Karma yoga or the path of service is a path to God.
One might think that a person in service has to forgo, say, devotion, the object of bhakti yoga, the yoga of devotion. But that’s not at all the case.
I’m a worshipper of the Divine Mother and a servant of Archangel Michael. I’m brim-ful of devotion towards Michael.
The more I love Michael, the better I feel. I’m sure it’s returned a hundredfold.
I feel no sacrifice in the area of devotion from having chosen the path of service.
The object of all paths is to purify the mind and release us from our patterned behavior. What’s left after we do that is only the Self. The default, the residuum is the Self.
We’re like the man who never was, who took off the bandages and there was no one visible underneath them. (1) Underneath the bodily trappings is the operator of the vehicle, who is naturally innocent and pure but usually remains unseen.
So we’re not originally sinful, but originally innocent. I can speak to that from realization. (2)
The closer we get to the center and thence to the seat of the soul where the Self – if it can be said to reside – resides, the more we recover a sense of our original purity and innocence.
Well, I’m getting ahead of myself because I was going to say that service is only purifying if it results in humility and humility reflects the shrinkage of the self-serving impulse. If service results in us puffing up our ego, it isn’t – and wasn’t – service.
At least it’s not a spiritual, service-to-others path; it’s a self-serving, service-to-self path. The more we expand this lower self, the deeper we become mired in density and all that goes with it. Supposedly following a spiritual path will not in itself save us from errors.
Looking at the other end of the spectrum, we know that putting the ego aside is only going to leave us in a wonderful default.
When our hearts open, love will surely drown us but it won’t kill us.
I think the opportunity to learn humility is the greatest spiritual benefit karma yoga presents a person. All sincere paths increase our ability to love; all take us closer to our Self and the One. But the unique gift that karma yoga contributes, for me, is this gift of true humbleness.
Hey, don’t get me wrong. I didn’t say I was humble. Far from it.
I just see the target a-ways down the road and am determined to get there.
I’m actually by nature and past lives a follower of the path of jnana yoga or wisdom/meditation. But not this lifetime. This lifetime I’m active, Type A, raring to go – well, usually.
In fact what I observe myself doing in a very few cases is importing some of the knowledge of jnana yoga into my karma yoga. I’m like a lumbering cart on a corduroy road still. But I’m definitely committed to getting to the destination.
(1) Or whoever it was!
(2) In the sight of the Self and the experience of innocence and purity at Xenia Retreat, Sept. 18, 2018. Fourth-chakra event, I believe. One of the sudden aspects of Ascension.