Part 1 of Bodhinatha's Karma Management Course preliminary to a presentation to be given in Singapore including questions and answers from pilgrims/devotees during the 10th Annual Gurudeva Mahasamadhi Celebration.
[This was a seminar in which participants were given the opportunity to ask questions. In all cases below Bodhinatha is giving the answer.]
In the Dancing with Siva lexicon the word karma has three distinct meanings. What are they?
Action, yes the simplest meaning of the word karma is action. In the simplest form has a very broad meaning: action. So we can say karma yoga, that's one form. That's one use of the word karma is action. The yoga of action.
Let's see, there's some other kinds of karma doesn't come to my mind. Karma kanda is a training in homa; the Vedic training in homa is called karma kanda the way of action. You're doing ceremonies.
Okay, that's the simplest one. Now what's the second one?
Q. Cause and effect?
A. Yes! Principle of cause and effect commonly called the law of karma. The law of karma is that each action causes a reaction. So actions which are helpful to other people generate actions, reactions back to us which help us. Actions which harm other people to one degree or another eventually generate actions that come back to us, they harm us. So, that's the law of karma and effect.
Okay, and we have the third meaning. What's the third meaning of karma?
The third meaning of karma is, you know, if someone says: "Oh it must have been my karma." What do they mean? What do they mean?
Q. They're taking responsibility for it?
A. No. It's the third meaning of the word.
A. Yes, you could call it that but in terms of karma what is it?
Q. Accumulated effects of our past actions?
A. Yes. It's the accumulated effects of all our past actions. It's our individual effects that we're carrying forward. You come into life with a certain amount of karma, right? So that's the effects of our past actions and usually it means the ones that are unresolved. Must have been my karma. Forward, end.
Decision is called karma phala or the fruit of action. karma phala.
So we have three, three meanings. You can open up and look. And here they are, just like we did it.
So that's the Tamil lexicon. Don't have any Tamil scholars here today but just for your reference.
That's the word in the Tirukural. Uul. See it there, Tamil lexicon? Uul, the chapter. Fruit of karma. Fruit of deeds committed in a former birth or births. So that's what Sadhunathan was saying. That's the third meaning. And then that's the summary there [...??] exactly what our Dancing with Siva lexicon says: There are three kinds of, three meanings of the word karma.
And, that took 4 and 1/2 minutes.
Okay, back out to the sheet. Don't look at the answer.
karma phala: The fruits of actions and reactions to our actions has three categories within it. What are they and how do they differ? Boy this is tough, hmmm?
A. Yes, prarabdha, yes, understood, prarabdha, I hope that wasn't the one you remembered.
Q. [...??] seeds of karma, haven't manifested, may not manifest in this life. [...??].
A. Yes, but one is sanchita yes, but that's not quite one of them. Okay, we have two names sanchita and prarabdha.
Q. Kriyamana? Kriyamana?
A. Okay. Now we got the three Sanskrit names.
Well, lets look at sanchita first. Anyone remember sanchita? It's close to what you said.
Seeds of karma that are, that are going to manifest in this life are prarabdha. Prarabdha is, that, that which is going to manifest in this life.
Q. Sanchita is the sum total of all of our karmas [...??]?
A. That's right. Sanchita is the sum total. Right. So prarabdha is a subset of sanchita. And what's kriyamana?
Q. Creating new karmas?
A. Creating new karmas, yes. Kriyamana is new karmas that we're creating as we go along. So that's the three categories.
So usually what we create doesn't add to prarabdha; it doesn't add to what we're going to experience in this life. Usually it's just part of sanchita that's not the prarabdha. Cause our karma isn't that speedy. Most people's karma isn't that speedy; it takes time. Very long process.
So we got the three that's good. So that's, oh we have an analogy. This is a good analogy here. Okay so down at the bottom here, the answers.
To better understand this idea let's create an analogy to planting seeds. Imagine we have a seed store room with fifty different kinds of seed in it with an average of about five of each. So, that's meaning we have 250 karmas we're bringing into this life. That's the idea. Seeds [...??]
We take one of each of the different kinds of seeds and plant it in a field. Different kinds of seeds will sprout under different kinds of conditions. Some will prefer warm, dry weather, others lots of rain and others prefer the cold. Even though all the seeds were planted at the same time they will sprout at different times in the coming year, right?
The seeds in the store room represent all the unresolved karmas we are bringing into this life and are called sanchita. The seeds we take from the store room and plant are those seeds that will manifest in this life and they are called prarabdha karma. Prarabdha is that portion of sanchita karma scheduled to be experienced in this present life, shaping its events and conditions, including the nature of our bodies, personal tendencies and associations.
The seeds left in the store room will manifest in future lives. Different times of the year the different conditions, different seeds that have been planted will sprout. Likewise, at different times of our life under the influence of different planets, different karmas scheduled to be experienced in this life will manifest.
Thus an individual will experience certain astrological periods as difficult and other periods as auspicious and positive. The seed sprouting, of course, symbolizes our experiencing the karma in our life.
In additions to sanchita and prarabdha karma, the third type is kriyamana which is karma we are presently creating. While some kriyamana karmas bear fruit in the current life. Others are stored for future births. In other words, some of our current life action create seeds that are placed in the seed storeroom and others create seeds that are planted in the field and will sprout in this life.
Terms of the analogy: Sanchita karma includes in the storeroom and those in the field that are unsprouted as it is always a sum-total of all unresolved karmas.
Here's a quote from Yogaswami:
"Events take place according to prarabdha karma. They do not effect the soul but man by mere habit identifies himself with these events and becomes subject to pain and pleasure. "
That's a nice one.
Then we have verses from the Kural here, Tirukural, which show the idea of actions bearing fruit.
"Those who bear children of blameless character will be untouched by evil for seven births."
"It only takes a single birth for a fool to earn by his efforts a morass of misery in the succeeding seven births."
So, this is the idea that what we do carries forward. In fact, there's four more verses for a total of six which of this same idea that what we do in some way carries forward normally for seven births. If we don't do something to change it.
So that's the idea. Are we clear on these three kinds of karma? The most important idea is the idea that we're carrying karmas forward and they don't all manifest in this life, just a select portion manifest. That's the idea we're trying to get clear there.
And the fourth. At any point in time we have this whole store room of seeds for our next life. So, it's sitting there and we have to keep getting born to get rid of it. It's sitting there.
Okay, and that took four minutes.
Q. Does, Satguru Bodhinatha, does being in a place of intense spiritual energy mean that the island of Kauai or [...??] Siva fire temple speed up the rate that which our karmas are coming to us [...??]?
A. Well, I don't think the island does. In terms of the temple, the temple does to some extent but you have to be aware of the temple's vibration. Just because you live next to the temple doesn't mean it'll do anything. [...??] it's different than something physical. You stand out in the sun, even if you say: The sun doesn't exist, you still will be effected by its rays. Your opinion of it doesn't' t matter; it's physical. You stand out in the wind the wind's going to blow against you no matter what your opinions are about the wind. But, you stand next a Hindu temple, you live next to a Hindu temple if you're not open to it, in your mind, it won't effect you. It, it's, it has to do with the mind. The other things are just physical; they're automatic.
Any other questions on this? Yes?
Q. When we get [...??], we're trying to. It seems like our karmas accelerate. [...??] Is that a way of like not wanting to come [...??]. Seem like, karmas [...??]?
A. Oh, Gurudeva said they accelerate. That there's a number of references to that in The Trilogy that if you're doing regular sadhana, you know, not just reading the books, and socializing. You're actually doing the sadhana, doing the practices then it accelerates the speed at which your karma is resolved. So, it can make it seem like things are getting worse, not getting better. "I'm doing all these practices and I'm going through more difficult times then before." Get the karma, might be difficult ones that you're accelerating.
Q. That help? [...??] help us?
A. Well, yes it helps you move forward through the process more quickly. But the actual, the key is not creating new ones. No matter how fast you go through the old ones if you're creating new ones at an equal pace you're standing still. Do you understand? You could, If you go through a hundred but you create a hundred, if you're going through two hundred and you create two hundred more, your net sum is unchanged. So, it's a combination of...
Gurudeva says: " The key to the resolution of karma is intelligent action and dispassionate reaction." Remember? Remember that? Intelligent action. We act in a way that doesn't create new karma, negative karma. Intelligent action. We act in a way that doesn't create new or negative karma.
Dispassionate reaction. When things go wrong and people mistreat us and the world is unfair, we don't lash out. We don't retaliate. We don't even retaliate in our mind. Say: I wonder what I did to create that. That must have been interesting.
There's a lady in Mauritius who's very good at that. When someone mistreats her she says: Oh thank you for bringing my karma back to me. How many of us could say that? Someone mistreats us and we say; Oh, thank you so much for bringing my karma back to me. I now have one karma less.
Q. Bodhinatha, Gurudeva [...??] charitable work [...??].
A. Yes, yes you you mitigate karma. We'll look at that a little bit later. Definitely mitigation. We won't explain it now cause I'll be repeating that later. Yes, you have good actions in the present, mitigate past karmas.
Q. So, the goal is to eventually have, I think, moksha or to have a sum zero for karma?
A. Yes, all karmas are gone.
Q. And so [...??] you continue to do just good deeds, are we carrying that too much of good stuff [...??] it back? [...??].
A. Yes, well it doesn't. It's a logical question. But the idea is that purely good deeds don't have the same kinds of karmic consequences. And if you keep going you, Gurudeva says, you know: Advanced spiritual being is creating karma and resolving it simultaneously. It's it's almost just an immediate process. Because the karma you're creating is always good karma. It's not harmful karma where it has to come back. So, it speeds up and because it's just good karma it comes back and eventually it it's as if there's none there.
But that's a very good point and Gurudeva's definition of moksha is three-fold. That moksha is obtained when all dharma has been fulfilled, all karma resolved and God fully realized. So, quite often this follows: All I have to do is realize God; I'll sit under a tree and realize God and be enlightened and achieve moksha. But, Gurudeva says: No! We have to fulfill all dharma meaning we're living through the many kinds of experiences that life has to offer over many lifetimes. Different careers, different positions in life, being a man, being a woman, you know, being a mother, father. We're doing all the different dharmas to mature us. And we're resolving all karmas that we've created in the process. So, it's a long period. We can't totally truncate it, shorten it.
And on top of that we need to realize God and we have to right that. We've got a lot of questions on that one. What do you think? Fifteen minutes of questions? About that.
Okay, this is called first question. The others are discussion points. These are actual questions that were submitted.
We have learned that karma is not fate. That means what Gurudeva uses the term fate it means: A destiny coming to us from the outside that's unchangeable. Fate. You can't do anything about it. It's not that. And that we have the freedom to choose...answer questions, okay. However, aren't we conditioned to act in a certain way? Early childhood experiences influence the way one reacts to situations. The subconscious impressions of childhood impels one to behave in a certain way. Childhood experiences are a result of karma. In that sense is there real freedom? Doesn't the karmic consequences of our past actions shape even the way we react to situations?
Oh, it's saying that we don't have a choice. It's all kind of pre-destined by our karma.
How does unresolved... Discussion topic. How does unresolved karma phala, past karmas get to be faced, influence the way we react to situations? Can you think of any other influences from past lives that effect the current life and how we react to situations?
Well this is going to stretch you, huh? Boy!
Q. How do you know which childhood that was?
A. This one. Talking about this childhood. What we experienced and reaction patterns that we've experienced in the childhood of this life. Didn't our karma create them and therefore doesn't karma really influence in our whole life because in childhood reactionary patterns influence everything we do? So, two-fold question.
How do, how does past karma influence the way we react to situations? And then, what are the other influences from past lives? If you can't figure it out, that's all right. Not my question. First two are mine. Any ideas?
Q. [...??] the anava [...??] of the soul blinds you to what your past karma is going to be. If you knew it all you be terrified of it.
A. Well, yes, yes. Remembering the things we did wrong in one life is difficult enough, you know. Imagining if we remember everything we did wrong in fifty lives, couldn't get out of bed in the morning. It's good right? We get a fresh start. We burned enough with one life.
Q. I don't know the answer to the question but gut feeling is that even if karma from past lives brought me into a certain childhood with certain impressions that influence the way I react to situations now, there's still the ability to make choices and overcome those impressions?
A. Yes, so that that's definitely with the way the material goes [...??] yes.
Q. Is it emotion, your deep emotions that come up that you don't understand [...??] past karmas [...??]?
A. Um hmmm. Deep emotions are also part of it. It's deep emotions from the past are different then karmas. And part of the problem is these questions are attributed too much to karma. And, as you're pointing out, there's other influences.
Q. [...??] family situation [...??].
A. Yes. The feeling that the child can exhibit wisdom and not just reaction.
Okay, I can see that the question is challenging the questions and answers inside.
Well, first of all, this, we're looking at influences and what, and one of them being prarabdha karmas. And we need to realize, you know, what prarabdha karma is. It's even if we have a huge amount of sanchita karma doesn't influence anything unless it's part of the prarabdha karma. That portion of sanchita which is actually going to impact this life.
You know, we could have 500 karmas say, and only 100 are going to impact this life. Four hundred are just sitting there and have no influence whatsoever on this life. How do you know which ones are influencing this life? Well someone who's good in astrology can see. Can see from the astrological chart which, what is the prarabdha karma that's coming into this life.
So, out of all the karma the ones that would influence childhood reactions are just the prarabdha karma.
What are other influences from past lives? Spiritual evolution influence. No one got this one.
Another source of... well actually some of you are touching on this. Another source of influence from past lives is the maturity of the soul body. Or, said another way, the amount of spiritual evolution the person has achieved.
Gurudeva: "The sequential pattern of spiritual evolution is experienced by each individual in a microcosmic sense in each lifetime. Even if they have been experienced in a previous life, the lessons contained in each stage are, in a sense, relearned in childhood. If we had previously learned them then they will be quickly mastered. But, if we have not yet learned these lessons in another life we draw to ourselves in this life the experiences that we need to do. This knowledge is an inheritance that comes along with the physical body. In other words, experiences from other lives effect the patterns of experience in this life."
Applying this to our question of does that influence our childhood reactions? Definitely! The more mature the soul the less emotional would be the reactions and the sooner understanding would manifest.
For those of you who have a lot of experience with children could, you know, verify that that, you know, children get upset but how quickly they get through the upset and how quickly they learn I'm sure varies a great deal. They're not at all the same. They have different abilities. They can move forward at different speeds. Some take longer to work through different things than others do. So even though the karma is exactly the same, the prarabdha karma, how you react to experiences is strongly influenced by the maturity of your soul.
In other words, you won't get as upset by something. Will be able to pull yourself together more quickly. The soul is mature. The soul is a body of light and it matures. So, its ability to harness the emotion gets stronger and stronger. And, at some point, you just don't get emotional any more cause the body of the soul is just so strong.
So that is a different factor in different people. Totally independent of karma.
Okay, desire. Strong desires held at the time of transition can impact what we experience as a child. For example, if we are part of a strong extended family we might desire to reincarnate into that family and thus that desire is influencing the type of parents we will have in our childhood experiences.
So, nothing to do with prarabdha karma. We've manifested this situation, not because of our prarabdha karma, but because of our desires and our the time we were passing on in our last life. Totally different factor. What we desire at the time of transition impacts where we end up. What family we have in this one. What country we're in, which is coming up.
We can have the strong desire to reincarnate into a family who are devotees of Gurudeva.
I have a question from a man, he says: "What can I do in this life to make sure I get born as a monk in my next life?" I haven't answered him yet but ... clearly the desire at the point of transition is something, part of the answer. And actually having that desire. You can't always suddenly totally change who you are. You have to actually want that, at that point. Otherwise, it won't be there.
Or, if we had a strong attachment to another country we could also be born there. This is also known as the cheapest form of travel. That's my sense of humor. Think about it and be born there. So, that happens. You know, I know people in India want to be in the U.S. and they didn't make it. So they can end up there in their next life if they no strong attachments to family in India. But family would trump that. If you're strongly attached to a certain family, you know, meaning an extended family in the sense of dozens of people is a family in the old sense. If you're strongly attached to that group, you keep getting reborn into that group. Its a very good system because if you have a similarity of culture, of tradition from one life to the next which means you move forward. It's very confusing if you totally jump cultures. You need to adjust.
Gurudeva: " In what country do you become born? It all depends upon what country you were thinking about before and when you die. If you had a desire to go to Canada most likely you will be born in Canada the next time around. If you were thinking going to South America a year or two before you passed away, you would be reincarnated in South America cause that was your destination. If you were very much attached to your own particular family and you did not want to leave them, you would be born back into that immediate family again because your desire is there. The astral body is the body of desire."
So clearly, if we desire to be born into a certain family, we're born there, then all the reactions we have in childhood don't come because of prarabdha karma. Right? We chose that family, consciously. So, that is a strong factor in what we'll experience; it's desire.
Knowledge, acquired experiences undergone. Astrological charts point out another aspect of what carries over from past lives and influences us in the current one starting with reactions to childhood. It is significant knowledge. Here are two quotes from different charts.
I found this interesting. I'm not that knowledgable in astrology but I ran across these.
"Often this position indicates knowledge of medicine or healing arts are brought over from a past incarnation. "
So normally, you don't think anything comes over except punyam or papam but knowledge can come over. Not in the sense of, you know, being able on day one to be able to rattle something off. But if you've mastered a certain field of knowledge that mastery carries over and therefore, you can learn it very quickly in the next life. That same idea. You go through it from the beginning but you go through it so quickly because you've mastered it previously.
"Quenched of knowing the ultimate reality will be pronounced. Strong interest in spiritual attainments driven by previous actions to continue to seek enlightenment."
So it's not arbitrary. This person wants to be a monk, wants to do that. Why do they want to do it? Because that's what they were doing in their past lives. Carries forward. Nothing to do with karma. The karma of individuals that both have these qualities could be totally different but it's another influence from past lives.
"Certainly an individual with significant knowledge carrying over, will react differently to his or her childhood experiences from someone who has not developed knowledge in past lives."
Gurudeva develops this idea further in saying:
"Death -- what is it. The dropping off of the physical body is the time when all of the karma-making actions go back to seed in the mulhadara chakra, into the memory patterns. All of our actions, reactions and the things we have set in motion in the pranic patterns in this life form the tendencies in our nature in our next incarnation. The tendencies of our nature in the present incarnation are the ways in which awareness flows through the ida, pingala and sushumna currents."
So it sounds like karma for a minute but it's not. Karma is that which is unresolved. This is saying: Everything we've done in the past carries forward in some way. Not just karma. Not just unresolved reactions to actions. So, we always have to be careful not to make karma more than it is.
karma phala, it's just the fruit of actions.
Sanchita karma: The sum total of those that have carried forward. It's a very specific thing. It's not everything we've ever done in our past lives. It's only unresolved reactions to past actions that is karma. It gets resolved; it's not karma anymore.
"We are now a sum total and we are always continuing a sum total. A past life is not really so many years ago, that's not the way to look at it; it is now. (This is beautiful.) Each life is within or inside the other. They exist as karmic seeds that appear in the pranic force fields in our life now and, like seeds, when watered they grow into plants. These seeds are nourished by prana. When we die, when we discard the physical body, that is the end of a chapter of experience. Then we pick up a new physical body. This begins a new chapter that is always referring back to the last chapter for direction. These are tendencies."
So, summary: Clearly prarabdha karma is only one way our past lives carry over into the present life and influence our reactions. Spiritual evolution, strong desires at the time of transition and past experiences and the knowledge developed from those experiences are also influences.
" People wonder about their past lives but it doesn't really matter who you were in your past lives. It is the cumulative creation of what you have done in the past which has manifested in what you are in this life that should concern you."
Well, that's a wonderful way of looking at it. We're the sum total of all our past lives in the present. We can't not be. Cause it carries forward through the mulhadara chakra. What we've done in the past carries forward, not just the unresolved karma but who we are, what we learned, who we became.
What do you say, 25 minutes? Seventeen minutes.
Q. Well back to the person's first question. So, his question is, is, in that sense is there real freedom? Your answer is yes? There is freedom?
A. Well, he's saying: Isn't it all determined by karma. I wouldn't say the same about freedom. He's making karma into something bigger than it is. He's kind of crossing the line between everything we did in the past and that which is the unresolved reactions to what we did in the past. Definitely, everything we've done in past lives makes us who we are now. So, in that sense it does influence everything but even that isn't the only influence. Because desire, soul evolution, knowledge, those are also equal influences in this mix. So, even though someone's karma was the same their reactions could be totally different to the same childhood experiences based upon soul maturities, for example. They would react totally different to identical karma.
So that's what we're trying to point out is that karma just one of, I think, we just did five influences we bring forward from the past.
Q. Bodhinatha is it moment, moment, we have many mementos, right? Spiritual desires or whatever. That meets karma. That a certain karma could crush us all. Where if somebody has enough spiritual momentum they would go through that experience like it was...
A. Well, yes. Absolutely, that's the point. (Write down the 17 minutes, pose questions.) Well that's the point. That's what I'm calling spiritual maturity.
Q. I see.
A. The ability not to be crushed. You know, you got two people. They have the same experience, they have the same karmas. One is crushed and one isn't. Why? Well one has the, one is wiser, one is able to work through it because of greater spiritual maturity. The other isn't and it takes longer to pull together. Eventually they'll pull together. That doesn't have the buoyancy, the resilience. Can't laugh at it. You know, can't just say, can't accept it as his or her own creation. Can't accept it as something God should let happen. You know. So...
Okay, another question? Yes?
Q. Is there something [...??] because as a country [...??] that is a kind of the way we are. [...??] another country going to a war. [...??] kind of relationship. What is that? Is there such a concept? What is the effect of God on an individual?
A. Well that's actually one of the questions, it's coming up if we get to it. I'm not sure how much we'll get through in three days. So, we'll have to comment on each thing as it comes up, cause we don't want to say oh we'll get to that and then we don't.
Yes! The idea is family karmas, between the current family members, karmas if it's a strong family from past generations because it's carrying forward, they exist. And, but they're quite secondary to our individual karma. But they do exist, they do create something we have to work through.
The tape, the one Gurudeva mentioned, execution, capital punishment: There's a karma that goes to every individual, the judge, the lawyers, the executioners for being involved in capital punishment. Gurudeva saw you know. It's not a big karma but it's there. You know saying that you get medical procedures that you're not supposed to be doing. There's karmas on those who are involved just because they're the nurse. So, that is secondary. There's karmas, a nation. A nation, the United States goes to war against Iraq unilaterally. There's a karma there. Japan bombs Pearl Harbor. There's a karma there, it effects everyone in the country. But it's secondary, definitely a secondary karma.
That does pass over the karma between the living members of a family, parents and children, is probably the strongest karma that's shared by individuals. So that actions of the parents, the karma of the parents rubs off on the kids and the karma of the kids rubs off on the parents. And you can't really separate it all. In fact it's not healthy to separate it all.
You think you're helping your child but you can't help your child without helping yourself because that person isn't your child randomly. It's all tied together. So, we help our children and if we're successful in doing so we're also helping ourselves. The problems that they face, are problems we're supposed to face. And that's hard to accept. And that's a serious problem. But it's all tied together in a very mysterious way.
A. Well, not if you do it right. And, it gets very complicated when, you know, you start to pin it down to actual situations. I've never seen Gurudeva comment on it but in the abstract it's very simple. That you take, people who are in the armed services, policemen, same thing. What do they do? They take an oath. You know, before they start service they take an oath. And they pledge to uphold a certain code of behavior. And for example, policemen just can't go around arbitrarily shooting someone. And if they use their weapon when they shouldn't have they get disciplined. You know, they're not immune. You shouldn't have done it. These are the rules. You broke the rules.
So as long as you follow the rules, and you've taken an oath and therefore the karma doesn't accrue to you. Because we need them. You know, the world is what it is. And countries need armed forces otherwise, you know, we'd all be one country. I don't know which one. It's the one that kept the armed forces. Well, we're a separate country just because we have armed forces. Unfortunately. In the world, still need some.
Okay, well let's move on. Okay, so where are we here? Second question.
So, the Tirukural quote is part of the question: "What is there that's mightier than destiny for it is present even in the plans we devise to overcome it?"
Here is from this Kural that everything happens according to one's karma then there is little one can do to change it. In Bodhinatha's Karma Management Course one of the principles is mitigation of karma. Does this mean that one is able to take steps to mitigate his karma only if his karma permits it?
Who can solve that one? Is the question even clear? Maybe the question isn't clear. Is this, cause the answer isn't clear. In other words: You have a karma and you try and circumvent it. Is it really possible? According to the Kural you can't do it. That somehow the plan will fail. It looks good but it won't work.
Q. If you are experienced it's possible to. This Kural isn't completely correct?
A. [laughs] The Kural is wrong. Well it's correct but it is correct only if you're taking a certain approach. That's what we have to figure out. What approach is it talking about.
Q. So how you react to your karma, you can't fake your karma but you can make it by how you face it.
A. That's true yes. You, normally karma is only mitigated. It's only lessened. It's not eliminated.
Q. I think the Kural is saying that, that, that even the plans that we devise to overcome, is, is the karma. Is the destiny. You know, so so there's was: "...mightier then destiny for it is present even in the plans we devise to overcome." In other words, it's our destiny to devise those plans to overcome.
A. Yes, but it doesn't mean that. If you read the the other verses you can see it doesn't mean that. That's the trouble with taking something out of context.
Q. I was just, I don't have the answer but I was just thinking that you also depend on your spiritual maturity again.
Q. You know [...??] when you're ready for it even if you try to mitigate it.
A. Yes, definitely. Yes you have to, depends on the amount of wisdom you have.
Okay, well lets, we want to do this one backwards. Cause I'm, I'll read, write this for the Singapore group but I can see that the story is good first. So there's a story here about, there's a story about a Hindu king, see the... Two pages forward and story, story, there's a story about a Hindu king? Okay, unfortunately the web didn't find the story, I mean, I was really disappointed. Usually the web finds everything. So, this is a very rough detail but it's a story trying to show this very point.
The king was told by the court astrologer that his son would die from a snakebite. To prevent this from happening the king kept the son indoors in rooms that were totally snake-proof. (Solved the problem, right? How can you go wrong?) One day the son was playing with a toy snake made out of wood and straw and managed to prick his finger with the toy snake. Soon after the finger became infected and the son died from a fever from the infection.
So, that's the story I read, roughly. Anybody else ever run into that story? I'm sure it exists somewhere. You see the point. He understands the problem and he solves the problem through logic, just human logic. He hasn't done any spiritual practice, he hasn't gone to the temple; he is not meditating; he's not invoking any spiritual energy. He's just using his brain; he's using his human resource trying to outwit the karma.
So that's really what this is talking about, you know. You can't outwit karma.
"What is there that is mightier than destiny for it is present even in the plans we devise to overcome it."
Plans. So, if you find a plan it doesn't necessarily fix the problem.
So what fixes the problem if that doesn't? Well, that's on the other page, back one.
Changing Our Karma Through Worship.
Worship, bhakti yoga that is intense enough, (intense, a key word) enough to cause us to receive the grace of God Siva or the grace of Ganesha or Murugan 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.
So, that's the idea. Our plans, our intellect, can't get rid of it. But the grace of the Deity can. If our worship is intense enough. So, that'll be explained more.
First way karma can be changed is to mitigate it, meaning make it less harsh, painful or severe. So, you've heard my example before, most of you.
You commit armed robbery, you receive a ten to twenty years sentence. But, you're on your good behavior there and they let you out in five years. So, the sentence, the normal karma has been mitigated. Why? Because you behaved well. So, that's the analogy. You made your sentence less severe, mitigated it for your good behavior.
So, Gurudeva uses this one in the Master Course:
You're destined to lose a leg in this life cause of past life action. If you're living a selfish, low-minded kind of life, in this ordinary self-centered life, then the karma would come and you'd lose your leg. That's the karma. However, if you're a kindly person who worships at the temple and helps others then the karma would be mitigated. So you read in the paper about someone losing their leg and you experience the whole thing emotionally just as if it happened to you. So you go through the emotional experience and then later on you stumble and you scratch it but not severely. So, the karma came. You experienced the emotional action of losing your leg but the physical action of just getting it scratched.
That's the example Gurudeva uses in the Master Course. So the karma was mitigated through a combination of some worship and good actions in this example.
Karma can be totally eliminated through worship. So, this again has the analogy to seeds. So sprouts, you're all familiar with sprouts, making sprouts? So, normally you stick sprouts in a cool moist place and then they sprout, they germinate. So, what is needed to make them not germinate? You heat them. Right? If heat the seeds and then you put them in those, heat them sufficiently in a frying pan, if you heat them and then put them in those conditions they won't sprout, right? They've lost the ability to sprout.
So the seed, when it experiences enough fire won't germinate. So, that's the analogy to a karma being eliminated. The karma is a seed in this comparison that experiences enough fire in one form or another, mental fire, then it won't germinate.
So what can do that? The intense blessings of the Deity.
Gurudeva comments on this:
"Visiting a Hindu temple, receiving darshan from the majestic Gods of our religion, can altogether change the life of a worshiper. It alters the flow of the pranas, or life currents, within his body. It draws his awareness into the deeper chakras. It adjusts his beliefs and the attitudes that are the natural consequence of those beliefs. But the change is slow. He lives with the experience for months and months after his visit to the temple. He comes to know and love the Deity. The Deity comes to know and love him, helping and guiding his entire evolutionary pattern. Darshan (Gurudeva means energy using darshan in that sense.) coming from the great temples of our 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. Through the grace of the Gods, those seeds can be removed if the manifestation in the future would not enhance the evolution of the soul."
Well those are -- turn the page. Those are the two effects of the blessing of the Deity. Karma can be mitigated or even eliminated. But, requires an intensity of worship.
So, what does that mean? Fortunately it says:
"Dropping by the temple for fifteen minutes on the way home from work is unlikely to accomplish such a transformation."
That's what won't do it. What are some of the ways we can generate an intensity of worship? A few ways:
"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."
Not 100 percent but it means changed them in major way. That's what it's trying to say. Transformed is not the best word. We'll re-word that.
How do you know? Well they physically look a little different, they behave a little differently and they fit back into life in a more positive way then before. That's how you know if you see them. That they're somewhat changed on the inside and not the same person they were. They've gotten rid of a burden. You know, it's like if you know someone who has an emotional burden, you know someone in their life passed on and you meet them a year or two later and you see that they've gotten through it. They got through that burden, oh they're back to themselves.
Well, in this case they're not back to themselves; they've improved. They're a new and improved version of themselves. New and improved version like the newest system in a computer.
So, their karma was definitely changed by the grace of the Gods. So, some of it was eliminated; that's what it means. Say that.
Q. Bodhinatha through the grace of the Gods [...??] really different manifestation [...??] but not in the evolution of the soul. So does that mean because you [...??] now you don't need to go through whatever would have come...
A. It's gone, it won't happen. It got burned. The seed was, the seed won't sprout. It was fried. It was by the intense blessings of the Deity fired it and it's gone; it won't happen. So, it eliminates the rougher or the peripheral challenges in life that you don't need. If such an intensity occurs.
Q. Yes, just the prarabdha karmas [...??] available for us or sanchita?
A. Oh well sanchita as well. But that's both.
Q. Bodhinatha when we, when we see of help in the day to day things in life: prayers, the homa or just prayers to Ganesha. You put that in the same category? Simple things can [...??]
A. No, that's not eliminating karma. That might involve mitigating a karma. Eliminating is different. It hasn't started yet. You're erasing something before it even starts. You're rewriting the script of what's going to happen that hasn't started yet. That's what it's talking about. The other and it it involves karma is mitigating: making something work out better then it would otherwise. So, this is eliminating. Two, two different things.
Q. The tapas eliminates karma. But then going to the temple and performing your daily pujas and everything. Would that create the lesson required to eliminate the karma too?
A. (Look to my things here.) Well that normally, regular worship mitigates. It lessens the negative, lessens the negativity of a karma; it's not as disruptive. And, that's usually all that happens. On occasion, if worship is really intense, such as we're using these examples, first one we got to is pilgrimage, it can actually eliminate a karma that hasn't even started to manifest yet.
Yes? I'm sorry.
Q. [...??] So if we are, if you are to take the approach that if whatever comes to us is just a gift from Siva because that flow of maturity of mind whether it's good or bad. In that case, should we just continue to [...??] and endure [...??] to fulfill our duties or try and resolve all these other karmas that is difficult to handle or like that we want not see in our future [...??]. What approaches [...??] even if that is something water is flowing?
A. Well, I'd say that we naturally end up doing it without identifying it as such. In other words, we reach a point in one of our lives where it doesn't feel right to be without worship in one form or another. And before then, you know, we weren't that interested. But we just, it becomes part of our life naturally. And therefore, because we're worshiping we're already mitigating karmas even without thinking about it. So, it's a natural process. So, what, we're just analyzing it and that makes it seem something we might do consciously but usually we wouldn't do it consciously. It's just it's a natural by-product of our, the soul expressing itself more and more in our outer nature.
Last question, yes?
Q. Bodhinatha, if someone goes to a jyotisha then it [...??] You would already appreciate that?
A. Because a jyotisha told you about it would that change the, soften the karma?
Q. You would already [...??] and you would be prepared for that. You would react [...??]?
A. Not necessarily. It could scare you to death. If he told you too much. It's like a doctor telling a patient too much, you know. He was going to live another five years but he got scared to death by watching [...??]. It totally depends. If you're someone who is emotionally, excellent control of your emotions and doesn't panic [...??] and knowing certain things is very helpful, definitely. It all depends on how it is presented too.
Q. The understanding helps you not react. If you can see, oh, that was the pattern, it's coming, it's going to be difficult. You have that understanding then it can help not react, oh my goodness. It's all of control?
A. Yes, definitely. If you have a certain maturity and understanding astrology can be very helpful. Our simple guideline is that it's important to check it before major changes in your life. You know, you're going to put your life savings into a new business. You want to know what your astrology is going to be over the next few years. Is this a time when everything's easy for you or everything's difficult? You don't want to do it if the chart says this is a difficult time coming up. You want to wait till the chart says: This is a good time; this is an easy time to be successful. So for major decisions, you know that involve, moving for retirement somewhere. Whether should do that or not do that. Putting in a lot of money into an investment or into a business. You want to check your astrology. You don't want to lose the money; you don't want it to go poorly. But on a day to day, year to year basis, you know, unless you seem to be hitting a lot of difficulties you don't have to necessarily be reading it every week. Depends on your amount of interest. But, that's the minimum we suggest, just checking it before, making the, really there's only a few major moves we make in our life. And checking it before those.
Okay, let's get through the other two here.
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.
So, that's a really good one. And those of you not familiar with that pattern, we have Skanda Shashthi coming up, it starts, and so how does it work? Well when someone observes it, Skanda Shashthi -- shashthi means six, isn't always six days because it's six tithis, so sometimes it fits into five days which it does this year. So, it's for the five days, if you're following this vrata, you don't eat a meal during the day. Some of the people, people follow it differently, some just have water, some beverages, some fruit. And then you attend an evening worship ideally at a Murugan temple and then after attending the worship that's when you have a full meal. So you don't have a full meal till you worship. And you do that for the five days in the case of this year, that generates an intensity of worship. And then, if you have free time during the day, you'd spend it chanting some Muruga bhajans and Muruga mantra and reading some Muruga scriptures and trying to tune into that and tune into the Deity. And that, that creates an intensity without a pilgrimage.
Penance, prayashchitta, is a third way. So, in our tradition the largest one is Thaipusam. That's when you get millions of people in places such as Batu Caves in Malaysia performing some kind of penance to Lord Muruga. And, fasting and hardship of some kind, if you've undergone preparation for that, and it's a way of clearing karma that's quite effective.
Some other ones. So, you could walk around a sacred lake, up a sacred path, prostrate up a sacred path, prostrate around a temple. Sometimes in Sri Lanka you'll see men rolling around a temple and that sand is kind of hot. It's not like an enjoyable thing. So, there's a, idea is you're kind of punishing yourself in one way or another; inflicting some punishment on yourself, not an unreasonable one. So, the karma doesn't have to punish you; you're getting it over with. Why have karma punish me in some unknown way when I can punish myself in this way and get rid of the karma. That's the idea.
So, that gives you a sense of what we're talking about here and that our story. You can't necessarily out-think karma. You know, cause it's just thinking. But, you can get the blessings of the Deity which is a totally different realm and a totally different energy that has the power to get in there and mitigate, at least, or sometimes even eliminate the karma depending on what you've done to receive the blessings.
Okay, let's see what we did. Twenty-four minutes with some questions.
Any other questions on that.
Q. Bodhinatha Is it necessary for a guru to assign your penance?
A. No, not if you know what you're doing. But it different to penance, let me come back to that. The question of penance isn't exactly what we're talking about, it's similar.
Penance, in the sense that we use it is: You did something in this life and you feel bad about it. And it's not resolved in your mind. So, you have a guru, it's good to talk to him about it because you might choose to do something and go through all the hardship and it might not be an effective penance. That's a waste. [laughs]
But, you know, to be light-hearted about it. But there's some standard penances for different things and sometimes you might overdo it too. You might feel so badly about something that looks to you, it looks huge. And but to someone else it looks very small; it's not really a big thing. It may not even require penance. You did something when you were a teenager. You know and now you're 55 years old and can be so small that it doesn't require penance. You know, it did back then but it's small in the perspective of your life.
So, penance is trying to address a specific misdeed in this life. And that misdeed could create a karma but might not. It might not have involved anyone else. So, somewhat different but similar. In other words, the benefit of doing this type of prayashchitta or penance can affect karmas from past lives and also can be done to, for something in this life. Relates to, oh, In this context we're talking about past lives. Bringing in a karma from a past life. Not something you did wrong in this life.
Any other questions? Have a couple of more minutes here, we're trying to stop at 12.
Was that fun? Learn something? Had to think. No one fell asleep. Okay.
Aum saha na vavatu, saha nau bhunaktu, Saha viryam karavavahai, Tejasvinav adhitamastu, ma vidvishavahai, Aum shantih, shantih, shantih.