Not just voluntary work...
Lama Sangyay Tendzin requests all devotees staying at or visiting TNG-Centre® to contribute to its maintenance and development through daily participation in karma yoga activities. All local non-resident disciples are also encouraged to visit the Garden of Happiness and practice karma yoga once a week. In this way, Lama invites all sangha members to practice and develop mindfulness while helping with the upkeep/maintenance of the Centre.
WHAT IS KARMA-YOGA?
Karma Yoga is the performance of actions while dwelling in union with one's true nature. Karma Yoga therefore trains the practitioner to accomplish actions endowed with the triple seal of emptiness, clarity and compassion. The actions are carried out with evenness, as one keeps the mind free of the emotions usually felt when experiencing success or failure. One then practices mindfulness and letting go in order to complete the activity with the wisdom of non-attachment.
Karma Yoga is the Yoga of action which purifies the heart and prepares the yogi to receive blessings, which will progressively lead to the realization of 'Rang-Tong', the emptiness of Self. The main point to start with, is that one must serve the community without any attachment or egotism.
Action of one kind or another is unavoidable. It is incredibly difficult to keep quiet without doing anything. What binds you to phenomenal existence or Samsara is not the action but the idea of “doership” and “enjoyership”. Karma binds when it is done with a selfish motivation based on the expectation of reward. Only when an action is done without this expectation of reward, is it fully liberating.
The practice of Karma Yoga prepares the practitioner to develop knowledge of ‘Rang-Tong’ - the Emptiness of Self and make them a proper vessel to receive the teachings on wisdom.
Ignorant people jump straight into Jnana Yoga, without first having a preliminary training in Karma Yoga. This is why they utterly fail to realize the Ultimate Truth. Their mind is filled with likes and dislikes, as well as with the related emotions of grasping, jealousy, etc. Consequently, these emotions lead them again and again to indulge in all sorts of useless controversies, pointless debates and endless dry discussions. Selfless service is the only way to remove the impurities lurking in the mind.
Two things are indissociable from the practice of Karma Yoga:
- The Karma Yogi should have non-attachment towards the fruits of his actions.
- The Karma Yogi must dedicate their actions upon completion with a feeling of great compassion.
Non-attachment brings freedom from sorrow and fear, a heavy load that completely vanishes once we let go of attachment to the false concept of self, and its accompanying expectations of hopes and fears.
QUALIFICATIONS OF A KARMA YOGIN(I)
- A Karma Yogin(i) should be absolutely free from lust, greed, anger and egotism. Should there be any traces of these conflicting emotions in their mind, they should try to remove them.
- A Karma Yogin(i) should not expect any kind of fruits from their actions either immediately or in the future.
- A Karma Yogin(i) should not have any desire for reputation, fame and approval, or thirst for applause, admiration and gratitude.
- A Karma Yogin(i) should try to develop this attitudeand related skills gradually. They should also be humble and free from hatred, jealousy, harshness, etc.
- A Karma Yogin(i) should always speak gentle words.
- A Karma Yogin(i) should be absolutely fearless.
- A Karma Yogin(i) should have a vast heart.
- A Karma Yogin(i) should be free from dishonesty, meanness, miserliness and selfishness.
- A Karma Yogin(i) should be absolutely free from greed, anger and egotism.
- A Karma Yogin(i) should have an amiable, loving social nature.
- A Karma Yogin(i) should be able to move and mix with everybody without distinction of caste, creed or colour.
- A Karma Yogin(i) should have perfect adaptability, tolerance, sympathy, cosmic love and mercy.
- A Karma Yogin(i) should be able to adjust to the habits and ways of others.
- A Karma Yogin(i) should have an all-embracing and all-inclusive heart.
- A Karma Yogin(i) should always have a cool, balanced mind and remain mindful.
- A Karma Yogin(i) should have equanimity.
- A Karma Yogin(i) should rejoice in the welfare of others.
- A Karma Yogin(i) should lead a very simple life.
- A Karma Yogin(i) should bear insult, disrespect, dishonour, censure, infamy, disgrace and harsh words, as well as heat, cold and the pain of diseases.
- A Karma Yogin(i) should have absolute faith in themselves, in the three Jewels, in the scriptures and in the words of their Guru.
- A Karma Yogin(i) should burn selfishness to the very root.
BENEFITS OF KARMA YOGA
By doing selfless service you purify your heart. Egotism, hatred, jealousy, ideas of superiority and all the kindred negative qualities will vanish. You will develop humility, pure love, sympathy, tolerance and mercy. The sense of separateness between self and other will be annihilated. Selfishness will be eradicated. You will get a broad and liberal outlook on life. You will begin to feel oneness and unity. Eventually you will obtain knowledge of the Self.
Generally, people are impatient, and they expect Siddhis after doing only a small amount of service. The real Karma Yogin(i), who serves people with humility and sees the pure buddha nature in everyone, becomes a true ruler of the world. He/she is honoured and respected by all. The more service you do with this pure outlook, the more power, energy and capacity you get. Practice this and feel the transformation of your mind.
If you really want to grow on the spiritual path you must do all sorts of service daily till the end of your life. Then only are you safe. Do not stop doing service when you have become a famous Yogin(i). The spirit of service must enter every nerve, cell, tissue and bone of your body. It must become ingrained in you. Then only will you become a real, fully developed, Dharma practitioner. Is there any greater Karma Yogin than Lord Buddha? He still lives in our hearts, because that spirit of service was ingrained in Him and He spent His whole life serving others in a variety of ways. You can become a Buddha if you apply yourself diligently to selfless service with the right mental attitude.