Near where I used to live in the Kootenays, there was a beautiful, serene place called Yasodara Ashram, right on the lake near Crawford Bay. There they practised a form of yoga known as karma yoga -- and people from the city would pay big bucks to come and work there, meditate and bliss out. (Yoga, as I'm sure you all know, means yoke, or union, between spirit and body. Achieving a perfect Downward Facing Dog isn't the only way to seek this union, one can do it through work.)
At Yasodara, work was the thing -- intentional, loving work. However menial or unskilled the task, it was to be approached with mindfulness and care. This creates positive karma.
Now, as my rudimentary understanding of karma goes (and correct me if I'm wrong) when you do good things, and it generates positive karma, it goes into the karma bank. (And likewise with bad.) But it's not as if you have a personal account from which you can deposit and withdraw, it's a collective account for all beings.
So practising karma yoga is essentially an act of faith, faith that your efforts will bring good to the world in some way. You may not benefit in this lifetime, and indeed your enemies might benefit instead of you. But there has to be a humility, a lessoning of ego, and compassion for all.
Surprisingly, or maybe not, practising karma yoga can bring great peace and even joy. You can imagine what I'm leading up to - I've been trying to bring this awareness to my work here in the garden - weeding, weeding, endlessly weeding. It's meditative and restorative work, and I have been thinking about how I say to people, "I love weeding." I bring the aspect of love into it, partly because people get "love" even if they think I'm weird to love weeding.
However, I don't think of love and karma yoga as being the same thing. Love is relational, and has an individual aspect, whereas the faith inherent in karma has a universal dimension. Absolutely, both energies are worth developing.
Bu this is supposed to be a blog about making things, and before I lose everyone in la la land, this leads me to think about sewing. For me sewing is certainly work I approach with love, and often even desire. I ache to feel the thread pulling through taut cloth, to see the vision manifest itself in material reality.
And there is also an element of faith in hand sewing, particularly on projects like the one I am working on now. It's all in one colour, several lines of text that I am trying to render as close to a printed font (Gill Sans) as possible. On one level- boring. And it takes about an hour a letter. But I keep going because I know, trust, have faith that it will be miraculous when it's done.
There is a punning irony in the fact that the letter "y" has caused me much grief. I have un-picked and re-stitched that letter 4 times. I see it as a reminder that focusing too much on the "why" of doing what I'm doing is perhaps not as important as the "how".
That's it,sermon done for the day.