Neti, Neti, Neither or Both?, Continued: Karma Yoga (Selfless Service)

by Aranyakananda

Just like with many things in life, there are two very different schools of thought in the world as to how one should live one’s life. Karma yogis say that a life not lived for others is not worth living. Some will say that not living a life that makes you happy is not really living.

Two things about living for others:

1. To some degree it matters what we mean by living our lives for others. If we spend our entire lives as the fulfiller of another person’s whims when that person has no respect for us or themselves then we are in fact disrespecting ourselves, and not doing the other person any measurable amount of good. Just as Krishna made every effort at a peaceful resolution before the Kurukshetra War, one should only allow for so many indiscretions. As Hindus, we are not to seek gratitude, but we are not to be doormats either. People may still call the whim-fulfiller a “saint” and who knows, maybe they are right, but I tend to think not.

2. On the other side of the coin, if one spends his or her life helping those who cannot help themselves, they lift that person up and themselves. Living a life for others can be the most gratifying life possible. At that point it is not selfish to be happy in doing so, because this is expansion of the self into the Self. (1.) is Tamasic, I think, and (2.) is Sattwic.

So it is complex. But living for oneself is equally sticky. And for the same reason. One is Tamasic and one is Sattwic. You can become lazy, dependent and focused on pleasures of the flesh and call it living for yourself, or you can live a life devoted to fulfilling your personal dharma. Each of us has one in this life.

There is no big payoff, or “point” to this post. Just something to think about.

Jai Hari Aum!

This entry was posted in American Hindus, Bhagavad-Gita, Bharat War, dharma, Eastern Philosophy, editorial, ego, Gandhi, Gita, God, gratitude, Hinduism, History, inspiration, karma, karma yoga, Krishna, Krishna Consciousness, Kurukshetra, life, Mahabharata, meaning of life, opinion, philosophy, reincarnation, religion, Sanatana Dharma, self help, self-realization, social commentary, spirituality, transmigration, Vaishnavism, Vishnu, Western Hinduism, White Hindus, work, yoga and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Neti, Neti, Neither or Both?, Continued: Karma Yoga (Selfless Service)

  1. Dhrishti says:


    You should do your best to check out the most recent issue of Yoga Journal. For one, it’s a great magazine. But truly, the most recent issue has a lengthy article about bringing yoga into your work(place) and finding bliss in your job, no matter what that might be. The piece is literally about karma yoga. I may mail it to you.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s