Lesson 8: Karma Yoga
A Short Summary
If Vedanta is going to work for you, you need to change the way you think. And while the light may go on when you hear these teachings, a single exposure to them will not change your thinking patterns. The teaching should become your life. It should be with you every minute of the day. So you need to completely understand the ‘big picture’ logic. Then, when you get stuck, you can bring up the road map and work out where you are and where you need to be.
We began with the statement that the joy we seek in objects actually belongs to the self and that seeking happiness in objects is a zero-sum game. The teaching about Maya reveals the psychology that causes us to seek happiness in objects. Objects, as you will recall, are anything other than the self. Maya makes the full and complete self think it is incomplete and dupes it into thinking that objects can fulfill it. This error constitutes the bedrock logic of samsara. If you can’t see it, you are not ready for Vedanta and you are welcome to continue to pursue objects. If you keep chasing objects this logic will become clear as samsara grinds you down and forces you to accept it. The only way to win in samsara is to get out of it altogether. Every victory in the pursuit of objects is basically a defeat because it postpones the inevitable, the realization that the world is a dream. That it is a dream is very difficult to realize because Maya, like a wide-screen hi-definition TV, constantly projects beautiful sexy images that seems ever so real, exciting your fantasies. You can taste them, touch them, and smell them. So off you go, chasing experiences and accumulating vasanas. And your attention, which is just panoramic awareness reduced to a tiny pencil-like ray by Maya, becomes extroverted, riveted on objects. It is hard to miss the irony; you, the self, looking for yourself in objects, which have no self nature. What could be more absurd?
I am sorry to go on at length about this sad fact but we need to rub your spiritual nose in it because the basic truth of the apparent reality is completely counterintuitive. It ‘feels’ wrong. Not much intellectual power is required to understand that life is just an unconscious process of stimulus and response. On its most basic level it is just you paying attention to the world’s reactions to your reactions to the world. We call going from desire to action and action to desire samsara chakra. It is like being caught in quicksand…the more you struggle to free yourself, the deeper you sink in. One meaning of samsara is ‘whirlpool.’ When you get caught in it, you can’t wiggle out. In fact the more you move the more surely you are implicated. The momentum of your past actions keeps you tied to this chakra, this wheel. When it goes up, you go up and when it goes down, you go down. You are only concerned with getting what you want and avoiding what you don’t. It happened to me. I was the living dead, a complete robot, a puppet on the string of my fears and desires mindlessly hopping up and down.
Before we show you how to get out of the whirlpool and get the self into your life, we need to add one more bit of unpleasant news. In the last chapter we mentioned that as the vasanas accumulate over time a structural distortion takes place in the Subtle Body. In a healthy integrated person the three centers are yoked together and cooperate with each other to help the jiva achieve its goals. But when the vasana load is too heavy, the Subtle Body becomes distorted, their connection is broken and inner conflict develops.
To get the self into the equation we need Yoga. We need to take our conditioning into account because it keeps us out of contact with the self. I cannot understand how the modern teachers can tell you that you are not a doer and that there is no work to be done. Of course it is good for business because the ego wants to hear this message, but it is foolish advice. You are not happy for a reason and the reason is that your conditioning keeps you tied to the world of objects. So you need to practice Yoga.
How does Yoga work? It removes the vasanas that extrovert the mind and develops vasanas that turn the mind toward the self so that inquiry can bear fruit.
Karma Yoga – No Bad Outcomes
If you know who you are, you will automatically act with the karma yoga spirit because you will be clear about what action and its results can and cannot do for you. So karma yoga is intended for people with spiritual vasanas who know that they are awareness but do not have full confidence in the knowledge. The lack of confidence is due to the veiling and projecting gunas, rajas and tamas, which cloud and disturb the mind to such a degree that it cannot enjoy the freedom that hard and fast self knowledge confers.
Although it is common sense to a sensitive person, the source of this idea is the Bhagavad Gita, one of the three pillars of Vedanta. In the Gita an extroverted person abandons his duty in the middle of a crisis and is taught self knowledge on life’s battlefield by his friend, an enlightened person. His mind is too agitated to permit him to assimilate the knowledge so he is encouraged to practice karma yoga.
Without karma yoga self knowledge will not stick. You may very well have non-dual epiphanies and feel that you are enlightened but without karma yoga the feeling will eventually be compromised and you will seek once more to regain your ‘enlightenment’…such as it was.
You should also know that karma yoga will give you a happy life whether or not you are seeking liberation. Some people who are unconsciously in harmony with the spirit of the creation evolve karma yoga and practice it without knowing what it is. Before I unfold this teaching we must debunk another spiritual myth. Karma yoga is not selfless service. There is only one self and, in so far as it is doing anything, it is serving itself. As karma yoga is presented to Westerners familiar with the spiritual culture of India, it is little more than a clever ruse by gurus and their organizations to get free labor from unsuspecting spiritual neophytes.
If we are going to reduce our vasana load and turn the mind toward the self we need the karma yoga spirit. It is not a spirit you can successfully assume without understanding the logic behind it.
Karma yoga works on the ego, the doer. The ego is that part of the Subtle Body that does actions to enjoy the results. It is also the part that owns action and its results. The words “I do, I enjoy, this is mine” belong to the doer. For someone seeking freedom these ideas are obstacles because they build unhelpful vasanas and obstruct knowledge.
People love to blame their childhood and their circumstances in life for their uncomfortable feelings. It is good business for the psychologists. My wife calls it woundology. I suppose the expectation is that if they understand what happened and what it did to them, they might somehow be relieved of the bad feelings. But Vedanta says that you need not look that far afield for the source of your emotional problems. The explanation, as we said in the last chapter, is very simple: you are not getting what you want. You do what you do expecting the result to make you feel good. When you don’t get the result you want, you feel some form of anger (rajas) or disappointment that can lead to depression (tamas). All the uncomfortable emotions are generated from rajas and tamas. It is very difficult to argue with this logic because when you are getting what you want you feel great. Getting what it wants all the time is the doer’s idea of happiness.
We do not say that you should or should not get what you want. You do what you do to get what you want. There is a strange notion in the spiritual world…popularized by the Buddha’s teaching that desire is the cause of suffering…that you shouldn’t want anything. But it is impossible to not want anything. It is not up to you. You come to earth full of desire and desire motivates you from morning until night, usually till the day you die. A human being is little more than what he or she wants. So we are all for you getting what you want. All we are saying is that getting what you want is not straightforward.
Karma Yoga the Stress Buster
Anxiety for the results of one’s actions is a fancy term for stress. If you ask people why they meditate, most will say ‘to remove stress.’ Meditation does remove stress but it does not remove the cause of stress. This is why people meditate unsuccessfully for many years. And it is the reason so many meditators abandon meditation in favour of some other approach. Karma yoga removes the cause of stress by exhausting the fears and desires that produces stress.
Results Not Up To You
Unfortunately, as we said before and never tire of saying, there is one small problem when you want what you want: the results of your actions are not up to you. This is unwelcome information. Although it never goes away, about every twenty years spiritual materialism becomes an obsession in the spiritual world in the form of a teaching like The Secret. The sole purpose of this kind of teaching is to make the ego feel like there is hope. That, having been a failure in the world, it can take refuge in the fantasy that there is a special way…a secret technique...that permits it to control the results of its actions and beat the dharma field at its own game. It is appealing because most spiritual people…everyone, in fact…are lazy and do not like the idea of being controlled by anything. When you see through this idea you are actually ready to listen to reason.
If the results of your actions were up to you, you would have everything you want. So what are the results up to? The law of karma and the dharma field.
In the Sixth Chapter we presented a rudimentary outline of the dharma field. I call it the ‘mandala of existence.’ It is a vast field. It is comprised of all the material elements, the Gross Bodies and the forces and laws that control them. It includes the Subtle Bodies and all the forces and laws that control the psychic, psychological and moral aspects of the field, the macrocosmic mind. And finally, it is ultimately controlled by the Causal Body and the Law of Karma.
And who am I? I think I am a very minute flyspeck of limited consciousness in this vast complex ocean of dream consciousness. As part of the field I seem to generate actions, tiny ripples on the surface of life. My actions do not fly off to some other universe to fructify there. They remain in the field. The field behaves as if it is conscious because is it situated in consciousness, just as the snake in our earlier example is situated in the rope and seems to be alive when it is perceived in a certain context. So the field responds. It produces karma. Karma means that something happens. And the karma returns to the doer of the action not always obvious ways. Or, as they say, “What goes around comes around.” It is expressed differently in the Bible, “As you sow, so shall you reap.” Everyone knows about karma but almost nobody understands it.
To refresh your memory, the big question is: on the basis of what does the field return my action to me? You cannot say that the field does not return action because my life is nothing but the happenings that the field of life brings to me. The field must be intelligent in some way because I don’t get actions that belong to you. If you kill your spouse the police eventually show up at your door, not mine. If you drink alcohol I don’t get cirrhosis of the liver. But what principle determines the result? The field determines the result based on the needs of the field.
Ignore the Dharma Field at your Peril
This is a very difficult fact for the ego to accept because it only cares about the tiny part of the field that directly impacts on it. Some individuals are so egocentric they can’t even get along with their families much less their neighbours, employers, etc. This is very short-sighted because everything that comes to us comes from others. Even those who do look after their immediate circle of others still cannot control what happens because what happens to the people around an individual is conditioned by the people with whom he or she is connected, and that wider circle is affected by an even wider circle until the circle opens up to include everything. That ‘everything’ is Isvara. From its point of view, no object in the field is more or less important than any other. This is bad news for me if I want something that does not serve the needs of the total.
Everyone knows this in one way or the other. The religious people call it God. They say that everything is the grace of God. We more or less agree, but as mentioned we do invest God with human and divine qualities and set it up outside the dharma field. The field itself is God. We don’t say that only the good karma comes from God, we throw in the bad karma as well because we know that reality is non-dual. There are actually not two separate principles operating in the dharma field, although Maya makes it seem as if there are.
The Secret of Action
I understand that in terms of my happiness the field is all powerful and that dependence on it causes suffering. I also know that I cannot just walk away from it. The desire that is in me demands action and action causes desire. So even if I run off to a cave in India I have not solved my problem. My vasanas and my disturbed mind go with me.
What I don’t understand is why action causes vasanas. The vasanas are caused by the attitude in play when I act. What is the attitude? The attitude is “I want. I don’t want.” In short, fear and desire motivate me. Although it is not my experience, it stands to reason that a different attitude may not produce the vasanas that tie me to action and its results. Is there such an attitude and what would it be?
Adults are not generally good examples, but children at play give us a hint. I was at the beach recently watching a group of children building a sand castle. They worked happily for about an hour with their little buckets and shovels and then as soon as it was finished, they happily destroyed it and ran off into the surf for a swim. A few years back I was in London at the National Museum and observed a group of Tibetan monks making a large intricate mandala out of coloured sand. Evidently they had been working on it for weeks and were, in a few days, about to blow it all away. What were they thinking? They were obviously uninterested in enjoying the mandala once it was finished. In both cases no binding vasana is created by such an action. What children understand intuitively and monks understand consciously is that action done in a certain spirit is liberating, not binding. What is that spirit?
Without too much introspection you have to admit that you do not want to die. People love life. One of my wife’s relatives who had a particular type of cancer endured three chemotherapies and radiations before he succumbed. We want to live because life is beautiful. It is a great joy and privilege to be here, to be alive. Even a few moments in the embrace of the beauty of life and love is enough to cause us to endure great miseries.
Again, it does not take a genius to figure out that you did not give yourself life. You did not create the world around you. You did not create your body or your mind; much less do you perform the myriad unseen tasks that keep you alive. If you are honest you will have to admit that you created nothing. You appeared here one fine day and everything was set up, tailor made for your enjoyment. Who or what did this? Isvara, God, the dharma field, did. There is no other explanation.
Dharma is Appropriate Response
When someone gives you a gift, what is the appropriate response? If you have culture, you will say, ‘Thank you,’ not to be merely polite but because you really do feel grateful. The body and mind can only act because they are blessed with the gift of life and with them you can seek success here. It does not matter what you do. Billions of hands and feet are required by consciousness to maintain this amazing dream. They all belong to consciousness and are on loan to you. You are here for a reason and you have been given the powers necessary to do your dharma, your duty. You are required to respond. It is not what you do. Only that you do, that you can do, matters. How generous, how magnanimous is God! How lucky I am to be here, to be alive! Each and every action that is done in this spirit backed by this understanding does not produce a vasana. So it is quite possible to de-condition yourself if you act in this spirit. It is also possible to recondition yourself, about which more will be said as we go.
If you study enlightened people you will find that they create no karma and are non-attached to objects. They don’t create binding vasanas because, being whole and complete, being one with consciousness…all life…they know that they don’t need objects to be happy. They are satisfied with the self alone and they are satisfied with whatever objects they have or don’t have. They act, no doubt. Nobody is free not to act. But they act from fullness…from happiness…not for happiness from incompleteness.
That I am not enlightened does not mean that I cannot become reasonably free of karma and vasanas. No big enlightenment experience need happen to destroy all my desires. Desire survives all enlightenment experiences. Even if an enlightenment experience destroys the desire for everyday objects, it creates a binding desire on the spot because it is so wonderful that when it ends…as they all do because all experience is in samsara…you want it back immediately. Non-dual experiences can be dangerous drugs.
To rid myself of binding vasanas all that is required is a change in the attitude motivating my actions. Karma Yoga is an attitude that you take with respect to action and its results that burns vasanas. It does not create them…except the vasana for karma yoga, which will eat itself when self knowledge arises in the mind prepared by karma yoga. This teaching is designed to create the understanding that will motivate you to practice karma yoga, assuming that you want liberation. Saying ‘all that is required’ makes it sound as if karma yoga was as easy as falling off a log. It is not easy if the idea that the joy I seek in objects has become a binding vasana itself. So to establish karma yoga there is an immediate resistance from none other than the very person karma yoga is intended to liberate…Mr. or Mrs. Ego.
The ego is perhaps the most tamasic of the three inner centers. It resists change tooth and nail. It cannot be forced to do karma yoga. Karma yoga is like putting yourself on a diet. It requires eternal vigilance. When you go on a diet, your will power may be strong and you may very well be clear about your goal, but the fat person inside is not your friend. It will do everything it can to sabotage your efforts. For instance, you see a tasty pastry in the display case at the coffee shop as you sip your coffee. You know very well that it is not part of your weight loss program. You can tell the fat person that he cannot have it, but the fat person is cleverer than you imagine. He will convince the intellect that there are not as many calories in it as you think, that it is made of healthy organic flour and honey, which is so much ‘better’ for you than that nasty toxic white sugar, that you deserve a treat because you have been so ‘good.’ etc. And before you know it the gooey sweet pastry will be keeping your coffee cup company. Ignorance is very intelligent. It will have its way.
The way to deal with Mr. Ego to educate, not eradicate, it. This is why Vedanta…which is a pathless path…is superior to other paths. It does not tell you what to do. It does not tout fanciful escapes. It educates you, leads you out of ignorance. Once the logic is understood it becomes reasonably easy to do what has to be done. Karma yoga is dharma yoga, appropriate response.
Work is Worship
So far we have explained the logic of karma yoga. But logic is only the beginning. Before we give karma yoga some teeth it is helpful to examine a recent misleading Yoga notion. It is natural to think that different yogas are intended for different personality types. This idea was introduced about one hundred years ago by Swami Vivekananda who could be said to be the father of ‘New’ Vedanta or ‘Modern’ Vedanta, the precursor to Neo-Advaita, the most popular iteration…dare I say corruption…of traditional Vedanta today. This fallacy is called the multi-path confusion and reveals a basic misunderstanding about the nature of the self. It arose about the time of Freud, hence its peculiar psychological bent.
To think that Vedanta and Yoga should adapt to the times is a mistake because people are fundamentally no different today from what they ever were: awareness plus three bodies. Vedanta addresses the core person, the universal person, not the conditioned person. Yes we have iPods and enjoy jet travel and live in complex societies but as the poet says, “There is nothing new under the sun.” A human being is a human being. To add or subtract from the core logic or twist the teachings to make them fit with the experience of a specific human being or to conform to the times is not helpful.
The multi-path confusion claims that karma yoga is for active types, devotional yoga, popularly known as the path of love, is prescribed for devotional types and knowledge yoga is suggested for intellectual types. This ‘teaching’ is patently absurd because every individual has an ego, emotions and an intellect. So to practice one yoga at the expense of the others only increases the structural distortion of the Subtle Body. All the ‘centers’ should be harmoniously developed in tandem, yoked behind a single idea…I am whole and complete ordinary non-dual actionless awareness. Additionally, when you understand the nature of reality you cannot distinguish between love, action and knowledge. Unfortunately, people identify with different aspects of the Subtle Body and develop limited identities based on the kind of activities their ignorance causes them to favour.
Karma yoga also is devotional yoga. It is simply love for one’s self in the form of the creation. The love you have for life is not self created. It is not ‘your’ love. It is consciousness, which is love, loving in you and through you as you. In the case of karma yoga, the self, under the spell of Maya, thinks it is a person with love…which is just willing attention…to invest in objects and because this does not work, the attention it invests in life in the form of action, needs to be offered back to the creation in the same spirit in which it was given…to complete the cosmic cycle.
Karma Yoga is also knowledge yoga because to meaningfully worship life with my actions I need to appreciate the non-duality of reality. The love in me for objects is simply the self loving through me, misdirected toward objects. But is it misdirected? If I understand that reality is non-dual, aren’t all the objects appearing in me…my life and everything in it…only me? Therefore, are not all the objects worthy of worship? Worship does not mean supplication. It is appreciative love. I am grateful for what I have been given, my self in the form of the creation, and I offer my actions to the creation with an attitude of gratitude.
Karma yoga unwinds the Subtle Body’s grasping fearful orientation. This unconscious stance is there the moment an impulse to act arises and it is present with every thought, feeling and action. It is there when actions fructify, a constant silent companion. To shift a lifelong orientation to its opposite is hard work, a war with the ego. Consecration simply means thinking of the self, reminding yourself of your purpose here, invoking an attitude of gratitude to go with every action and then doing what is required without attachment to the results. When the impulse to act is met directly in this way, it is impossible to perform self insulting actions or actions harmful to others. We cause injury only when we are unaware of what we do. Nobody can become more conscious because consciousness does not change, but we can become more aware of our limited orientation and the unwanted results it produces.
Aside from the flawed logic on which their views are based, the proponents of experiential enlightenment would benefit greatly from karma yoga. The experience of the reflection of the self in the Subtle Body can be made more or less constant, brighter and intense if rajas and tamas are purified from the Subtle Body by karma yoga. The more one practices karma yoga the more pure the mind becomes and the more epiphanies take place in it, intensifying one’s faith, assuming they are understood correctly.
A Gift from God
Life is nothing but the fruits of one’s actions after they have wended their way through the dharma field. To complete our understanding of the karma yoga attitude we need to take what happens as a gift from God. A nice model for this idea is temple worship. A devotee brings an offering to the temple, hands it to the priest who offers it to the deity and returns it consecrated. The devotee is the free to do with it what he or she sees fit, usually distribute it to the beggars waiting outside the temple.
Peace of Mind
Taking what happens as a gift is fine as long as what happens is what we want, but what should I do when the dharma field gives me something that I don’t want? Should I become angry and reject it? No, I should take it as a gift. Worldly people are happy when they get what they want and unhappy when they don’t but karma yogis are happy when they get what they want and when they don’t, because their goal is peace of mind, not the ephemeral joys that come from objects. How does this work?
The vasanas appear in the Subtle Body as likes and dislikes. Likes and dislikes, attractions and repulsions, fears and desires are the enemies of the karma yogi. Karma yoga is intended to neutralize them because they continually agitate the mind, making it unfit for discriminative inquiry. The dharma field is a university meant to teach us who we are. We do not matriculate until we have learned our lessons. It instructs by delivering the fruits of our actions. As my wife, Sundari, says, “A karma yogi knows that experience is a decaying time capsule meant to deliver knowledge.” Results never last but the knowledge hidden in experience leads us to the self. So when something happens, irrespective of whether it is what we want or not, we are meant to welcome it and learn from it. In this way the likes and dislikes are neutralized and the dispassion necessary for inquiry develops.
States of Mind
Recently a friend recommended a ‘good’ movie. But it was very disturbing because it involved the senseless violence even though the good guy…who was a very flawed human being…prevailed in the end. I did not sleep well and the Subtle Body was upset the following day. So far I have presented karma yoga as a response to external events but karma yoga also applies to states of mind. The feelings engendered by the movie were the unwanted results of my action. I could not know how my subconscious would respond to the movie. Should I get angry with myself for taking my friend’s advice to watch it and add another layer of suffering to the existing layer? Or should I look at the film and my reaction to it from Isvara’s point of view and accept it gladly? I have a choice. Karma yoga is discretion with reference to action and its results. It should be practiced on the good and bad feelings that appear in me as well as the events that trigger those feelings.
The Three Types of Actions
Karma Yoga is not only right attitude; it is right action. Actions can be classified in terms of how well they serve to prepare the mind for inquiry. They are 1) sattvic: those that give maximum spiritual benefit, 2) rajasic: those that are neither beneficial or detrimental and 3) tamasic: those that are harmful and lead one away from the goal.
The third class of actions, adharmic karmas, are not recommended for anyone and are definitely prohibited for a karma yogi. Although they may bring a particular physical or psychological gain to the doer, they harm the animate and inanimate objects in the dharma field and bring the doer down spiritually. They are to be avoided at all costs. The second class of actions are not necessarily adharmic. They do not involve injury, except inadvertently, to oneself or others but are self centered, compelling the doer to ignore the needs of others. They don’t bring spiritual benefit...or very little, perhaps...nor are they necessarily detrimental but they are directed toward material ends.
The first class of actions, sattvika karmas, are necessary if karma yoga is going to bear fruit. They are giving karmas, not grabbing karmas. The more you give the more you grow. You will remember that vasanas are created by a grasping attitude. Without putting too fine a point on it, they are undone when the opposite attitude is in play. Karma yoga involves actions that add value to every situation, offerings that contribute to the well being the dharma field. These offerings are discussed in chapter 9.
The intention of a karma yogi is to enshrine sattvic karmas at the forefront of his or her life, to see that rajasic karmas are relegated to subordinate status and to eliminate tamasic karmas. Of course it is impossible to eliminate tamasic actions altogether. There are certain unavoidable situations that will cause the doer to injure his or herself or others. He or she should always strive to do sattvic karmas because they bring about maturity and spiritual growth by neutralizing the agitation that is born from the inevitable contact with unholy situations and people.
(1) Self ignorance causes the individual to chase objects which in turn causes bondage to action and an extroverted disturbed mind which prevents discrimination, separating the self from objects. What is the solution and how does it work?
(2) Why is karma yoga not ‘selfless service’ as it is generally presented to spiritual aspirants eager to work on themselves?
(3) Although karma yoga focuses the intellect and transforms negative feelings it focuses on the ego. What is the ego?
(4) Psychology focuses on unpleasant factors in the childhood which it believes is the cause of the negative feelings that create the desire to act but Vedanta has a more simple and powerful explanation. What is it?
(5) Karma yoga does not mean that the doer should not get what it wants. It does say, however, that getting what you want is not straightforward. Why is it not straightforward?
(6) If the results of your actions are not up to you, what factor is responsible for them?
(7) The field of life appears to each doer as its circumstances, basically its relationship with other conscious beings. Why is it foolish to ignore the needs of the field?
(8) What field-centered principle determines the result?
(9) What is the attitude that creates the vasanas that bind the doer to action?
(10) What is the basic existential fact that is the basis of the karma yoga attitude?
(11) When you are given something valuable what is the appropriate response?
(12) What can you offer the field?
(13) What is the appropriate attitude?
(14) Karma yoga is an offering of one’s actions to the field of existence in a loving devotional spirit before the action is initiated. With what attitude does the karma yogi receive the results of his actions?
(15) Does the attitude of gratitude apply to unwanted results? If so, why?
(16) My emotions are the results of my response to what happens in the karmic world. Does the karma yoga attitude apply to unwanted emotions? If so, why?
(17) Karma Yoga is right attitude plus right action. Actions are sattvic, rajasic, and tamasic. Which actions are beneficial, which are detrimental and which are neither beneficial nor detrimental?
(1) Karma Yoga. It removes the vasanas that extrovert the mind and develops vasanas that turn the mind toward the self so that inquiry can bear fruit.
(2) Because there is only one self and all actions are done for the sake of the self.
(3) The ego is the doer/enjoyer entity, the part of the self that owns action and is focused on getting what it wants.
(4) The ego is not getting what it wants in the present. This creates anxiety, anger, depression and other negative emotional states of mind.
(5) The results of your actions are not up to you.
(6) The field of action.
(7) The needs of the field.
(8) Because everything I want comes from the field. If everything came from me I would have everything I want.
(9) I want. I don’t want. My fears and desires.
(10) Life is beautiful and is very valuable gift. I do not want to leave this life.
(11) Give something in return.(12) My actions.
(13) Gratitude and love.
(14) An attitude of gratitude.
(15) Yes. Because the karma yogi wants to eliminate his likes and dislikes, not to get a particular result from the world.
(16) Yes. Because I can as easily develop a like or a dislike, a vasana, toward a feeling as I can toward an event in the world.
(17) Sattvic actions are beneficial. Rajasic actions are neither beneficial nor detrimental and tamasic actions are detrimental.