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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.

Tadasana

I used to run away
When I felt the vibrations in my chest
Now I stand still

Standing still
I am asked to look up
Stand tall
Face the facts
I know the strength of my core now and I can trust it

I ask,
What is the purpose of my life?

Over and over I ask.
Asking my cells,
They like the questions
And the answer doesn’t arrive in words
It arrives in shifts,
My knees unlock,
The pose changes,
More space is created.

The vibrations come here when they don’t know where else to go
Getting stuck in my chest on their to asking to be freed

Confused
Disoriented
Dazed.

So much is changing and we were left behind
Give us a road map

Standing still
Something else emerges
To guide the way.

The Dancer

The warrior of my heart is a dancer.
As she dances she weaves the invisible threads that create all that is.

She weaves the warmth into a mother’s voice as she welcomes her child into her arms,
She weaves pale blues and pinks into the sky as the sun sets behind the mountains,
And on a summer’s evening, it is she who weaves the freshness into the breeze.

She weaves compassion into our hearts when a friend is in need,
The harmonies into our voices as we sing together with love,
And as I sit alone beside the lake, she silently weaves the peace into the stillness.

It is she who weaves the healing into laughter,
The joy into love,
And the softness into my heart.

She is the weaver of the stars at night and the light at the break of day.

And she is always there,
Ever dancing,
As she weaves the miracles into each moment,
That are just waiting to be seen.

Intuitive Warrior

The Intuitive Warrior,
Strong and Fierce.
Hears the call and prepares for battle,
Slowly.
Calmly.
She knows that this is a war that must be fought,
That her work will not be in vain.

Her hips are wide,
Shoulders broad.
She oils her leather armour with love,
Singing softly to herself.

When you look her in the eyes you see,
The intensity of her fierce heart,
The fire of her passion,
And the depth of her love.

Her children know that she is fierce,
And that she loves them fiercely.
But their fear is little,
Compared to the fear of her opponent.

Fighting her on the ground is like,
Fighting a tornado.
As she leaps and spins,
A whirling mass of kicking legs and sharp elbows.

She will only stab you once,
And it will be in the heart.
She wields her dagger with precision and grace,
And there is no more suffering than is necessary.
For she knows her work is sacred,
Not to be done carelessly but with honour for the opponent and the task.

I am this warrior of the heart,
The most fierce variety because I know that my convictions are true and that justice must be served.

There is no stopping courage that comes from the heart.

There is no hesitation when intentions are true.

Mountain Love

DSCF0380

My love for you feels like a mountain.
Slow and stable,
Strong and solid,
Dense.

It has the qualities of silence and great power.

And typically when I’ve encountered this type of power;
Particularly in a situation like ours where romance has shifted into friendship,
The intensity of this power would terrify me.

From this place of fear I would try to destroy it,
Leaving my hands bloody as you would expect if trying to squash rock with bare hands.

And there is still an entanglement I am trying to better understand.
This entanglement of an intimate sexual history and present sexual desires.
Sometimes I confuse this entanglement with the power and legitimacy of the mountain,
Although they are just vines on it’s surface.
And I know that their time is to be shorter than the time of stone.

The mountain is not going anywhere.
And I’m finally learning that my role is not to try and move it.