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Resolve, Mitigate, Dissolve Karma

Internalizing and externalizing. Turning within, we're uplifting ourselves. Astrology choreographs and spreads out our karma. Purification, focus on karma, dharma, God Realization. Accept karma as our own creation. Don't retaliate; forgive to release karma. Mitigating and resolving karma through tapas, penance, austerity, pilgrimage. A powerful experience of the Deity can eliminate karma.

Yogaswami's Words of Our Master.

Master Course, Merging with Siva, Lesson 252

Tiruvalluvar's Tirukural.

Unedited Transcript:

Guru Brahma, Guru Vishnu, Guru Devo Mahesvara, Guru Sakshat, Parabrahma, Tasmai Sri Gurave Namaha.

Good morning everyone.

We have a shrine to Yogaswami in the Guru Peedam next door. And it's a routine when we, when the monks finish their Siva Puja, 6 o'clock, we go over there. So I go in first and give a flower to Yogaswami shrine and read the "Words of Our Master" that's there. "Words of Our Master" book is in a little case. See what Yogaswami wants to tell me today.

So this is what he told me couple of days ago. So simple but so profound:

"There is happiness when we look inwards and unhappiness when we look outwards. But the truth is present in the unhappiness as well as the happiness. The changing universe keeps on changing all the time. (Have you noticed that? Nothing's constant, that's for sure.) That which causes the change and remains unchanged, that is the Truth."

Interesting example of this principle of looking inwards and being happy and looking outwards and not being happy.

Recent Malaysia trip, young man who is a son of one of our devotees there, wanted to talk to me. So he talked to me and he's just a couple of years out of graduate school. And in graduate school he's all fired up with all these plans for his professional life. And now, he was couple of years into the plan. And had accomplished many of the things he dreamed about. And guess what he found out? The happiness that he thought it was going to give him wasn't there. The happiness was in the plan to do it. But after he'd accomplished it he felt a let down. You know, I've done it. I don't feel the way I was supposed to.

So I wasn't sure how religious he is. His father's very religious. So I gave him a very generalized response, not just one that related to Hinduism. I said: "Well we have to make sure on a regular basis we're doing things that really uplift us. Tasks we really enjoy doing on a regular basis. We don't want to leave them out of our life. And if we do that then we'll maintain a certain amount of happiness."

So, for some of us that's religion but not for everyone. And some it could be art, painting or music or something like that they'd find very uplifting. And if they kept that going in their life they'd be a lot happier.

So it's very important that we uplift ourselves. Turning within just means we're uplifting ourselves. But, life is changing and so we can get drawn in when life gets complicated. The changes get complicated, we can get drawn out. And if we get drawn out too long we'll be unhappy. That's the principle.

So in Gurudeva's lesson, I chose that a couple of days ago. Said I have to do that on Sun 1. Then in today's Merging with Siva Lesson there's something that relates from Gurudeva. Read the first paragraph.

"What do we mean, exactly by the terms good karma and bad karma? There is good karma as well as bad, though we say there is no good nor bad--only experience. Still, some karmas are more difficult to bear, experience and re-experience than others. This is where it is extremely important to inhibit the tendencies to let loose the forces that externalize awareness, while at the same time performing the sadhana of realizing the Source through internalizing awareness."

Sounds familiar right? Externalizing and internalizing. Gurudeva's saying: In times of difficult karma there's more of a tendency to become externalized in one way or another. We blame somebody else, so we go around with a grudge. Or, we get upset by something and we don't pull ourselves together quickly. So, in terms of difficult karma it can be more externalizing. But, we don't want to let that happen.

"It is this constant pull between the inner and the outer, or individual awareness soaring back and forth between the externalities and internalities, that keeps churning the fiery forces of karma into the smoldering coals of dharma. Good karma is denoted by good merit, since every cause has its due effect. Therefore, so-called bad karma brings injury, pain, misunderstanding and anguish, which when suffered through completes the cycle.

"Ancient yogis, in psychically studying the timeline of cause and effect, assigned three categories to karma. The first is sanchita, the sum total of past karma yet to be resolved. The second category is prarabdha, that portion of sanchita karma being experienced in the present life. Kriyamana, the third type, is karma you are presently creating. However, it must be understood that your past negative karma can be altered into a smoother, easier state through the loving, heart-chakra nature through dharma and sadhana. That is the key of karmic wisdom. Live religiously well and you will create positive karma for the future and soften negative karma of the past."

I was asked on the Malaysia trip, remember the exact situation, that some teacher in Malaysia is making it sound very easy to get rid of all your karma.

Come to my weekend seminar, (Well it's actually a one day seminar.) Come to my one day seminar for 700 Ringgits and then the next day you get your initiation. And you know, your karmas just kind of go away.

But that's not traditional, you know it's not tradition, it doesn't go away because it doesn't come all at once. One of the reasons, it comes over time.

Karma comes to us because of our, comes to us as our astrology dictates. I call astrology: That which has choreographed our karma. Like a dance drama, you know, this will happen there, then a little of this; it has variety. Then we go up, then we go down a bit, it's choreographed. Like a dance drama. So astrology choreographs our karma and it's nice that it doesn't give us fifty years of hardship all at once; you know it spreads it out. Very thoughtful of it, spread out our negative karmas.

So, getting rid of karma isn't that easy. What Gurudeva's talking about here, in other places calls it softening; here he calls it mitigating. So mitigating, example I use is: Someone committed a felony and they're serving ten years in prison, but because of their good behavior they get out in five. So their sentence has been reduced from the full impact, or it's been mitigated, it's been lessened.

So, karma's like that. It's difficult to make it go away. We'll talk about that a little later. It's much easier to just mitigate it. Mitigated means it comes in a less extreme way. Gurudeva's example in the Trilogy is: Instead of losing your leg you get a scratch on your leg. It's an example of mitigation. This karma still comes but the force of it is so much less severe than it would have been if you weren't living a religious life, if you weren't helping others and so forth.

As Gurudeva says here the: "...through dharma and sadhana." So dharma in a sense means doing all our duties to family and society and sadhana is our daily practice. So those cause our karma automatically to be mitigated or lessened, so it flows more smoothly. There's less severe upsets in our life than there would have been otherwise. But it doesn't make it go away.

Then in the next, I'll skip forward.

"Bhakti brings grace, and the sustaining grace melts and blends the karmas in the heart. In the heart chakra the 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, the Door of Brahman, revealing the straight path to merging with Siva."

So you can see the kundalini has to really be up there for karmas to actually go away.

Gurudeva gives us, as I've mentioned a number of times, a three fold definition of moksha.

"Moksha comes when earthly karma has been resolved, dharma well performed and God fully realized."

So, we need to focus on all three: karma, dharma and God Realization. What does that mean? In terms of dharma, enroll on the family path, it means we need to fulfill well our duties to our family members, our duties to our profession, our duties to our community, we need to not ignore our duties. Sometimes individuals, particularly when they're younger, get inspired and about spiritual path, and if they're married start neglecting their spouse cause they're interested in the spiritual path, right? So that's a sure way not to achieve moksha. You're ignoring your dharma; you're not fulfilling your dharma. So, if you're married you have to give proper attention and support and love to the members of your family. You have to fulfill dharma; we can't ignore them.

And then, we have to resolve karma. So, as I said, normally it just takes time. We have, when events come to us which seem unfair and where people are mean to us we need to find a way to accept it as our own creation. Say: How did I create that? I wonder what I did in a past life to attract that to me? You know, we can't blame the person who delivers our karma back to us. Everything that happens to us is created by only one person and that's you. So we can't retaliate and we need to forgive, even Gurudeva says it. Even if you don't retaliate but you don't forgive you're not fully releasing the karma. Actually have to forgive the people involved in whatever negative thing happened to you. So you don't retaliate and you forgive and then the karma's gone.

As the Tirukural says, you know: If you do that you punish the people by their own shame. So realize, Oh, I was acting in a low-minded way. Look how this person acted in a high-minded way. So they feel bad, they feel ashamed. That's the punishment the Tirukural suggests. As you make, you punish someone by making them, by forgiving them and making them realize how low-minded their action was. That's the best form of retaliation. Then the karma's gone. But if you retaliate or you don't forgive the karma's not gone. If you retaliate you're making a new karma; if you don't forgive the karma's still hanging on in some way. That's why Gurudeva says: for, if we know we're going to pass on we really have to forgive everybody. That last few weeks of our life, if we know it's coming up, we need to resolve otherwise the karma's not gone, fully. Come back in a lesser way but we're clinging to it by not forgiving the person.

And then our sadhana eventually causes God Realization. So, it's three-fold and resolving karma is an important part of it, is the point.

So the last one, I, one of the presentations I gave, a little long this morning, was the Five Gems of Wisdom from the Tirukural. A keynote I gave in Malaysia; it's about forty-five minutes long. So the Tirukural has more than five gems of wisdom of course. Forty-five minutes I could only present five. So, I thought I'd share some of the last one.

The first four of the Tirukural, for those who aren't, don't know or don't remember, has four parts: Introduction, Dharma which is aram, wealth and love. I was just in the dharma, aram section in the introduction. The dharma section has two parts: One is called the dharma of the householder and then the other is called the dharma of the renunciate. So if you want to know how they're different read it, all you have to do is read the chapter headings, can see how they're different. Extremely different paths.

The householder one focuses a lot on charity and becoming famous through your charitable acts. And the renunciate one focuses more on pure spiritual practices. So, took the one, this last gem was from the renunciate one. Chapter 27 which is entitled austerity. And the word translated as austerity is the Tamil word tavam which in Sanskrit is tapas.

Gurudeva gives this definition of tavam:

"Practice austerity, serious disciplines, penance and sacrifice. Atone for misdeeds through penance such as 108 prostrations or fasting. Perform self-denial, giving up cherished possessions, money or time."

And then in my keynote, it goes up on the screen, it shows a yogi in the cold Ganges river and another yogi in the cave. Just Gurudeva's definition I'm sure brings to mind these types of things that tapas can be much simpler. And then it gives the two examples which some of you have seen. One is instead of going on a fancy vacation the whole family goes on a budget vacation. And the money they save they give to a charity. And they talk about it before hand to teach the kids why they're doing this. We're going to go on a budget vacation and then the money we save is going for this charitable cause. And then the other one is simply skipping a meal and giving the money to some good charitable cause. So, it's things that kids can understand and cause we want to put the idea in the mind at a young age without making it sound too austere.

Performing penance to atone for misdeeds is another form of tapas. Such acts as performing 108 prostrations before the Deity in the temple, walking prostrations around the temple or up the sacred path in kavadi, offered to Lord Murugan.

The various practices of tapas all have the same goal which is purification.

So there's a beautiful verse in 267:

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

So, it's a very nice image. And then Tiruvalluvar gives a chiding. Verse 263 says:

"To the many who do not perform austerity, is it because they must provide for renunciates that others forget to perform penance?"

So he's scolding you in a nice way. Oh, you're so busy helping the renunciates do penance you don't have time, right? So clearly he's saying everybody should do penance.

Tiruvalluvar is pointing out that there is a tendency to acknowledge that austerity would be good to do but unfortunately there is also a tendency to put off actually doing it. One way to overcome this problem of procrastination is to perform austerity at one of our annual festivals every year.

So Skanda Shashti for six days, Thai Pusam. Quite often individuals fast during the day and then attend the temple at night and then afterwards have a meal. It's common for Skanda Shashti.

So, the idea is that sometimes penance to the Deity can get the Deity's blessings in a powerful way, can actually eliminate the karma. But, it really has to be a powerful experience of the Deity. But penance can do that. So that's one way of actually getting rid of a karma. So you're not mitigating it, you're eliminating it before it even manifests. Of course, you know, the analogy I give is the seeds that we make sprouts from alfalfa and if we heat the seeds first then they won't sprout. So, that's what the grace of the Deity is in that sense, it's hitting the karmic seed in such a way that it won't sprout, it won't manifest.

The other example Gurudeva gives for that is going to temples in India on pilgrimage. Some of them are so powerful, and if you go in the right spirit, it's not automatic; of course, you have to be in the right state of mind. The blessing there can be so strong it will eliminate a karma. So karma can be eliminated but it's easier to mitigate it. Normally we're just mitigating it. But if you're motivated to eliminate a karma, that's how.

I noticed Innersearches to India somehow can do that. You notice some individuals when they come back they kind of fit into life in a different way. Like, they were here before and now they come back and they're fitting in up there. Somehow, they've lost a karma or two on the process and they're a slightly different person. And they're relating to life in a more refined way. So, that's how, one way to know if a karma's been eliminated. There's a change in the person's way of relating to life.

So, have a wonderful day.

Aum Namah Sivaya

Photo of  Gurudeva
It is the older folk, the wiser folk, the experienced elders, who have lived longer and therefore can see further, to whom youth should be listening.