To put it simply, Karma-yoga means accepting result completely. Unless we watch the mind and recognise thought patterns, this attitude can not be applied effectively. When we watch the mind we find that many times we blame ourselves and many times we blame others repeatedly. This inner blame game goes on unconsciously in the form of mental chatter even if we know what Karma-yoga attitude is. This happens due to the conditioning of the mind. The mind becomes conditioned to blame and all this happens unconsciously. When we start watching the mind, this inner game of blame is no longer hidden and then if Karma-yoga is applied it becomes highly potent and gives peace of mind. Blame after all means the denial or non-acceptance, whereas Karma-yoga is about acceptance. Blaming goes away when there is acceptance. Try to catch yourself when you blame yourself or when you blame others creating repetitive mental chatter (Madhyama Vaani).
Karma-yoga means doing an act with an intention to serve/contribute just because it is one’s duty/nature/swadharma/swabhava/prakrati to do so (the creative potentiality hard wired in us can only be satisfied if it is expressed) without taking the ownership of the result and accepting the result as prasad. Since laws of nature control the outcome, this attitude frees oneself of the pride associated with success or guilt associated with failure and makes one accept any result with grace. Now, what makes Karma-yoga lead to yoga or union? When mind is free from agitations, yoga automatically happens. Mental agitations are primarily caused by inaction and by uncertainty over result of an action due to desire/aversion towards a particular outcome. Karma-yoga prompts one to act and with Karma-yoga attitude the uncertainty over result no longer agitates the mind since any result is accepted with evenness of mind. As mind gradually quitens, yoga happens.
Thoughts come out from pure consciousness due to the faculty of consciousness called imagination (maya). Since one thought is separate from another thought from the perspective of individual thought, there is manyness. Every thought is a separate thing/being from this relative standpoint. However, each thought is made of consciousness itself and hence what appears to be many from the perspective of an individual thought actually is one from the perspective of consciousness.
When a child wants to lift its hand, the hand does go up. When it wants to throw a toy, the toy indeed smashes into something. Since childhood, these desire obeying acts continue to happen throughout life with reasonable consistency. All these make the person believe that the results of actions are in his/her control. Let us say, at some point in early adulthood a man wants to own a mansion. He works very hard towards the fulfilment of this desire throughout his life but when he is in his 80s there is no sign of the mansion. He is not even close to possessing it and hence suffers blaming this or that.
Actually, everything is done by the laws of nature. A thought comes via the brain and the latter is made of nature and hence is controlled by its laws. This thought is processed by the mind and the decision is taken either in favour of it or against it or is kept pending or is forgotten etc. Say, for example a thought of eating sweets comes to the mind of a diabetic person. The mind processes this thought taking into account various factors & feelings and arrives at a conclusion. If decision is favourable, the hand is given the command to pick up a sweet and place it in mouth. Though everything happens automatically, false “I” thinks that it is responsible for doing it. This false “I” taking itself to be the doer is sometimes happy due to its achievements and is sometimes sad due to its failures though in reality this false “I” is not responsible for any of those results. Many times in spiritual teachings it appears that false “I” is treated as the primary problem. Actually false “I” is not the primary problem, it is the doer attached to false “I” that is the main problem. In other words, false “I” identified with doer is the primary problem. False “I” is fine if it is recognised as false.
False “I” + Doer = Bondage
The moment, “I am doer” notion is negated, it is freedom. False “I” can continue to watch the games of the mind without getting attached to them.
*Doership means results of action are in control of the individual.