The Art of Action – What is the theory of Karma and how does it actually put us in control of our lives?

There is a lot of confusion surrounding the term Karma both in the East and the West. The philosophical concept of Karma is not defeatist; rather it empowers us to be active, creative agents of our destiny. Surely, every action has a consequence but this also means that we have the opportunity to act in every moment to impact our present and future.

What is the Karma Yoga referred to in the Yogic texts?

Karma Yoga refers both to the practice of yoga asana and meditation but also refers to any act of selfless-service. To understand Karma Yoga, we need to interpret yoga in its purest sense of ‘union’ and karma in its original definition as ‘action.’ Therefore, any action that integrates the different aspects of our being is Karma Yoga.

What kind of action brings more joy to ourselves and to our community?

When we act without selfish motives or desires to inflate our own egos, our actions are in sync with the Whole and carry more power. The art of action then becomes this delicate balance of accessing our desires and channeling them into unselfish avenues.

If we have a preference towards yoga asana, then how do we make that practice Karma Yoga? Here we discuss the concept of Isvarapranidhana or dedicating one’s actions to a greater selfless goal.

What is the state of ‘actionlessness’ and how is it attained through action?

The state of ‘actionlessness’ or complete absorption in a ‘non-differentiated state of mind’ (Samadhi) is described as the end goal of classical yoga. How does a practice that proposes action lead us to a state where action is absent?

The yogic texts are careful to warn us that by merely abstaining from action, one does not achieve a state of perfection. It is a common misconception that one needs to retire from secular life in order to gain peace. In fact, preemptive retirement into a purely contemplative life may prove counterproductive.

Life offers us the best circumstances for our spiritual evolution and that recognition always starts with the present moment. By choosing to act with the intention of fostering unity – karma yoga – we begin to slip into states where action feels so effortless that we begin to taste ‘actionlessness’ while still engaged in dynamic activity.

Thursday Oct. 17, 7:30-8:45 pm

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