Karma Yoga and Kriya Yoga: Harnessing the Power of Outer and Inner Action for Spiritual Success

Selections from the Wisdom-Legacy of Paramahansa Yogananda

Yoga Is the Art of Proper Action

Yoga is the art of doing everything with the consciousness of God. Not only when you are meditating, but also when you are working, your thoughts should be constantly anchored in Him.

To commune daily with God in deep meditation, and to carry His love and guidance with you into all your dutiful activities, is the way that leads to permanent peace and happiness.

If you work with the consciousness that you are doing it to please God, that activity unites you with Him. Therefore do not imagine that you can find God only in meditation. Both meditation and right activity are essential, as the Bhagavad Gita teaches. If you think of God while you perform your duties in this world, you will be mentally united with Him.

To work united with God is the greatest art to be mastered in this world. To carry on all activities with God-consciousness is the supreme yoga.

Karma Yoga: The Path of Spiritual Action…

The path of Karma Yoga is the path of uniting the soul with God through selfless activity.

Engaging in spiritual activity consisting of both meditation and working with the thought that everything you do is for God—that is Karma Yoga. When in meditation you feel God’s bliss eternal, you will no longer feel tied to the body, and you will be filled with enthusiasm to work for Him. You can’t be a lover of God and be lazy. One who meditates and loves God is always active for Him and for others.

…without selfish attachment to gain
When your activity centres only on making money for material advantages for yourself and your loved ones, or on any activity with a selfish end, you are going away from God. Thus do most people engage their energies in their attachments and their desires for more and more material acquisitions. But as soon as your active energy is used to seek God, you move toward Him.

…but with conscientiousness and enthusiasm
He who does his duties haphazardly or carelessly, or who meditates without zest, cannot please the Lord nor win liberation. Any action — physical, mental, or spiritual — performed with the desire for divine union as its fruit is not a “selfish” action. Instead, it is a perfect action in the sense that it fulfils the divine motive in creation.

Kriya Yoga: The Highest Path of Action

Deep meditation is intense mental activity—the highest form of action. Through the divine science of Kriya Yoga, the advanced yogi is able to withdraw his mind from the physical senses and direct their subtle astral powers to the inner activities of soul-freeing work. Such a spiritual specialist performs the true God-uniting activity (Karma Yoga).

This is the highest path of karma or action.

Inner and Outer Actions Are Both Necessary

The initial romance with the Infinite in the path of meditation is likely to make the devotee one-sided; he inclines to forsake the path of action. The cosmic law, however, compels man to activity, regardless of what mental determination he may entertain regarding his conduct in life. He who is part of creation has obligations toward creation.

The scriptures are full of instances warning that even advanced devotees fall from the heights if they do not work…. Until final liberation is attained, nonactivity leads to mental sloth, sense attachment, and loss of God-consciousness.

The Balanced Life: Sure Path to Enlightenment

In the difficult struggle to maintain balance between meditation and activity, the greatest safety lies in the consciousness of the Lord.

Man should so train his mind by constant meditation that he can perform the necessary dutiful actions of his daily life and still maintain the consciousness of God within. All men and women should remember that their worldly life can be freed from endless physical and mental ills if they add deep meditation to their daily routine of living.

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