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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Karma yoga

Jneshwar sits at his writing desk
Saint Jnaneshwar
After my period of intense concentration and sweet, gentle purity of sattwa, I have looped back around to rajas, the quality of doing. To the extent that I seek and I am attached to the fun and pleasure of doing, (i.e. believe this and these feelings are happening to my "little" self), I will have to pay for as karma which must be burned, usually by the opposite feelings of emptiness and disillusionment with life.

Back and forth.

In the past, when I read Lord Krishna's compassionate teachings on karma yoga, I cringed at the part of not caring one way or another about where life went as it seemed to carry me along.

Now I see the pendulum clearly. I notice where I am and my attachment to this or revulsion of that. It is my nature to get very excited about things, and to love that level of feeling. This intense feeling is the opposite of flat and empty, which I hate.

It is the habit of many lifetimes to try to make permanent the tops of life's highs, and dispel the lows. This just makes my relationship to life all backwards. I am the tail that wags the dog. 

Wag the tail: watch the pendulum without pushing or grabbing.

Since I am not the root of action, I can choose to remain solidly centered inside as the pendulum swings back and forth. Life happens. It can carry me along into ecstatic and dramatic activities (such as my huge crush on _______), then back to the flat emptiness when those activities inevitably dwindle or lose their attraction.

Jnaneshwar sits with a manuscript
Saint Jnaneshwar
If I can remain in equipoise, then any spot on the swing of my life's pendulum will be equal to me, absolutely still and observing of all of this around me.

Of course... my ego rebels! I sometimes decide that not chasing after feeling and intensity is unreasonable and severe. Why give up pursuing the joys of life? It seems, well, anti-life. It certainly isn't required. So, why?

Why would I? First I observe that my duty to myself is to enjoy what is pleasurable to me, within the ethics of that duty. So I'm not talking about rejecting pleasure, just not being attached to it, not believing I can control life to achieve pleasure.

THE TRUE GOAL: Compassionate Lord Krishna offers the highest goal, which is freedom and divine bliss. Freedom which leads to union with Him, with God.

It is fine to jump on the roller coaster of life. Almost everyone chooses this every day. But those of us who are coming back around in our long arc of incarnations and desire to return to God have a different perspective.

I want this freedom. I don't want to experience the suffering of paying my debts of karma any more.

Saint Jnaneshwar
There is the delicious, sensual delight of my beloved experience of life's intensity in remembering that I am not the doer, that life only seems to happen to me (when I believe it is so). The bliss of union with my true Self is the real pleasure and a past-time that incurs no debt of karma, no inevitable suffering as the pendulum swings back and forth.

How? I have cultivated an awareness and experience of the still center place inside, mostly through meditation (both sitting and during "activity" meditation), and with the essential divine grace of the guru. Through practice and grace, I can now by my will take one half of a step back into this very still place, where I am impassive about what happens around me, and delight in every moment as the highly creative and intelligent play of Paramashiva, my true Self.

As Lord Krishna has pointed the way, choosing to "do" will not incur karma if I choose to do my duty, to myself and others, and offer the fruits of my action to Him. This is called karma yoga and it is a mahayoga indeed, a great yoga. This yoga can by itself lead to realization.
Jnaneshwar's Gita

In my experience, the Siddha Yoga path teaches karma, jnana, bhakti and raja yoga, and I am naturally inclined to follow parts of all four. These are riches beyond compare. The first three margas are taught by Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita, (and raja yoga is taught by Patanjali). If you have not read the Gita, dear reader, and feel a draw in your heart to do so, I encourage you to at least read some of it.

Read the version with an English translation of the exquisite commentary written by the beloved saint Jnaneshwar, by Swami Kripananda.

Jnanadev will steal your heart. You will love him for it.

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