What if I told you that you could be successful with every action you do?
Seems impossible, doesn’t it?
In my last newsletter, I discussed how life is imperfect, so success with every action is impossible, right?
But when you look at action through the lens of Karma yoga it becomes a possibility.
Karma yoga is the spiritual path of action.
Karma yoga teaches you how to the human body you’ve been given successfully, so that you can live happily and attain spiritual awakening.
Everyday you are faced with the task of acting in the world.
The way you act is either a source of freedom and delight, or bondage and suffering.
Action in the world is the most fundamental part of spiritual practice, and living a good, successful life.
Most people who are familiar with Karma yoga think it’s just about doing good deeds. But Karma yoga is so much more than that.
It’s an entire method for acting skillfully in the world.
I want to share with you five of the best kept “secrets” of success found in Karma yoga.
These secrets have nothing to do with the Law of Attraction or “manifesting”. They are open secrets, yet mostly neglected in modern culture.
I’ve distilled these ‘secrets’ from scriptures and the works of sages and saints, so that you don’t have to.
There is a lot of amazing content here, so I’ve split them up into two parts to digest more easily. This email is the first part.
What I’m sharing with you are time-tested, powerful methods to achieve truly meaningful success in your life.
And who doesn’t want that?
Here’s an overview of the 5 secrets you’ll learn about:
- The True Meaning of Success
- Anatomy of Successful Action
- Get Into Flow by Letting Go
- The Wisdom of Letting Go
- Your Duties and You
In this first part, we’ll go over secrets 1-3. I’ll send the second part next week with 4-5.
So, read on and find out how you can attain the success you desire!
1. The True Meaning of Success 🏆
Take a quick moment and ask yourself, what does success mean to you?
The common definition of success in the modern world goes something like this:
Actions that bring about my desired result are successful.
But if this were true, then why are “successful” people so often unhappy?
Why are we still unhappy even when we get what we want, or are deemed successful by society?
Many celebrities, politicians, and musicians have had their wildest dreams come true, yet they are still unhappy.
And how can we be considered truly successful if we’re unhappy?
Successful people are often some of the most miserable.
The famous actor and comedian Jim Carrey has a great quote on this:
This quote highlights perfectly how the modern definition of success isn’t meaningful.
We need to redefine what success is in our lives, otherwise we risk falling into an unending abyss of desire and disappointment – no matter how ‘successful’ we appear to be in the world.
So, what does ‘success’ mean in the truly meaningful sense?
Fortunately, sages, saints and stoics have contemplated what successful action is for centuries.
The general consensus on successful action is this:
Successful actions are those done in service without attachment to a result.
The most fundamental reason why this approach to action is successful, is because actions done in this way prevent attachment.
When we act without attachment, our actions are free of the expectations that cause us suffering, and we remain in a balanced state of mind whether we succeed or “fail”.
So, what causes us to get so attached to our actions?
The main cause of attachment is our ego.
The ego is our individual sense of self. The ego isn’t ‘bad’ per-say. In fact, the ego is a brilliant creation. The pinnacle of billions of years of evolution.
Problems arises when we attach our identity to the ego and its tendencies, and forget our deeper nature as divine consciousness.
Your identity as Spirit and divine consciousness transcends the body and mind, and interconnects you with all living things.
When we act exclusively for ourselves we act unnaturally, and against our true nature.
The ego is your tool to interface with your body and the world. It’s like a super powerful AI with a mind of its own.
But it isn’t “you”.
This misidentification with the ego is the root of suffering in life.
When you act with a desired result fixed in your mind, you create attachment to how your ego wants things to be.
And, of course, when things inevitably don’t go your way you’re disappointed and suffer.
This cycle of acting with attachment happens endlessly and is self-defeating.
The goal of yoga (and all spiritual practices) is to weaken the ego, purify the mind, and reveal the divine nature of your consciousness.
By acting selflessly and without expectation, you are acting in accordance with your true nature as pure consciousness, as Spirit.
From this place of spiritual knowledge, you realize serving others, is really serving yourself.
You act in a spiritually awakened way.
Then, all of your actions are successful in the most meaningful sense of the word.
Even if your actions “fail” in the eyes of others you’re still successful, since you acted in the best interest of all, and let go of attachment to a result.
Acting in this awakened way, you can achieve success with every action you do.
Summary: Karma yoga states that actions done in service to others without expectation of a result are successful, because they serve the greater good, weaken attachment to your ego, and affirm your divine nature.
2. Anatomy of Successful Action🦵
The Sanskrit word karma means action.
Karma is the cause and effect principle that governs the universe.
Think good and do good, get good results.
Think bad and do bad, get bad results.
Now it isn’t quite as simple as this, but that’s the general idea.
Actions are created in two main ways: through conscious intention, and subconscious reaction.
In Karma yoga, we are successful when we act consciously with good intentions, and purify our subconscious negative habitual patterns of thinking and behavior.
Conscious intentions can be driven by many things, including animalistic or egoic desires, so we need to temper these by being conscious of what is driving them, and aligning them as much as possible with good intentions.
Usually actions done selflessly, for the benefit of all, arise from the highest form of intention.
In selfless action, we don’t act for “I”, but for all, and in acting from enlightened self-interest our personal good becomes one with the greater good.
Acting in this way gives peace of mind, and removes agitation caused by selfish behavior. It creates harmony in our lives and the world.
Let me quickly clarify that enlightened self-interest and selfless action don’t deny your personal desires or ambitions.
That would be ridiculous.
Karma yoga says you should act on the natural inclinations and desires that you have, but always in a way that is harmonious and helpful to others and the environment.
Conscious action is acting from enlightened self-interest.
The other method of action we’re concerned about happens on the subconscious level. Here lay the hidden habits that either support or undermine our happiness.
The negative subconscious habits we work to purify in yoga are called vasanas or samskaras.
These tendencies reinforce attachment to the ego, and are the seeds of our suffering.
Vasanas can be good or bad, but we want to address the negative ones in our spiritual practice.
The most deeply ingrained vasana is the idea that “I am a separate individual body and mind”.
This “I-thought” is the structure the ego is built on, and the attachment it creates to the body and mind is the cause of suffering in our lives.
I’ll repeat what I mentioned earlier about the ego since it’s so often gotten wrong:
The ego isn’t bad, it’s our attachment to the ego that’s bad.
We must transcend this mental conditioning if we hope to attain lasting peace and spiritual awakening.
I’m not going to sugar coat it for you – overcoming these subconscious tendencies and attachments is hard work, even when we become conscious of them.
Sometimes these patterns are rooted in trauma and require therapy or counseling as well as spiritual practice.
Purifying vasnas and bad habits is the real ‘work’ that is done in yoga and all spiritual disciplines.
When these negative habits are removed, we are care-free and joyous, like when we were kids. We realize our joyful pure nature once again.
Until they are addressed, these habits of thinking and doing remain heavy burdens on us.
In Karma yoga, we actively address these patterns in the world where they were created, uproot them, and replace them with conscious, moral, and selfless action whenever we can.
Summary: Action is created by conscious intention and subconscious reaction. Successful actions are done consciously with good intentions, and work to purify your subconscious habits (vasanas) that cause you suffering.
3. Get Into Flow By Letting Go 🎯
We’ve established that letting go of results prevents suffering and brings about success, but this mindset can also help you perform better too.
Flow is a state where we are completely one with the action we’re doing.
We’ve all experienced it before while running, writing, creating, or working.
It’s an ideal way of acting since action naturally flows through us without any hinderance of the ego, or the slower deliberation of the conscious mind.
Let’s look at the example of an archer to see how letting go can get you into flow, and improve your performance.
Imagine an archer in a competition steps up to shoot an arrow.
He steps up to his turn with the intention and desire to hit his target.
So, he begins to act by pulling back the bow string, slowing his breath, focusing on the target, aiming carefully, and finally releasing the arrow.
Now, here comes the key point:
If the archer is only thinking about hitting the target this will interfere with his ability to focus, aim and achieve his goal.
By thinking about what he wants, it doesn’t help the archer aim more accurately. It actually prevents him from focusing on and hitting his target.
Instead, the archer surrenders the fate of the arrow in the future, and focuses on what he can control in the moment – his breath, his aim, how far he pulls his bow string, etc.
From this example, we can see how our intentions and actions are related, and why it’s important not to focus too much on results if we want to perform well.
The anxiety of thinking about results interferes with your ability to perform at your best.
Anthony De Mello, a famous Indian Jesuit priest and psychotherapist, commented on this archer example:
Focusing on results causes anxiety and tension, which blocks the flow states where we perform optimally.
The paradox is, when you let go of results you can get into flow easier, perform better, and are more likely to succeed in fulfilling your desires.
The next time you are performing under pressure keep this in mind. Focus on the moment, get into flow, and let go.
Summary: The secret to getting into flow, and performing optimally, is focusing on what you’re doing in the moment, and not getting caught up in thoughts or expectations about the future.
In the next week, make an effort to apply these 3 secrets to your life. Here are a few practices you can try:
- Reflect on the motivations of your actions. Are you serving your ego, or your higher good?
- What negative habits or vasanas are creating the most challenges for you? What’s one small thing you can start doing right now to overcome them?
- Throughout the week, try to get into a flow state by focusing completely on what you’re doing in the present. Do you perform better?
That’s all for now. Remember, practice brings the transformation you seek.
Have any questions about what I shared, or want some support on applying these ideas? Just hit reply. I’m here to help.
See you next week!
Be well always 🙏
Creator + Spiritual Mentor
The Supreme Yoga