The Essence of the Practice of Karma Yoga

While the eventual release of the egoistic sense of being the doer is necessary, there is a phase that precedes it during which the seeker still has the sense of “doing the work”. It is during this phase that the personal effort of the seeker is required. Sri Aurobindo acknowledges this and provides a prescription for weakening the hold of the ego:

“Until you are capable of this complete dynamic identification, you have to regard yourself as a soul and body created for her service, one who does all for her sake. Even if the idea of the separate worker is strong in you and you feel that it is yuo who do the act, yet it must be done for her. All stress of egoistic choice, all hankering after personal profit, all stipulation of self-regarding desire must be extirpated from the nature.”

The Bhagavad Gita, which clarified the practice of karma yoga, prescribed that one has the right to the doing of the work, but not the fruits of the work. This teaching aligns with Sri Aurobindo’s statement in this context:

“There must be no demand for fruit and no seeking for reward; the only fruit for you is the pleasure of the Divine Mother and the fulfilment of her work, your only reward a constant progression in divine consciousness and calm and strength and bliss. The joy of service and the joy of inner growth through works is the sufficient recompense of the selfless worker.”

The psychological standpoint for the seeker is the foundational basis for the practice and fulfilment of karma yoga.

Sri Aurobindo,