Karma Yoga (Part 2): Dharma. Part II

So if your aim is to make money, then continue making money. If you repress externally, then your mind will only do it internally. If you have ambition then fulfil that ambition, but with as much awareness and detachment as possible. Peace of mind or higher awareness cannot be obtained by avoiding the things that your individual nature demands you to do. You will only suppress the desire and cause more tension and unhappiness. Dive into the turmoil of worldly activity; live out your samskaras (mental impressions) but with full awareness. This is essential in order to eventually jump out of the everlasting circle of aimless, egotistical activities.

There are many misconceptions about sin. The Indian scriptures in their characteristic, pragmatic, straight-to-the-point manner, have given an excellent definition of sin or sinful action. It is that which detracts or leads one away from the path to harmony, knowledge and higher awareness. If a person performs his dharma and practises karma yoga, then any action is automatically without sin. There is no absolute or fixed definition, for an action done by one person can lead another away from harmony.

“He who still retains his ego is mentally active even when at rest; but the wise man who is free from egoism is incapable of sin or wrong action.” (18:29) Furthermore, it is performance of one’s dharma that encourages egoless and sinless actions. This is explained very clearly in the Bhagavad Gita as follows: “It is better to do one’s dharma without merit, than the dharma of another well performed. He who does the dharma determined by his individual nature incurs no sin.” (18:47)

Practise your dharma to the best of your ability. Try not to do the dharma of another person, even though you could do it better, or more easily. You may think that you are helping someone by doing bis work, but it may lead to less obvious adverse repercussions, perhaps by making the other person lazy or lose self-respect. So one should adhere to their own dharma (swadharma). At the same time try to practise karma yoga. In this way, one will reduce ‘sinful’ acts and thereby move into the realms of higher experience and knowledge. Incidentally, it is so important not to become caught up in the intellectual definitions of sin that have plagued people with untold phobias and neuroses throughout history. Sin is merely that which leads one away from the path to enlightenment, nothing more.

It is important to accept one’s limitations and do the actions that seem most harmonious, even if contrary to the expectations of others. Too often our actions are decided by other people. We see others doing certain actions, and feel that we must also do the same, even though it may be contrary to our individual personality. We feel obliged to live up to other people’s expectations and try to become something that we are not capable of. Unhappiness is the consequence. Choose what you want and do it, but it should be positive, harmonious and what you feel is your dharma. The more you are able to become totally involved in your mode of activity, the better. The work acts as a vehicle. It leads to one-pointedness of mind. Automatically, problems start to fade away. If you are half-hearted in your actions, then the mind loses its power there is no concentration and it tends to dither here and there. So do your work, your dharma, with intensity and with awareness.

Choose that which seems right for you, which interests you. It can even be a hobby why not? Don’t worry what other people think.

It is better to do positive work than work with negative repercussions. Positive work will not only benefit other people, but will lead you to a more relaxed mind and disposition. Positive or good actions are more conducive to progress in yoga. In a sense, so-called bad thoughts and acts (i.e. egotistical and nondharmic) mould your character into a certain pattern. This leads to a destiny which is away from the path to higher awareness. On the other hand, thoughts and actions that are good (i.e. selfless and dharmic) lead to a destiny which permits the influx of higher awareness.

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