Among many ancient theories that are still prevalent in this modern era, the KARMA theory established itself into the depths of thoughts among the majority of the world population. But unfortunately, lack of proper understanding caused people to get confused and develop many misconceptions over the time. The reason being, KARMA theory, though is simple to look at, is very subtle to grasp and more subtler to put into daily life. With the misconceptions, many people face difficulty and dilemma even in their every day life fearing about the karma and its effects .
My purpose of this article is to form a strong foundation in understanding the fundamental concept behind the KARMA concept which would remove any confusions
Before understanding the KARMA concept, one needs to know some basics. Those are
- The Creator and the Created
- Four layered existence
- Life after Death
- Freedom and WILL
These four forms four pillars on which the house of karma theory can be constructed and lived within. I will go one by one and then explain about the KARMA theory itself.
1. The Creator and the Created:
(One can refer to my first article, where I gave a view on how we are created from the creator)
First we should know that the so called visible and invisible (mental, etc) UNIVERSE comes into existence from so called nothing (apparent nothing or Supreme Consciousness) and just like a glass bowl shattered into many pieces, the single entity (egoistic-consciousness – refer article 5) owing to some divine drama, shattered into multitude of expressions (galaxies, organisms, space, time, etc). Thus, fundamentally we are one of the parts of HIM and hence the essence is same i.e. “Man is made in the image of GOD”. So, every thing in this cosmos (micro and macro) has a push/tendency to be one with HIM. This is the GOAL of life as they speak (realizing god). Now, the tricky thing is that, though the goal is same, paths are different (as one can see — humans, animals, plants etc have very different pace of evolution-mentally and physically). This difference in the path causes one form of expression to be the support and means for the evolution of the other form ( like, man takes help of animals and plants, etc).
So, to reach the intended goal, one inevitably interacts with his surroundings (external / internal) and hence “KARMA” is a necessity of existence.
2. Four layered existence:
If you refer my 1st and 5th articles, you will see that any physical expression occurs in four stages. These stages are nothing but the states of being / existence. Though I am explaining this with respect to humans, one should understand that a plane of existence implies there are many different beings related to that plane in this universe in a superimposed way – for example, A copper wire belongs to physical plane / matter, but the current it carries belongs to EM domain, but both these existences are superimposed.
- The fourth state is the physical plane – i.e. what we perceive through 5 senses organs and what we interact with, with 5 motor organs. This is the PHYSICAL world or “Bhu Loka” in Sanskrit.
- The third state is the the mental plane/etheric plane – i.e. where the mind, thoughts etc exist. One can say that this is invisible to senses (because senses belong to fourth domain). But it still exists as every one knows that they “Think”. Brain forms only a seat for the mind just like a message carrying electrical wire – wire is the seat and electricity (modulated waves / signals) is the information. This state is called as “Buvahr Loka” in Sanskrit.
- The second state is the Plane of self consciousness (induced effulgence) – i.e. the domain from where the mind and thoughts arise in first place. We all know we think, but we are very unsure of the origin of thoughts. That blurry place is the second plane called as “Suvar Loka” in Sanskrit.
- The first state is the plane of TRUTH/pure consciousness (self effulgent) – i.e. that plane which pervades all the above three planes and is the GOAL plane for all the beings of above worlds. When one realizes his self/HIM, we say that such an entity (soul) reached this fourth plane called as GOD. This state is called as “Satya Loka” in Sanskrit.
3. Life after Death:
Now, why did I talk about these planes of existence ? One must know that when one leaves a body, he leaves it in the order of descend according to the list above i.e.
Bhuloka -> Bhuvarloka -> Suvarloka -> Satyaloka. It is analogous to peeling a layer off onion one by one. When all the layers are peeled there are no more layers, but an apparent nothing i.e. the original truth behind the delusive union of layers which we called as ONION. Now, depending on which plane a person is living i.e. a mundane person mainly lives in physical and mental as his thoughts hover over only daily life situations and when he leaves his physical body, by virtue of his attachment to mundane affairs, he gets back into the BHULOKA by another birth ; where as a person in the path to search the truth (True Scientist / a Yogi) lives in Mental as well as plane of consciousness as he slowly realizes the nature of nature and tries to comprehend its splendors and when he leaves the -physical body, he spends considerable time in the mental existence (i.e. imagine a tornado. When dirt is there, you can see the whirlpool of tornado. But when dirt is not there, still tornado exist, but you can not perceive. Similarly when Physical body is there, one can also see that a mind is there. But when physical body dies/is left, mental being still exists and that is nothing but mental plane). Then again depending on his attachments, either he will descend or ascend in the list. This process goes on cyclically with additions and removals of different layers over the course of time leading finally to one’s self realization. Now, the pace of evolution is determined by theory of KARMA which I will speak shortly.
4. Freedom and Will:
We saw that there are 4 states of existence, in which three are affected by karma leading to final fourth stage of unified existence. But, one might have got a question by now that, is this cyclic birth-death and evolution, a pre-planed program by GOD or is it a random process ? The formation of planes of existences and our apparent separation from HIM is by DIVINE drama as I mentioned earlier. But he is just an observer of his DRAMA and doesn’t interfere with the course of anything. Intelligently, we the humans discovered a key / shorcut to fast forward the drama and to reach the climax of HIS experience and that is the Key of KARMA theory. We find that the GOD gave a free will for us i.e. we every day have a choice to either do something or not, either to attach to something or not. But he also gave something called WILL which is a main instrument in overcoming the delusive DRAMA scheme. But the very existence of concept of WILL will imply that there is something which we “Tend” to do and WILL is that which will help us in not doing so. Otherwise, a special name for so called WILL is not necessary. So what is that tendency ? and how one can use this WILL and FREEDOM to get out of this Divine DRAMA and be a part of DIRECTOR ? is answered by the theory of KARMA.
So let us know get into the theory of KARMA:
Theory of KARMA:
Now, that you have enough background, I will freely use few of the above concepts in exposing this theory.
KARMA translated into English gives the word as “ACT”. Doing an act exists in all the lower three planes of existence – i.e. physical act (you breathe), mental act (you think of breath), self conscious act (the very control of breath through the mental plane’s thought which uses physical plane’s nerves to restrict lungs to expand/contract). The SATYALOKA plane, doesn’t have any act as it is just the TRUTH and is always STILL. Now, when we perform any one of the acts as mentioned above, we say that we performed “KARMA”. So the very existence of any lower plane needs one to do a KARMA and hence KARMA is not a bad thing, instead it is the very instrument for enhancing our evolution process.
When a KARMA is done, one gets his mind attached towards it as a result of previously mentioned tendency or due to an acquired tendency from past/present life, one gets a desire to act accordingly and hence performs the KARMA. Thus act of KARMA is a cyclic process enriching the mind’s attachment process and this attachment is the cause for a desire and this desire is the cause for cyclic births and deaths in essence. Not only attachment, sometimes mind can also get detached by performing a KARMA. For example, person A expects something from another person B who disappoints him over the course of time. This act of B and act of A (his expectation, belonging to karma in mental plane) causes A to get detached from B and slowly looses any attraction that he had for B and thus becomes impermeable to B’s presence which means that A is now free of desires.
So, one can say the KARMA which will get rid of attachments and thus desires from the planes of existences, are GOOD KARMAs and the exact opposite as BAD KARMAs. Note that the act itself is not good or bad, but our attachment to the act / KARMA is making us call a KARMA good or bad. Now, if one wants to do a KARMA in such a way that the act doesn’t effect their existential planes, one needs to use what we mentioned earlier as WILL. WILL is the instrument that originates in the borders of planes of “Supreme Consciousness/TRUTH” and “Self Consciousness”. This WILL when cultivated and synthesized along with what we call as “Discrimination”, it becomes the “Discriminative WILL”. Discrimination means, the ability to distinguish and choose the +ve one from the universal pairs such as “GOOD” and “BAD”, “Right” and “Wrong” etc. This WILL will direct the thoughts originating from self conscious plane to get structured properly in the mental plane causing right instructions to the physical plane allowing us to perform a KARMA righteously. Because we have already discriminated between right and wrong when we cultivated this WILL, our apparent attachment to what we do is burnt away in that discriminative WILL and hence, we just do an act without any attachment for it (or for the result). So, a KARMA done in this way will not yield any result and hence the cycle (of birth and death due to accumulation of desires) is broken to become linear towards dissolution in absolute TRUTH. This is what is hinted by Sri Aurobindo when he says to his assistant that “I can plunge a dagger into your heart and yet be untouched by the very act”.
Thus, in summary, the attachment to the act is cause of problems and not the act itself and hence, instead of leaving acts (which is impossible as I already told) one should develop proper mechanism through which their attachment is burnt and helps them to evolve by the very KARMA which they thought is problematic in life. This is theory of KARMA and if one utilizes it properly, helps fasten the process of evolution a lot. This is what is called as “Karma Sanyasa Yoga” by Sri Krishna i.e. Acting without attachment and is surely different from just “Karma Sanyasa” – which means “Not acting at all”. i.e. why the act of karma without attachment is a “YOGA” and hence rendered by Sri Krishna in GITA as a means of salvation for every seeker of the truth in the world.