I was telling you about the integral yoga and I told you about Hatha Yoga and about Raja Yoga and now I will tell you about the third one: Karma Yoga. The Yoga of works.
As I said you should ask three questions regarding any yoga. What is the aim? What is the instrument? What is the process? Let us ask these three questions regarding Karma Yoga.
What is the aim? The aim of Karma Yoga is to discover the Supreme Will and to allow that Will to work through us. To be an instrument of God’s Will. Not only to discover the Will of God, the Will of the Divine but also to be the instrument of the Divine’s Will. This is the aim of Karma Yoga.
What is the instrument? The instrument is that which is the most elementary/rudimentary aspect of will in us, just as the body is the instrument of Hatha Yoga, mind is the instrument of Raja Yoga, the instrument of Karma Yoga is desire because in our life all that we will is through desire. So you take that instrument and what do you do with that instrument?
What is the process? We can say in three words what takes many, many years to practice. First give up the desire for the fruits of action. This is the first part of the process of Karma Yoga. Second, perceive that what you think is your action is not really your action. Constantly observe your action and see, when you analyse any action you are doing, that its origin is elsewhere. You think it is your action. But it is a mistake. So correct that mistake by seeing that your action is not really your action. Then comes the third part. To discover the real origin of action you make a practice. You offer your action to the Divine. Whatever you are doing you offer it to the Divine like a gift. Whatever you think you are doing you think it is like a flower which you are offering to the Divine. This is called sacrifice. Sacrifice your action to the Divine. And when you sacrifice a miracle happens. It is the fourth part of the process. When you give to the Divine you are able to touch the Divine. If you give me a flower you can touch me by giving a flower. And when you touch the Divine, the Divine touches you. You touch the Divine from your side and the Divine touches you at the same time because as you touch Him he touches you. And the moment he touches you His action enters into you, His vibration enters into you. As soon as that vibration enters into you His action begins in you and you discover what is His action, what is His will. And by discovering this will of the Divine you also find that he is already vibrating in you. The moment you touch Him he begins to vibrate in you. So you begin to be the instrument of the Divine Will. And then whatever you do is actually the Divine himself doing it through you. These are the processes of Karma Yoga.
I repeat now. You take the desire as instrument and the first thing is that whatever you desire — normally you desire the enjoyment of the fruits of action — this Yoga says that first you do not enjoy the fruits of action. You may have the fruits of action but give up the enjoyment of the fruits of action. Still continue to work. Normally when you are not to enjoy the fruits of action you cease to work. Karma Yoga says don’t do that. Do your work, whatever you are doing, but do not enjoy the fruits of action. It is a mastery over it — a mastery of your enjoyment. Usually we work with desire, we do everything for enjoyment. The first lesson of Karma Yoga is: do not enjoy the fruit of your action. That gives you great austerity in your being, makes your personality. The personality, which simply does something for enjoyment, is a very weak personality. That personality can be won over very easily, can be tempted very easily. But the strong personality is one who does not care for enjoyment. This is the starting point of a real development of personality. Do not enjoy the fruits of your action. The second part of the process is: see that your action is not your own. Normally we always think ‘this is my action’, that we are doing it. There is a very beautiful line of a Gujarati poem which simply says: “I do, I do: that is the ignorance.” It is like a dog which is moving under a cart and thinks “I am carrying the cart.” It thinks that the cart is moving because of him. As if the burden of the cart is upon his back and the whole cart is moving because of him. See how this line of the poem gives a complete light to this ignorance. Whenever you think “I am doing it, I am doing it”, think that you are like a dog walking under a cart thinking that the cart is moving because of it. This is the second part of the process of the Karma Yoga. And this is tremendous because normally all of us think that we are doing. And Karma Yoga says that this is a false proposition. Psychologically you are under an illusion, you are mistaken. Just as a dog would be mistaken if it thinks that the cart is moving because of its force when it is itself only moving under the cart.
The third part of the process of Karma Yoga is that when you are thinking that you are doing — as it is very difficult to rub out this idea that you are doing, Karma Yoga says, to make it easy, think that you are doing but offer it to the Divine. This is a process, a kind of trick you might say, a device. Continue to think that you are doing, fine, but having done it you say to the Divine: “This is for You”. You give it as a gift. And when you give it as a gift a miracle takes place because when you offer it, the Divine touches you as you touch the Divine. And as soon as he touches you, you come to know that everything proceeds from Him. He is the real doer. The Supreme Lord is the doer. And the moment you discover this he begins to move in you. To discover the Divine Will and to be the instrument of the Divine Will takes no time. Between the two there is no interval. To know the Divine Will and to be the instrument of the Divine happens simultaneously because he already works in you. This is the Karma Yoga, in very brief terms. You have the whole book here (The Synthesis of Yoga) of Karma Yoga but I have told you the fundamental principles so that very briefly you can grasp them.
The aim of Karma Yoga is to discover the Divine Will and to become its instrument. The instrument is desire. You touch your desire, concentrate upon your desire and work on your desire. For working the first thing is to say: “I do not want to enjoy the fruits of my action.” So it touches the desire, actually you will find that your desire becomes very weak. Ultimately the desire is completely wiped out. When you follow the whole process first they become weak. But do not therefore drop the action because normally this is what happens. When we do not desire the fruits of action we drop the action also. But don’t do that, Karma Yoga says: continue the work. It is a very difficult task. Not to desire the enjoyment of the fruits of action and yet to continue to work is very difficult but gives tremendous strength of action. It is said: action for the sake of action. Because action in itself is right to do. The right action is to be done for the sake of action because it is right. I may fail: doesn’t matter, I succeed: doesn’t matter. I may enjoy doesn’t matter, I may not enjoy doesn’t matter. This is called a strong personality. This comes when as the first process you take your desire and then begin to chop off the head of the desire. The head of the desire is the fruits of action. If you examine the desire you will find that the head of the desire is the enjoyment of the fruits of action. If you chop off that head very often you feel that you are dead, you can do no work at all. But Karma Yoga says still continue to act. When you do that then you realise that every time you act there is in you the sense that you are doing. So Karma Yoga says whenever you say, “I am doing” think that you are like a dog which is moving under a cart — this is an illusion. You are not the doer. Find out really who is the doer. In Sanskrit it is said: Aham Kartasmi I am the doer. Aham means: I; Karta means: the doer. And when you really examine you will find that you are not at all the doer. All actions and energies are moving the Universe and you are a small little pebble in it and all the winds are blowing around you and you are blown by the winds. You are not blown by yourself you are blown by all others. This is the truth that you perceive when you begin to concentrate upon it. But our psychology is so obstinate that even when you see that you are not the doer, still your mind continues to believe that he is the doer. Therefore Karma Yoga says, at the third stage, think that you are doing but offer it to the Divine. And the moment you begin to offer to the Divine the Divine enters into you and gives you the knowledge that He is the doer. Then you discover His Will and you become the instrument of His Will.