These are experts from Swami Vivekananda's famous book Karma Yoga.
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 past actions, it certainly follows that whatever we wish to be in the future can be produced by out present actions. Each is great in its own place The important thing is to know that there are gradations of duty and of morality ? That the duty of one state of life, in one set of circumstances, will not and cannot be that of another. Our first duty is not to hate ourselves, because to advance we must have faith in ourselves first and then in God. He who has no faith in himself can never have faith in God.
The Central idea of Karma Yoga:
The Karma-Yogi is the man who understands that the highest ideal is non-resistance, and who so knows that this non-resistance is the highest manifestation of power in actual possession, and also what is called as the resisting of evil is but a step on the way towards manifestation of power, namely non-resistance. Before reaching this highest ideal, man's duty is to resist evil;
Let him work , Let him fight, Let him strike straight from the shoulder, Then only he has gained the power to resist, will non-resistance will be a virtue. Inactivity should be avoided by all means. Activity always means resistance.
The Secret of Work
We read in Bhagavad-Gita again and again that we must work incessantly. All work by nature is composed of good and bad. We can NOT do any work that will NOT do some good somewhere. Every work is always a mixture of good and bad; yet we are commanded to work incessantly. But Good and bad are bondages of the soul, The solution reached in the Gita in regard to the bondage-producing nature of work is, that if we do not attach ourselves to the work we do, it will not have any binding effect on our soul. Remember the great saying from Sankhya - "the whole of Nature for the soul, not soul for the nature". The very reason for the existence of the nature is for the education of the soul; it has no other meaning; its is there because the soul must attain the knowledge and free itself. If we remember this always we will never be attached to the nature. Nature is there for us learn, and after we are done with it, it has no purpose for us. Instead of that we are identifying ourselves with the nature; we are thinking that the soul is for nature, that the spirit is for the flesh, Work, and Work like Master, not like a slave. As soon as the attachment comes, there is the deep impression on the soul, which binds us down and makes us work not from freedom but like slaves.
Complete Self Abnegation:
However we may try, there can not be an action which is perfectly pure or perfectly impure, taking purity and impurity in the sense of injury and non-injury. We cannot breathe or live without injuring others and every bit of food we eat is taken away from another's mouth. It may be men, animals or microbes. That being the case, perfection can never be attained by work. The true solution is found in the Gita. Its the theory of non-attachment, to be attached to nothing while doing our work of life. Know that you are separated entirely from the world though you are in the world, and whatever you may be doing in it, you are not doing for your own sake. Any action that you do for yourself will bring its effect on you. To work properly, you have to first give up the idea of attachment. Secondly, do not mix in the fray, hold yourself as a witness and go on working. My master used to say, "Look upon your children as a nurse does". The nurse will take your baby and fondle it and play with it and behave towards it as gently as if it were her own child; but as soon as you give her notice to quit, she is ready to start off. Everything in the space of attachment is forgotten; it will not give the ordinary nurse the least pang to leave your children and take up other children. Even so are you to be with all that you consider as your own. The greatest weakness often insinuates itself as the greatest good and strength. Its a weakness to think that anyone is dependent on me, and that I can do good to another. This belief is the mother of all our attachment, and through this attachment comes all pain. We must inform our mind that no one is dependent on our self. No beggar depends in our charity; not one soul on our kindness. All are helped by the nature, and will be so helped even though millions of us were not here; Only blessed privilege to you and me that we are allowed, in the way of helping others, to educate ourselves. This is a great lesson to learn in life; and when we have learnt it fully, we shall never be unhappy; we can go and mix with the society anywhere and everywhere;
Any one idea or, according to our psychology, any one wave thats produced in the mind-stuff, Chitta, must always give rise to many similar waves. This is psychological idea of association and causation is ONLY AN aspect of this grand, pervasive principle of association. This pervasiveness of association is what is called as VYAPATHI in Sanskrit.In the external world, the idea of 'Law' is the same as in the internal - the expectation that a particular phenomenon will be followed by another, and therefore, law does not exist in nature. Practically, its an error to say that gravitation exists in the earth, Or, that there is any law existing OBJECTIVELY anywhere in nature. Law is a the method. the manner in which 'Our mind' grasps a series phenomena; its all in the Mind. Certain phenomena, happening one after another or together, and followed by the conviction of regularity of their recurrence, thus enabling our minds to grasp the method of the whole series, what we call 'Law'.The next question for consideration is what we mean by law being 'Universal'. Our universe is that portion of existence which is characterized by what Sanskrit psychologists call 'Desa-Kala-Nimtha', or what is known to European psychology as space-time-causation. This universe is only a part of infinite existence thrown into a peculiar mould, composed of space, time and causation.When we speak of 'Universe' we only mean that portion of existence which is limited by our mind - the universe of senses, which we can feel, touch, hear, think of, imagine. This alone is under law; but beyond it, existence can not be subjected to law, because all law has its essence in causation. Therfore we see at once that there can not be any such thing as free will. the very words are contradiction, because will as we know, must be subject to causation can not be FREE.
It is acted upon by other agents and becomes a cause in its turn But that which has become converted into the will, Which was NOT the will before, but which, when it fell into this mould of space, time and causation, became converted into the human will, is free; and when this will gets out of this mould space, time causation, it will be free again. From freedom, it comes and becomes molded into this Bondage, and it gets out and goes back to FREEDOM again.
So when we speak of man as no other than that infinite being which is manifested itself, we mean that the only one very small part thereof is man; this body and this mind which we see are only a part of the whole, only one spot in the infinite being. All our laws, our bondanges, our joys and our sorrows, our happiness and expectations, are only within the small universe; all our progression and digression are within its small compass. So you see how childish it is to expect a continuation of this universe - the creation of our minds - and to expect to go to heave, which afterall must mean only a repetition of this world that we know. You see that at once that it is impossible to limit the infinite existence to conform to the limited and conditioned existence which we know.
To acquire freedom we have to get BEYOND the limitations of this universe; it can not be found here. Perfect equilibrium, or what Christians call the peace that passeth all understanding can not be had in this universe, nor in heaven, nor in any place where our mind can go, where senses can feel, or which the imagination can conceive. No such place can give us the freedom, because all such places would be within our universe, and its limited by time, space and causation.
The only way to come out of bondage is to go beyond the limitations of law, to go beyond causation.
But it is a most difficult thing to give up the clinging to this universe; few ever attain that. One way is called 'Neti, Neti (not this, not this), and the other is called 'Iti' (this); the former is the negative and the later is the positive way. The negative way is possible only by men of highest, exceptional minds and gigantic walls who simply standup and say "No I will not have this" and their mind and body obey their will and they come out successful. But such people are rare. The vast majority of mankind choose the positive way, the way through the world, making use of all the bondages themselves to break those very bondages. This is also kind of giving up, only its done slowly, and gradually, by knowing things, enjoying things and thus obtaining experience, and knowing the nature of things until mind lets them go at last and become unattached. The former way is called 'Jnana-Yoga' and is characterized by refusal to do work; the second is that of 'Karma-Yoga' in which there is no cessation from work.
Karma Yoga says - Work incessantly, but give up all attachment to work. Do not identify youself with anything. Hold your mind FREE. All that you see, the pains and the miseries, are but the necessary conditions of this world; poverty, wealth and happiness are but momentary; they do not belong to our real nature at all.
Karma Yoga tells us to enjoy the beauty of all the pictures in the world, but not to identify outselves with any of them. Never say 'mine'. Whenever we say a thing is mine, misery will immediately come.
So Karma Yoga says, first destroy the tendency to project this tentacle of selfishness; and when you have the power of checking it, held it in and do not allow the mind to get into the ways of selfishness. Then you may go out to the world and work as much as you can. Mix everywhere, go where you please; you will never be contaminated with evil like the lotus leaf in the water. This is called Vairagjaya or dispassion or non-attachment.
Here are two ways of giving up all attachment. The first one is for those who do not believe in God or anyother form of outside help. They are left to their own devices. They have simply left with using their powers of mind and self-descrimination. For this who believe in God, there is another way, which is much less difficult. They give up the fruits of their work unto the Lord (samparpanam), they work, and they never get attached to the results.
The Ideal of Karma-Yoga
I goal is attaining the freedom as I understand it.Everything that we see around is struggling towards freedom, from atom to man, from the insentient, lifeless particle to the highest existence on the earth, the human soul. Every selfish action, therefore, retards our reaching the goal, and every unselfish action takes us towards the goal.
Karma-Yoga is a systemof ethics and religion intended to attain freedom through unselfishness and by good works. The Karma-Yogi need not believe in any doctrine whatever. He may not believe in God, may not ask what his soul is, nor think of any metaphysical speculation. He has got his own aim of realising selflessness; and he has to work it out himself. Every moment of his life must be realisation, because he has to solve by mere work, without the help of doctrine or theory to the very same problem to which Jnani applies reason and inspiration and Bhakta applies his love.
Believe not because some old manuscripts are produced, believe not because its not national belief, because you have been made to believe it since your childhood; but reason it all out, and after you have analyzed it, then you will find it that it will do good to one and all, believe it, live upto it, and help others to live upto it. He the one who work without motive,neither for money for for fame, not for anything else; and when a man can do that, he will be a Buddha, and out of him will come the power to work in such a manner as will transform this world. The man represents the very highest idea of Karma-Yoga.
Karma Yoga and Bakthi Yoga