Character and the Quality of My Actions – Br. Shankara

Sunday, October 22, 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.

“Arjuna” painting by Arun Kumar Samadder

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 …”

Last week we talked about selfishness and how to loosen its grasp on us. We continue this week, focusing on specific instructions left to us by Divine Incarnations and other great teachers.

For example, Jesus Christ told his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways … If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of (my teachings), you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?”

The Buddha taught, “All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become. All wrong-doing arises because of mind. If mind is transformed, can wrong-doing remain?

However many holy words you read, however many you speak, what good will they do you If you do not act on upon them? It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell.”

And Swami Vivekananda said, “Our Karma determines what we deserve and what we can assimilate. We are responsible for what we are; and whatever we wish ourselves to be, we have the power to make ourselves. If what we are now has been the result of our own past actions, it certainly follows that whatever we wish to be in future can be produced by our present actions; so we have to know how to act …”

In this talk we explore these quotes in light of what Sri Krishna says in Chapter 3 of Bhagavad Gita. Krishna tells his friend Arjuna exactly what character is, and how his actions can save his life, transform his mind, and produce the great king that Arjuna was destined to become.