Karma Management Day 1 Part 3
Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami , 2002-07-30
2002 Kauai Innersearch/Guru Purnima Day 1, Part 3Karma Management Principle No. 1 is "forego retaliation." Karma often comes through other people, but the first step to managing our karma effectively is to not retaliate, for that continues the karmic cycle we are faced with the opportunity of ending. Karma Management Principle No. 2 is "accept responsibility." We often take credit for our karma when things are going well in our life, but it's human nature to blame others with things are going poorly. Truly, we created it all at some past time.
Now, we get our first principle. Those of you who have read your lessons know what it is. Forego retaliation. What in the world does retaliation have to do with karma? It does not sound like it is related at all.
Karma usually comes to us through other people. It is rare that it just comes without another person being involved. We don't usually walk along and have a tree branch fall on us and call it our karma. Usually, it is another person who does something to us in one way or another. So there are other people involved in bringing our karma back to us, both our good karma and our bad karma. It is human nature when it is our bad karma to get upset with them.
For an example here. Someone is very nasty to us, verbally abusive and just treats us terribly. Of course, we are upset. So what do we do? Do we retaliate? Or do we forego retaliation? It is a common problem in the world. Someone treats you unfairly or treats some member of your family unfairly and you feel you have to retaliate. It is the right thing to do, to retaliate. Well, then what will they do? Of course, they will think the same way and they will retaliate back. Then what will you do? You will retaliate back and how long will this go on? It could go on quite a while. It creates an endless cycle of retaliation. So as long as we are retaliating, we cannot manage our karma at all. We are really karmically making a mess. Every time we retaliate, we are creating a new karma and then it is coming back to us and so forth. We are stuck. Not only are we not making any progress but we keep creating more negative karma.
We have a few actors here today. Lots of movies portray the famous Western kind of concept. Something happens, there is a bank robbery and a robber kills your brother. So, you spend the rest of the movie chasing down the robber and kill him. Old retaliation idea. Well, it is quite common in lots of movies, not only in the classic Western but other movies as well. Why is that? Because it is accepted behavior. This is what lots of people do and they think it is right. It is called an 'eye for an eye' approach. Someone harms me or harms my family, it is my duty to harm them back.
But it is not the Hindu approach. Why isn't it the Hindu approach? Because no one harmed you, you harmed yourself. The action came through someone else, but they are just a channel. Why blame them? They are like the messenger. The famous story, don't blame the messenger. You get upset when somebody delivers the message. "I am just the messenger." They are just the messenger. They are returning your karma to you because usually, it will have to come through another person.
We are missing the whole point, right? But at least even if we get upset, it is important to forego retaliation. If we can't do that, none of the other principles will work because they are more subtle than simply forgoing retaliation.
The last point in that regard is, you can sometimes count on others to handle the problem. Just like in the famous bank robbery idea, if someone commits a crime against a member of your family, well there is a Justice system. There are police that take care of these things. There are courts that take care of these things. If we allow them to take care of the problem, neither we nor they take on the karma because as long as they follow the laws, which they have been sworn to uphold, they don't create a karma even if they have to shoot someone if they cannot avoid it. So in enforcing the law, the law officer does not create karma, if they do it in a fair way.
Gurudeva again says it so beautifully. "As long as we react, we must repeat it. That is the law." It is so short, I will read it again. "As long as we react, we must repeat it. That is the law."
Second principle, which counts on the first principle being in place. Once we manage to harness our instinctive tendency to retaliate, we can move on to a more refined principle which is to accept responsibility. We were touching on that slightly before, which is the idea that whatever happens to you is your own creation. Usually, that idea comes to us when everything is going great. We get the perfect job earning lots of money, we are quite happy. Everything is working out beautifully in our life and who do we attribute this success to? Our self, right? "Well, of course, I created all this. It is going well because of me just doing everything right." When everything is going the opposite way, when everything is falling apart, and you are losing your job, and you don't have enough money, there is domestic problems at home, who is responsible? Well, not you of course. "Must be somebody else's fault, couldn't be my fault." Of course, our thinking is flawed because in both cases, whatever we experience is within our karma and our karma only comes from our own past actions. We cannot experience anything that is not in our karma, it won't happen.
There is an interesting story regarding September 11th, in that regard. A member of the Patel family who has an office, used to have an office in one of the World Trade buildings where a plane crashed into, was on pilgrimage here. His family had talked him into coming on pilgrimage to Kauai's Hindu Monastery. So he was not there on the day he would normally be. Consequently, the plane did not kill him, very interesting. Then we heard another story from the News that there was a person in the Pentagon and the plane crashed into his office. He was on the plane. So he was counted twice in the initial statistics. He was counted as being dead because it was his office and they assumed he was there. He was also on the plane. So, it was like he could not escape it somehow. It just was destined to happen. Even though he wasn't there, he still didn't escape being there. Very interesting situation.
It shows how karma comes to us in an interesting way and whatever it is, we are responsible for it. This requires a certain detachment that sometimes we don't have. Whatever we see someone do to us, we need to put that person aside and only see ourselves doing it to us through that person. We are doing this to ourselves through that person, that person is just a channel for it. When we look at it that way and we are looking at it and accepting responsibility. We don't want to blame the person if they do something nasty to us. We don't want to praise them if they do something kind to us. We want to see our self acting through them, which is the correct way to see it. We accept responsibility. Nothing can happen to me that is not in my karma.
The real test is when you get unfairly accused. Sometimes this happens in life. We get unfairly accused by someone. "Well, how can that person accuse me of this?" We are upset with them, they are not being fair to us. But somehow, it is our karma. We are creating this experience by something we have done in the past. This is a reaction to that action and is coming to us through this person. If we can see it in that way then we are looking at it correctly. We are accepting responsibility.
Gurudeva's quote on this is, "As long as we externalize the source of our successes and failures, we perpetuate the cycles of karma, good or bad. There is no one out there making it all happen. Our actions, thoughts and attitudes make it all happen. We must accept and bear our karma cheerfully."
Aum Namah Sivaya.