Change of Perspective

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

One can develop enthusiasm and efficiency in one's duties and tasks by developing the attitude of karma yoga. Karma is the name of every kind of interaction that takes place. Karma is not physical labour or physical involvement. Karma is an interaction, which happens at lower levels, which happens at intermediate levels, which happens at higher levels. The tattwas, or elements, perform karmas. Creation is subject to karma. The mind, when it thinks, is performing a karma. When emotions are expressed it is karma and a limb being moved is a karma. The senses perform karma, interact and intermingle with each other. The interaction and intermingling of something with something else is known as karma. When the mind associates itself with an object and thinks about that, it is karma. When the mind thinks of an idea or fantasizes that is karma. When aggression, affection, anger, jealousy, peace or silence is expressed it is karma. When one works in society and in life, then that is also known as karma.

Towards enthusiasm

One can develop enthusiasm by being aware that karma is being performed in any position or capacity, in the office, as a vendor, a doctor, or a sannyasin. Whatever the profession may be there has to be an awareness and understanding of what is being done and the purpose behind it. Normally what happens is that one is not aware of the purpose behind the karma.

If a person works in an office and thinks he is going to receive his pay at the end of the month, money becomes the focus. However, is money the focus or is creativity the focus of karma? Therefore, if one identifies with creativity, an ordinary act can be filled with enthusiasm, optimism and creativity. If one identifies with the expected result or gain once the work is completed, there is no focus on creativity and one's heartfelt expression. Therefore, that action will have no meaning and will be only a mechanical process.

This awareness is the most difficult training that one receives in spiritual life. This training is so difficult that Sri Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita tells Arjuna that nobody has been able to perform karma yoga and nobody will be able to perform karma yoga in the future for it is the most difficult of sadhanas. One has to let go of the idea of gain and result of an action and identify with creativity only. It is said in the Bhagavad Gita (5:11):

Kaayena manasaa buddhyaa kevalairindriyairapi;
Yoginah karma kurvanti sangam tyaktvaatmashuddhaye.

Yogis, having abandoned attachment, perform actions only by the body, mind, intellect and also by the senses, for the purification of the self.

Action has to be performed for self-purification and creativity. Once creativity and purity become part of the karma, there is no problem. The effort of karma yoga is to bring in creativity and the feeling of inner purity while doing an ordinary work. According to the yogic perspective, there will be satisfaction, contentment and enthusiasm in every task.

—1 August 2001, Ganga Darshan, Munger