Every action has a reaction which creates a chain of follow up actions.
What you sow you reap; though you sow one seed, it grows into a thousand new seeds which further give rise to new seeds and new trees. This is the eternal law of karma.
There is a cause for every effect and every effect has a cause. We may be able to see the cause, and it is equally possible that we may never be able to recall it. This is due to the inability of our mind; we are so restricted in the knowledge held by the brain! Our brain does not remember most of the actions of this life, what to say of knowing or recalling our past karmas.
No one can evade, mould or change this all-powerful ‘Law of Karma’. It is not easy to fully understand how it functions, but let us make an attempt to know how it works.
Every action has a route which it follows. Our subconscious carries the sum total of all our desires, passions, good and bad experiences, which we carry with us from our numerous past lives.
Our defeats, victories, pain, pleasures and all our animal instincts are embedded in it. At the top are innumerable unfulfilled desires and hopes which are waiting to rear their head.
Now here is the process you need to understand:
First the samaskaras trigger the thought and then the thought matures into desire. This may happen with or without any outer stimulation. As this desire arises, it gets more attention or afflictions of our attachments, the deeper it gets. With time, it is further strengthened and then it changes into sankalpa (the conviction to achieve the object). When this conviction matures, it converts into action or karma.
This is the theory of how deep-rooted samaskaras or impressions shape our thoughts, convert them into desire, and desire into conviction, till finally the action takes place. The whole process may happen in just a fraction of a second or even in lesser time! Do you have any idea how many trillions upon trillions of samaskaras are lying in your subconscious? And consequently how many wishes and desires are lying unfulfilled in the deep recesses of your mind?
While strolling on the road, one sees scores of men, women, girls and boys. The mind registers all these faces and keeps making a non- stop commentary on them. Standing by the road and seeing the traffic pass by, how active your mind is! Seeing flashy cars, the desire to own one arises. A beautiful woman passes by and your heart aches with desire for her. Watching television has become a fixed ritual for modern men and women; seeing the glamorous lifestyles of actors and actresses on screen, how eager your mind gets to have it all. One wishes to go to all those wonderful places, to have sex with that curvaceous woman seen on TV and in films. The name, fame, glory and glitter of the silver screen lures the mind in a myriad ways. People living in an ultra-modern society want to have it all, see it all, do it all.
Know this: samaskaras have the ability to take the shape of thought – desire- conviction, and finally of action. Whether that action will be good or bad and what its consequences will be is a different story.
Upanishadic wisdom says that every action will bear a fruit which is of two types: one part is the happiness or pain experienced right there, in that moment; the second part remains hidden and gets added to the bank of other past karmas – it becomes a part of our ’sanchit karma’ i.e. the accumulated karmas of innumerable past lives. We are not new on this earth, we have been born here many times, and in each life we made a home, had a family, had some kind of livelihood and had friends and enemies. We were never idle even in the past births – we were doing something (good or bad) and every action that we did is going to bear some fruit.
The law says that if you do an evil action, the fruit will be dukha or pain, and if you do a pious karma then the fruit is sukha or happiness.
Well, no one wishes for dukha, yet we experience pain in our lives. The question is why? Yes, we do not wish dukha, yet we do get it. It is because of our lust, greed, ego, anger and attachments. We do so many actions, and though we justify our actions as valid, sometimes in reality they are not.
The police catches criminals and the courts punish them for their heinous crimes of theft, burglary, murder, rape, arson and loot.
But has anyone ever been arrested for anger, lust, ego or greed? The answer is a very definitel no! But aren’t these vices the very reasons for a person’s criminal act? Society punishes a person after the act has been committed and the person has been caught. But in the court of dharma, when you do an evil act, you are punished in two ways, one part of fruit is received on the spot in the form of the turmoil felt by the mind, the anguish, palpitation, rise in blood pressure, the agitation and frustration of the mind. And the other part of karma fruit gets deposited in the bank of our past karmas, where, in time it causes pain, dukha, diseases, losses or unfortunate situations in life.
Vedas say that all actions are of two types: dharma and adharma. Actions that are endorsed by seers are dharma and the those which are forbidden are adharma. Servitude, donation, charity, penance, japa, chanting, compassion and humility are all dharma. And all actions arising from lust, greed, anger, revenge and ego are adharma. Dharma will give you happiness and adharma will give you pain. This means that if ones actions are of adharma, then it may be pleasurable at that moment, but later on the fruit will be of pain. And dharmic actions might seem unattractive but give purity, clarity and happiness in the end.
Suppose you are served delicious food which looks good to the eyes, smells good and tastes good too, but is laced with a slow poison; then there is food which is nutritious but not as inviting to the senses – which one would you prefer? Most of the time, a person who is a slave of the senses will prefer the first type without realizing that the end result would be pain.
The wise ones have said that karma is of three types – sanchit, kriyaman and agami. Sanchit karma are those which we did in the past, kriyaman are those which we are doing now in the present moment, and agami karmas are those which we will do in the future. Man, driven by his weaknesses, mental afflictions and vices, performs karmas without thinking about their consequences. When pain and failure result, he blames god for his misfortunes and never realizes that it is his own past karmas which are punishing him in the present moment.
This is the story of all human beings – they wish for instant gratification of the senses and do not wish to think about the fruits of their action. The wise ones think deeply and then make the right choices. Today it may not seem to be a thing of deep concern, but indeed it is. Actions of dharma and adharma are going to shape your mind and further desires; the desires into actions and the fruits of action. An uncontrolled mind gets motivated to act irresponsibly and then suffers from the ill effects of its own actions.
Your destiny is nothing but the sum total of your past actions. The past is gone but you have this moment in your hand. Every action you do now shapes your future.
But what about the past karmas which are going to reward or punish you? Can we do something about them today? The answer is no! Those fruits will come to you and you will have to accept them. No one can run away from his or her karmas – no one! This seems really depressing, isn’t it? Do not feel sad for there is a ray of hope. Read on.
The present moment is in our hands, and by acting responsibly we can use it to bring about a total transformation in our lives. If one performs pious deeds, serves all, is compassionate and generous – in other words if we develop positive karma, it will prove to be a great leveler and will slowly lead to a bringing down of the adverse effects of past karma.
The theory of karma says that doing pious deeds will slowly scale down the effects of negative karmas, bringing them at par, first, and then more in favor of, dharma. As dharma begins to dominate a person’s life, new and positive developments begin to take place. One gets opportunities for being blessed by pious souls and saints. As the Ramayana says, when good karma fructify, only then the chance of meeting a seer or rishi is possible. And the chance of meeting a saint means an opportunity to not only be blessed but also to receive wisdom and the tools of evolvement that help one come out of the cycle of karma.
The Bhagavad Gita says that the power of good karma makes a person a deserving candidate for receiving higher knowledge which will bring forth a whole new approach to living one’s life in dharma.
Good and bad actions happen through the mind with a sense of ‘I’ being the doer. As long as the doer is there, one or another kind of karma will keep on generating. All karmas create bondage – if bad karma is like an iron handcuff, then pious karma is a handcuff made of gold. Both bind you and keep you in the whirlpool of samsara. One has to understand the truth: mind- senses-body are entities totally different from the ’self’ which is beyond these corporeal elements. Once you begin to understand who you really are and begin to cultivate a distance and discrimination, all actions will happen without binding you. When all karma is performed with the sense of being a ‘non-doer’, and one follows the righteous path, then the person transgresses the cycle of karma.
The real self is unknown and this self-ignorance binds man. Once we have understood the real self, then life is lived while witnessing it.
The present moment is lived in the spirit of a non-doer and the old karmas or sanchit karmas get burnt in the fire of gyana (true knowledge) and then what is left is kriyaman karma. Such a person with his new-found wisdom has great patience and tolerance, and accepts the fruits of his karma without discrimination.
Try to understand it like this: a person has some arrows in his basket, one arrow has been mounted on the bow and one has already been shot. This person can destroy the arrows in his basket, he can throw the arrow which is strung, but he can do nothing about the arrow that has been shot. The arrows in the basket are sanchit karma, the one on the bow is agami karma and the arrow that has been shot is kriyaman karma. The Bhagavad Gita says that we can destroy our sanchit karma with gyana and samadhi; the present actions can be performed as a non-doer; but the fruits of actions which are functional in the present moment cannot be wiped out. Remember that this statement is applicable only to a realized person. For an ignoramus, even sanchit karmas work along with kriyaman karma!
When ones actions are motivated by ill, evil, negativity, one doesn’t even realizes what one is doing. But when the fruits of karma fall in the lap, then the person either suffers meekly or is angry, dejected and agitated.
Lovely Thoughts for Lovely People Just Like You
Impressions (samaskaras) and unfulfilled desires are the root of all the wrongs in a man’s life. Only if the root agyana is eradicated with true knowledge – can one live a life filled with happiness and contentment. We are responsible for our actions and the results of our actions.