Most people have a mind that can be compared to a river with a large number of eddy currents. These currents continually react, clash and oppose the mainstream flow. The result is incessant disturbance, turmoil, friction and loss of energy. If engineers want to tap the power of the river for electrical distribution, they have to channel the water flow into one powerful and unified current with as few eddy currents as possible. Then they have to build and install a turbogenerator, which actually converts the energy of the flowing river into electrical energy. There is a transformation of energy. It is the same with the mind. Normally it is disturbed with endless thought currents which continually interact with each other. The fluctuating mind lacks unified power. Yet this situation can be changed and the mind can be made powerful by firstly channelling the thought currents so that they flow in one harmonious stream, without conflict. The mind has to be concentrated until it becomes a perfect instrument, with an integrated single thought flow. This is the role of karma yoga. A concentrated and powerful mind brings this about; it transforms one's experience of life. It leads to things one does not expect just as it is difficult to understand how electrical energy that lights up your house and drives tbe household gadgets can possibly come from the energy of flowing water. This is the aim of karma yoga: to channel our thoughts and actions so that the mind helps us instead of hindering us, so that the mind becomes one-pointed and a perfect receiver and reflector of experience and higher awareness. Karma yoga, as well as other forms of yoga, develops willpower. The importance of individual willpower is often overlooked. Few people in fact really know what it is. It can be defined as the ability to motivate, mobilize and harmonize all one's activities for the attainment of a definite purpose. In karma yoga, the practitioner sets out to do his work and duties with as much attention and involvement as possible. Using one's inherent skills and abilities, one attempts to achieve maximum efficiency. In fact, the Bhagavad Gita has defined karma yoga as 'efficiency in action'. This total absorption in the work at hand leads to great willpower and unleashing of the powers within the mind.
The whole mind and body becomes integrated and tuned to a high degree of sensitivity, and from this one can start to experience meditation.
It is during work and other activities that you can recognize your mental problems. It is through karma yoga that they are recognized and exhausted. It is for this reason that Swami Satyananda says: "Work would become a source of happiness if one can recognize it as a stepping stone towards spiritual enlightenment - samadhi. Karma yoga is the outlet for one's mixed samskaras (mental impressions and problems)."
Karma yoga is a means to clean out the mind of phobias, problems, fears and all other disturbing factors. During karma yoga, a person has to face all types of experiences, whether good or bad. From these experiences you can learn about yourself, your fallibilities and hang-ups. And none of us can avoid work, so why try. We are forced by our very nature to perform actions, so we might as well accept the situation and work. Yet at the same time we should use this work as a method of cleansing the mind and treading the path to higher awareness. Don't merely work, but work with awareness and gain more from your work. This is the aim of karma yoga.
Karma yoga is a method of harnessing the potential of the mind. Each of us has access to this incredible power and knowledge, yet most people never contact it. Karma yoga is the method of unleashing it and utilizing it. Nothing is developed; the potential is already there waiting to be discovered and used.
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