What are " 'detailed' all the steps of step wise approach" for achieving/following karma yoga (in all the aspects of life) ?
Bhagavad Gita describes 2 ways of Moksha (liberation): SAmkhya & Yoga. [BG 5.5]
It describes Yoga in 4 ways: Karma-Yoga, GyAna-Yoga, DhyAna-Yoga, Kriya-Yoga [BG 12.12]
(Bhakti should not be considered as part of Yoga)
But before we delve into the Karma-Yoga, one should ask oneself:
"Why do I want to follow Karma Yoga?"
- The product of any Yoga (or SAmkhya) is "indifference" (i.e. no purpose)
- The indifference results in liberation
Liberation means, you have purchased a ticket to watch a popular movie. You find movie boring and pay a blind eye & deaf ear to happenings on the silver screen.
So the Qn transforms into:
"Why do I want to get liberated?"
If the answer is something among below:
- Because, world is too good for me
- Because, world is too bad for me
- Because, "liberation" is cool & better than heaven/hell
- Because, Hinduism only "offers" liberation, unlike other religions
- Because, I want to give it a try to see how it "feels"
- < put any reason, which has a 'reason' in it >
Then we may want to re-review such thought-process.
Liberation doesn't suit among any of the above. If I want to have pleasure or bliss, there are heavenly planes to enjoy.
Moksha is neither guaranteed to 'good' person nor it's rejected for 'bad' person. Liberation is beyond heaven-hell and is Not comparable.
Hence, you may ask:
"When should one opts for liberation?"
Usually "Indifference" is the key to Moksha (liberation)[14.23].
From above movie example, when instead of getting interested in the storyline, one just sees the movie as various kinds of colours being displayed on the screen, then one has become indifferent.
In real life, if one starts seeing friend-enemy as same, happiness-sorrow as same, Brahmana-Dog as same, Good-Bad as same[5.18, 14.24] , then that person is towards indifference.
In the immature stage of indifference, it may show up as a confusion as well. That's was the state of Arjuna's mind, where he started seeing victory & loosing as same, as discussed in this answer. Hence Krishna discussed the Gita with him.
Karma Yoga = SAtvika way = Following Dharma
See the interlinking among these 3 terms:
Karma Yoga: What is Yoga according to Bhagavad Gita?
BG 2.47 - You have right only on actions; Never on [its] results; Let not be [an agent] for results of actions; Let not be attached to inaction.
BG 6.1 - Blessed lord said, without depending on the result of action, the one who performs action as duty -- that is retired (sannyAsi) and seeker of the Union (Yogi); and not the one, who's without fire and without action
BG 18.9 - O Arjuna - When the usual work is performed, just because it's to be performed; Association with its result is renounced, then such is illuminated (SAtvika) renunciation
BG 18.30 — The one who knows activity & retirement, duty & non-duty, fear & boldness and bonding & liberation properly, has SAtvika Buddhi.
Hence, it boils down that in Karma Yoga, one is ought to follow one's own Dharma. People may have their individual Dharma-s, but certain would be common:
- 4 classes (Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaishya, Shudra) have their own Dharma-s to perform; In case of confusion, follow what your father does or suggests
- While doing job or running business, follow whatever the law of land says
- While in married life, follow what a normal spouse should act like
- As a citizen, follow what is said in the country's constitution
Now if one applies own logic & manipulates whatever is prescribed, then one deviates from "Karma Yoga". It doesn't mean good or bad though.
For example, if a businessman keeps paying Govt. prescribed taxes, then he may not be able to enjoy the luxuries of life. Hence, he may start "fair evasion (avoidance)" of taxes, "expecting" to earn more. Doing a Karma based on expectation, rather than what is prescribed -- brings "Karma Yoga" away.
Technically he might be right, if the Govt. is imposing unfair taxes. Yet, he has applied his mind/logic. For example,
- Lord Krishna during his childhood evaded the taxes in form of butter from the Kamsa's government
- Mahatma Gandhi broke the salt tax by directly collecting it at sea shore, during the British rule
Both of the above cases, though morally right, may not fit the "Karma Yoga" for that localised instance. Because they couldn't show indifference to the atrocity of then government. Though "Dharma" & "Morality" go hand in hand most of the times, they are not exactly same.
On the other hand, the great Bhishma [& even Drona] could be said in continuous Karma Yoga throughout their lives. Bhishma was aware of wrongdoings of Duryodhana, insult of Draupadi, being on side of wicked people during Mahabharata. Yet, he just did what was prescribed according to rule book of Hastinapura's throne.
That's called "indifference"! As said above, all kinds of Yoga would ultimately produce "indifference". One such way is "Karma Yoga", which is the best ways according to Bhagavad Gita.
You are asking about the practicality of nishkama Karma which is part of Karma Yoga. A person practices Karma Yoga when his work benefits other people and the work is done without caring about the result or name, fame, promotion, wealth etc. This type of work is called nishkama karma. Nishkama Karma is not about the ordinary karma like professional work done by us. The idea behind nishkama karma is that God dwelling in the other person is giving us a chance to serve God and thus help ourselves. Whether the other person is helped will depend on God.
Does detachment from results mean we should not plan at all to get good results when performing karma ? Should we not focus on efficiency of work because we do not care about results ?
We should of course plan to the best of our ability. We should also focus on efficiency of work. We should, however, always remember that it is hubris to think that one human can help another human.
Only Ishvara can help
Therefore, O dear one! Give up your infatuation born of ignorance, which makes you feel worried, thinking – how will these helpless people get without me? To think that one can save or protect another while one’s own body, subject to the power of time, karma and Guna, is decaying, is like a person in the grip of a python thinking of saving another.
Srimad Bhagavata Purana I.13.44-45
An example of nishkama karma is the Sun. I am posting a poem by Hafiz, the 13th century Persian poet, that captures the essence of Karma Yoga.
All this time
The sun never says to the earth,
what happens With a love like that,
It lights the
The Gift, Poems of Hafiz, The Great Sufi Master, translated by Daniel Ladinsky.
The sun does not care what man does with the energy of the sun that makes life possible on earth. The sun just keeps on pouring energy. It doesn't matter what field you are in. If you can help even one person without caring about the result of your help then you are doing Karma Yoga.
It is not possible to do karma Yoga in a job setting. You will most likely get fired if you are unattached to the result of your work. Karma Yoga is after all a Yoga and unattached work can only be done as part of divine work.
A householder will find it difficult to do nishkama karma. He will hanker after the fruits of his work. He will certainly lose motivation if he doesn't have the expectation of good things of life and if his effort fails. It takes a great deal of effort to work with passion and yet remain detached from all expectations. Most persons only do karma. Only spiritual seekers try to do karma Yoga. There is no doubt that Karma Yoga is very hard.
From this article by Swami Shivananda:
- What is Karma Yoga?
Karma Yoga is consecration of all actions and their fruits unto the Lord. Karma Yoga is performance of actions dwelling in union with the Divine, removing attachment and remaining balanced ever in success and failure. Karma Yoga is selfless service unto humanity. Karma Yoga is the Yoga of action which purifies the heart and prepares the Antahkarana (the heart and the mind) for the reception of Divine Light or attainment if Knowledge of the Self. The important point is that you will have to serve humanity without any attachment or egoism.
Action of some kind or the other is unavoidable. You cannot keep quiet without doing anything. What binds you to phenomenal existence or Samsara is not the action but the idea of doership and enjoyership. Karma binds when it is done with a selfish motive, with the expectation of fruits. But when action is done without the expectation of fruits, it is liberating. If you act as an instrument in the hands of the Lord, as a participant in the cosmic activity of Nature, without expectation of fruits, that Karma will not bind you. Karma, then becomes Karma Yoga. Work unselfishly. Feel that you are only an instrument and that the Lord is working through you. Surrender the actions and their fruits to the Lord. You will be freed from the bonds of Karma and enjoy peace.
- How to practice Karma Yoga?
The practice of Karma Yoga does not demand that you should possess enormous wealth. You can serve with your mind and body. If you find a poor sick man lying on the road side, give him some water or milk to drink. Cheer him up with sweet, encouraging words. Put him in a carriage and take him to the nearest hospital. If you have no money to pay for the carriage, carry the patient on your back and see that he is admitted into the hospital. If you do service like this, your heart will be purified. God is more pleased with such sort of service for the poor helpless people than with the service done by rich people with pomp and vanity.
If any one is suffering from acute pain in any part of the body, at once shampoo the affected part very quickly. Feel, when you massage, that you are shampooing the body of the Lord (Virat). Repeat your Ishta Mantra or any name of the Lord while shampooing. Pray also from the bottom of your heart: "O Lord! Remove the pain of this man. Let him rest in peace. Let him possess good health.
- Some qualities that a Karma Yogi must have
A Karma Yogi should be absolutely free from lust, greed, anger and egoism. Even if there are traces of these Doshas, he should try to remove them. He should not expect any kind of fruits for his actions herein and hereafter. He should not have any desire for name and fame, approbation, thirst for applause, admiration and gratitude. He must have a spotless character. He should try to possess this gradually. He should be humble and free from hatred, jealousy, harshness, etc. He should always speak sweet words. How can a proud and jealous man, who expects respect and honour from others, serve others ? He should be absolutely fearless. A timid man is absolutely unfit for Karma Yoga. He is fit to assist his wife in cleaning utensils in the kitchen in the morning and in washing her clothes in the evening.
A Karma Yogi should have large heart. He should be free from crookedness, meanness, miserliness and selfishness. He should be absolutely free from greed, anger and egoism.
A Karma Yogi should have an amiable, loving social nature. He should be able to move and mix with everybody without distinction of caste, creed or colour. He should have perfect adaptability, tolerance, sympathy, cosmic love and mercy. He should be able to adjust with the habits and ways of others. He should have an all-embracing and an all-inclusive heart. He should always have a cool and balanced mind. He should have presence of mind also. He should have equal vision. He should rejoice in the welfare of others. A man who is easily irritable and who can easily be offended for trifling things is absolutely unfit for the path of Karma Yoga
If you do not know about Swami Shivananda, then read this Wikipedia article.
Everything is quite well explained in the block quotes and thus I'm not sure what more shall I add from my side.