Working together in a spirit of cooperation and dedication, without attachment, to achieve a desirable goal has been defined as working in the yagna spirit. This leads to all round prosperity. But in order that our efforts bear fruit it is necessary that we live in harmony with the laws of Nature.The progress made in science and technology is the result of understanding the forces of Nature and following Her laws. Space, air, fire, water and earth, the five great elements, are Nature’s building blocks, to which the other forces are connected.
Swami Chinmayananda explained that the productive potential in these five elements manifests only when they are worshipped. Worship does not mean lighting a lamp or performing rituals. For example, the worship of water means not polluting it. When we nurture the soil, the fertility which is its productive potential, manifests to bless us with a good harvest. Our ancients followed a practise of planting trees before they cut one down. However, today we indiscriminately cut trees, without any regard for the consequences. We are polluting and exploiting our natural resources without replenishing them.
Nature also bears the gifts of electric energy, heat energy, wind energy, and solar energy from which many benefits can be derived. Everything in Nature gives of itself, but we should know how to receive and also give in return. The important thing to understand is that when we cherish and propitiate the forces of Nature, they will in turn bless us. If we only keep on taking without giving in return, if we exploit without replenishing, it can only lead to destruction.
A famous story in the Puranas regales the time, when the Creator invited all the divine forces (devatas) and demonic forces (asuras) to a glorious feast. He then requested them to enjoy the sumptuous spread. However there was one condition, they could not bend their arms at the elbow while eating. This made the asuras very angry as they found that without bending at the elbow it was not possible to feed oneself. The devatas on the other hand had a good idea. They sat across one another and with their arms stretched straight, one fed the other. In this way everybody was satisfied. Bending the elbow and putting food into one’s own mouth is symbolic of self-centeredness. I am only thinking of myself. But when I feed someone else it is symbolic of selflessness. I am thinking of another person and not worried about what will happen to me. When each one feeds the other, all are taken care of.
Some may find this cumbersome and believe that self-service is the best. In this the risk is that the mighty and powerful may take a disproprotinately large portion, leaving nothing for the weaker sections of society. This is what is happening in the world. The rich are becoming richer and the poor are becoming poorer.
Bhagawan advocates prosperity for all, as the real way of living in this world. So karma yoga is not an individualistic philosophy. It is for the totality — prosperity for all.