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KARMA

INTRODUCTION
Karma is the physical manifestation of the law of balance and harmony, as it applies to the results of decisions reached and attitudes held by beings capable of free will and choice. A karmic experience is a challenge to an individual to reconsider a choice that has been made, or an attitude that has been held, to see if these decisions were founded upon a misunderstanding of The Laws of the System. We are bound karmically to anything that we accept, or misunderstand, until we understand it. Karma is merely a gap in our understanding. And, karma applies only to beings who have advanced to the level of experiencing in the forms of the human kingdom.

Throughout evolution, suffering has formed an integral part of human experience. Time and again, the question is raised: Why does suffering exist in a world created by an almighty and all-loving God? Allowing

suffering he cannot be all loving. If suffering is outside his domain, he cannot be almighty. The question seems insoluble, but only as long as we maintain that suffering is bad. Could it be that suffering has a purpose, may be even a loving purpose?

KARMA People from the east have long had an explanation for the cause of suffering and how to terminate it. Even Buddha keeps returning to this crucial problem. In his four truths and teachings about the noble eightfold path, he emphasizes that suffering is caused by earthly desires and that suffering only stops when a person has achieved complete awareness and has no desires at all. These thoughts seem odd to most Westerners. Let me therefore begin by describing the law that causes all this suffering. The initiates of the East call it the Law of Karma. In the West people call it the Law of Cause and Effect.

WHAT IS KARMA?
Karma is a Sanskrit word meaning action. According to the Law of Karma, you shall reap in this life or the next as you have sown in this and previous lives.

Every thought, feeling and need impels a corresponding reaction. However, it is more the motive and intent behind a deep that impels a reaction rather than the deed itself. This is why a child only creates very little karma through his actions.

3 KARMA This is also why deeds seeming good, but with an egoistic motive behind,

only have a small positive effect. On the other hand, a police officer killing a potential evildoer to save a victims life will only face little karma. Krishna tells us is in the Bhagvad Gita: One who acts by dedicating all activities to the Ultimate Truth, giving up attachment; is not affected by sin; just as a lotus leaf in water.

Ignorance is to a far greater extent than malice the cause of human suffering. As long as we are attached to transient earthly things, we shall experience suffering when we lose them. Therefore, all great and enlightened souls, who have taught us humans about eternal values, first told us to seek the kingdom of God; then we shall be given all that we need. Still, we have a free will to choose and learn through our choices.

It is important to emphasise that karma not only involves all the positive effects we have brought about through our many lives, but also the painful circumstances we have had to deal with and learn from. Bad Karma results in suffering and the purpose is to help man get back on the right path. Good karma on the other had opens up for possibilities, and the aim here is for man to use his good experience and qualities to help others. Thus he will help himself.

4 KARMA Buddhists believe that kindness, compassion and giving generates good

conditions. "Karma, the moral law of cause and effect, is used to explain the inequalities and injustice in life, but it also suggests that a person can shape his or her future. Buddhists believe in rebirth and think that each child is endowed with specific talents. These talents are the result of behavior in past lives. " At the time of death, the only thing we bring with us into our next life is the karma we created while living this life, and that our next life depends on the accumulated balance of good and bad karma. We are bound by karma. Without the law of karma, life would have no challenge. And, life is to fulfill your dreams and potential within the karmic boundaries. The only way to transcend the law of karma would be to complete all karmic obligations. It is irresponsible not to acknowledge, understand, and work with karmic conditions. As soon as you raise consciousness to see your original soul choice, and begin functioning from a co-creative perspective, far greater options open up to you.

KARMA

LAW OF KARMA
Karma is a Sanskrit word which means action or deeds. Any mental or physical action is called karma. Every action produces its result, which is known as karma. Thus karma includes both the action and result which is governed by the law of causation. So under the law of karma there is nothing as chance or as an accident. The so called chance or accidents are in reality the product of same definite cause of which we may not be aware of. That which appears as a chance or accident to a non-astrological mind is natural & inevitable to astrologers. Learn to live according to spiritual rules of eternal life and improve the quality of your life. Your mind, emotions, speech and actions are affected by this law.

Mankind sometimes gets struck by their destiny>

Some suffer from

illness, accidents, from being beaten half death or death and they most if not all the time claims others of being guilty.

This of course is completely wrong. Mankind needs to learn to be fully responsible for all they do.

6 KARMA The law of Karma explains why illness, accidents and disasters of any kind

may occurs to some persons, and why others may enjoy a happy life, free, healthy and joyful.

Learn to properly apply this law for your personal benefit it will be at the same time for the benefit of all. By properly applying all spiritual principles of Gods Divine creation, your life will become instantly easier provided you follow ALL rules exactly to the word.

THE LAW OF CAUSE AND EFFECT


We realize that an unfathomable cause and effect structure exists linking the present event to the endless past. Everything that happens to us every moment of our lives is determined by complex cause and effect chains from the past, and prior to the present moment. In spite of the complex web of past karma, the future direction of our existence is in our control if we choose to exercise it. This is the supreme factor that makes humans different from all other forms of life. When it comes to people, especially friends and family members, there are very strong reasons why they are with you and have become part of your life.

7 KARMA Some of them will bring you comfort and happiness, and some of them will

bring you pain and discomfort. Whatever differences, disagreements, weaknesses, or strengths there are between you, you should not purposely hurt anyone for any reason. In a karmic sense, you are attracted to each other for known or unknown reasons. Ultimately, the purpose should be creating and sharing peace, harmony, and love. According to the Buddha's Teachings, we all had a sack of karmic debt in our back when we were born. During our life journey, we would meet those people in various forms either to pay back the debt to them, or to receive payment from them when becoming due. That is why the Buddha said, "Not in the sky, nor in mind-ocean, nor in a mountain cave, is found that place on earth where abiding one may escape from the consequences of one's own karma."

KARMA

BASIC PRINCIPLES
1) Mans propensity to do karma 2) Re-incarnation or cycle of birth and death 3) Fruits of karma have to be enjoyed or suffered

1) MANS PROPENSITY TO DO KARMA a) Kayak-bodily action b) Vachak-action by speech c) Mansik-mental

A man cant remain without any action for eg eating; breathing & sleeping are obligatory actions. However, in modern world, man works with some motive, there is self interest involved. Man wants money fame, power, position or comforts. A work is good or bad according to the motives underlying it & the means adopted. If the motive is good then works become good. If it is bad the work becomes bad. Good work results well to doer & bad one does otherwise.

2) RE-INCARNATION a) According to Hinduism every human being has got a soul. It has no physical existence.

9 KARMA Though no biologist has seen it or can ever see it, still there is separate

entity which our sages have recognized it & called it as ATMA. The soul is external which means that when a person dies it leaves the human body and enters into other new body according to the karma of pervious berth. This does not mean that it carries luggage of karma. It takes with it all past sanskars (impressions) or results of its own karma.

b) CYCLE OF BIRTH /DEATH Hinduism also believes in cycle of berth. Man takes berth in this world a number of times to reap the consequences of his past karmas. When a man dies his body decays but the soul inside the body does not die. It leaves the decaying body & enters a fresh one. It goes on taking rebirth till it is merged with the supreme soul and the cycle then stops.

c) FRUITS OF KARMA HAVE TO BE ENJOYED /SUFFERED The results of all works done by a man runs after him, just as a calf finds out its mother in a flock of cattle.---MAHABHARATA SHANTI PARVA. The result of all works done by a man must be experienced by him unless he experiences the result it remains till that date whether it is in same life in successive life. If a person gets an important position in society or becomes rich suddenly or becomes bankrupt or some misshape may happen to him. It is said this is due to his karmas.

10 KARMA In day to day life we see many people who put in some amount of

effort but only a few of them came out successfully. The Hindus believe that karma & rebirth is interrelated. If a man does reap the consequences of his worth in a single life time he must do so in subsequent lives.

CLASSIFICATION OF KARMA
1) SANCHIT 2) PRARABHDHA 3) AAGAMI

KARMA

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Karma is of three kinds, viz., Sanchita (accumulated works), Prarabdha (fructifying works) and Kriyamana or Agami (current works). Sanchita is all the accumulated Karmas of the past. Part of it is seen in the character of man, in his tendencies and aptitudes, capacities, inclinations and desires, etc. Tendencies come from this.

Prarabdha is that portion of the past Karma which is responsible for the present body. That portion of the Sanchita Karma which influences human life in the present incarnation is called Prarabdha. It is ripe for reaping. It cannot be avoided or changed.

It is only exhausted by being experienced. You pay your past debts. Prarabdha Karma is that which has begun and is actually bearing fruit. It is selected out of the mass of the Sanchita Karma. Kriyamana is that Karma which is now being made for the future. It is also called Agami or Vartamana.

12 KARMA 1) Sanchit karmas are those karmas that had already been performed & we are

now waiting to enjoy their fruits. Since these karmas have already been done there is nothing one can do about them now. Sanchit karmas are the one which link us with the fate.

2) Prarabhdha karmas are those that we are motivated & inclined to perform the free will position. It is here that a man is given a chance to guide his own destiny. It is prarabhdha karma that makes a man capable of deciding & making his own future. But this free will has to be exercised with in pre-ordained parameters. The case is similar to that of a cow tied to peg by tether. Briefly a native arrives in this world with the sum balanced of his karma. This places him in the society, gives him a home and an ornament where his past sanchit karma. Get linked to his present prarabhdha karma, he has to firstly reap his sanchit karma that is link with the past & secondly exhaust his karma allocated for the present & thirdly think about his future & do actions so that balance for the future is good.

a) DRIDH KARMA b) ADRIDH KARMA c) DRIDH-ADRIDH KARMA

13 KARMA A) DRIDH KARMA:-Are those whose results cannot be altered i.e. if one has

committed in exclusive mistakes and crimes in previous life like cheating, murder, thefts etc, such persons cannot ward off the malefic result in the present life. They have to accept the punishment & patiently endure the penalty.

B) ADRIDH KARMA: - are those whose results can be made bearable by timely action. The crimes committed may be negligible; it might have ended in one evil thought.

C) DRIDH-ADRIDH KARMA: - This means excusable mistakes (out of ignorance) committed in the previous birth and can be changed by the prayer or propiation of concerned planets.

KARMA

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GOOD AND BAD KARMA


In Yoga-Sutra II.14, Patanjali tells us: "Because of virtuous and non-virtuous karma, there are [corresponding] pleasurable and painful consequences." If we bring happiness (hlda) to others we gain pleasure; if we bring suffering (paritpa) to others we will reap pain for ourselves. If we allow true happiness for ourselves, we automatically make others who are near us happier -- whether or not they know that initially. Our habits, or subconscious impressions (samskras), largely determine our actions. Therefore the quality of our birth (jti), lifespan (ayuh) and life experience (bhoga) is determined by our subconscious impressions (samskras). Therefore we should cultivate thoughts, words and deeds, which will be edifying to ourselves, and to others.

Practice:
1. Cultivate thoughts, words and deeds, which will be edifying for yourself and others, but first listen to and reflect on your innermost guidance, and avoid egoistic reaction.

15 KARMA 2. Record situations when you have consciously made an effort to say or do

something you knew would bring joy to others. How did you feel as a result? 3. Record situations when you have avoided saying or doing something you knew would harm others. When you failed to avoid them? How did you feel afterwards?

Scientific Approach to Karma


Western scientists also see a relation between deeds and either well being or suffering. Current researchers of psychological and social issues are trying to uncover this relation. It is actually widely accepted that traumas may be traced back to childhood and early adolescence. It is further recognised that unfortunate decisions made by decision-makers of previous generations contribute to social problems in later generations.

All in all, it is acknowledged that suffering is an interaction between individual psychological dispositions, hereditary genetic factors and social circumstances. In short, individual problems are the result of both inner and outer circumstances having root in the past. The core issue separating Western belief from Eastern belief is whether the causes of suffering only may be ascribed to this life or whether they may also be ascribed to past lives. The latter belief is not accepted in academic circles today, even though the idea was widespread in ancient Greece, the cradle of modern science.

KARMA

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KARMA YOGA
How does an average person work? He works with a sense of weight and drudgery or he works with feverish intensity. Either will break him. If he works with indifference you cannot expect him to achieve anything significant. Because his heart is not in it and his mind and his energies are divided. If he works with nervous excitement, he will not last long.

Sooner or later he will break down himself. The truly great do not differentiate between big tasks and little tasks. They want to do well what they do whatever may be the task. Men of vision, men of genius, never feel that any work is beneath them. There is nothing beneath us and nothing beyond us. That should be our attitude. There are no menial jobs, only menial attitudes. said William Bennett.

17 KARMA By doing well small tasks whole heartedly, with concentration and

skillfulness, we evolve within ourselves a power which will enable us to perform greater tasks. Opportunities will come when we have proved our fitness. Karma Yoga is the predominant topic of the Bhagavad Gita, though the book deals with other Yogas as well.

Lord Krishna says in the Gita Thy right is to work only, but never with its fruits; let not the fruits of action be thy motive, nor let thy attachment be to inaction. Every action, following the causal law, will surely produce its fruit; why long for it? Wretched are they who work for results. If an action is done without attachment to its fruit, evenness of mind is sure to follow. Action should be natural and spontaneous, prompted by the exigencies of a situation. Swami Chinmayananda said beautifully, In fact, the reward of an action, when we understand it properly, is not anything different from the action itself.

An action in the PRESENT, when conditioned by a FUTURE time, appears as the fruit of action. In fact, the action ends or fulfils itself as reaction or fruit in future. Lord Krishnas advice here is a call to man not to waste his present moment in useless dreams and fears, but to bring his best to the PRESENT and vitally live every moment because future shall take care of itself without fail.

18 KARMA Karma Yoga is not merely work. Karma Yoga means to

perform work to the best of our ability and with awareness, without being overly attached to the outcome or the results (or to the fruits, the term used in Yoga and in the Bhagavad Gita. Ideally, moment to moment, work is an end in itself, the sense of self-importance diminished and work is done more and more without the obsessive sense of me, I and mine.

One

becomes

an

instrument of action. In fact, Karma Yoga flies in the face of what we have been conditioned to expect from work since the day we were born: payment, a pat on the back, self-expression, a sense of achievement.

Yoga is not saying that we shouldnt be paid, nor that we shouldnt enjoy our work or develop our talents. All this is a natural part of life. It is not renunciation of action itself, but renunciation of the longing for the fruit, that is the secret of karma yoga. When we do that we are able to be open to inner guidance and to flow in the stream of grace.

19 KARMA The Intelligence-Power that sustains the universe has a plan and a purpose.

When we are in harmony with it we are free, even while involved. Martin Heidegger, the German philosopher, once said: The artist should turn himself into that which wants to be revealed and permit the process to happen through him. This doesnt only apply to art: it also applies to every act in our lives. Karma Yoga is the endeavour to transform every act, every thought and every feeling into a work of art. Acts should be revealed through us. The Ineffable, the Inner Presence, should be allowed to express Itself perfectly, moment to moment, through the medium of our personality. Then we become an artist in the real, or Spiritual, sense of the word. In our ignorance, we feel that I am doing. This creates pride in us and brings about strife and disharmony.

We dont know, or realise, that we are only given the mandate to be able do or act by an ineffable Intelligence which is far vaster and more allencompassing than our personality.

If we know this - really know it - then the ego-sense tends to diminish; moreover, we start to see the same Intelligence working through everyone and everything in the universe When the individual no longer considers himself the doer but only an instrument, then work becomes spiritualised. The individual becomes efficient in action and develops equanimity of mind at all times and in all situations.

20 KARMA In every form of success or accomplishment, let us try to give less

recognition to the ego, and more to the Intelligence which underlies everything. After all, as personalities, there is a severe limit to what we can do, even though we may think otherwise. The following story from the Mahabharata illustrates this point very clearly:

After the war, Arjuna was crossing a city with some possessions when some robbers attacked him. Exercising his fighting skills, Arjuna fought with all his strength against the robbers, but could not overcome them. All of his divinely given weapons were useless against them.

Since Krishna had already departed from the earth, Arjuna, totally despondent, went to see Sage Vyasa in order to find out why his weapons were so useless. Vyasa explained, Oh Arjuna, those weapons never possessed any power, nor did you possess any power within yourself.

It was all Krishnas will that made you victorious during the Mahabharata.

21 KARMA Now those weapons no longer have any purpose, so you may as well

discard them. Arjuna then went and threw his weapons into the ocean Though the path of Karma Yoga has been explained in detail by Bhagavad Gita, references to it can also be found, directly or indirectly, in other religions. Jesus said "Thy will be done.

The entire essence of Karma Yoga is contained in this pithy statement. One tries to tune in with the underlying Intelligence that exists in all things and act accordingly. Let us have a great ideal, an ideal that will startle us with its greatness. . Every act can be done in such a way as to uplift us or to drag us down. It is not what we do, but how we do it that determines the merit of each action. So work like a master and not as a slave.

Little by little our imperfections and difficulties will vanish and instead of regarding life as drudgery, instead of shrinking from it, we shall bless this life with many opportunities.

ASTROLOGY AND KARMA

22 KARMA 1) ASTROLOGY & KARMA ARE CO-RELATED:- just like karma theory, astrology

also believes in theory of rebirth, continuity of soul & effects of good or bad karma on the individual. The good or bad effects are reflected in the horoscope. The horoscope indicates the past, present & future in respect of the person concerned .the present is the result of past karma and future is also influenced by both present & past.

2) Astrology explains what karma one has done in his previous birth & when. These effects are seen in accordance with the major period and sub period of the planets instrumental in giving effect to the previous birth. The Vth house in the horoscope shows the links with the past. It is slao the house where the balance of karma that we carrying, the balance of karma that we are carrying from the past indicated. It is the house of previous jnama. The IXth house which is Vth from the Vth house indicates what karmas we would be inclined to perform in the present life.

3) Astrology is fore telling of events on the bases of horoscope. This is also known as fate. We may call it the LAW OF CAUSE & EFFECT. This principle regulates all the activities of a person. In case of physical science the cause and effects can be proved in the laboratory. But in astrology the cause and effects principle operate at a higher plane than a near physical unit. It shows that

23 KARMA whereas for any action the reaction is inevitable. The timings of reaction as well

as the result of the action are held by the supreme divine will.

4) KARMAS SYMBOLISED BY THE PLANETS AND RASHIES & HOUSES: - In a horoscope 1, 5, 9 houses are or DHARMA, 2,6,10, are of ARTH (finance), 3,7,11 are KAAMA (desire) and 4,8,12 are MOKSHA (salvation) houses. If majority of planets are in arth & kaama houses the native is inclined & motivated or inclined towards that direction. He has desire and money and if the favorable dasa of planets matches the right time then he can enjoy the benefits in full. This way various combinations are possible and why we see people having different outlook.

The Ten Principles for Effective Karma

KARMA

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Management
We will learn the ten principles for effective karma management, drawn from the teachings of Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami (Gurudeva).

This fulfills learning about karma, which is to apply our understanding of karma to our own life and thus refine the way we act in and react to life. Gurudeva taught: "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."

First Principle: Forego Retaliation There is no need for you to be the instrument to return a karmic reaction to someone else. For example, an individual is really nasty to you, so you feel the impulse to retaliate and be nasty to him. If you follow that tack, you will create a new unseemly karma to face in the future.

Better to let the law of karma take its own course without your intervention, which will generally happen through some other person with less self-control who does not understand this law of life.

Let us take another example: a classic cowboy movie plot. Someone shoots and kills the hero's brother during a robbery, and the rest of the film is devoted to

25 KARMA his chasing down the outlaw and shooting him in revenge. What, then, happens in

the next life, the sequel? There is definitely a karma to be faced for killing in revenge. Perhaps another robbery will take place and the hero will be killed.

Wisdom tells us that it is better to let the sheriff apprehend the outlaw and bring him to justice. The sheriff has taken an oath and is authorized to uphold the law and therefore creates no negative karma in capturing the outlaw, even if he has no choice but to kill him in the process.

Gurudeva said, "Retaliation is a terrible, negative force. When we retaliate against others, we build up a bank account of negative karma that will come back on us full force when we least expect it."

Tirukural or Moral: "Forget anger toward all who have offended you, for it gives rise to teeming troubles."

Second Principle: Accept Responsibility Karma generally manifests through other people, and thus it is easy to see the other person as totally responsible for what happens to us. For example, you are attacked by a mugger who strikes you and steals your valuables. You are quite upset with the malicious thief. However, the mystical perspective is to see yourself as responsible for whatever happens to you. You are, through your

26 KARMA actions in the past, the creator of all that you experience in the present. You

caused your loss; the thief is just the instrument for returning your karma to you.

Of course, it is easy to apply this principle when the effect is an enjoyable one (we know intuitively when we get good things that we deserve them) and not so easy to apply it when it is not enjoyable, but in both cases we are equally responsible. In the end, you have no one to praise but yourself when your life is filled with successes and no one to blame but yourself when your life is filled with difficulties.

Gurudeva said, "As long as we externalize the source of our successes and failures, we perpetuate the cycles of karma, good or bad. There is no one out there making it all happen. Our actions, thoughts and attitudes make it all happen. We must accept and bear our karma cheerfully."

Tirukural or Moral: "Why should those who rejoice when destiny brings them good moan when that same destiny decrees misfortune?"

Third Principle: Forgive the Offender Take as an example a teenage boy on the way home from school. One day a gang of boys teases him for being different in some way and beats him up. A common response is for the teenager to feel angry at the boys and harbor ill feelings toward them for years. This is problematic, however, as it keeps the

27 KARMA lower emotions of anger constantly churning in his subconscious mind. Unless he

forgives them, he perpetuates the event in his own mind, long after it is over.

Gurudeva often told the story of when a man attacked Swami Sivananda, hitting him forcefully in the head with an axe during evening satsang at his Rishikesh ashram. Swamiji's followers were outraged and angrily subdued the man. But Swami Sivananda responded with the opposite sentiment. He asked that the man not be punished or turned over to the police. The next day he met with his attacker and gave him a train ticket home, several spiritual books and money. Swami said, "Thank you so much for being the instrument to bring this karma back to me. Now I am free of it." He felt no anger toward the man whatsoever.

Tirukural or Moral: "If you return kindness for injuries received and forget both, those who harmed you will be punished by their own shame."

Fourth Principle: Consider the Consequences Quite often our actions are based upon an emotional reaction to what someone has done or said to us.

The consequences of such actions are often not clearly and carefully thought about. For example, someone insults you, so you insult them back. If you did reflect, you would see that the consequence of harming someone else with your words in the present is for you to be harmed again in the future by someone else's words.

28 KARMA This behavior creates an endless cycle of being harmed and harming others,

which is only stopped by considering the consequences before acting and not harming back. Mahatma Gandhi once said, "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind." So, too, instinctive retaliation ultimately makes the whole world angry. The principle of considering the karmic consequences pertains equally to positive actions.

The wisest approach is to not simply react to things that happen to us, but to take time to consider the karmic repercussions of all actions before we take them. The habit of considering the consequences before acting can be developed at an early age when parents and teachers utilize positive discipline methods to help children face the natural and logical consequences of their actions. An insightful letter from Lord Ganesha on consequences in Gurudeva's book Loving Ganesha reminds us: "Keep track of your paces, for your walk makes marks.

Each mark is a reward or a stumbling block. Learn to look at the step you have made and the step you have not made yet. This brings you close to Me."

Gurudeva elucidates our fourth principle: "It is our reaction to karmas through lack of understanding that creates most karmas we shall experience at a future time."

29 KARMA Tirukural or Moral: "All suffering recoils on the wrongdoer himself. Thus,

those desiring not to suffer refrain from causing others pain."

Fifth Principle: Create No Negative Karmas Now that we have a good grasp of the karmic consequences of various kinds of actions, what is needed next to progress even further in the management of karma is a firm commitment to refrain from actions that create new negative karma. Perhaps we should all take a pledge, such as "I promise henceforth to refrain from all actions that create negative karmas."

This is actually not as difficult as it sounds. How do we know if a specific action will create negative karma or not? Scriptures such as the Tirukural may make mention of it. We can ask a Hindu religious leader his or her opinion. We can ask our parents or elders. And once we get the knack of it, our own conscience will be able to provide the answer most of the time.

Gurudeva advises us: "Wise handling of karma begins with the decision to carry the karma we now have cheerfully, and not add to it. A firm decision to live in such a way as to create no new negative karmas is a sound basis for living a religious life, for following the precepts of dharma and avoiding that which is adharmic."

Tirukural or Moral: "What good is a man's knowledge unless it prompts him to prevent the pain of others as if it were his own pain?"

KARMA Sixth Principle: Seek Divine Guidance

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We don't have to manage our karma totally on our own. Help is available, divine help, in fact. Such help comes from none other than Lord Ganesha, who has the duty of helping sincere devotees manage their karma in the best way possible.

Once, through sincere worship, an individual develops a personal relationship with Ganesha, he naturally drops off any remaining adharmic patterns of behavior and becomes fully established in a dharmic life. Not only does Lord Ganesha help you become established in dharma, but in the best personal dharmic pattern for this life, known as svadharma, your natural occupation and duties to family, friends, relatives, deceased relatives, community, guru and temple.

When we seek His permission and blessings before every undertaking, Ganesha, as the Lord of Obstacles, guides our karmas through creating and removing obstacles from our path, similar to a mother's watching over her young children at play. He also has an extraordinary knack for unweaving complicated situations and making them simple. He can unweave His devotees from their karma, clarifying and purifying their lives. How can we invoke this divine guidance when we encounter karmic difficulties? Simply by chanting His name or a simple mantra, or placing a flower at His feet, visiting His temples for puja, meditating on

31 KARMA Him or just visualizing His holy form and inviting Him mentally to help in our time

of need. He will respond.

Gurudeva comments on svadharma, "Such a life is the fulfillment of all previous efforts and thus erases the uncomplimentary deeds and adds beneficial ones, so a next birth can be most rewardingly great and useful to the whole of mankind."

Tirukural or Moral: "Draw near the Feet of Him who is free of desire and aversion, and live forever free of suffering."

Seventh Principle: Mitigate Past Karma Once we have stopped acting in ways that create new negative karma, our life will be sublime enough to focus on ridding ourselves of karmas of the past, mitigating them, meaning to make less harsh, painful or severe.

To better understand mitigation, let's make another comparison to the judicial system. A man commits armed robbery and receives a ten- to twenty-year

32 KARMA sentence. But due to good behavior in prison, he is paroled after only five years.

He has mitigated his sentence, made it less severe, through his good behavior.

Let's now take an example of karma that is mitigated. You are destined to lose a leg in this life because you caused someone to lose his in a past life. If you are living a selfish, low-minded kind of life, the karma would come full force and you would lose your leg. However, if you are a kindly person who regularly helps others, the karma would be mitigated and you might read in the morning paper about someone losing a leg and take on the emotion of that experience as if it had happened to you. Later on when hiking you stumble and your leg is injured, but not severely. The full force of the karma was softened by your kind and helpful actions.

Following Dharma: Living virtuously, in itself, helps modulate the release of karmic seeds, evening out the ebb and flow of karma and minimizing "karmic explosions" that might otherwise occur.

Thus negative karmas in one's individual pattern are naturally avoided or mollified and positive karmas accentuated and brought into fruition.

Karma Yoga: Helping otherskarma yoga, performing good deedsand thus acquiring merit which registers as a new and positive karma is one way of alleviating the heaviness of some of our past karma.

33 KARMA Bhakti Yoga: Worship, bhakti yoga, that is intense enough to cause us to

receive the grace of the Gods can change the patterns of karma dating back many past lives, clearing and clarifying conditions that were created hundreds of years ago and are but seeds now, waiting to manifest in the future. The key concept here is intensity. Dropping by the temple for fifteen minutes on the way home from work is unlikely to accomplish such a transformation.

Pilgrimage: Pilgrimage is an excellent way to generate an intensity of worship. Over the years, Gurudeva's devotees have pilgrimaged to India, visiting major temples such as Chidambaram, Rameshvaram and Palani Hills. Many have come back transformed.

They physically look a little different, behave differently and fit back into life in a more positive way than before. Their karma was changed by the grace of the Gods.

Vows: A vrata, or vow, can also generate an intensity of worship, such as fasting during the day and attending the temple on each of the six days of Skanda Shashthi or the 21 days of Vinayaga Viratam.

Penance: Penance, prayashchitta, is a forth way to mitigate karma. This is like punishing yourself now and getting it over with instead of waiting for your karma to manifest a punishment in the future. A typical form of penance is to

34 KARMA perform walking prostrations, such as around a sacred lake or mountain, up a

sacred path or around a temple.

Often it is advised to perform penance that is directly related to a misdeed. Let's take the example of a teacher who frequently used corporal punishment to discipline students but now strongly feels hitting children for any reason, even for discipline, is wrong. An appropriate penance would be to print and distribute to teachers literature on alternatives to corporal punishment. This type of penance should only be undertaken after a certain degree of remorse is shown and the urgency is felt by the devotee to rid his mind of the plaguing matter.

Gurudeva said, "When pre-dawn morning pujas, scriptural reading, devotionals to the guru and meditation are performed without fail, the deeper side of ourselves is cultivated, and that in itself softens our karmas and prolongs life."

Tirukural or Moral: "Be unremitting in the doing of good deeds; do them with all your might and by every possible means."

Eight Principle: Accelerate Karma Why wait twenty more births to achieve spiritual maturity when you could achieve it in two births? That is the idea behind accelerating karma. When we begin meditating and performing regular daily sadhana, preferably at the same time each day, our individual karma is intensified. In our first four or five years of

35 KARMA striving on the path we face the karmic patterns that we would never have faced

in this life had we not consciously intensified our spiritual practices. Those on the spiritual path resolve much more karma in a lifetime than others. They could be called professional karma managers.

Of course, family duties in the grihastha ashrama don't allow much time for sadhana. Thus, the principle of karma acceleration is best fulfilled in the stage called sannyasa, both by those following the path of the monk and by everyone after age seventy-two. Retirement can be more than playing golf. It is an opportunity to intensify our spiritual practices and thus accelerate our karma. Gurudeva said, "By this conscious process of purification, of inner striving, of refining and maturing, the karmas come more swiftly, evolution speeds up and things can and usually do get more intense. Don't worry though. That is natural and necessary. That intensity is the way the mind experiences the added cosmic energies that begin to flow through the nervous system."

Tirukural or Moral: "Not allowing a day to pass without doing some good is a boulder that will block your passage on the path to rebirth."

Ninth Principle: Resolve Dream Karma Though some of our dreams are only the result of thoughts occurring in our own mind, other dreams are astral experiences, of being conscious in our astral body and interacting with others in their astral body. These astral plane actions create karma, just as do our physical plane actions. This is the basis of the Hindu ideal that one would not steal or injure even in a dream. Why? Because such

36 KARMA transgressions create negative karma that will come back to you. These are real

karmas that may eventually manifest on the physical plane. However, this can be avoided if you happen to have further dream experiences in which appropriate actions are taken to dissolve the karma.

More commonly, though, we can resolve dream or astral-plane karmas in the same way we would physical-world experiences, by performing penance for them in our waking state, while remembering the high standards of virtue and good conduct that should always be maintained, even during sleep. For instance, if in an emotional dream you injured someone intentionally, you could perform a simple penance the next day to atone, such as fasting one meal.

Gurudeva said, "These kinds of dreamswhen a person is in his astral body and can feel what he touches, emote to his experiences, think and talkare not what is known as the dream state. This is an astral experience, similar to the death experience, but the astral body is still connected to the physical body."

Tirukural or Moral: "The highest principle is this: never knowingly harm anyone at any time in any way."

Tenth Principle: Incinerate Karma

37 KARMA In the practice of yoga, we can burn up negative seed karmas without ever

having to live through them. What we have to do is find the seed and dissolve it in intense inner light. Let's take the analogy of growing alfalfa spouts. You place the seeds in a jar and keep them moist until they sprout. But if you heat the seeds in a frying pan before putting them into the jar, they will no longer sprout. Similarly, karmas exposed to intense inner light are destroyed.

A meditation adept, having pinpointed an unmanifested karmic seed, can either dissolve it in intense light or inwardly live through the reaction of his past action. If his meditation is successful, he will be able to throw out the vibrating experiences or desires which are consuming the mind.

In doing this, in traveling past the world of desire, he breaks the wheel of karma which binds him to the specific reaction which must follow every action. That experience will never have to happen on the physical plane, for its vibrating power has already been absorbed in his nerve system. This incineration of karmic seeds can also happen during sleep.

Gurudeva explains it in this way, "It is the 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 kosa, the soul body."

Tirukural or Moral: "As the intense fire of the furnace refines gold to brilliance, so does the burning suffering of austerity purify the soul to resplendence."

KARMA

38

CONCLUSION
No matter how deep our understanding of karma may be, actually applying our understanding of karma to the events in our daily life can still be a challenge. Why is this? Our humanness gets in the way; our ego is challenged and we react to preserve our self image; our emotions are stirred and we respond impulsively, without intellectual reflection; our attitudes are prejudicial against certain religious or ethnic groups and we feel justified in striking out at them, because they are not "our people."

How can such human weaknesses be overcome? It is by perfecting our character, which Gurudeva defined as "the ability to act with care." This is done

39 KARMA through mastering Hinduism's Code of Conduct, the ten yamas, restraints, and

the ten niyamas, observances. With a strong character in place, the mastery of karma becomes natural to us. Gurudeva mystically summarizes this process as follows: "Bhakti brings grace, and the sustaining grace melts and blends the karmas in the heart. In the heart chakra karmas are in a molten state. The throat chakra molds the karmas through sadhana, regular religious practices. The third eye chakra sees the karmas past, present and future as a singular oneness. And the crown chakra absorbs, burns clean, enough of the karmas to open the gate.