Receiving the Grace of our Sathguru Kriya Babaji (Part 2)

by M. Govindan Satchidananda

Part 1 of this editorial, began with the saying "The amount of Grace you receive depends upon how much sadhana you do, how much karma yoga or service you do, and how much love and devotion you manifest". Then we discussed the meaning of "grace" ("all that we receive which helps us to evolve and come closer to the Divine") and "sadhana" (yogic disciplines and practices). In Part 2, the theme of karma yoga will be explored.

The meaning of the term "karma yoga" could be summarized by quoting the leading authority, Lord Krishna, Himself, who said "Do your duty, but leave the fruit of your action to me". During the initiation ceremony, one offers the fruit, remembering that these words apply even to our practice of the Kriyas.

Generally, people are motivated to do things because of the expectation of or desire for some personal gain, whether it be financial, notoriety or pleasure. But as the wise have discovered, desires just feed upon themselves, creating ever new desires, and locking one into a vicious circle of ever new desires. The end result is always suffering, whether one gets what one wants or not. If one doesn't, one becomes frustrated and confused. If one gets it, one becomes afraid of losing it, or it eventually loses its appeal and becomes boring. The Law of Karma says, "as you sow, so shall you reap", or "do unto others, as you would have others do unto you" to use a biblical paraphrases. Or, "do good, and good will eventually be done to you in measure; do bad, and you will receive in kind in due course". One cannot refrain from action as long as one is breathing, so Krishna advises us to do action that is our duty, not that which is based upon personal desire.

To gradually release the conditioning of action for personal gain, Babaji has asked his disciples to begin by setting aside several hours per week for "karma yoga" or selfless service. That is, to perform some service without expecting anything in return. This allows one to channel ones energies into a wider sphere, beyond the limited ego's desires, and to become a conduit for universal forces of love, which seek to work through us.

My teacher put a lot of emphasis upon this and got his students to meet every week for this specific purpose. During those years when we had many centers around the world, this karma yoga often included their maintenance or development. It also included efforts to publicize Kriya Yoga activities, poor feedings (particularly in India) and anything that would help the spread of Kriya Yoga. The personal effects were remarkable. One forgot about ones imaginary problems and became inspired and powerful in thought, word and deed. We were able to tap into a seemingly inexhaustible supply of energy and to realize many beautiful projects. In later years, these creations faded away, but that is another story. What was important was not what happened to the organization or its developments, but the development of Self realization as the ego became dissolved by karma yoga, and the ability to be an instrument in the hands of the Master.

In karma yoga one begins as someone trying to lend a hand, or to do something in a selfless way, without expecting a payback. That is in the warmup phase, so to speak. There is still two or more of us: "me" and "them". When one really gets into karma yoga, however, there is no doer. Out of the infinitely complex interplay of events and forces, things happen, and "you" are not the cause of any of it. Who you are, or who you thought you were becomes forgotten, leaving pure Being. "All that is good is the work of the Divine, all that is bad is the work of the ego", becomes Self evident. Of course, that little fellow, the ego, does not go easily. He goes kicking and screaming. To completely root it out of us, my teacher used to often keep us up late at night during marathon karma yoga sessions. Among other things, we would be sometimes asked to go outside at 2 a.m. to pull weeds (quite appropriate I now realize as a metaphor of the inner work also going on), for example - and that was before we could finally share the evening meal prepared hours before. Why? So that the part of us which was resisting had to be released. Not everyone stayed around very long. In fact, few could stand the intensity of this practice. The first meditation technique and mantras came in very handy when the blood sugar became low and the ego started to rebel.

My teacher used to refer to the karma yoga to be done as "Master's work". This was a familiar expression for what is referred to in the sacred literature of Hinduism and Buddhism, as "dharma", that is one's duty or mission in life. It is something which is revealed as you go along, and which becomes evident when you learn how to listen to the guide within. So, it goes hand in hand with all of the "Kriyas", leading to "Kriya", or "action with awareness".

Why would the reception of Master's grace depend upon how much karma yoga one does. It's not like anyone is keeping score of debits and credits, to see if you earn enough points to get through the pearly gates! Rather, karma yoga is the practical application of higher consciousness in ordinary circumstances generally ruled by subconscious conditioning. It is bringing love from the realm of meditation or devotional activities into the nitty gritty of human needs and transforming them. It is not service per se, for service can be done with an attitude, such as "how great or benevolent I am for doing...". It is, in effect, getting ones personal desires out of mind at least for awhile. It leaves space for the Divine to manifest, and thus to know our infinite Self.

Yoga is sometimes defined as "skill in action", and this is another important element of karma yoga. When something is done well, it generally means that it was done by someone who was fully conscious as to what they were doing. Undistracted by the petty desires of the mind, intelligence is able to channel itself intensely through the person, with force and inspiration.

Metaphysically, karma yoga also teaches us to act without creating any new karma. One cannot escape the effects of ones past actions, but one can act consciously in any particular set of circumstances, without desire for personal gain, which would sew the seed for further karmic reactions. For example, if one verbally abuses you, you can react without losing control in anger or in a desire to inflict pain, and so avoid strengthening habits of getting angry or hurting others.

Begin to act in the spirit of karma yoga. Dedicate your actions to the Lord. Say "Om Tat Sat", which means, "I dedicate to Thee" whenever "you" complete something, receive your paycheck, do something nice for others. Expand the scope of your actions by doing volunteer work a few hours per week, allowing love to move through you and to use your gifts in ever expanding circles. Work selflessly to make Kriya Yoga known to others, to help them and you become liberated from the chains of ego formed karma. And remember, you are not the "doer".

Receiving the Grace of Satguru Kriya Babaji Part 3

Copyright Marshall Govindan December 1994. All rights reserved.


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