11am Sunday Talk: Swami Vivekananda’s Karma Yoga, with Br. Shankara
On Sunday July 3 at 11am, Br. Shankara will give a talk entitled Swami Vivekananda’s Karma Yoga. Join us in the Chapel or on Zoom at 11:00am, and participate in the discussion! There will be coffee, tea, snacks and continuing fellowship in the Monastery following the talk until 1:30pm.
July 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.
In many Ramakrishna Mission centers, this prayer is chanted by the congregation, in unison, at the end of a puja’s homa fire ceremony:
“No matter what I may have done, said or thought, in waking, dreaming or dreamless sleep, with my mind, my tongue, my hands or my other members, may all that be an offering 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 yields the freedom and contentment promised by Karma Yoga.
“Even a little practice of this yoga will save you from the terrible wheel of rebirth and death …” — Sri Krishna, Bhagavad Gita, Ch. 2.
Karma is a Sanskrit word meaning action, or work. That’s what we’re going to talk about this Sunday morning — work. In your everyday world, work usually means what you do to make a living, or otherwise fulfill your role in life.
Here’s what Swami Vivekananda says about how to work yourself from slavery to freedom:
“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. …
“You must remember that all work is simply to bring out the power of the mind which is already there, to wake up the soul. The power is inside every man, so is knowing; the different works are like blows to bring them out, to cause these giants to wake up.”
We have another important frame of reference for our discussion about work. Sri Krishna says, in Bhagavad Gita, toward the end of Chapter 3:
“It is better to do your own duty, however imperfectly, than to assume the duties of another person, however successfully. Prefer to die doing your own duty: the duty of another will bring you into great spiritual danger.”