The literal Sanskrit translation of karma is “action.” Each karma has an effect, in the present or the future. Therefore, the effect of our karma is neither punishment nor reward but simply an extended expression or consequence of our chosen acts.
Karmas lead to bonds and attachments. Yet as long as we are living, we have no choice but to perform actions. Karma Yoga, therefore, is the path for those looking to perfect their actions so that bonds are not created and one becomes closer to God and Self-realization.
What does it mean to perfect one’s karmas or actions? The Bhagavad Gita is filled with wisdom on this topic, and here is a simple summary taken from our Satguru Ji’s writings:
Karma Yoga is to do karma with the body while keeping the mind in meditation. When actions are performed in this way, desire for the fruits of one’s action ends and karma transforms into karma yoga. Therefore, a karma yogi is peaceful in both gain and loss. One then becomes a karma sanyasi (renunciate of karma), performing all actions by one’s senses but the soul remains detached.
While this may seem esoteric, it is reachable in this lifetime! We must apply what we learn from the scriptures to make real progress. Here are some practical tips to help us learn to combine karmas with detachment and meditation: