What Actions Free Us from Karma?


In Gita, Lord Krishna advises to look upon karma as yoga and yajna or sacrament for His satisfaction. That means any action of ours is as potent in leading us to realisation as an ascetics meditation if performed with God consciousness. This linked to the theory that uninterrupted remembrance of God involves Him very directly and personally in our lives as my experience shows. Does that mean that making plans for work is unviable as it involves privileging one work (of 'I-agency') over other ?

—Ashutosh, India


Dear Ashutosh,

Your question seems to be whether making plans (work related or life related) for oneself is not true karma yoga (God-remembrance) because it involves oneself and one’s needs or duties? Did I say that correctly?

As you know, one of the great lessons given us by Lord Krishna in the Gita is that we MUST take action in this world: we cannot refuse to act in the hopes that non-acting is, by its nature, sattwic, or God-reminding. We need food, shelter, clothes, health and so on. To achieve Self-realization we must act to purify and free ourselves of past karma, samskaras, vrittis, etc. And, as we do so in devotion, the power and grace of God and guru comes to lift us past our own action towards freedom.

If my job requires me to plan my actions in order to accomplish the legitimate goals of my job, there is nothing that makes such an action any less true karma yoga just because it involves my job or my intended actions. The question is: who is doing the planning? Are we, as we plan, mindful of the divine within us? Are we offering our planning (action) to God? Are the steps we take at work or to provide for our needs and those of our family being compelled by desire or fear? or, are they an act of yagya (self-offering in devotion)? Do we feel that God is the Doer working through our thoughts, plans, and actions?

Any legitimate and duty-given act can be true karma yoga (freeing) if performed as devotion; if performed with the sense that God is the Doer; if performed without attachment to the results (good, bad, success or failure); if performed because it is dharmic to do so.

Does this make sense to you?

Nayaswami Hriman
Seattle WA USA