When Seeking God, Are Karma and Duties also Important?


If a person is doing hours of meditation since last 15 years but still having lots of anger , frustration and Ego, not looking after small children. and family but claiming that she will see God. Is this the right path to achieve God or karma and duties are also important.

—Dr. Bhupinder Kaur, India


Dear Dr. Kaur,

A wise teacher once reminded his students that we cannot experience the love of God without first, or also, receiving and earning the love of others. God is love; God is Infinity. We must therefore not exclude anyone from our heart’s love and our service. Too much meditation without the balance of seva can energize the ego and make us unwilling to serve or aloof from the needs and feelings of others. (Seva without meditation can make us restless and ego-active.)

In Indian culture stories abound warning the yogi from one-sided development, seeking the “chintamani” of Self-realization for oneself. Krishna says that the true yogi feels the pangs and sorrows of all creatures. Jesus Christ described his teaching by quoting the old prophets saying that in addition to loving God (with body, mind, soul and strength) the second teaching (commandment) was “like unto the first: Love thy neighbor as thy Self.”

Our dharma includes working out our karma! If we have children or family, we must address their needs with as great a love for God within them as we seek within ourselves or in our forms of worship.

Traditional renunciation excluded family and while that may be fine for one who is karmically free to leave the family, for others with obligations to support, care, love, and protect the family one should strive to do so by seeing God in each of them. Sadhana and seva go hand in hand: each energizes and purifies the other.

So yes, please make the effort to attend to the needs of your family (without attachment but) with love and care. You will feel God’s smile in your heart. One of the greatest teachings of Krishna in the Gita is the importance of performing one’s duties without thought of personal benefit, like or dislike. This is the practice of nishkam karma: action without desire for the fruits of action. Ultimately, Krishna teaches us that God is the Doer of all action. Offer all that you do and all that you are called to do as a flower offering to God!

Blessings and joy to you,
Nayaswami Hriman