This series of talks was given at Yasodhara Ashram in British Columbia in the Spring of 1975, following the Hatha Yoga Talks, and was the second part of the (approximately) one hundred hour lecture series on Swami Venkatesananda regarded as Swami Sivananda's Integral Yoga. This section is entitled “The Karma Yoga Talks.”
The talks begin with an important reminder, that yoga is not something which we do. Certainly people ask the question: If I practice Hatha Yoga, what must I do? If I practice Karma Yoga, what must I do? If I practice Bhakti, or Raja, or Jnana, what must I do? Swami Venkatesananda reminds us early on in these talks, that such questions miss the mark if we are to uncover the truth concerning yoga. The statement that yoga is not something we do may prove all the more confusing when applied to Karma Yoga, the so called "yoga of action," but it's a puzzle that can yield some insight, and, therefore, a useful place to renew our exploration of what yoga is and what it means to be a yogi.
1. April 28th, 1975 Karma Yoga Talks Disc 1 Intro
Recapitulating the discussion of the meaning of that word "yoga," Swami Venkatesananda reminds us that there is no union that needs to take place, since there is no reality to the division we give credence to; the division is merely conceptual.
When you realize that consciousness is indivisible and that motion is inherent in that consciousness, you realize that motion is beyond self. That realization is true unselfish or selfless action. Karma yoga is not found in the things we do. Just because I am washing dishes without being paid, that is not really Karma Yoga. We may extend it to that activity, but that's just by way of courtesy. Karma Yoga in truth, is the action of an enlightened person, in whose vision there is not division at all, who has directly realized the indivisibility of consciousness and the indivisibility of motion within it. With IT, not within me. (To hear this Introduction click below beginning with part one.)
2. April 28th, 1975 Karma Yoga Talks Disc 2 Afternoon Session Q&A
In the first afternoon discussion/Q&A, hope and faith are discussed.
Karma Yoga #2 - 29:13 - MP3 (20.07MB) (1pm-1)
3. April 29th, 1975 Karma Yoga Talks Disc 3 Vasana, Samskara & The Four-fold Impulse.
In the interests of mythologising the way we perceive the spiral of kundalini energy, Swami Venkatesananda discusses the spiraling movement in consciousness, both movement, and the psychological effect (the vasana), as well as touching upon what the yogis call the four-fold impulse away from the center, the four goal motivated strands: wealth (prestige, acquisition, possession), pleasure, order, moksha or freedom.
There was no afternoon session on April 29th, 1975
4. April 30th, 1975 Karma Yoga Disc 4 Inner and Outer Nature of Experience And The Mechanisms Behind The Facet of Karma As Destiny
Having looked at the four-fold impulse away from the center, as well as the pull away including vasana and samskara, Swami Venkatesananda asks a simple question: "Does the bowl say the soup is nice?" It sounds absurd, doesn't it? It's not a behavior we attribute to the soup bowl. Strangely enough, humans make a similary silly connection between themselves and experience. Swami Venkatesnanda looks at ego-sense as "collecting bowl" (of experience) and discusses the self-arrogatingness of the ego-sense, which mysteriously manages to project itself as experiencer of all experience. In the process, we look at both the imagined as well as actual inner nature of experience (at what actually experiences). Here we also look at both the chitta and sanchitta, the computer that records all experience, and the mechanism involved in our compulsion to repeat experience, forming the most popularized aspect of karma, "karma as destiny."
5. April 30th, 1975 Karma Yoga Disc 5 Afternoon Discussion/Q&A
Although some aspects of mind were discussed in the morning talk the aspect of mind defined as "Sankuala-vikalpatmakam-manah," was tabled for this afternoon's talk. Mind, buddhi, ego-sense, and self-arrogating principal (the me) are all "on the table here." Before the discussion ends, Swami Venkatesananda makes an important distinction between the ahamkara and jiva is also made.
6. May 1st, 1975 Karma Disc 6 - Orthodox Doctrine Concerning Karma
7. May 1st, 1975 Karma Disc 7 - Afternoon Question and Answer
The Q&A begins Swami Venkatesananda's examination of the notion of "free-will" and this becomes the subject matter of the afternoon discussion (and is continued in the next talk).
8. May 2nd, 1975 Karma Disc 8 - Free Will Continued. Pursuit of Pleasure. The simple and natural life of Swami Sivananda.
9. May 2nd, 1975 Karma Disc 9 Afternoon Q&A
10. May 5th, 1975 Karma Disc 10 - True Yajana, Dana, and Tapas
Karma yoga is to be practiced in the "yoga spirit" without a motivation. Can you engage yourself in Yajna (sacrifice), Dana (Charity), and Tapas (the simple life), with freedom, meaning ... without attachment, without motivation? This is the vital question asked in this session. There is no division in consciousness, and if motivation comes into this Karma yoga, there is a corresponding spiral away from the center, our famous spiral of consciousness, creating a low density "consciousness," which we call "ignorance." Swami Venkatesananda points out that the karma yogi does not work towards a goal, nor promote his/her own welfare through "selfless service," which is merely motivated activity in disguise.
11. May 5th, 1975 Karma Disc 11 - Morning Session Continued (plus Q&A)
After the morning talk, everyone went to lunch, and during lunch more questions were asked about motivation, the doer, the spirals, and high and low density consciousness. Due to this “under the table” discussion, Swami Venkatesananda, before entertaining the question and answer period, extended the discussion of the morning talk in order to illuminate the central points, and began with the central question: “If there is no motivation, then who does what?” (“Is the I, or the ego-sense the doer of these actions?”)
12. May 6th, 1975 Karma Disc 12 - Morning Session
The Classifications of "Action" - Karma - Vikarma - Akarma - Tamas - Rajas - Sattva.
13. May 6th, 1975 Karma Disc 13 - Afternoon Q&A
14. May 7th, 1975 Karma Disc 14 - Morning Session
"Likes and dislikes" (forming of the individuality), the types of action: right action, wrong action and appropriate action, sadhana (the state in which you are struggling to reach a state of yoga), goals: “aiming at abolishing the division, also siddhi (the perfection) and moksha (enlightenment), non-attachment to the action, the avoidance of motivation, even if the reward is enlightenment or moksha! On the displines of Karma Yoga: "Engage yourself in such actions would as thin out selfishness. Nothing but total inner awakening can really remove selfishness. But in the meantime, while you go on living this foolish life, make your selfishness thin as possible, as weak as possible. Engage yourself in charity. Engage yourself in selfless service. Unselfish service is extremely difficult to understand let alone do. And, again, totally unselfish service, or “selfless service” is possible only to the enlightened person who has realized the individualized self does not exist. So till then, watch yourself and see how many ways you can detect the operation or function or the action, or activity of the self!"
15. May 7th, 1975 Karma Disc 15 - Afternoon Q&A
16. May 8th, 1975 Karma Disc 16 - Morning Session
Intro to the Bhavanas, or the "Essential ingredient"of Karma Yoga: Niskhamabhavana or the absence of desire. Swamiji explores the spirit of renunciation, and by way of example, cites the life of Swami Sivananda.
17. May 8th, 1975 Karma Disc 17 - Afternoon Q&A
18. May 9th, 1975 Karma Disc 18 - Final Morning Talk in this series.
In this last talk of the Karma Yoga series, Swami Venkatesananda discusses the main Bhavanas: Niskamabhavana, Nimittabhavana, Narayanabhavana (or as it may also be called "Atma-Bhavana"), beginning by giving us a caution regarding the usual translation of bhavana: "Bhavana has got about twenty or thirty meanings. The meaning in which is is usually used is "inner attitude.' To use the (more grammatically correct) phrase "inner motivation" is dangerous, because it's the "motivation" of non-motivation.
19. May 9th, 1975 Karma Disc 19 - Final Afternoon Q&A
Our MP3 files should stream while downloading whether you are using QuickTime (use the newest version for the most compatibility) or Microsoft's Media Player (use the latest version available for your Operating System). By the way, Media Player may have to be set to play MP3 using Media Player's Tools (Right click at the top and select: Tools, Options, File Types: and put a check mark in the box for MP3).
Remember with dial-up connections you may choppiness and stuttering as your connection speed drops. If you experience this problem, simply wait a few minutes (in order to get the download ahead of your listening, and then try listening again). If you find the download is not smooth, then simply wait until a few minutes and continue browsers, and then come back to the beginning of the audio file and begin listening.
You should be able to stream the files in real time, but you may prefer to download them instead, especially if you have difficulty with a slow or bad connection. To download, right click (option-click on a Macintosh) on the link and save to your hard drive. Once downloaded, click on the mp3 file to play.