Path two to raising consciousness is the path of selfless, God-devoted and God-dedicated action, the path of dedicating the fruits of one’s work to God. Within Hindu tradition, this path is called karma yoga. Dedicating the fruits of our work to God is based on a deep inner-knowing that the union with the Absolute Truth (or God) is superior to any sort of worldly actions; that actions and the fruits of actions can only serve as ladders to the union with the Absolute Truth, but cannot be ends in themselves. By dedicating the fruits of our work to God and by working always with right motivation, right means, and toward right ends – to the best of our knowledge and ability at any given moment – we can gradually achieve non-attachment and consequent union with the Absolute Truth.
This path is best suited to people with energetic, dynamic personalities who cannot imagine themselves outside of their chosen occupation, duty or service. Such individuals can be religious or secular, learned or uneducated, but what unites them all is sincere dedication to their work.
Although countless people through the millennia have been engaged in earnest and dedicated work, only a few have been able to reach union with God by following the path of action. This is not surprising, considering that this path is full of dangers and pitfalls to which many fall prey. Most of these pitfalls stem from the challenge that in order to lead to union with God, the path of dedicated action needs to be a route to non-attachment, which only a few of us are capable of following. Let’s explore what non-attachment means in regards to our actions and what pitfalls are awaiting us on this path.
First, non-attachment refers to doing everything we do selflessly; doing for the sake of the joy of serving the Absolute Truth and not for the sake of being a special individual. If we can lose ourselves in our actions and do whatever we do without the need to be recognized or honored, we free ourselves from both the desire of fame and the fear of obscurity.
Second, non-attachment means doing everything we do without attachment to any specific results; doing for the sake of the joy of serving the Absolute Truth, not for the sake of success, triumph or gain. When we experience the joy of serving the Absolute Truth, we naturally grow unattached to the results of our actions. And when we become unattached to the results of our actions, we free ourselves from both the fear of failure and the overexcitement of anticipated success; from the shame of loss and the pride of gain.
Third, non-attachment refers to doing everything we do without expecting anything in return; doing for the sake of the joy of serving the Absolute Truth, not for the sake of a reward or reciprocation. If we do not expect anything in return, our actions are pure, and we free ourselves from disappointments and resentments that usually follow unmet expectations.
Fourth, non-attachment refers to doing everything we do to the best of our ability, without loathing, dodging or using only half of our might; doing for the sake of the joy of serving the Absolute Truth , not the sake of giving an impression that the job is well done. Only we can know if we have done our best, and that knowledge is our only legitimate reward. If we do everything to the best of our ability, we free ourselves from the guilt of knowing that we could have done better.
Fifth, non-attachment implies doing everything we do without sacrificing the means for the ends; doing for the sake of serving the Absolute Truth, not for the sake of winning by any means. More specifically, non-attachment means doing without using betrayal, treachery or duplicity; without sacrificing our conscience, dignity and honesty. No actions or results of actions are worthy of such sacrifices. If we carefully choose the means for our actions so that they don’t jeopardize our integrity and conscience, we free ourselves from the guilt, remorse, and repentance that usually accompany any perfidy.
Sixth, non-attachment signifies doing everything we do willingly, without coercion or force; doing for the sake of serving the Absolute Truth, not for the pressure of fulfilling an obligation. Whether our job is interesting or tedious, easy or hard, glamorous or mundane, if we know we have to do it – we choose to do it! By doing everything willfully and eagerly, we free ourselves from the strains and burdens of the land of “musts” and the resentments and bitterness of the land of victimhood.
Seventh, non-attachment implies doing everything we do without consideration of ownership or accumulation; doing for the sake of the joy of serving the Absolute Truth, not for the sake of possessing anything, whether material goods, or knowledge or privileges. When we are not concerned with possessions, we free ourselves from both grieving the losses and taking pleasure in gains. We take both losses and gains with neutrality and gratitude, knowing that no matter what we do, we are just the instruments and not the authors of any of our doings.
Eighth, non-attachment means doing everything we do without using our work as a source of escape; doing for the joy of serving the Absolute Truth, not for the sake of avoiding something we don’t want to do or face. There is a common phenomenon in the modern world called “workaholism.” As any attachment, workaholism is a form of escapism – an unconscious desire to run away from something one doesn’t want to do (for example, home chores or parental duties) or face (such as, an emotional trauma or our limitations). When we work to escape something, no matter how hard we work, the path of God-dedicated action remains closed to us. When, on the other hand, we lose ourselves in our work without using it as a shield against anything else, we open ourselves for the path of God-dedicated action.
Finally, non-attachment means doing everything we do without the illusion that we are doing something great; doing it for the joy of serving the Absolute Truth, not for the sake of reaching personal, social,or even spiritual greatness. More specifically, non-attachment means doing everything with the acute awareness that whatever we do in the phenomenal world is ultimately mundane and secondary as compared to the main task of our life – discovering and merging with our Essence – the Absolute Truth. If we do what we do with such awareness, we free ourselves from taking our actions too critically, too gravely, too seriously. We know that we are not really “doers” but instruments, elements, parts of the great, continuously moving organism – manifestation.
In the next post, I will describe the third path to raising consciousness – the path of intellectual discrimination.
Please stay tuned.