Karma yoga as a means to meditation

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Karma yoga can lead to exactly the same experiences as other forms of yoga. There is no doubt about this. But it is difficult for most people to appreciate this point, for other paths of yoga such as raja yoga, seem more 'yogic'.

There is a tendency to think that work cannot possibly be yoga, and of course mere work is not yoga. Karma yoga implies something far greater and more profound than work. It implies selfless, concentrated actions, with awareness.

Karma yoga is an important technique for growth and progress along the spiritual path. It helps to bring peace and equanimity into one's life. In itself, it leads directly to higher awareness and knowledge, even though these experiences bear little relation to the actual work being carried out. It is the inner experience that is important, and this is something that cannot be conveyed by words.

Swami Satyananda, like his guru Swami Sivananda, affirms and emphasizes the importance of karma yoga in order to know the experience ofmeditation. He proclaims: "One should do one task at a time. Total absorption in any work will gradually train the mi nd to forget its usual fickleness and unsteadiness. If you plunge into the work at hand with undivided keenness and attention, you will derive great help in meditation."

Everyone in the ashram practises karma yoga in one form or another, in the press, office, library, kitchen or wherever karma yoga is an integral and indispensable part of ashram life.

The motto of karma yoga is to: give - give -and give. The prevailing motto in the world is the opposite, namely to: take - take - and take more. It is this latter attitude that prevents progress in spiritual life and the experience of meditation. All the great spiritual teachers throughout history preached that one should reduce and eventually eliminate all actions and thoughts that are motivated by personal gain. Of course this takes time and cannot be done overnight, yet it is absolutely necessary, if one is to eliminate the power of the ego, the obstacle or the veil which prevents the influx of higher consciousness.

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