Abandoning Selfishness – Br. Shankara

Sunday, October 15, 2017

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October is a month for study of Karma Yoga, a spiritual path leading to the abandonment of selfishness. As a karma yogi, you practice offering your actions and their results, as well as your perceptions, thoughts, and feelings to the Divine Presence.

Even before fully knowing this Presence, you hold firmly to the belief that the Presence is within each person or other living being that you interact with or serve. 
Working and abiding in this spirit, you are increasingly able to release attachment to your activities and their results. This is the freedom promised by Karma Yoga.

As Sri Krishna tells Arjuna in Ch. 2 of Bhagavad Gita:

“Even a little practice of this yoga will save you from the terrible wheel of rebirth and death …”

Sri Ramakrishna: “…selfishness comes, unknown to us, from no one knows where.” — Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, p. 314

Swami Abhedananda
Swami Abhedananda

Swami Abhedananda, a direct disciple of Ramakrishna: “The moment… that we realize that this body is a part of the universal body, that this intellect is a part of the cosmic intellect, and that the knower of mind, senses, and body is not any one of these, but stands outside, and that this knower is our true self, then we let the body work with full consciousness that we are neither actor, worker, nor doer, and we remain untouched by the consequences of our actions. The one essential thing is never to forget that the work done by mind and body is, in reality, not performed by the true self, but by nature.” — Doctrine of Karma, pp. 82-3

Swami Yatiswarananda, a vice-president of Ramakrishna Order: “For every one step forward spiritually, you must take two steps forward, morally and ethically.” — Instruction to P. Griggs, now Swami Yogeshananda

Selfishness is both gross and subtle. At the outermost level, it can be eating more food than you need. At the innermost, it may be clinging to bliss.

The Upanishads declare that your True Self is covered by five sheaths (koshas). Because each of these five layers of awareness is a unique, but distorted reflection of the Self’s perfect radiance, it has its own peculiar patterns of selfishness.

In this talk we define the five koshas, and explore how you experience them. Then, we discuss how the quotes above, and other teachings, tell us how to abandon the selfishness associated with each of the koshas.