Karma Yoga – Practice of Purity

By Laura Hansen.

Whatever a man sows, that shall he reap. The law of karma is inexorable and impossible of evasion. There is thus hardly any need for God to interfere. He laid down the law and, as it were, retired.

(Gandhi, 2012)

Karma yoga is the yoga of action. Karma yoga asks practitioners to look carefully at all actions. According to Gandhi, it is difficult to act properly until the mind, body and spirit are purified. The mind, body and spirit are the only instruments we can use for action therefore it is our responsibility to make sure they are functioning as well as possible. An artist who uses dull and cracked paints is less likely to create a masterpiece. In order for our actions to be sound, we must sharpen our mind, body and spirit. Therefore it is essential that practitioners seek purification before action.

practice of purity

To personalize this practice of purity, it can be helpful to meditate on what purity means to you. How do you define a pure mind? A pure body? A pure soul? Everyone has different values. Gandhi (2012) lists the following attributes of a pure person:

Personally, I find that while I am none of these things, my level of impurity is not equal for all of these statements. For example, I usually do enjoy silence and solitude but I rarely make firm resolutions. In my case, I don’t need to work on enjoying silence and solitude but I do need to seriously develop self-control and firm resolutions. In your own meditation, you may come up with different attributes of a pure person. Perhaps you achieve greater distinction in some areas than in others. By focusing on the areas where you have some difficulty, you may reap considerable benefits.

We cannot transform ourselves or our world with our current mind. One of the biggest obstacles to changing our minds is our selfish attachment to ego. One practice that will decrease our ego is purity. By admitting that we have work to do, we practice humility and acknowledge our impurity. Examining ourselves objectively can lead to acceptance not only of our imperfection but the imperfection of others.

The mind is the instrument that must be tuned if we are to increase our awareness. An untrained mind goes on wild and unpredictable thought trains, focuses on self, and creates misery. By training the mind we can develop self-control, we can overcome fear and find contentment.

Training the mind begins with meditation. Sit quietly and focus on one subject. Simply try to notice when the mind wanders and bring the mind back to the subject of concentration. Simply making the effort to direct thought is a worthwhile endeavor. Eventually practitioners of meditation can direct thought to higher and higher planes. One positive place to direct the mind is to purity.

As always, I welcome your input and thoughts on this and other subjects. You can reach me at laurahansen1@yahoo.com.


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