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Karma Yoga, or Work as Worship
"Our daily activity is the anvil on which all the elements must pass and repass in order to be purified and refined." (Sri Aurobindo)
"Work done in the true spirit is meditation." (The Mother)
The word yoga is derived from the Sanskrit root 'yuj,' meaning 'to yoke' or 'join'. Thus, yoga is the science that yokes 'the finite' with 'the Infinite', or 'the finite spirit' with 'the Supreme Spirit'. Connecting ourselves with the universal will through work is known as Karma Yoga. Ancient scriptures call it the 'highest kind of yoga.'
"Your daily life is your temple
Karma yoga is a means for seeking divinity in action and life itself, and not in some far, beatific and abstract beyond. It is therefore the discipline for finding and uniting with the divine through our day-to-day actions, thoughts and works. Or it can be referred to as the way, which confers to our ordinary human actions a divine status.
Truly, every act is sacred since we are not the doer but a higher reality is acting through us. We intuitively understand that everything comes from the divine and we have to offer it back to its source. When we realize this, then even the smallest aspect of our lives to which we usually do not pay any attention or care ceases to be trivial and insignificant; it becomes full of meaning and opens up a vast horizon beyond. According to Aurobindo:
"What would you say if a temple, built according to the design of some great artist, were to boast: "Admire my merits; am I not beautiful, well-built, solid and durable? Truly I am worthy of all praise!" - just as if it were the author of its own perfections. We would find that very silly and ridiculous, and yet that is what we are doing constantly. Because we do not perceive the labor of the Sublime Worker, we ascribe the merit of the work to ourselves."
Karmayoga is the consecration of one's life to the divine. It is to work with the feeling that the divine force is working behind our actions and leading us at every moment. Indeed, if we have succeeded, it was probably because the divine forces were there to help us, otherwise we would not have been able to achieve even what we have. We must not forget our limitations. Man proposes, and some one else disposes.
When we look upon work as worship, we offer up all the fruits of our work unto the divine. Our karma is offered as a sacred offering to the highest reality. Truly, this is the reason why the goddess Kali wears a girdle made up of severed hands; these signify the total sacrifice of the fruits of their karma by her devotees, offered at her feet in worship.
Body & Self