Throw the Results out the Window with Karma Yoga

by Morgan Webert

Have you ever felt like someone gave you the perfect book or information just at the right time for what you’re experiencing?  Or, you finally decide to read or listen to something that’s been accumulating dust, and low and behold, it is exactly what you needed to hear?  Well, this week I felt just like that when I finally decided to listen to a reading of the Bhagavad Gita given to me by a friend a few weeks ago.

The Bhagavad Gita is one of the most famous stories out of the Hindu epic Mahabharata, in which krishna_arjuna_2Prince Arjun must lead a battle that divides his family and teachers.  As he steps up to the front lines of the battle field, he goes through an existential crisis wondering why he should fight at all, and calls on his chariot driver, who happens to be Lord Krishna, for guidance and advice.  The conversation that follows expounds upon the many forms of yoga and Krishna delves into the philosophies of each, beginning with Karma Yoga, and boy did I need to be reminded about Karma Yoga.

Karma Yoga is known as the yoga of selfless action.  Krishna tells Arjun to act with awareness but without attachment to outcome, without fear of success or failure and learn to act correctly in the present moment.  At the core of the teachings of Karma Yoga are acceptance and no expectation.  Acceptance allows us to get over our past and no expectations detaches us from the future.  This attitude frees us from feelings of guilt (the past) or worry (the future), and helps us to live in the present moment.

imagesBy living in this moment we connect to our true selves and the animating life-force running through us.  Krishna teaches Arjun that all work and action done with this state of mind shows us that we, or the ego self, is not the one doing the work.  Rather, we are simply vessels and the animating universal energy (prana, atman, paramatman, god etc) works through us.

I find this last idea very reassuring, and am reminded how supported we are by this universal energy, we need only make space for it to flow through us.  The idea of non attachment to results, however, really challenges me!  But as I worked this week to release expectations of outcomes, and revalue the moment for the moment, I noticed I gradually became more energized in my work, felt lighter, and santosha (contentment) began to permeate my days.

Now the challenge becomes remembering this lesson!