According to one’s deeds, according to one’s behavior, so one becomes. The one who does good becomes good, the one who does evil becomes evil. One becomes virtuous by virtuous action and evil by evil action.
Shukla Yajur Veda, Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, 4.4.5. VE, P. 759
We Mold Our Own Future
Every action that we perform in life, every thought that we think, has its reaction. We may or may not be conscious of the reactions that will result from what we are doing or thinking. Many people spend a great deal of time acting only with the purpose of covering up the reactions to prior unsatisfactory actions of their own making. Hurt or puzzled, they often ask, “Why is this happening to me? What did I do to attract that? What did I do to cause that? Do I really deserve this? It doesn’t seem fair!”
Were they to become enlightened and find the ability to live in their own intuitive, superconscious mind, they would see in that expanded state of consciousness all of the ingredients that came together out of the forgotten past to create the conditions through which they are passing in the now. They would observe that every action is like planting a seed. The fruit of that seed, harvested perhaps years later, is reaction. Like the seed, actions remain vibrating in the mind until fulfilled. It is not possible to trace past causes to current effects through analyzing or through the ordinary processes of reason, which result in uncertain conjecture. Only superconscious insight can accurately portray the chain of cause-and-effect relationships as a picture of what is.
Thus the wheel of karma continues, on and on and on, creating and recreating. The wheel of karma is simply the mechanism of the mind’s action — your mind, everyone’s mind. Through the study of the wheel of karma, which is a meditative study, you realize that you have created everything that is happening or has already happened to you. Everything that is coming your way in the future you will have created. Everything you will acquire your own wants will have brought into being. You are right now a sum total of millions of thoughts, feelings, desires and actions — all of them yours. Circumstance is not responsible for your condition, for you have made your circumstances consciously and unconsciously. There are no outside forces imposing themselves upon you. Whatever you attract to yourself of the world, though it seems to be external, is but a manifestation of your own inner nature. Yo u are the author of all of your creations; and yet in the inner recesses of your being you are already the finished product at the same time. To understand this fully, you need yoga.
The study of yoga is reserved for the few who have the courage to seek the depths of their being, for the few who can overcome their experiences and their desires in deep meditation. Now, you may meet in your own subconscious, as soon as you sit down to practice meditation, all of the worldly desires latent within you, including several of which you perhaps have no conscious idea. If your meditation is successful, you will be able to throw out the unnecessary experiences or desires that are consuming your mind. When you do this and you travel past the world of desire, you will begin to break free of the wheel of karma which binds you to the specific reaction which must follow every action. To break free of this wheel of karma, you must have a strong, one-pointed mind. Your only key to help you attain this one-pointedness, this steadfastness, is your devotion to God, your devotion to the realization of the Truth. Few people remain steadfast enough under all circumstances and tests that life offers to realize the many causes and effects that are linked together in their lives. It is easy to study the law of karma and to appreciate it philosophically, but to realize it, to apply it to everything that happens to you, to understand the workings of it as the day goes by, requires an ability to which you must awaken.
Attachment, desire, craving, fear of loss — these are the self-created ropes that hold man in bondage to his lower states of mind. It is because man chooses to live in the ignorance of unfulfilled craving and unsatisfied desire that he suffers. How many of you have suffered over something that was anticipated and may never have taken place? You will remember then waking up out of the dream of your suffering and finding that things were all right after all, and that through your experience something within you remained the same.
The Cause of Joy and Sorrow
Somewhere the idea was born that man should live in states of happiness and joy all of the time. But, in the first place, happiness and joy depend upon unhappiness and sorrow, even to be recognized or appreciated. If man would only know that whatever emotion transpires within him foreshadows its opposite. Secondly, suffering is a greater intensity, a higher vibration, than happiness. You do not learn much from your happinesses; you learn from the states of suffering, which awaken the higher consciousness of your soul. But suffering has no value for its own sake. When the mind recognizes it is suffering over something or other, it is time to practice meditation, to see into the causes, to expand your consciousness a little bit more so that you will grasp the workings of life and its karmic laws. Then you will attain to a greater intensity than either joy or suffering has to offer. You will view the wheel of life, of cause and effect, objectively. And you will not so quickly identify yourself with the lower emotions or the objects of your own mind’s creation.
Then there are the people who, like a fish caught by a fisherman, grasp onto the hook, who step on the spiritual path, but spend their time flip-flopping in the water, tugging at the line, swimming first one way then the other, never really approaching the surface. Why? They live in their ego, that’s all. Their consciousness is limited. The ego is just a trifle dumb. Have you observed an egotistical person? He is just a little dumb, isn’t he — not aware of the layers and layers of wisdom within him.
It is the wise man who recognizes the importance of controlling the forces of his mind. His life is a struggle to make his philosophy real, to gain control of the cycles of experience which have tied him to the wheel of karma. You don’t escape the chain of cause and effect by just sitting with your eyes closed, trying to keep awake, trying to meditate. The genuine practice of yoga involves meeting new challenges each day, having new realizations each day, becoming the boss of your mind, not allowing it to flop around at the end of the line. This type of diligent concentration will definitely change you from the inside out. You will begin to realize, more and more, that you are the creator of your life and every aspect of it.
But your incarnation on this planet is not complete until you have exhausted the wheel of karma, and it will not exhaust itself unless you gain control of it. The wheel of karma, of cause and effect, the world of form, is apparent only when you look at it. You only attain the natural state of your radiant inner being when you step off the wheel of karma. It is not natural for man to live bound to the lower states of mind, ignorant of the fact that God dwells within. But the hearing and understanding of this truth is only the first glimmer of the dawn, a preliminary awakening. The rest, the final realization, is up to you. It is up to you and you alone to penetrate the veil of illusion and realize the Self, the Absolute, beyond desire, beyond the experiences of the mind. It is up to you to realize God.
How to Face Your Karma
If difficult things are happening to you and your mind is disturbed because of them and you have mental arguments within you because you can’t accept your own karma, go to the feet of Lord Siva in your mind, go to the feet of Lord Siva in the temple with your physical body, and beg for the intelligence to place yourself firmly on the path of Sanatana Dharma.
Though it is true that we must work through all aspects and phases of past actions, there are ways of becoming excused from the punishments that drastic actions of the past impose upon the future. These ways are grace, sadhana, tapas and atonement through penance and the performance of good deeds, thus acquiring merit which registers as a new and positive karma, alleviating the heaviness of some of our past karma. Through seeking grace and through receiving it by performing sadhana and tapas and the doing of penance, the karmas are in themselves speeded up. The going through and meeting and reaping of rewards as well as displeasures embodied in past karma in the present is accelerated through these self-imposed actions. Therefore, the sages say, “Bear your karma cheerfully.” And as the seeking of Self commences, the karma unfolds in all of its hideousness and glory, to be seen before the single eye and not reacted to by even a tremor within this physical and astral nerve system. The yoga must be that strong. Each time you blame another person for what has happened to you, or cast blame in any way, tell yourself, “This is my karma which I was born to face. I did not come into a physical body just to blame others for what happens to me. I was not born to live in a state of ignorance created by an inability to face my karma. I came here to spiritually unfold, to accept the karmas of this and all my past lives and to deal with them and handle them in a proper and a wonderful way.”
Humility is intelligence; arrogance is ignorance. To accept one’s karma and the responsibility for one’s actions is strength. To blame another is weakness and foolishness. Let’s begin by not advertising our ignorance. If you must blame what happens to you on your friend, your neighbor, your country, your community or the world, don’t advertise it by speaking about it. Keep that ignorance to yourself. Limit it to the realm of thought. Harness your speech and at the same time work to remold your thinking and retrain your subconscious to actually accept this basic premise of Saiva Siddhanta.
Take Full Responsibility
If you take responsibility for all that happens to you, then you will have the power to deal with your karma through the grace of Lord Siva. He will give you the intelligence to deal with it as you worship Him in the Siva temple, contact Him within as the Life of your life and find Him in meditation. Let’s take an example. Say I am holding a plate of rice and curry and I pass it to you. All of a sudden the plate drops on the floor between us. I blame you, and you blame me. I don’t want to be responsible for dropping the rice and curry, and you don’t want to be responsible either. So, we blame each other. The rice and curry is scattered there on the floor. No one is going to clean it up until one of us takes responsibility and says, “I’m sorry I dropped the plate of rice and curry,” and gets down on hands and knees and cleans it up. In the same way, only by taking responsibility, by recognizing what we have done as our own doing, can we begin cleaning up the results of our actions. Those who do take responsibility for their own karma have all the help in the world.
Pride, arrogance and an ungiving nature are characteristics of those who don’t believe in the law of karma. These are qualities of those who do not take responsibility for their actions. They blame everything on someone or something other than themselves. This includes their mistakes and every unpleasant thing that has ever happened to them, is happening to them or may happen to them in the future. They live in the fears and the resentments born of their own ignorance.
Only through being born in a physical body can you experience certain kinds of karmas which cannot be fulfilled or experienced in your etheric/astral body. Therefore, between births those physical-body karmas live in seed form. Only in a physical body do you have all of the chakras functioning that will allow those karmas to manifest and be dealt with. Each birth is thus a precious window of opportunity. For heaven’s sake don’t blame your karma on somebody else and seek to escape from what you were born to deal with. That is the height of foolishness. Stop blaming and criticizing others, and take a good look at yourself. Stop excusing yourself and trying to make yourself look good in the eyes of others. Then a sense of strength will come up within you, a sense of independence and peace. Mental arguments will stop. Arrogance will vanish. Pride won’t be there anymore. You will be a full person. All of your chakras will function properly. Your nerve system will quiet down, and intuitively you will be able to bear up under your karmas and deal with them positively. If it is your karma to be poor in this life, you will be rich by living within the income that you have. You will be content by having desires that you can afford. We make ourselves discontented, we make ourselves unhappy, we make ourselves useless creatures on this planet by allowing ourselves to live in an ignorant state.
Good and Bad; Like Attracts Like
What do we mean when we say there is no good and no bad, only experience? We mean that in the highest sense, there is no good and bad karma; there is self-created experience that presents opportunities for spiritual advancement. If we can’t draw lessons from the karma, then we resist or resent it, lashing out with mental, emotional or physical force. The original substance of that karma is spent and no longer exists, but our current reaction creates a new condition of harsh karma to face in the future. As long as we react to karma, we must repeat it. That is the law.
Good or bad is just a door, going one way or the other. So I say, “There is no good, there is no bad; there is just a swinging door.” Good deeds siphon the collective good deeds of other good deeds. When the door swings the other way, mistakes siphon the results of past mistakes. Hatreds, the accumulated results of hating, are pulled up from way down there. Thus, one of the major keys to understanding the importance of good conduct relates to the release of seed karmas. Performing dharma — acting with correct thought, word and deed — siphons the results of previous patterns of behavior from the past and causes those seeds to sprout in this life. Like attracts like. These patterns then aid the individual by bestowing clarity of mind and a life in which yoga can be performed and truth sought. In the practice of yoga, the negative seed karmas can actually be burned up without ever having to be lived through.
Conversely, adharma — wrong thought, word and deed — siphons the results of past misdeeds, like attracting like. These seed karmas begin to bear bitter fruit, resulting in a miserable life and state of mind. The individual is immersed in confusion, wrong patterns of thought and is, of course, in no position to practice yoga, follow dharma or realize truth. He is simply immersed in samsara.
In His own way, Siva is bringing you into realization, into knowledge of yourself and of Him. He has given you the world of experience. Study your experience. Learn from your experience. If it is painful, that is also good. In the fires of experience, which are both pain and pleasure, you are being purified. It is Siva’s duty to bring you forward into the fullness of yourself. In doing so, you must go through much pain, through much joy. Both register on the scale as the same intensity of emotion. It is what caused it that makes one more pleasurable than another. Don’t be afraid of experience, and don’t be afraid to go through your karma. Go through it with courage.
Of course, you can minimize reactions to unhappy experiences by performing selfless service, which will create good karma. This is what you have to do to progress your spiritual life. Moksha — enlightenment and liberation from rebirth — is the ultimate goal of all souls. The exit is through the crown chakra. Go forward without fear.
Three Kinds Of Karma
Karma is threefold: sanchita, prarabdha and kriyamana. Sanchita karma means “accumulated actions.” It is the sum of all karmas of this life and our past lives. Prarabdha karma means “actions begun; set in motion.” It is that portion of sanchita karma that is bearing fruit and shaping the events and conditions of the current life, including the nature of our bodies, personal tendencies and associations. Kriyamana karma means “actions being made.” It is the karma we create and add to sanchita in this life by our thoughts, words and actions, or in the inner worlds between lives. While some kriyamana karmas bear fruit in the current life, others are stored for future births. Each of these three types can be divided into two categories: arabdha (“begun, undertaken;” karma that is “sprouting”), and anarabdha (“not commenced; dormant”), or “seed karma.”
In a famed analogy, karma is compared to rice in its various stages. Sanchita karma, the residue of one’s total accumulated actions, is likened to rice that has been harvested and stored in a granary. From the stored rice, a small portion has been removed, husked and readied for cooking and eating. This is prarabdha karma, past actions that are shaping the events of the present. Meanwhile, new rice, mainly from the most recent harvest of prarabdha karma, is being planted that will yield a future crop and be added to the store of rice. This is kriyamana karma, the consequences of current actions.
Prarabdha karma determines the time of birth, which dictates one’s astrology, which in turn delineates the individual life pattern by influencing the release of these karmas. Three factors are fundamental: the nature of one’s birth, the length of life and the nature of experiential patterns. Dormant sanchita karma, while not directly being acted upon, is a weighty and compelling force of potential energy, be it benign or gross, good or bad, slothful or inspirational. It is this dormant karma that explains why two people born at the same moment, and who thus have the same astrology, differ in their talents and tendencies. It is this held-back force of sanchita karma that the yogi seeks to burn out with his kundalini flame, to disempower it within the karmic reservoir of anandamaya kosha, the soul body.
Astrologers who understand karma well emphasize that one can influence his or her dormant sanchita karma. Further, one does have power over karmas being made, kriyamana. But karmas set in motion, prarabdha, are binding. They form the gridwork of life and must be lived through. Facing them positively is the key to their resolution. Fighting them through resentment and the release of other negative emotions only creates more unseemly sanchita karma for the future. The law is: we must accept and bear our karma cheerfully.
Intricacies Of the Law
On resolving karma, our friend Tiru M. Arunachalam wrote, “Nonattachment to the fruits of action stops kriyamana from accumulating. Prarabdha is experienced and ceases with this birth; and sanchita is burnt away by the diksha of the guru.” It is the satguru who holds the power to mitigate and redirect a person’s karma. The guru always sees the good in a person and encourages that goodness. With his authority, this automatically mitigates the detrimental areas the person could fall into because of his past actions.
Naturally, karma also determines the circumstance of one’s life in the Antarloka after death. The infallible law of karma continues for disembodied souls between births, though many karmas can only be fulfilled in physical incarnation. Thus, Earth is called Karma-kshetra, “arena of karma.” Karma is also binding, to varying degrees, for those who have attained moksha and are living in the Antarloka and for those who have attained residency in the Sivaloka until vishvagrasa, ultimate merger in the Primal Soul, Parameshvara.
Prarabdha karmas fructify in a given lifetime, fortified by the ripe karmas that are experienced in the in-between. Some of what is learned in the Antarloka is used in the next birth, to know how to best face the prarabdha karmas as they manifest. Some of what is learned will only be used in future births. Karma made in the Antarloka, positive or negative, is added into the big sanchita basket; and, of course, some of it also bears fruit.
All karmas are either ripe or unripe, ready or unready. Of the prarabdha karmas that one is born with, some are immediately released, and others will be ready only in later years of life. This is why if a person commits suicide, the repercussions are drastic, because he has blocked and interrupted the fulfillment of the prarabdha karmas that he had set about to consume in this birth. Then it is like a stringhopper in the inner worlds that must be unraveled when he arrives there unexpectedly.
The prarabdha karmas, as they ripen, open up as you go on through life. Similarly, of the kriyamana karmas created, some are ripe and some are not ripe. Some immediately bear fruit and are consumed in this life. Others go to seed and enter the big sanchita karma bank to be experienced in future births as prarabdha karma. Whatever is not experienced and resolved in the current life is taken by you to the inner world as a basket of seeds. A mystical person who knows he is going to incarnate again can work on these seeds consciously.