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Tag: karma

Spirituality doubts

Here are two simple questions (and answers of course) that can sometimes occur to anyone on the spiritual path.

  1. On the one hand, I’m expected to be spiritual, attain liberation etc. On the other, I’m expected to carry on my duties in my materialistic life? How can I reconcile both of these?

    As my Guru says, we are all filled with so much of rajasik guna that we cannot just relinquish everything, don ochre robes and sit in meditation forever. Instead, we are so much in love with the world around us (maya though it may be) that we leave ourselves no choice but to play in it. The way out (as Krishna told Arjuna as well) is to channelize that rajas in the use of greater good, maximum benefit for maximum people. This will break the cycle of selfish desires and actions, and eventually convert rajasik to sattvik. To summarize, doing one’s duty in life selflessly, will lead to spiritual evolution.
  2. The world is fleeting. Can I really make any changes to it? I’m anyway going to die. How does it matter?

    It is very easy to be fatalistic. But all our scriptures caution against exactly this. Just like a honeybee is not wired to roar like a lion, we too are not wired to be in this world without acting or doing something, i.e. we are not 100% sattvik and meditative by nature. Since we any way have to act in the world, why not do a good job of it, helping the greatest number of people? Certainly possible.
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Karmic knowledge – part 4

We’ve been discussing karma for a few days now. But given this is such a complex topic, it is worth exploring a bit more. Here’s another interesting example from the Sadhguru book on Karma I mentioned yesterday.

He talks of 5 related examples. In four of them, person A has a knife, and it results in the death of person B. Either the knife hit person B by mistake, or was struck in the heat of the moment, or was a well orchestrated murder and so on. Sadhguru says the karma of person A (knife-wielder) from each of these acts is totally different, even though the end result (death of person B) is the same.

The 5th example he gives does not even involve the killing of person B, but simply the detailed and repeated plotting of person B’s death. According to Sadhguru, the karma accrued in option 5 is far worse than any of the other options. Why? Because he says that it is not the act alone that causes karma, but the level of bitterness and hatred (that person A harbours in his mind), and the fact that the plotting is repeated a million times over. He summarizes by saying that the worst karma is accrued when someone combines negative thought + negative emotion + negative mental action.

What to do then? Simple – always have positive thoughts, and get rid of negative thoughts. And have positive thoughts that are all-inclusive, and not just focused on the three people we love the most (I, me, myself). This way you we not ‘identify’ with our actions – meaning that they are not just self-serving. He concludes decisively, “If your identification were all-inclusive, that would be the end of the karmic cycle.”

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Karmic knowledge – part 3

What then of astrology, free will, destiny etc? Yes, these all exist, and do work – yes even astrology. But it is our own choice whether we wish to be bound by our karma or not.

Even the best of astrologers can only give you an outline of what you are likely to experience in your life at different points. This is a probabilistic science. It is also based on a chart that is drawn up when you are born, based on the place, time and date of birth. It is not re-drawn every day. Since birth, haven’t we each made so many different wide-ranging choices of our free will? Every single day, just the act of getting out of bed is one of free will!

There are indeed some long-standing tendencies / innate habits that have become so entrenched into our lives that we rarely change course. Any one can predict your reactions in such situations – no need for an astrologer, just as your close family members!

Here’s how Sadhguru of Isha puts it in his new book called Karma. “So karma is not some external system of crime and punishment. It is an internal cycle generated by you. These patterns are not oppressing you from without, but from within. Externally, it may be a new day. You may have a new job, a new home, a new life partner, a new baby. You may even be in a new country. But, internally, you are experiencing the same cycles—the same internal oscillations, the same behavioral shifts, the same mental reactions, the same psychological tendencies.”

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Karmic knowledge

How exactly does karma work? We know the usual quotes about ‘an eye for an eye’, or ‘action = reaction’ and all that as it relates to our karma. But when we observe the world around us, it rarely seems as though those who deserve something (either good or bad) actually get it.

So what exactly is the formula? How does karma work? Is there really a Chitragupta, sitting with his book and pen recording every single action done by every single creature? Seems unlikely. I’ve been trying to find a book that can explain the exact process. Most books and Gurus wholly accept karmic law – and I do too, it makes sense intuitively. But what are the mechanics behind it? I don’t know.

However, there is one interesting book called The Science of Karma by Dr. Niruben Amin, who has catalogued her Guru Dadashri ji’s teachings. Here are a few of the things mentioned in it:

  1. Karma is not about action – but about intent. I might donate money, but if I’m doing it just to curry favour with someone else, rather than to help the needy, then this is bad karma, not good. Actions are only after-effects.
  2. For bad karma we have just created, we can immediately erase it, simply by begging for forgiveness (and never repeating the act) from whichever God one believes in. This is not a carte-blanche for reckless behaviour, but for genuine repentance.
  3. The intention of giving happiness to others binds good karma, while the intention of hurting others binds bad karma.
  4. Good karma is a shackle made of gold, while bad karma is made of iron. But both are shackles, and prevent liberation.
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Where does the karma go?

Every action we perform, accrues karma. Logged and timestamped in an invisible journal in an unknown medium. What we sow, so we reap. Maybe in this life, maybe in another.

We may not get it back the exact same way. Just like we may never get back the very same 100$ bill that we once deposited, from an ATM machine. But we will surely get 100$.

Vedanta teaches us that a liberated soul accrues no karma.

So what then, happens to the karma from his actions, if it doesn’t go to him?

The wise say that the good karma goes to such a person’s followers and disciples. While the bad karma goes to his naysayers.

How do we use this information? Well, we know appearances can be deceptive. So we may never know who is at what stage of spiritual evolution.

It would hence be prudent (and practical) to avoid being judgemental, argumentative or resentful, of anybody.

We are barely surviving our own bad karma. Why take on additional burden?

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The Balancing Act

Rich industrialist, or poor farmer. We didn’t choose the family we were born into.

It must be pure chance – an arbitrary allocation.

But if so, would we be happy with such a code of justice, when applied to all aspects of our lives? Surely we do not want the results of our hard work to be arbitrarily assigned to someone else.

The ancients teach us, that life works on the principle of karma.

Karma is any (and every) action. Karmic law is action = reaction, i.e. a balance.

The pleasures we enjoy today – good health, a job, business, money, house, family, food, education – did we really do enough in this life itself to deserve any of them?

We are constantly taking. But it is giving that will (begin to) restore the balance.

The best things we can give? Our time, our wisdom (if any!) and our love. And none of them even cost anything 🙂

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