = equal + bandhana = bond). Equal bonds exist when give and take occur in equal measure. This generally occurs in a marriage, where give and take is a continuous process. In fact, this is the reason marriages in India are called sambandh and in-laws are called sambhandi or samdi (of equal bond or relationship).

Ṛṇānubandhana or bond of debt in Sanskrit (ṛṇa = that of debt + bandhana = bond). All bonds other than sambandhana fall into this category. Ṛṇa or riṇ occurs when one give or takes more from the other, which occurs in almost all cases. The debt created has to be liquidated and if it is not completed in this life, it will spill over to the next. This is the basis for logic of rebirth or saṃsāra.

The dissolution of debt involves 2 terms which need to be understood;

  • Since all the karma accumulated is often not liquidated in a single transaction, the total debt which is accumulated is called sañcita-karma (accumulated karma)
  • The debt coming up for liquidation is called prārabdha-karma or undertaken karma.
  • The debt that is getting creating now, is called agami-karma or current karma.

School of Yoga explains karma-yoga:

Since karma is the accrual and dissolution of debt, therefore, karma-yoga is the process of;

  • Dissolving existing debt
  • Not accruing debt.

Since all actions are performed by us as a manifestation of our identity, so this means that karma-yoga is our ability to our action from our sense of identity.

School of Yoga on implementing karma-yoga:

To practice karma-yoga, the following techniques are key to isolating the Self from its actions;

  • The ability to perform actions without saṅkalpa (desire for an outcome).
  • Perform all actions as a sacrifice (yajñá).
  • Receive feedback on action is without judgement (neither like nor dislike, in a dispassionate manner).
  • Similarly, the action of others should be received without judgement and in a dispassionate manner.

Internal Tags: Dharma (conditioning)Stress and Situational AwarenessStress and pranaAwareness measuresHatha Yoga PradeepikaPatanjali Yoga SutraJnana YogaBhakti Yoga Hatha Yoga and Raja Yoga.

External Tags: Consciousness

School of Yoga – conclusion of karma-yoga:

Initially, there will be enormous internal conflict and fear of losing identity. However, over time there is better increased awareness of situations which result in improved discrimination (vivekam) and dispassion (vairagyam). Consequently, the Yogi achieves a high level of situational awareness (sthithaprajñā) and this results in isolation of the Self. When there is neither accrual or dissolution of debt, there is no Karma. This is karma-yoga.

Points to ponder on karma-yoga;

  • What is karma-yoga?
  • Detail the elements of karma-yoga and how do they impact yoga?
  • How is karma-yoga implemented?
  • What are the techniques of using karma-yoga in daily life?
  • Explain the different types of bonds?
  • What is ṛṇa or debt? How does it affect karma?

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