|The Yoga of Service : Karma Yoga
All spiritual teachings speak of our need to help the world and to uplift
humanity. Hence most practitioners of Yoga are expected to do some work of service, Sanskrit "seva", to
humanity. This may be providing food or clothing to the poor or needy, working in schools or
hospitals, or distributing books and teachings.
There are very few books on Karma Yoga, nor does it have its special
Sutras or texts like the other Yoga paths. Yet it is given its importance
in all approaches, particularly the Yoga of Devotion. Gandhi was a good modern representative of this
Generally speaking, the Yogic teaching, as it is non-political and inward oriented, does not
emphasize service and charity as much as Christianity. However, unlike many so-called
Christian groups, it does not consider it to be true service to others to try to
convert them to our beliefs. True service is in helping others to help
themselves, aiding them in unburdening themselves, not imposing new ideas upon them.
To provide food, shelter or education
to others is good but when we seek to convert them to our beliefs by
giving them our propaganda in the process, it becomes a poison. It
is like giving candy to children to get them under our power. The
Yoga system recognizes that the highest service we can do for the
world is our own self-realization. We cannot really improve the
world until we have conquered our own inner darkness.