The essence of the teachings of yoga scripture and great yoga sages is to encourage as many people in the world as possible to live a life of karma yoga.
The word yoga means union of the individual soul (atma) with the Supreme Soul. According to yoga philosophy, everything animate and inanimate—all energy—emanates from God, the Supreme Soul. God and all energy (both animate and inanimate) emanating from the Supreme Soul is known as the Absolute Whole.
Each of us, each living being, each person, is in fact part and parcel of God. Because of our connection with the Absolute Whole (the Supreme Soul, other living beings, and inanimate energy), we cannot experience true happiness living just for ourselves. We must live in harmony with the Supreme Soul, all living entities, and the planet.
One who is selfish may be so because they believe that only by being selfish will they be able to achieve happiness. However, such a person is mistaken. The exact opposite is true.
The chorus of a hit song from the 1960s (still performed today by the Rolling Stones) cries out, “You got to live for yourself, for yourself and nobody else!” Unfortunately, a whole generation bought into that lie, which resulted in greater unhappiness on both the personal and societal levels.
According to the self-realized yoga sages and yoga scripture, the happiness we seek can, paradoxically, be fully realized only when we seek it for others.
In essence, to live a life of karma yoga is to live a life in which one tries to be of service to God and others rather than just living for oneself. To live a life of karma yoga means to live a life in which one sees himself or herself as servant, not master; as a caretaker, not an exploiter.
Anyone, regardless of age, gender, religious beliefs, occupation, and so on, can apply this essence of karma yoga in his or her own personal life. It doesn’t matter if you are a businessperson, homemaker, politician, rabbi, priest, farmer, police officer, construction worker, refuse collector, yoga teacher, or anything else. No matter what your occupation or interest is, you can practice karma yoga.