Karma Yoga teaches us to sacrifice the interests of our narrowly defines “self” and to surrender everything to the service of the largest Self. One word for this largest Self can be the Universe. An old word for it is simply “God”.
Usually we are filled with our “self”– our personal worries, our stories, hopes, dreams and desires. In this state, everything we do is for our self. The world seems to be working against us; a vast conspiracy to frustrate our desires and dreams. Our poor puny self, all alone in this vastness of space and time. What chance does it have of winning? Our energy wanes, as does our interest.
But what happens happens when we empty our selves of our “self”?
Then the inner space is filled with the real stuff of this universe. An excited, undeterred and unstoppable joy. Then, everything that we do brings joy just by the act of doing in. In India we say “those who deal in coal must get their hands blackened”. The reverse happens when we deal in joy. We radiate joy, we share joy, and we are filled with joy ourselves.
There’s a word for that. It’s “enthusiasm”. We are enthusiastic about everything we do, touch and become. The word itself comes from ancient Greek, from the Indo-European word for God (theos), and enthusiasm literally means “to be filled with god”.
When we empty our selves of our narrow minded desires, hopes and dreams, the universe fills that vacuum. We are no longer in competition with the universe. It works through us. We are enthusiastic.
And that is Karma Yoga.