Off the mat: Karma yoga

Beyond the mat with the four yogas
Part III: Karma
By Nancy B. Loughlin

Published in News Press on April 28, 2015

There is nothing wrong with wanting to make a lot of money.

But, how are you going to get it, and what are you going to do with it?

Wealth is a resource like talent, compassion, generosity, intelligence, creativity, leadership and the list goes on.

Resources are collective. They are meant to be shared, not hoarded.  All the world’s a stage, and you’re merely a player.  So, if you are blessed with one of these resources, it is your duty to cough it up.  It’s not really yours to have and to hold.

In fact, the more resources you have, the more in debt you are.

Karma is one of the most familiar concepts from eastern spirituality, and the term has become mainstream jargon often to deleterious effects.  The common perception is that your actions, if negative, will eventually bite you in the ass.  If they are positive, fate will bestow great rewards.

That’s a little simplistic, don’t you think?  Such a belief system implies the universe is just, like some sort of cosmic traffic cop. But, unfortunately, it is a little more complicated than that.

At least you can be just.

Karma is the yoga of action.  It’s about practicing how you serve.

Beginning karma:

  1. Your job is not to save the world. The world is just fine, and it doesn’t need you.  You are the one who needs the world. Swami Vivekananda said that the world is a “grand moral gymnasium.” It’s where you work out on the path to self-actualization.
  1. Everything you do matters. There is no such thing as “It didn’t mean anything.” Are you acting with intention in all things?

How do you work?  How do you play? How do you love? What do you talk about? What do you read? What do you consume? How do you make and spend your money? This is what mindfulness is all about.

The evidence of your greatness is not in your great deeds.  Even a fool can become a hero given the right circumstances.  Your worth is measured in how you carry yourself in daily life, living humbly and doing what you need to do when the situation arises.

You follow the five yamas as outlined by Patanjali’s Sutras:  You do no harm.  You’re truthful.  You never steal what rightly belongs to others.  You practice restraint and discipline. You grasp everything lightly, particularly anything that can be taken away.

  1. When you serve to fulfill your highest purpose, don’t expect anything in return. You are detached from rewards. If you demand recognition, more wealth, gratitude or payback, it isn’t service. It’s ego gratification, and that’s selfish.

Yes, live to serve.  Help others.  Just know that you cannot help them.


3 thoughts on “Off the mat: Karma yoga

  1. John R Johnson

    Hi, long time residents of Bonita Springs area —–sold out 4 years ago—now living Pres Homes St. Paul, MN–vacationed in Ft. Myers this season and saved your first two yoga sessions(4/14 and 4/21)—now I need a favor–could you E-mail 4/28 and 5/5 articles to a friend—e-mail——I don’t have a printer!! My wife (age 89 this 7/22/15) and me(90 last 11/01/ 14)both attend yoga class offered 2 times a week (no floor exercises) by our independent living facility. I want to expand my interest in a more complete understanding of something we are really enjoying—can you help me?? —Sincerely—-John R Johnson


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