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“Selfless service is the soap that purifies our mind.” – Amma

‘How can work be purifying?’ We may wonder this while we are immersed in boring, repetitive, stressful or unpleasant duties. The important thing is not the task we perform but our attitude towards it. Action implemented with the right attitude can be transformed into a special form of meditation. Then we can enjoy the peace and joy of a mind truly merged in its actions.

We speak about mental impurity as referring to our desires, our likes and dislikes. The more intense the desires, the bigger the mental disturbance. How do we remedy this? On one hand, we may try to fulfill the desire. Yet once the desire is fulfilled, the relief is only temporary, and a new desire soon arises. Our untrained mind is an incessant factory of wishes and desires.

The spiritual perspective is to try to transcend desires – not suppress them. Transcendence comes through discrimination and right understanding. When we see the futility of the gratification of the senses, our identification with desires will lead to dispassion. The ability to renounce our desires grows as we turn to the eternal fountain of truth as the real source of our happiness.

To experience the bliss of the Self—the culmination of our spiritual path—we need a pure mind. Only the understanding of our true nature—the ever-blissful and eternal consciousness—can eradicate desire. The root of desire is spiritual ignorance. Desires can only exist when we do not recognize our divine origin and we identify ourselves with the ego and its likes and the dislikes. We will all come back to our original state of perfection. Self-realization is very subtle.

We can do this through all the different paths of Yoga. Karma Yoga simply means dedicating our actions to God. As it is said in the Bhagavad Gita: “Seek to perform your duty, but lay not claim to its fruits.” Quoting Amma: “Your heart is the real temple. It is there that you must install God. Good thoughts are the flowers to be offered to Him. Good actions are the worship. Good words are the hymns. Love is the Divine offering.”

“When performing actions, we should try to see ourselves as an instrument in the hands of God – like the pen in the hands of a writer or a brush in the hands of a painter. Our prayer should be “O Lord, let me become a purer and purer instrument in your hands.”

Karma Yoga helps us to concentrate more fully on our tasks and achieve a better performance. This will benefit us as well as society. A mind purified from likes and dislikes can be happy no matter what the external circumstances. As Amma says, “Our happiness depends on our state of mind.”

May Amma bless us with selfless love.

Karma Yoga as Selfless Service
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Karma Yoga as Selfless Service