I have come across the concept of karma yoga while learning about EA and I have some questions about how the soul recognizes and performs one's "right work." In particular, how does karma yoga relate to one's natural talents or skills?
I've read that in karma yoga, the soul should not focus on the nature or outcome of one's work--but simply perform the work with a selfless attitude of loving service to others. In short, it doesn't matter what your job is--just do it with love.
However, I also read (in the material on karma yoga) that the soul may have a longing to do certain work or pursue special talents. In that case, it does matter what kind of work you do.
How can one reconcile these seemingly contradictory ideas? I can identify with both of them through personal experience.
If a person manifests special talents with ease at an early age and feels called to pursue them throughout life, does this indicate in some way the divine intention for one's life work? If so, how can one use them in a way that honors karma yoga?
It seems to me that first of all, one would definitely need to release any need to be praised as unique or talented. One would also need to give up any desire for a particular prestigious position, success, or financial reward. I think that if a person needs to learn these lessons in a given lifetime, blocks are put in their way. It can seem at first like the blocks may be "signs" that the person shouldn't pursue his/her talents. But it may not be that simple. It may be that one must learn to express these talents in a different way or with the right attitude. I believe that you can use any talent to help others in practical and spiritual ways.
Isn't there a sense that one is "supposed to be" doing something?--and I don't mean what the consensus says. When you're pursuing your passion, there is such flow--it's like you can literally feel a divine communion--sometimes it feels like channeling. I'm not a medium but I don't know how else to describe it. When you've ignored it for a while, you feel an angst in your belly, a sense of death and natural guilt as if you're wasting your life.
I've been thinking a lot about the Virgo archetype of service over the past few years. When you have a real desire to change your life and make things right with God, you develop a strong desire to pursue work that helps others in meaningful ways. You begin to appreciate the value in any kind of simple work and you learn the value of humility. But this can also make it tempting to ignore one's talents out of a feeling that one does not deserve work that one enjoys with passion. This is all the more true when it is hard to see the practical value in one's particular gifts. For example, what role do artists (of any medium) play in our spiritual evolution? How can they practice karma yoga? There is so much work to do in the world. There is a need to heal the environment, resolve economic inequalities, heal the sick, promote social justice, educate the children...the list goes on. Even when you've freed your mind of consensus attitudes, you can feel incredibly conflicted--to do this or that? Which is the better way to serve?
Maybe a preoccupation with "practicality" is an unhealthy expression of Virgo. Then I think of Pisces which plays a role in this duet of service. Pisces is all about spirituality and letting go into the waves, God himself. Neptune also rules imagery, visions, ecstatic experience, and in this way connects to the arts. I've often wondered that the arts could serve as vehicles to connect with the divine and to heal the soul. In that sense they seem very "practical" in the way that spirituality is practical. But then I think we're talking about a different definition of the term. We usually think of practical in terms of real tangible benefits. But what about something that benefits the greater good, the divine will? It may not seem practical in physical terms but in spiritual terms it can be downright essential.
I realize that one can have more than one job at once, including jobs that help us fulfill our responsibility to take care of ourselves and pay the bills.
Perhaps I am answering my own question. Does anyone have any thoughts on this or personal experience with it? What does karma yoga mean to you? How do you manifest it in your own life?
Thanks for your comments,