Karma Yoga (Selfless Service)
The term Karma Yoga means “Path to Mergence with God through performing selfless service”.
What is service to God?
An incompetent reader may start to recall: “I know the term Divine service… What is it? Prayers… And what are prayers? ‘Lord, give me this! Lord, give me that!’”…
Yes, for the majority of believers who consider themselves Christians, praying means begging something from God. And, paradoxically enough, they see in this their duty and their “service to God”…
But God does not need our panhandling! He does not listen to it! Otherwise it would “make Him sick” to hear all the nonsense that people invented, their addressing Him as a servant who is allegedly supposed to supply whatever He is asked for.
He needs our efforts on self-development and our help to other people in this. He wants us — every one of us! — to take an active part in His Evolution, rather than to whine passively and expect “grace” from Heaven…
Helping other people on this Path — this is what service to God is! He declared this through Jesus Christ, Babaji, and Sathya Sai Baba; the apostle Paul said many wonderful words about this as well [6,11].
But one should not interpret this kind of help too narrowly: only as preaching, conducting religious classes or writing religious books. No. In order to live on the Earth fruitfully and to evolve, people also need housing, food, clothing, fuel, transport, safety, medical help, education and many other things. Therefore, Karma Yoga means helping other people in everything that is good.
The most important characteristic of Karma Yoga is the right motivation: that is, one should not act for gain or reward, even in the form of a salary. One has to perform actions for the sake of helping other people, as acts of selfless giving. This does not imply, however, an unpaid work. But it is up to those whom we help and to God to take care of the material welfare of the giver.
In other words, the essence of “mutual settlements” of worthy people who help one another is exchange of gifts. All necessary details of the “theory of giving” are set out by God in chapter 17 of the Bhagavad Gita [6,11].
The essence of it is that God regards only those gifts as sattvic, i.e. true and pure, that one gives to a worthy person at the right time and in the right place.
So, the short definition of the term Karma Yoga sounds like this — “selfless help to all worthy people in everything good”.
It is very important to emphasize that one develops correctly not through parasitism, panhandling or endless repetition of prayers or making ritual bodily movements — but through creative work and active love for other evolving beings, which is expressed in actions for their good.
Sathya Sai Baba clarifies the idea of Karma Yoga by the following illustrative example. He says that if you are members of one family you do not ask the head of the family for payment for each kind of work you perform around the house — it is outside people that work for money, but not the own ones. So you, if you feel that God is your Father, you must not engage in bargaining with Him, but on the contrary — you must act in the interests of His Plan, for Him, for the Evolution and not for your personal gain .
This kind of activity is the background against which God allows us to develop intellectually, in love and in power.