Buddhist karma yoga

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PSM
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Buddhist karma yoga

Post by PSM » Mon Apr 30, 2018 3:55 pm

I'm looking for Buddhist instructions on karma yoga, similar to those that are in the Bhagavad Gita. I hear the term a lot, especially in dharma centres, but actual instructions per se are surprisingly difficult to track down. Perhaps the closest thing I've received are enhancement instructions for Dzogchen/Mahamudra. Can anyone provide any references?
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Re: Buddhist karma yoga

Post by pemachophel » Mon Apr 30, 2018 7:53 pm

That's because this is, as far as I know, a Western Buddhist borrowing from Hindu yoga. It's a convenient term and is now well-established, but don't expect to find any information on it in traditional Buddhist sources.
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Re: Buddhist karma yoga

Post by anjali » Mon Apr 30, 2018 9:48 pm

In Yogananda's commentary on the Gita, the chapter on Karma Yoga has the following subheadings:
  • Why is activity a necessary part of the Path ot Liberation?
  • The nature of right action: Performing all works as oblations (yajna)
  • Righteous duty, performed with nonattachement, is Godly
  • How egoless action frees the yogi from nature's dualities and the bondage of karma
  • Right attitude toward one's Spiritual Guide and sadhana
  • Conquering the two-sided passion, desire and anger
Buddhism has it's own answers to these subjects, which would constitute the Buddhist response to the Hindu version of karma yoga.

In my opinion, although it's not explicitly called "karma yoga", pretty much anything discussing the path of the bodhisattva fits the bill very nicely.
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Re: Buddhist karma yoga

Post by PSM » Tue May 01, 2018 1:30 pm

anjali wrote:
Mon Apr 30, 2018 9:48 pm
In my opinion, although it's not explicitly called "karma yoga", pretty much anything discussing the path of the bodhisattva fits the bill very nicely.
Seems that the Hindus have made something into an explicit path which is a little more implicit in the bodhisattva teachings. I think the Hindu approach can be pretty easily translated to the Buddhist view, especially the notions of work/service done with no attachment. And rather than offering to Krishna, it can be offered to the three jewels & roots etc.

Actually my wife has a copy of that commentary - I'll check it out.
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Re: Buddhist karma yoga

Post by Vasana » Tue May 01, 2018 2:28 pm

If your karma yoga involves helping the Sangha, overseeing or helping withany of the guru's extended projects, affairs, affiliated centers, activities etc then this is said to accrue a great deal of merit. If you don't have a guru or personal teacher, helping a Sangha with your time and energy can also amass lots of merit which will in turn propel you closer to realization
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Re: Buddhist karma yoga

Post by PSM » Tue May 01, 2018 2:36 pm

Vasana wrote:
Tue May 01, 2018 2:28 pm
If your karma yoga involves helping the Sangha, overseeing or helping withany of the guru's extended projects, affairs, affiliated centers, activities etc then this is said to accrue a great deal of merit. If you don't have a guru or personal teacher, helping a Sangha with your time and energy can also amass lots of merit which will in turn propel you closer to realization
This is good advice.

The reason I have an interest in/respect for the Hindu view is that it can easily be applied to a conventional job, not just service to the 3 jewels and roots. So on the face of it, it's more versatile. Of course there has to be a Buddhist equivalent, and that's what I'm after.
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Re: Buddhist karma yoga

Post by muni » Wed May 02, 2018 8:20 am

Why is activity a necessary part of the Path ot Liberation?
The nature of right action: Performing all works as oblations (yajna)
Righteous duty, performed with nonattachement, is Godly
How egoless action frees the yogi from nature's dualities and the bondage of karma
Right attitude toward one's Spiritual Guide and sadhana
Conquering the two-sided passion, desire and anger
Hi PMS, :namaste:

When I read this above, posted by Anjali, some words remind me on the Paramitas.

Then Diamond Sutra:
Furthermore, Subhuti, in the practice of charity a Bodhisattva should be detached. That is to say, he should practice charity without regard to appearances; without regard to sound, odor, touch, flavor or any quality. Subhuti, thus should the Bodhisattva practice charity without attachment. Wherefore? In such a case his merit is incalculable. Subhuti, what do you think? Can you measure all the space extending eastward?

No, World-honored One, I cannot.

Then can you, Subhuti, measure all the space extending southward, westward, northward, or in any other direction, including nadir and zenith?

No, World-honored One, I cannot.

Well, Subhuti, equally incalculable is the merit of the Bodhisattva who practices charity without any attachment to appearances. Subhuti, Bodhisattvas should persevere one-pointedly in this instruction.
is that it can easily be applied to a conventional job
I wish not Buddhism to be an object apart from daily life. I guess this is for all the same.
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Re: Buddhist karma yoga

Post by Wayfarer » Wed May 02, 2018 11:18 am

The principle of karma yoga is very simple - treating your work as a sacred duty, doing it to the best of your ability but with no self-centred motivation. For this to be practiced properly, you need to be engaged in a right means of livelihood - like, karma yoga is not effective if the work you’re engaged in is unwholesome. But it's quite a simple idea.

I first read about Karma Yoga in my youth, as one of the series of books by Swami Vivekananda on the six limbs of yoga. I don't have them any more, but at that time I thought they were very good. They're not Buddhist, but the principles are still worthy of respect. And salutations :namaste: to Swami Vivikenanda, he was a true pioneer.
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Re: Buddhist karma yoga

Post by Meido » Wed May 02, 2018 4:16 pm

PSM wrote:
Tue May 01, 2018 2:36 pm
The reason I have an interest in/respect for the Hindu view is that it can easily be applied to a conventional job, not just service to the 3 jewels and roots. So on the face of it, it's more versatile. Of course there has to be a Buddhist equivalent, and that's what I'm after.
Not meaning to sound flippant. But just recognize your nature, and then use every job and situation encountered to ceaselessly train in the embodiment of that.

Then it's all good, and one may also consider the 3 jewels well served.

Of course various traditions will have instructions and practices aiding this.

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Re: Buddhist karma yoga

Post by dzogchungpa » Wed May 02, 2018 8:59 pm

Phillips says in a footnote to the chapter on karma in his "Yoga, Karma, and Rebirth: A Brief History and Philosophy":
That karma yoga is not exclusively a Hindu teaching is shown by James R. Egge, Religious Giving and the Invention of Karma in Theravada Buddhism (2002).

I have not actually seen Egge's book though. The footnote is connected with this sentence:
The attitude Krishna tells Arjuna to take in action, called karma yoga, is the Gita’s most striking and original theme, although similar ideas are found in the middle Upanishads (the Katha in particular) and in precepts for monks and nuns in both Buddhism and Jainism.
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Re: Buddhist karma yoga

Post by Grigoris » Wed May 02, 2018 10:21 pm

The thing is that when Krishna taught karma yoga to Arjuna it was in the context of Arjuna's duty (as a contender for the position of king) to slaughter his relatives in battle.

Hardly Right Livelihood.
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Re: Buddhist karma yoga

Post by tingdzin » Wed May 02, 2018 11:24 pm

Pema Chophel's post summed it up. Karma Yoga is a Hindu term, and a recent one at that. Just look for "Bodhisattva activity" or"engaged Buddhism" and you'll find a lot.

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