Golden Goodness for Laos
The Art of Karma Yoga
Starfish Story Loren Eiseley
“While wandering a deserted beach at dawn, I saw a man in the distance bending and throwing as he walked the endless stretch toward me. As he came near, I could see that he was throwing starfish, abandoned on the sand by the tide, back into the sea. When he was close enough I asked him, ‘’why are you working so hard at this strange task.’’ He replied, ‘’the sun will soon rise and the starfish will die.’’ Without understanding I replied,‘’this is foolish, there are thousands of starfish on miles and miles of beach. One man alone could never make a difference. ‘’ He smiled as he picked up the next starfish. Hurling it far into the sea he said,
“It makes a difference for this one.”
Yoga is often defined as the method or science of joining, connecting or yoking. If this is so, then what are we seeking to yoke?
Through the practice of yoga and meditation, we are offered glimpses, if not wide-open doors into the true nature of our being. Yoga, as well as many other parallel traditions, teaches us that, at our core, we are of humble goodness and divine light.
Within the parameters of yoga, there are hundreds of interpretations or paths (marga), sometimes opposing, yet most often, sharing the common denominator of inner peace and reuniting our individual soul (Jiva Atman) with the universal soul (Para Atmam), in which we all originate. As students and teachers, we seek to experience, via yoga’s canvas of sweeping nuances, to reconnect with that place we can call home, untouched by time, place or causation.
Each interpretation yields something different. Through the practice of bhakti yoga, we connect with the heart by means of devotion and love while the practice of hatha yogaunites us with the sacred temple of our bodies. Jnana yoga offers us insight into the mind through discernment and meditation, and swara yoga empowers us to reunite with the power and mastery of the breath. By means of karma yoga we connect through service.
Karma yoga, one of the four pillars of yoga is understood as the path of selfless altruistic service. The word karma is derived from the Sanskrit root kri, meaning ‘’action’’ or ‘’to do’’. Karma yoga is the path of union through our actions, but not just any actions, those actions that are aligned with right intention and with our dharma or duty and when we are unattached to the fruits of our deeds. It is the gateway to generosity and is the first step towards eliminating greed, hatred and delusion because behind every act of giving is an act of loving kindness (meta) and compassion (karuna).
Shantideva, an 8th century scholar, yogi and monk spoke about changing roles. He proposed, in order to touch the heart, we can practice humbly stepping outside the limelight of the epicenter and retreat to the periphery. This act of mindfully and purposefully placing others in the center without forgetting our own needs fosters human kindness.
Karma yoga is the art of giving by offering our time, our presence, our services, our money or anything that can benefit others. This intrinsic path has an instrumental role in yogic philosophy reminding us that, as much as our practice appears to be all about us, our bodies, our minds and our accomplishments, it is really a reminder that we are all fundamentally connected at our core, breathing the same air, supported by the same earth and sharing the same basic needs as love.
Karma yoga encourages us to stretch the limitations of our heart and extend compassion right out there to others, even to those that are less fortunate, those that we judge lacking in merit, and above all, those who don’t extend anything in return.
‘’A single, ordinary person still can make a difference- and single, ordinary people are doing precisely that every day.’’ Chris Bohialian
Helping others is known to boost self-esteem, appease depression, solitude and self loathing, cultivate empathy and eliminate apathy, grow compassion, gratitude and self love, and make the world blossom into a good place to be. It has the power to free us from past karma while stimulating the 4th chakra, the muscle of love, and, it brings a smile to the heart of others and boomerangs right back to you.
My grandfather, my mentor, used to say, ‘’giving should hurt’’. What he meant by this was that giving should be felt by the altruist. It should take something away from ourselves whether it be some of our time, our finances, or whatever we choose to offer up.
We, at O2yoga, would like to thank you for taking the time to Spring clean and help us fill close to 100 boxes of much needed clothing, school supplies, and books for the children at Deak Kumpa Orphanage in Laos as well as donations in benefit of the students that are part of our scholarship program for continuing education, Practice for Compassion. Without you and your generosity we couldn’t have succeeded! Even symbolic acts of kindness offered with right intention and a big heart are capable of changing the world, at least one step at a time.
With infinite gratitude,
From that place of goodness inside us we salute that place of goodness within you,
Jessica and Philippe
Charity EVENT Saturday, June 1
Practice for Compassion
In favor of continuing education for young Lao individuals.
Please join us in making a huge change in the lives of others by showing up for a class or two and spreading the word. 100% of the proceeds go directly for the education of the 7 Lao students.
For more information about this event and our karma yoga projects in Laos, please visit our web site http://o2yoga.ch/karma-yoga.html