Karma Yoga: giving back – Mar 2022

A frightening and horrible couple of weeks for so many people as the floods of Feb/March 2022 dominated the east coast of Australia. As always in these extreme situations, there are stories of such generosity and courage and stories of bureaucratic fumbling that have shocked even the most calm yoga student. Refusing to allow people of pro-choice status to help fill sandbags and clean other people’s houses or indeed rescue those stranded victims, is beyond belief. Pointless bureaucracy and one-sided media frenzied reporting always results in lunacy. However the courage of ordinary people who helped each other, rescuing humans, pets and livestock in the middle of the night using tinnies and jet skis and anything else they could, restores faith. So a big thank you to all the unsung, unmentioned and unnoticed Australians, for without them the tragedy of these floods would have been far greater.

We’ve been busy too, in our small yoga community. So many wonderful people have donated linen, blankets, non-perishable foodstuffs, water, baby nappies and formula to those who have lost everything. Delivered to the communities in the Tweed Shire and Northern NSW. This is Karma Yoga, the practice of giving back to the communities of which we are a part. One of the great vulnerabilities of humanity has always been the failure to recognize that we live in a reciprocal environment. So many don’t give and take, they often just take. Acknowledging the reciprocity of our world and indeed our very existence, leads us directly to this idea of giving back. No, we may not get what we give, but in giving, we keep the whole system running.

In Karma yoga, the practice of generosity is largely entwined with the mind. Far more important than the gift being given is the intention and state of mind when giving. If we give something away, even if it’s valuable, with resentment or disdain, karmically the gift is useless. But if you give the gift with benevolent intention, even if it’s just leftovers, the gift is priceless. The interdependence of all things, combined with an awareness of those less fortunate, inspires compassion.  

The best way to put the Law of Giving Back into operation is to make a decision that any time you come into contact with anyone, you will give them something. It doesn´t have to be a material item. It could be a smile, a compliment, or a prayer. The gifts of caring, attention, affection, appreciation and love are some of the most precious and effortless gifts you can give. So we are practicing karma yoga over the next two weeks. In class we will be asking for a small donation to the charity Rural Aid (https://www.ruralaid.org.au). Helping rebuild the lives of our farmers and their livestock, so badly affected by these floods.

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