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 Bhakti and Karma Yoga
 The Evolution of Service

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CarsonZi Posted - Feb 14 2012 : 12:26:45 AM
I offer this up both as a potential discussion and also as an account of how things are unfolding for me.

It seems to me, that as I've grown and come to a deeper and clearer understanding of who I really am, that there has been an obvious evolution to the nature of my karma yoga practice.

In the beginning, after experiencing some dramatic personal benefit from my daily AYP practices, I felt compelled to share AYP (and the benefits of AYP) with others. I went to great lengths and sacrifice in order to do this. And whether I like to admit it or not, I felt very good inside for being such a "servant." I felt entitled to pat myself on the back for doing such a good job of paying it forward, and I didn't hesitate to do so or try to manipulate others into expressing their feelings about my greatness either. I was rarely aware that I was doing this, but in hindsight I definitely was.

Things continued on, more or less as described above, for a couple of years. Surely things changed, and more and more ego and conditioning was recognized and worked through, but still, there was a continued nagging feeling of superiority for having both the ability and the opportunity to share such a transformative set of practices with others.

But, as Life so often has a tendency to do (especially when we ignore her ), she decided she'd had enough of waiting for me to learn this lesson in my own time, and pulled out her favorite bitchslapper, giving it a spit-shine. As some of you may know, in early November I was offered a promotion at my job with GE. My current position was ending due to client downsizing and I was under the basic assumption that I would be laid off, although that had never been said. Miraculously though, I wasn't laid off and instead I was offered a position doing something I am so underqualified for it's hilarious, coming with a hefty wage increase. With a young daughter, a wife who is not working, and another child due in May, it was a no-brainer to accept the promotion without a second thought. As it turns out however, the new job has a very different schedule than that of my old position, and this meant that I would no longer be able to teach regular weekly classes like I have been for the last couple of years. When I realized this, I went into mourning. I went into mourning for the loss of being able to serve AYP, my "students", and most importantly, myself (big red flag!! ). I felt confused and conflicted as I believed that I was supposed to serve humanity by sharing the life changing practices of AYP. This had even become a piece of my identity. Realizing this was a big (not very pleasant) wakeup call for me.

So to make a long story slightly shorter, being forced to look at this blatant identification so intensely has resulted in a fairly quick dissolution of the attachment to being a "yoga teacher." However, the integration of this is definitely taking some time and has been a bit strange. It's still very fresh so perhaps I'll update more on this down the road, but for now I can say that before, I wanted to serve Life how I wanted to serve Life... by being a yoga teacher. Now, I'm being led to see that it is a much greater service to Life to simply be available to it. I think Katrine has used the phrase "being available for life" before, but I've never had any understanding of what it meant until now. And even now I'm sure I'm just scratching the surface.

So, to sum it all up, it seems to me that I started out trying to serve others in ways that served myself. Now, I realize it's better to simply be available to serve life how it wants to be served and leave the steering to someone who knows better.

11   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
Pheel Posted - Apr 26 2012 : 10:38:22 PM
Hi Radharani,

"I know in my heart of hearts that I am called to teach yoga, as I believe you are, too. But I cannot be attached to my own concept of how that is going to unfold. " This says what I've been working out these days so well. Thanks for the inspiration!

And old dragon, this young one is also easy to put of the "how wonderful I am" kind of egoistic aura on his own head, too. So, as you said, let it, let God!

WoodDragon Posted - Mar 23 2012 : 07:43:00 AM
Hey Carson, I hear you on this, it is why I have come to avoid being a "leader" or "teacher" whenever I can (it is why I was so happy to Not be in charge of anything at the PA retreat!) as I have learned that while it is a service to others to share the wisdom you find in life, it is also a honey trap for the ego. Plus I began to realize I was the one deciding who to teach! I mean, who am I to decide such a thing? Now I wait and if someone comes to me and asks, I let the universe decide and then maybe I am willing to serve them for however long they need my service. I do not charge anyone for this (I do charge money for my paintings!) and I do not seek it out as it always leads this old dragon down the same path of self aggrandizement. I had to let it go. No pats on the back, no "aren't I so wise and wonderful?" and no "follow me if you want the Truth" (Very Silly). I just let me be me, let the world be the world, let what is be what is but remain prepared for those times when what happens is I just happen to be teaching, guiding, helping and serving. This is hard, it means admitting to self, to ego, to desire, and then letting it all fall out of your hands. I have also applied this to politics, to my daily life, and it is slowly changing how I see everything.

This was a moving and wonderful post my friend, thank you!
Radharani Posted - Mar 23 2012 : 04:24:04 AM
Carson, I can relate to what you are going through because depending on what happens here financially - if I am not able to sell the house and open my new yoga studio at the beach - I may end up having to get a full-time job at Publix or something and not be able to teach my regular yoga classes for the students whom I now have. I know in my heart of hearts that I am called to teach yoga, as I believe you are, too. But I cannot be attached to my own concept of how that is going to unfold. If it is God's will that I work at Publix then so be it. But we will continue to practice yoga and if we are supposed to teach, God will send the students one way or another. I believe your situation is temporary as I can't imagine you not teaching... Anyway, all the best to you and your family!
Pheel Posted - Feb 20 2012 : 12:25:55 AM
Hi Bodhi Tree: right on, and the great yogi/nis like yogani are perfect blending of the lion and the lamb. Lamb in serving others and lion in revolutionizing spiritual teaching. I don't know Adyashanti, so I don't know how well he blends the two...D
Bodhi Tree Posted - Feb 17 2012 : 03:55:59 AM
Right back at you, Pheel. I like your lion/puppy metaphor. I was actually reprimanded (rightfully so) for some slight guru bashing of Adyashanti when I called him a mouse--and Yogani a lion. I removed the post because it was abrasive, but your metaphor reminds me that we contain both lion AND puppy in our personality, so each has to be loved and honored for their respective roles. In fact, now that I think about it, there's a beautiful painting called "The Lamb and The Lion" by Glenda Green, who was visited by Jesus Christ and has published some excellent channeled teachings ( And...we come full circle: service through teaching.
Pheel Posted - Feb 17 2012 : 12:31:31 AM
@Bodhi Tree: I relate to your ego-friendly attitude. I sometimes think ego is a pulpy when patted, and a lion when being fought. Of course, it's a always a fake lion, as long as we pat him, he immediately turns back to the little cute pulpy that barks to us, if we neglect our duty to walk him daily in a dog park:P I think, from now on, I might call my ego:"Little Fatty" (just as I did with Giles, neighbors' cute fat cat)haha
Pheel Posted - Feb 17 2012 : 12:26:20 AM
Hi Carsonji,

Thanks for being so honest in sharing this--it is beautiful! I was totally in the first stage of service just before these a few days. I was taking karma yoga as doing "good deeds"--the stereo type of good deeds such as feeding hungry African children, making people embark on spiritual paths etc. While doing all these, the spiritual pride is getting satisfied and expressed.

Now that several lights have combined together to illuminate the starting point of a new step of karma yoga:
Yogani: service, in Zen language, boils down to "chopping wood, carrying water."
Shanti: Living the life of Samyama;
and this came like a epiphany: Yogananda: "God is the only doer."

So doing charity or teaching yoga might be or might not be karma yoga, depending on our inner state. But for my current understanding, karma yoga is really about with what kind of heart/awareness we do the ordinary things in life, doing laundry, cooking, cleaning after your child, working etc. Do our best and surrender it to "Ma." Dedicate all our doings to "Ma." Don't pretend we are the doer and "we made it." It is always Ma who did it and made it, as long as we allow her by willing being her channel.

Realizing this, my lazy bones are starting to be cleansed. I find more and more things are done without me the person doing or managing them. Things, especially important things, such as job application, dissertation, start to lose their weight; and doing gradually becomes more and more effortless. It just flows on. As the Taoists said: "Doing nothing and leaving nothing undone"

This is of course a glimpse of the bright sky this child of yoga happened to catch. I'm sure I beautified it and made it sound much more exalted than my real state. If this is so, it is probably the effect of the overjoy for my first taste of karma yoga. I'm sure Ma will arrange to slap the spiritual pride that I'm so apt to entertain out of me:)

OK, chop wood, carry water, clean dishes, here we go....
Bodhi Tree Posted - Feb 14 2012 : 10:06:33 PM
Hey Carson,

This is an interesting post--and one I can certainly relate to on a few levels. You know, it actually reminds me of the language and tone of the shares I often hear in AA meetings. A recurring theme in AA is personal will vs. God's will. "Thy Will (not my will) be done."

I think there's truth in looking through this ego-deflating lens, but I can't help but feel a bit of sorrow as I listen to people lament about how they are "getting in God's way." They review their shortcomings, defects, mistakes, etc., and then they say: "It was all me that did these bad things and caused all this trouble." So, there is a lot of self-pity, self-blame, even self-hatred circulating in those rooms. But, there's plenty of experience, strength, and hope too. (I include myself on both sides of the coin).

Enter Mr Yogani, Lesson 428 - The Transformation of Ego:
Here's some little nuggets of gold from that lesson:
"Making an enemy of the ego is as fruitless as making an enemy of the mind."
"Odd as it may seem, the ego is our vehicle to enlightenment."
"We can only operate from where we are, and there is no practical reason to divide ourselves into good and bad, ego and non-ego. It's all one thing (one awareness) in the process of transformation from expressing with identification to expressing without identification."

So, how about takin' it easy on your AYP-teachin', yoga-instructin' lil' ego, my brothah? The ego is OUR friend, not our obstruction.

Just one more thing...I went to a theme park today, and I had the very same thoughts..."Now, now...there's no service in going to an amusement park! I shouldn't be spending my day off riding rollercoasters--I need to be doing some real service! But you know, I ended up petting some kangaroos in the animal section, talking to a friend about his family problems, being courteous and getting some laughs from the park, there's opportunity for service everywhere, I think.

Roll on.
AumNaturel Posted - Feb 14 2012 : 08:39:44 AM
The way I like to think of it is you still served humanity through yoga, you still are the yoga teacher, and what you taught so far may have played a bigger role than you can know. I say that because your experience as a teacher is still there, and I see no reason not to continue to feel good about it even without the more regular in-class feedback. You can still do yoga and teach it in some way or another, if more just to yourself for now, right?

I too enjoyed attending a local dojo, including the opportunity to help teach when it arose. After I found AYP I even discussed incorporating it in parallel, given that a lineage founder had already worked on integrating yoga with internal arts in the past. That experience is still there, and opportunities may present themselves again. What is important to me is that I can still work on something that is fulfilling even if dedication to it means having to sacrifice other opportunities in the short term.
eta: I agree that letting go, not identifying with, and sacrifices are a big part of it, but also maintaining a vision can be incorporated into that even if it too may be transcended at some point (the part about sitting on a tree limb while cutting that very limb mentioned in the lessons).
maheswari Posted - Feb 14 2012 : 06:57:25 AM
the attachment to being a "yoga teacher."

thank you Carson for sharing this....i totally relate...i work in a bank and i finish early so i have time to teach asanas which i love to do twice or 3 times per week....well this is possible cause i m NOT into a committed relationship and because i do NOT have kids...sometimes i wonder that if i ever have kids then hhhmmmmm does that mean i will be obliged to stop teaching asanas to have time for my kids? i thank God that i am not into a committed relation and that i dont have kids... i dont like the idea of stopping teaching asanas cause as you said i am too much identified as being a yoga this is the little ego of maheswari showing its head again and wanting to control and direct its life the way it wants completely forgetting that Life,God, He, whatever the name will not ask my permission....He will be in control, making choices for me, whether maheswari's ego likes it or not
gatito Posted - Feb 14 2012 : 05:39:06 AM
I really resonate with this Carson - Life lives Itself - thanks for the post

With Love

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