What is Karma Yoga
From Ram Dass’ lectures on Living the Bhagavad Gita:
Karma Yoga is The path of action. The practice of consciously using one’s daily life and work as a spiritual path while relinquishing attachment to the fruits of the actions. (p. 314)
So karma yoga turns out to be technique for extracting ourselves from the turmoil of life not by inaction, but by shifting our perspectives on our actions. No longer are our actions a means to fulfill our desires, now they are opportunities for spiritual practice: for practice in being unattached to the outcome, and for the practice in getting rid of the idea that we’re doing anything.
… When we first set out to do our work as a spiritual practice, we’re still operating in the world of attachments and desires, because the desire to get free is still a desire. But as the upaya, the method, begins to work, it leads us to a deeper understanding of the reason and wisdom that underlie the whole system. We see who we are, and what is going on, in a different light. And along with that understanding comes an increasing impersonality toward our own lives. Impersonality. Not less involvement, but less romanticizing of it all, less melodrama, less doer. We go on living our lives, and we live them as perfectly as we can, but we live them in an an increasingly detached way. Less and less are we acting out our motives or our desires – not even out of the high-minded ones like enlightenment. We’re just acting because it’s our dharma to act. That’s karma yoga. (pp. 70-72)