The aim of karma yoga is to become the perfect reflector of the cosmic consciousness in the arena of the manifested world. Usually this perfection is impossible to attain because of personal whims. These have to be eradicated.
When one no longer considers himself to be the doer, but merely the instrument, then everything that one does becomes spiritualized and perfect. The actions and work become super-efficient. He becomes the expert of experts in his actions, the least effort produces the greatest results. The individual has equanimity of mind under all situations, for how can an instrument become angry, upset or egotistical? It is the ego and personal desires that make us react adversely with others and the environment.
Karma yoga develops the faculty of concentration, which is essential in all fields, and spheres of life. It also vastly improves the benefits that one gains from meditational practices and will also improve the benefits that one will gain from kriya yoga in the future.
Higher stages of karma yoga become meditation. While performing actions, the karma yogi reposes in the state of meditation, even amongst the most intense activity. The karma yogi rests, floats, dissolves in the divine bliss of higher awareness. The object acted upon, the actions themselves and the karma yogi become one and the same. This is real meditation and real karma yoga.
Awareness in karma yoga is essential. It is important to develop the ability to do the work in hand, while simultaneously being a witness to the actions. Aim to become a detached, disinterested observer. Though it seems to be a paradox, one is able to work more efficiently in this manner without being swayed by personal whims and prejudices, nor motivated by ego likes or dislikes. One does that which is necessary for the given circumstances, as they really are, without favour. One acts from the very core of being – the Self.
Heideggar, the western philosopher, has written: “The artist must turn himself to that which wants to be revealed and permit the process to happen through him.”
You too must become an artist in everything that you do. Develop the perception and intuition of the artist, whether you are working in the garden, eating food, singing, typing, writing or whatever you do. Do everything as though you are an artist painting a masterpiece. Do your work, no matter how seemingly trivial, as though you are creating a work of art. Treat the world stage as your studio. Try to achieve perfection in everything that you do. This is karma yoga. Allow action to happen through the body and the mind, without any effort. Ideally, they should only happen. You must try to become the perfect vessel for the expression of consciousness in the world arena.
Perfect karma yoga cannot occur until the ceaseless chattering and turmoil of the mind settles. The mind must become as clear as a crystal, as calm as a still pond. The mind must be emptied of conflict, then every action and thought will happen. Thoughts will arise like a gigantic eruption in the. endless ocean of the mind. They will have great power, yet will quietly fade away as quickly as they arose. The thoughts will settle down into the tranquil depths again without leaving the slightest trace. This is karma yoga.
Karma yoga is impossible to really understand without experience. But even one minute’s, even one second’s experience of real karma yoga, of the bliss, the perfection will give you full understanding of what we have been inadequately trying to explain. No more questions or contradictions will occur, because you will know. Until this profound experience, one must merely read carefully what we have written, think about it and try to put it into practice, no matter how superficially or inadequately. The precepts of karma yoga seem almost trite, but their implications are overwhelming, and if practised will launch you into the realms of higher awareness.