Karma Yoga: Action Without Attachment

The word yoga means union, uniting the higher with the lower self. In meditation, Unity co-founder Charles Fillmore received the word ‘Unity’, which he interpreted to mean union with the One Power and Presence in the Universe: God. As part of our journey in knowing and expressing that oneness, yoga teaches that individuals tend toward one of three paths, based on their personality: The Yoga of Wisdom, Devotion or Service. As part of his series ‘Unity & Yoga’, Justin Epstein explores each of these paths. In this video: The Yoga of Service: Karma Yoga: Action Without Attachment

Full Video Transcript (Transcript by Victoria Barkely)

Karma Yoga is action without attachment to the fruits of your actions; Action, without the attachment to the fruits of your actions. Take, for instance: Did you ever know anybody that did something for another person and got upset because what he did wasn’t appreciated? Right? He did this really nice thing, this loving thing, but there were strings attached to it. The string might have been: well, they didn’t really express appreciation, or they didn’t really like it. Now, that’s not karma yoga, is it?

(Karma Yoga) is doing without attachment to the fruits. It’s doing the thing, because you do it out of love. No strings attached. If there are strings attached—if we do something with an expectation of return—that’s not love, that’s business. In the business world we produce a service, a product, and we expect monetary payment, or some other kind of payment. But that’s not love, that’s business. Karma Yoga, in its essence, is doing things for the joy of doing them, without attachments to the results.

In the Eastern teachings, when you have attachments to results and external things, it somehow blocks that union with Spirit. It contributes to attachment to the world, as opposed to knowing in a more deep way Source, being more God like. After all, God is always giving, isn’t She?

She (God) is always breathing life into us. She (God) is always expressing and giving good to us. In fact, all of our gifts in life come from the source. She (God) is always giving. And we are created in God’s image; so ultimately, we can be as free as God is. Spirit gives for the joy of giving. In fact, Spirit has created everything. In the Eastern idea, this is God’s lilla, which is a word that means play. God is doing this for the joy of it and is seeking to enjoy life through us.

But we make a mess of it, don’t we? We get all stressed out and tense, full of fears, worries and anxieties, and attachments to what we are going to get out of whatever we do. That’s what happens when we are attached to our results. We get disappointed. We get frustrated. We get angry. You know, after all, we didn’t get credit for the thing that we wanted. And you know, someone else got the credit and we get angry. Or we do something and the person wasn’t impressed. One person liked it, another person didn’t like it and we think: wow, maybe I need to do it better. Or maybe I need to try harder; or do something else, so that they’ll be impressed. All these attachments that we have, lead to frustration and a sense of separation.

Karma Yoga is to develop a path of service. (It) is to learn to develop doing things for the joy of doing them and finding satisfaction and fulfillment in the act itself, in the process itself, imagine. Because what happens is we get so caught up in the result– or we can– that we fail to enjoy the journey. We fail to enjoy the very thing that we are doing because our mind is on the payment–our mind is on the reward, our mind is on… well, are they going to like this, are they going to appreciate this, or are they going to…

So the path of service is learning to do things for the joy of doing them, to the best of our ability, without attachment to the fruits. Karma Yoga is action without attachment or desire for the fruits of our action.