How should one live so that we don’t create a problem for ourselves and others? How can we live an active life that doesn’t make ourselves or others unhappy? When, in our relationships with people we don’t become a problem to them, and they don’t become a problem to us, it is called karma yoga. Karma yoga is not only what it is often billed to be (i.e. service of others), but living in such a way that you are not a problem to others, and they are not a problem to you. If that is not possible, you live in a state of tension which destroys the whole structure of yoga. If it is possible, what should be done? Because here it is a matter of doing.
The yogi examines the three fundamental aspects of action in relationship: (1) there is the one who does something, (2) there is the one to whom it is done, and (3) there is the action. These are the three fundamental factors. For instance, I am saying something, it is all directed towards you and there is the action. There is something very simple and beautiful here. Both you and the person whom you serve, whoever he may be and whatever be the service, are both made of the same substance. Physically we are made of the same substance, whatever be the superficial differences. Physically we have more things in common than uncommon – the mind, the life-force, everything seems to be common. We believe we are different from each other. That is the pollutant. Karma yoga was evolved in order to keep this pollutant out.
Karma yoga tells us to remember the common factors more often than imagining that we are different from each other. So a supercommon factor was introduced – ‘God’ or ‘Consciousness’. The yogi ultimately realised this as truth, but to begin with he introduced as an axiom the idea that God dwells in this personality, this body, this mind. It is God that enables this personality to function and therefore speak, and it is the same God who dwells in you, in these bodies and these personalities, that enable you to hear and to understand. Remembering this, the pollutant of distinction is gradually removed.