Relevance of Karm Yog in Today’s Age
We can learn to manage our mind in the midst of all these tribulations by relying on the science of karm yog to guide us toward achieving inner peace.
Human life is multi-faceted, and while living in the world, we must wear many hats. We have family, professional, social, religious duties, and so on. In the process of balancing all these duties, we experience a plethora of problems such as stress, anxiety, and fear. We can learn to manage our mind in the midst of all these tribulations by relying on the science of karm yog to guide us toward achieving inner peace. The concept of karm yog is best explained in the Bhagavad Gita by the Supreme Lord Krishna to His devotee Arjun, on the verge of the Mahabharat war approximately 5000 years ago.
The Bhagavad Gita – Spoken Words of God
The teachings of the Bhagavad Gita are very relevant for learning to apply the divine wisdom in this day and age. The Gita is more than a holy scripture. The divine knowledge has the potential to enlighten the soul by destroying ignorance that has enveloped the soul since endless lifetimes. It is the means to teach us how to solve life’s problems by inculcating the deep philosophy as an integral part of daily living.
The perennial wisdom of the Gita has continued to inspire famous thinkers even in modern times, such as Mahatma Gandhi, Robert Oppenheimer, Carl Jung, Herman Hesse, and Aldous Huxley, to name just a few, thus indicating its divine origin. The Gita does not promise us that the world’s miseries will go away, but it teaches us how to find peace in spite of stressful situations as we calmly perform our household duties.
Source of Stress in Life
Lord Krishna explains that we experience stress when we are attached to a particular outcome and worry that things may not turn out as we desire. Stress is caused by our own attachment to a particular outcome and our unwillingness to accept other possible results. The underlying message is to put in our best efforts and give up attachment to preconceived or wishful outcomes of our efforts.
karmaṇy-evādhikāras te mā phaleṣhu kadāchana (Verse 2.47).
‘You have a right to perform your work, but you are not entitled to the fruits of your actions.’
We must relish our work and offer the fruit of our efforts to God. The outcome of our efforts is, in any case, not in our hands. Thus, wisdom demands that we put in our best efforts and be content with the results even if they are not as expected.
Practicing Karm Yog in Divine Consciousness
If attachment to results of our effort is the root cause of stress, we can learn to transfer the attachment to God. This is the principle of karm yog. It is the synthesis of both ‘karm’ (occupational duties) and ‘yog’ (union with God). Karm yogis perform worldly duties with the body while the mind is attached to God. They are equipoised and their consciousness is always absorbed in the Lord. This is the main focus of the Bhagavad Gita. It teaches us not to artificially renounce work, thinking of it as cumbersome; instead, to be in internal equilibrium even while doing complex tasks. The reverse of this is gross ignorance –where the body is engaged in God and the mind is in the world.
Benefits of Practicing Karm Yog
The practice of karm yog bestows many benefits. When we detach the mind from the results of our actions and make the effort for the pleasure of God, we free ourselves from stress, anxiety, tension, and fear. Additionally, we inculcate many sublime qualities like a healthy self-identity from seeing ourselves as fragments of God, perceiving our work as service to God for His pleasure, and realizing that His grace makes all things possible. We also learn to view others as divine fragments of God and consequently we maintain a healthy attitude towards them. Finally, the goal of human life is God-realization. In karm yog, we move towards this goal together with doing our worldly duties.
Thus, using principles of karm yog can help us to cope with the daily challenges of life. As karm yogis, we live in the world but do not let the world live inside us by always keeping the consciousness linked to God.
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