By Yogi Ashwini
The whole of Bhagavad Gita is about the Law of Karma. It is often said, “You shall reap what you sow”. When you sow, the germination and the quality of the plant you will get depends on the fertility of the soil. Similarly, every act of ours, however insignificant it may be, has the potential to germinate and have an effect depending on how and where it has been performed.
The reaction to the act also depends on the capacity and level of subtlety of the action and that of the event or person against or for whom it has been performed. The greater the subtlety, the higher the magnitude of the reaction. For instance, it is often said that one must never keep or express any ill-feeling towards a spiritual person in thought, word or deed. This is not because all spiritual people are egotists, but because such an individual’s energy, by way of certain practices, is subtler and stronger. Hence, the reaction to your action will be directly proportional to his or her level of evolution. The higher the level of consciousness of the doer, the quicker the reaction.
It is said that we are all born in this world with empty hands, and one day we will all die empty handed. Alexander the Great, when he was breathing his last, had expressed the desire that when his body is being taken away, his hands should be left hanging loose to make people understand that one comes to the world empty handed and leaves it empty handed. But this is not exactly true.
You’ll never find a yogi expressing a thought like that, for he knows that what he brings along and what he takes away when he leaves his body is karma. There is always a difference in the weight of a living person and his or her body soon after the soul departs. This is not the weight of the soul, but that of karma.
When Lord Brahma created the universe, each and every kind of thought and action was created by him. Certain thoughts, as per the desires of an individual, get attracted towards him or her and is manifested as their particular karma life. We carry forward the karma of one life to another like a genetic code and our karmic data bank decides the family that we will be born into. That is to say, whatever has to happen in future lives is already decided and the result already exists.
In the present life, or any other life, it is not possible to change the experiences we are likely to go through owing to our karmic balance. Now you may ask, if everything is already decided, then what is the need to think or bother about anything? Why should one make an effort to change anything when nothing can be changed?
While it’s true that you cannot change the events of your life as you are bound by prarabdha (collection of past karmas), it is possible to change the experiences or the outcome of those events. It is difficult to understand this intellectually, but it is true. You cannot escape the result of karma in the form of pleasure or pain, until the grace of the guru falls upon you. The guru is the only one who can enable you to overcome the result of karma.
When one walks on the path of yoga and performs purifications like Sanatan Kriya, one reaches a level where pain and pleasure cease to have an effect. You are able to draw your senses inwards, at your own will, without suppression of any desire. While the events of your life will not change, they will also not be able to affect you in any way—good or bad. This is called rising above karma. Only a yogi can reach that level of detachment, and anything that is done with detachment is not counted as karma.
Our rishis meditating in the mountains, who stay in a state of stillness for long durations, have a thorough understanding of the Law of Karma. They know that it is only through stillness that they can evolve to a level where self-realisation or atma sakshatkar happens. This can happen only when the ripples around them— the ripples of their karma—have come to a standstill. That is the state of nothingness; a state that has to be experienced and not understood. This is the state of ananda, permanent bliss.
Yogi Ashwini is the spiritual head of Dhyan Ashram. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org