Karma Yoga – the Yoga of Action

I recently started reading Rolling Thunder by Doug Boyd, a book my sister Renee gave me for Christmas last year.  This passage really struck me,

“It’s not very easy for you people to understand these things because understanding is not knowing the kind of facts that your books and teachers talk about. I can tell you that understanding begins with love and respect. It begins with respect for the Great Spirit, and the Great Spirit is the life that is in all things – all the creatures and the plants and even the rocks and minerals. All things – and I mean all things – have their own will and their own way and their own purpose; this is what is to be respected.”

“Such respect is not a feeling or an attitude only. It’s a way of life. Such respect means that we never stop realizing and never neglect to carry out our obligation to ourselves and our environment.”

Of all the teachings I have heard, these words are most important and the most valuable for the contemporary aspirant upon the path of Karma Yoga, the yoga of action. No teaching for the path of action could be more fundamental or primary than the teachings of love and respect- for oneself, for one’s world, and for the Great Spirit, which is all life in all things. The aspirant can perform no greater service for his world than to be mindful that his acts, even his thoughts and speech, become a part of the condition of the world.[1]

I’ve lived at Yasodhara Ashram for over a year doing Karma Yoga, selfless service, and in reading this passage I am able to better understand what Karma Yoga, the yoga of action, is all about.  Karma Yoga is right action.  It is every thought, every word, every interaction.

And I’m realizing that it’s a yogic practice I’ve been doing for a long time. As a child, I tried to “be a good person,” as an activist I was trying to make positive change in the world. And I my journey has been refining what Right Action really is. I have been learning that the word kindness doesn’t mean doing whatever the other person wants, or taking responsibility for another person’s pain. True kindness is supporting each other to take responsibility for ourselves.

And I have this warrior part of me and I am realizing that this warrior has to do Karma Yoga. This warrior must act. Right now my Karma Yoga is growing nutritious food for this community that I care about and being kind (using my new definition) to people who come into the garden. What’s next is not totally clear but it will definitely be Karma Yoga.

Thank you to all who have offered support – visible and invisible – that continues to allow me to become who I am meant to be.


[1] Boyd, Doug. Rolling Thunder. New York: Dell Publishing House, 1974. p. 51-52.

Author: Bryn Bamber

I work with big hearted people who want to make a positive impact in the world. The only problem is: -Your career isn’t working -You wake up some days and don’t want to get out of bed -You’re stressed about paying the bills Career Coaching in the Forest teaches you how to make small shifts that will free up tons of energy for the things you really love. A life where you wake up to feeling a sense of purpose and easily pay the bills. I teach you how to approach making a career change in a way that is fun, easy and gets results :). I have over a decade of experience in the field of education and during my four years at an educational non-profit I hired enough contract staff to know what employers want and DON’T WANT in the job application process. So why did I start this? When I was 24, I was overwhelmed by my job working with vulnerable youth and fell apart. I moved to a yoga centre for 2 years to put myself back together. There I figured out what I was messing up at work and became a yoga and meditation teacher. Career Coaching in the Forest will help you to see the mistakes you’re making without having to move to a yoga centre! And use meditative practices to help you see where you need to go. I know exactly what it feels when something’s not right in your career and now I love helping others to make changes so their lives can become full of meaning and purpose again and so that you can make lots money too ;). Start today: get my Free Resource: Land Your Dream Job Checklist here - tinyurl.com/dreamjobchecklist And above all else, please go for your dreams. Your life has meaning. You are here for reason. Find out what it is and when you do put all you that you got towards it! Talk soon! Bryn To learn more go to www.couragecompass.org

One thought on “Karma Yoga – the Yoga of Action”

  1. In my experience, the daily grind of karma yoga is where the teaching got real … down to earth … humbled. Hatha and meditation were essential, but so was mixing cement and cleaning the barn and washing the floors and dishes. Oh, yes, and making all those loaves of bread every Monday.

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