Nishkam Karma Lesson at Starbucks

Earlier this week I was walking into a Starbucks to purchase some juice. I realize that’s a paradox wrapped in a riddle.

However, that’s not the subject of this post.

Before I entered the Starbucks, a woman talking on her cell phone was walking up to the door. I held it open for her to go ahead of me as she didn’t have access to both hands. She didn’t acknowledge my presence let alone thank me. She was in her own world.

Bhisma (the character in the Mahabharata representing the ego) piped up in my head saying, “she didn’t even thank you…that was rude of her.” Bhisma’s role is to create separation and division from our one and sole reality which unites us with all life.

After entering Starbucks, I realized my faulty thought. Through my conscience Krishna spoke to me:

“That is not nishkam karma (action without desire for the fruits of action). You have a desire for her to act in a certain way. Remain centered in yourself not desiring anything from anyone. Be even minded and cheerful, an impersonal friend to all. Not cold, but a warm light shining equally to all.”

I purchased my cold juice and resolved to be a warm light!
As I was leaving, the opportunity arose to open the door for another person on the way out. “Thank you,” they said.

I smiled to myself and felt Divine Mother playing with me.
She was teaching me to not judge and to love her in all her forms. To be humble and of service no matter the circumstance.

There is a beautiful story in Autobiography of a Yogi that illustrates this point:

“The scene was a Kumbha Mela at Allahabad,” Lahiri Mahasaya told his disciples. “I had gone there during a short vacation from my office duties. As I wandered amidst the throng of monks and sadhus who had come from great distances to attend the holy festival, I noticed an ash-smeared ascetic who was holding a begging bowl. The thought arose in my mind that the man was hypocritical, wearing the outward symbols of renunciation without a corresponding inward grace.

“No sooner had I passed the ascetic than my astounded eye fell on Babaji. He was kneeling in front of a matted-haired anchorite.

“‘Guruji!’ I hastened to his side. ‘Sir, what are you doing here?’

“‘I am washing the feet of this renunciate, and then I shall clean his cooking utensils.’ Babaji smiled at me like a little child; I knew he was intimating that he wanted me to criticize no one, but to see the Lord as residing equally in all body-temples, whether of superior or inferior men. The great guru added, ‘By serving wise and ignorant sadhus, I am learning the greatest of virtues, pleasing to God above all others—humility.’”


Very beautiful and inspiring, thank you!!

How easy we forget not to judge and see divinity in all.Thank you for a good reminder...

Beautiful Reminder :)

Shawn Howe:
Thanks for sharing

bernice luppino:
Thank you for sharing this gentle reminder

pat wolff:
Thank you for this story and for reminding us that spiritual lessons are available every moment and in every action, whether inward or outward action.

thanks for this article! so true. we do meet with these tests and recognize them when we are on spiritual path

Thank you for sharing your experience. How easy is to fall by judging our fellows! Namaste

Sandy Jump:
Thanxs for the story, it was helpful

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