Karma Yoga is the yoga of action. For me, it’s the most practical of all yoga schools. It stems from the idea that every desire should be fulfilled. The Universe is so generous that it gives us back whatever we desire or generate. Karma is the ripple we generate at the Universe with our thoughts, words, actions, and desires. In other words, you reap what you sow, what goes around comes around, and every action has a reaction in the universe. It’s a Universal rule. It’s that simple. For as long as we generate a ripple or a reaction in the Universe with our actions, words, or thoughts, we can’t escape from Samsara (rebirth), which means we need to come back to this life over and over again to fulfill what we’ve generated.
Ha ha, here it gets fun…There is a way to get around this Universal law! We can overcome Karma and end Samsara (rebirth) if we can manage not to create karma, and burn the ones we’ve generated so far, while still living in this world.
To me, Bhagavad Gita is the ultimate text that explains how to overcome generating these ripples, Karma.
The Bhagavad Gita is a conversation between Arjuna and Krishna at a battle field and begins with Arjuna throwing his weapons down because he doesn’t want to shed blood of his own relatives. He prefers death rather than killing his own family. Krishna explains to him how he should not give up action, rather fulfill action with a sense of service by being true to himself. Any action, he says, should be without any attachment to the result and an offering to Divine. It’s a rather radical way to encourage one to fight, until you realize by the end that the real fight is a fight with your own ego and your life is the real battlefield.
Krishna teaches Arjuna how to fulfill a life without Karma, by finding peace in every action by offering it up to the Divine, and overcoming traps like anger, worry, ignorance and more importantly one’s own ego. If an action is done with selfless devotion without any expectations and attachment, it doesn’t generate a ripple. It’s quiet a learning!
How can we apply this to real life and not generate karma, or a single ripple, in the Universe?
One way to practice this is to perform every action without expecting any particular outcome, without expectations of monetary benefit or praise, and perform everything as a service to humanity and a service to Divine. This way, we at least stop generating Karma.
There are different ways to burn old karma. The most effective way is to bring awareness to a sanskara (imprints left behind). There are rituals, like fire ceremony, that burns karma. Requesting grace of a guru thru meditation techniques is yet another way to clean old karma. Again what counts is the awareness and desire to neutralize our imprints.
The ultimate practice of Karma yoga is to fully materialize our Divine purpose on this earth, live in accordance with our true self, establish our purpose on Earth, to think, talk, act from a space of non-duality, meaning nothing to wish because we realize everything is perfect as is, nothing to regret because everything was meant to be, no anger, no worries, no expectations, nothing to give, nothing to receive, simply being content in the present moment.
and….Voila! No more Karma.