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Karma Yoga – The spirit of Giving

December 22, 2007 by Lightwaves

selfless_giv.jpgA yogic perspective on giving. Serve with a pure heart and a pure mind this Christmas.

In the Christian religion, the practice of giving gifts at Christmas can be traced back to the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh that were given to the Christ child by the three Magi. The magi were kings from the East, wise men who traveled a great distance following a star, to find the Christ child and to bring him gifts.

In the yogic tradition, giving without seeking anything in return lies at the core of the practice of karma yoga – selfless service.

Yasodhara Ashram is a karma yoga ashram where the practice of karma yoga becomes part of everyone’s experience. Swami Radha spoke a lot about karma yoga, and currently a publication is being prepared compiling some of this material.

Here is what Swami Radha has to say about giving through selfless service:

“Over and over again comes the suggestion of selflessness. It is selfless service that purifies the mind. That’s the condensed message. Because there is a minimum of attachment before service becomes truly selfless. You can give something, do something for somebody, give a gift, whatever, without having anybody knowing where it comes from. That is a small beginning. Selfless service is the service without the self, doing the job because it needs to be done.

“And in the action of surrender, there is non-action. Do any kind of action, any kind of service without bringing yourself into the picture. You may hear yourself saying, “Now how do I like the job? Is this really within my status, my education, my social background? How do I feel about it?” Forget about that. If you think in this way you will do nothing.

self_give3.jpg“If you just do the job in that selfless manner and don’t bring yourself in the picture, knowing the job needs to be done – that’s the best you can do. Have no attachments to your reaction. Try to get over and through with them as fast as you can. It is that non-attachment that will give you the knowledge. Otherwise, whatever you know is only intellectual. And you will not be able to let go. You may not be able to let go immediately, but maybe in a week, or a day or maybe even an hour.

“So, think it through, mull it over, and you’ll see that selfless service is not giving you any of the rewards that you think you would get if you remained attached.

“Gurudev Sivananda would say, ‘Selfless service will make you divine.’ What does it mean? Not if you complain, but when you do it because it needs to be done, with the right kind of motivation, and then we can speak of a pure heart. When the right kind of motivation for doing the selfless service is there, then you do it with a pure heart.

When I was in India I asked everyone I met, ‘What is a pure mind? What is a pure heart?’ And in different ways, the answer came together. If you want to give something, like giving your time, your talents, or maybe your skills; whatever you give, you want to give it with the full intention to help the other person. That’s a pure heart. That’s a pure mind.”

A gift can come in many forms. During this holiday season give with a pure heart and a pure mind. You can give spiritual gifts – like chanting a mantra for someone in need for a designated length of time or doing the Divine Light Invocation putting a person in the Light. By expanding the ways we can give we expand our minds and at the same time put the ideals of selfless service into action.

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