The Third Focal Point Of Karma Yoga

About karma yoga, the younger-ish and groovier Ram Dass writes in the amazingly 1970s spiritual-cultural artifact Be Here Now (1971) that the witness, a third focal point, is key:

Using the stuff that makes up your daily life as the vehicle for coming to Union is called karma yoga. It is a most available yoga, and at the same time a most difficult one. It is difficult because it starts with an action which you ar initially performing for an end of maintaining your individual ego, and it overrides or converts that motivation into one of service to the higher Self which transcends ego.

In order to perform karma yoga, there is a simple general principle to keep in mind: bring a third component into every action. If, for example, you are digging a ditch, there is you [in the relative sense–AT] who is digging the ditch, and the ditch which is being dug [to wit, ‘the object’–AT]. Now add a third focus: say, a disinterested person who is seeing you dig the ditch. Now run the entire action through his head while you are digging. It’s as simple as that. Through this method you would ultimately free yourself from identifying with him who is digging the ditch. You would merely see a ditch being dug. (“Cook Book for a Sacred Life” in Be Here Now, p. 66)

Karma yoga is the path of selfless acting or selfish giving. It’s easy to get stuck, as Ram Dass knows well, since taking credit for doing is such a habitual move in the ego game.

Therefore, we need to give everything up to others (or to God), and, what’s more, we need to adopt the standpoint of the witness who is simply observing the unfolding action.

Then, it becomes clear, what you don’t quite see is a “ditch being dug.” You, witnessing awareness, just see digging processually, naturally unfolding. Just a process within and as and none other than the larger cosmic process.

They say: karma is a real bitch. Doesn’t have to be, friends.