Karma is the fourth aspect of the Fivefold Path. The law of cause and effect in physics, when carried to subtler levels, is the law of Karma. It is the law of “reap as you sow".
Karma is the fourth principle in the Five Fold Path of life.
The law of Karma leaves no scope for fatalism of any kind. The law of Karma states that “you are the planter of the seed and you are the reaper of the deed." You make or mar your own future. Your present circumstances, apparently pleasant or unpleasant, are the result of your past actions. This clearly means that your efforts in the present moment determine what you will be in the future.
One might say that all life is the operation of the law of Karma. Karma is like a vast trap in which all of us are caught although the bonds are subtle. We cannot remain without action even for a single moment. The action may be physical or the action may be mental. If one has to reap what one has sown it would appear that there is no end to this chain of Karma. However, the law of Karma states that if you do action without attachment to the fruit thereof, then it does not bind you and no chain of future reaping is forged. Only by doing good actions without attachment can we get rid of this trap of Karma.
The law of Karma is inevitable. If you have an evil thought about someone and he does not know it, you might pass off as a gentleman. However, if you realize the consequences of this single evil thought you will dare not to have it. Simply by having an evil thought you are creating a tiger which will roar at you all the time. Karmic entanglement is subtle but inevitable. As you sow, so you reap.
If you say that you shall be good to the other person only if the other person is good to you then you pass the initiative into someone else's hands. It would be foolish to do that. You have to reap what you sow and hence, you have to take care that you sow good seeds and not wild weeds.
If you think that someone has done you any wrong or you think he has spoken ill about you, do not be in a hurry to blame the person at once. The law of Karma does not work in a narrow way. Your first consideration should be, perhaps you are reaping as you have sown in the past. Maybe it is the working out of some past Karmic account. If you get into this habit you do not involve yourself into further bad sowings which you may have to reap.
The laws of the super physical realm are as true as the laws of the physical realm. They are inviolable. You connive at them only at the risk of great harm to yourself. If someone asks you to jump from a skyscraper you are going to say no, because you believe that the law of gravity operates and you will be hurt. Even if you do not believe in the law of gravity, the law of gravity believes in you and it operates. However, people are not aware of the law of “reap as you sow" which is a law in the super physical realm. Therefore, a person does not hesitate to do wrong action. The super physical law believes in him and he has to pay the price for his action. You may have to pay sooner or later but pay you must.
Any intense Karma, good or bad, fructifies within a short time. Devotion to a high Master who has transcended the law of Karma and following his commands is intense good Karma. This purifies the mind and reduces the pangs of previous bad Karma. We need the guidance and blessings of a high Master to become aware of the Light which is within us. He takes you towards the Light. The Light is merely an unfoldment which takes place when the six crocodiles mentioned in the last chapter on Tapa become weak and fade out. The journey towards the Light is the Divinity.
Elementary physics swears by the law of cause and effect. However, when physics enters the realm of micro particles, that is, when it is quantum physics, we recognize that the law of cause and effect as we normally understand, does not operate. This is sometimes termed as indeterminacy.
However, this indeterminacy is upheld by some Omnipotent Will. The religions sometimes call this God. The law of Karma states, “Repent and you shall be forgiven." This is Grace. This may be compared to the nullifying of the law of cause and effect in the realm of micro particles where the so-called indeterminacy works as manifestation of the one Omnipotent Will. When the mind takes the total coloration of LOVE we enter a higher state of consciousness and GRACE operates. Love and attachment are two different things. Love without attachment cleanses the mind of all its former
grooves and the law of Grace operates.
Do action for self-purification. Let there be no ego about it. The doer-ship of “I” has to go. Then you become a fitter instrument of this one Omnipotent Will. The reactions of your mind to all circumstances and conditions take the total coloration of Love. LOVE is the alchemy which transmutes the baser instincts and your journey on the Divinity, the Path of Light, is done.
When it is said that you do Karma for self-purification one might say, Will this take away all fun from my life? Will I be able to enjoy this world if I have to do every action for self-purification? One might ask a counter question: How much are you enjoying the world now when you are not guided by this purification? Despite material plenty there is so much misery. Disease and mental illness are eating up the sap of life. There is so much misery around us. No one seems to be in a state of happiness which is not followed by unhappiness. Every time it is a few tingling sensations of pleasure followed by much misery. Misery is the symptom of the disease. The disease is bondage, attachment. Everyone is placed differently by the mould of destiny. Therefore, whatever work comes to your lot do it in a spirit of service.
Do it with love. Say to yourself, This is the work that 1 am supposed to do at this moment. Therefore, it is my duty to do it. I do my duty. Thus, there is no attachment to the fruit of your actions. You feel more free to do the action and hence, you fill every moment with joy. This frame of mind spreads joy all around you and makes others happy. You feel that if you are in a tight corner there is no one else to blame but yourself. By doing all action with love you know you can get over the situation.
The result of an action which you have done in the past becomes your destiny in the future. An action done yesterday becomes your destiny today. An action in the last minute becomes your destiny this minute. It is always reap as you sow.
A mouse sees a piece of cheese ten meters away. The mouse says, “If I take the action of walking to the piece of cheese I must get it." The poor creature does not realize that there are a hundred other mice which are after the same piece of cheese and there are a dozen cats ready to pounce on all the mice. Therefore, it is said that the best laid plans of mice and men go astray. The result of your action is dependent on several factors of which you are not cognizant. Imagine a lot of land. There are several automobiles on it and people are told to drive as they like. It will be chaos, won't it? The resultant Karma depends on several factors which we do not cognize. Destiny is the unfoldment of the fructification of past Karma.
The working out of destiny is to be viewed in the context of the flux of Omnipotent Will. By proper use of free will, that is, by doing intense good Karma without attachment, the pangs of destiny disappear.
There is nothing that we can do about the past. Can the misery that is yet to come be avoided? This is the question. The answer is in the affirmative. The answer is emphatically yes. The Fivefold Path offers you the material and mental aids to achieve this state. Past SANSKARAS (impressions) could be wiped out by the practice of Tapa.
Intellect and action affect each other. Bad action weakens the power of intellect to choose between right and wrong. Bad action weakens our ability to continue to do the right action despite provocation, as a groove is created in the mind. Clouded intellect pushes us to commit further wrong action. We thus get involved into a series of bad Karma, bad sowings that we have to reap. Even if there is an evil thought, see that it is not translated into action. No doubt, the thought will have its effect but the action will make things worse. A person given to vice and greed needs money. He sees somebody's purse. He opens the purse and sees one hundred dollars. He is a novice and his conscience troubles him. He says to himself, “Let me take only twenty. It is really not nice to steal someone's money." He takes twenty and puts back the rest in the purse. This wrong action weakens his power of discrimination and the next time he takes eighty dollars and puts back twenty saying, “Let the lady have some money to return home in a taxi." This further weakens his power of discrimination to choose between right and wrong. The third time he takes all the hundred dollars saying, “Oh, to hell with it. The whole world is doing it. Why should 1 care?" However, one day he has to pay for his bad Karma.
Thought precedes action and hence, purification has to reach the thinking process. Mere resolutions to change our ways are not enough. They have to be backed up by resolute practice. Good thoughts have an effect, but when they are translated into action a mechanism starts operating in the subtler realm and this reinforces our will power.
People mistake charity for love. There are thousands who are spending their time, money and labor in the service of their fellow man but they do not make much progress on the Divinity, the Path of Light. Why? It is because they have not learned to do this without self-centeredness which revolves around the personality. If we get into the habit of offering all the fruits of our actions to the Master who guides us on the Divinity, we avoid this danger and each one of our works is transformed into worship. Agnihotra gives a push to the mind in this direction.
Good Karma sets up a new pattern in the mind which reinforces the potency of good thoughts. Hence, an attempt needs to be made to change the habit pattern which we think is not in harmony with our progress on the Divinity.
It does not require much will power to do the right thing if the person is wise. If someone offers us nice and tasty food but we come to know that there is a drop of poison in it, it does not require much strength of will to reject that food. Similarly, if we are aware that the law of reap as you sow is inviolable it will not require much will power to desist us from doing a bad action.
The power of discrimination to choose between right and wrong is granted to us on the day we are born as humans. The capacity to execute this power varies from person to person depending upon the accumulation of past impressions which is the result of past actions. However, by practice of the Fivefold Path you get the strength and the past impressions are wiped out. Proper and judicious use of this power accentuates our journey on the Path of Light.
A desire emerges as an attitude and becomes manifest. This causes disturbance as it creates a sense of wanting. If some time is allowed to pass, this attitude becomes a propensity. Then a signal goes to the intellect to find out means for the gratification of that desire and mind becomes colored by the desire and then it acts like a wave. To check this flow some effort is needed. The effort may be physical or mental. It is difficult to check this flow sometimes, even for yogis. This wave leads to the action that is gratification. However, in this process some impressions are created in the mind and our next thought and action tend to flow out of this groove. Agnihotra and Daan are the two material aids to help us check this wave if it is in the wrong direction. Tapa is the mental effort. The following suggestions will help you in your progress on the Path of Light.
You work forty hours in a week for the boss. Work for a few hours for yourself. Spend this time in the company of fellow travelers on the Path of Light. Do some work with them or for them and receive no material benefit from that work.
Never hanker after name or fame. It does not matter whether people respect you. Make sure that you show proper respect to others.
Do not discuss in public about your own progress on the Divinity or about your Master who guides you on the Divinity...from the writings of Shree Vasant Paranjape