Face and Accept Karma; Three Ways to Mitigate Karma
Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami , 2014-12-30
Human nature is very strange in that we tend to blame others when things go poorly. Avoid that. Accept whatever happens as our own creation. Karma can be mitigated or eliminated through intense worship, the grace of the Deity, spiritual fire, living a virtuous, religious life, pilgrimage.
Master Course, Living with Siva, Lesson 262.
Today's lesson from Living with Siva is "How to Face Your Karma"
Human nature is very strange in one regard. If things are going well who do we attribute it to? Ourselves right? Who else would be responsible for things going well? "Everything's going well in my life, got a great job, earning money and so on forth. Kids are getting good grades, everything's going well. But you know, that's because I'm such a great person. We tend to think that way.
But when things are going poorly, and people turn against us and money disappears somehow from our business and we don't quite understand what's going on, who do we tend to blame? Others right?
So it's human nature, very strange that when things are going well we want to take the credit but when things are going poorly we don't want to take the blame. We want to assign it to everyone else that could possibly be involved. So that applies to the law of karma as well and that's what Gurudeva's pointing out in today's lesson.
"If difficult things are happening to you and your mind is disturbed because of them and you have mental arguments within you because you can't accept your own karma, go to the feet of Lord Siva in your mind, go to the feet of Lord Siva in the temple with your physical body, and beg for the intelligence to place yourself firmly on the path of Sanatana Dharma."
In other words, accept it as your karma. Whatever happens to us is our own creation; that's the wisdom of Hinduism. Whatever happens to us. Good or bad or mixed is our own creation. Except we created it in a past life and therefore, we don't remember it. But Hindu scripture gives us the guidance that even if we don't remember it, which most people don't, you created it. So we need to accept it as our own creation.
"Though it is true that we must work through all aspects and phases of past actions, there are ways of becoming excused from the punishments that drastic actions of the past impose upon the future."
That sounds good, right? If we can avoid the drastic actions of the past imposing something upon us in the future, it sounds pretty good. How do we do that?
"These ways are grace, sadhana, tapas and atonement through penance and the performance of good deeds, thus acquiring merit which registers as a new and positive karma, alleviating the heaviness of some of our past karma..."
"...Each time you blame another person for what has happened to you, or cast blame in any way, tell yourself, 'This is my karma which I was born to face. I did not come into a physical body just to blame others for what happens to me. I was not born to live in a state of ignorance created by an inability to face my karma. I came here to spiritually unfold, to accept the karmas of this and my past lives and to deal with them and handle them in a proper and a wonderful way."
Well karma is an interesting subject. I'd say it's generally, individuals, unless they've studied it, such as through Gurudeva's teachings have certain misconceptions about it.
I remember years ago, think it was a Hindu teenager was talking to me on the phone and he said: Everything's going poorly in my life and this karma and why should I even bother, try, to try, you know I can't really change it. So I've just kind of, given up. Something like that was the teenager's statement. True person. Things were going poorly, it was my karma; I can't do anything about it so why even try?
I was talking on email, was communicating on email recently with someone about karma. They were having a similar confusion, wasn't a negative per se. That's a negative confusion. It was just: What happens to me is my karma so what can I do about it kind of thing? You know, particularly negative but they were just seeing karma as the sole influence on their life. So, this is pointing out two other influences. One in detail and one just by the word grace.
So that's a better way to think about it that there's three influences in your life, not just one. Karma, prarabdha karma to be specific, that portion of the karmas from the past that's scheduled to be manifesting this life is one source. But how we live our life is another source. If we're virtuous, if we're dharmic, if we do seva to help others. If we worship, that's a positive force. Gurudeva uses the word mitigate and talks about here about drastic karmas. Particularly drastic karmas, something that could really bring violence into your life.
If you live a religious life, selfless life, you mitigate, you lessen the force of that karma. It still comes but you lessen it. An example Gurudeva gives in the Master Course is: Instead of losing your leg you scratch your leg, remember? So the drastic karma is you're scheduled to lose your leg. The mitigated version is you scratch your leg. Sounds much better, right? Go for that. And why? Because it's how we're living in the present. We're living a virtuous life. We're helping others. We're worshiping. So we're, that force naturally mitigates the strength of the negativity. It doesn't make it go away in most cases, it just lessens it.
So, I have an example in my longer talk on karma. It has to do with going to jail. You know, if you steal something, you go to jail. And you're supposed to be in jail for five years but then the let you out after two because of your good behavior, right? So, good behavior can lessen the jail sentence. So likewise, good behavior can lessen a karma in the same way. How we behave makes a difference.
So, what's the third source? Well the third source is found in the word grace. And I have another paragraph on it just to elaborate it. So, what grace? Well the grace of the Deity, the blessings of the Deity can, is a third influence. So we have the karma, one influence, prarabdha karma, how we're living our life and then the influence of the Deity. Of course, we have to ask for the influence of the Deity so there's an overlap there between how we're living our life and the Deity. But I'm separating it for simplicity. Because many people don't seek the blessings of the Deity for the purpose of lessening karma or any other purpose.
So, the blessings of the Deity will also influence the karma into a better form, or better yet, will make it go away. That sounds pretty good right? The whole karma goes away. So let's see how that one works.
This is from another lesson. So, this is my wording first:
Karma can also be totally eliminated through worship. We can understand this process again through an analogy to seeds. Are you familiar with the process of sprouting seeds such as alfalfa seeds to create sprouts for a salad or another dish. So, many of you are. You put the seeds into a jar with moisture in it and cover it with a porous cloth and then in a few days you have sprouts.
We have sprouts once a week or twice a week? "Twice a week." Twice a week we have sprouts. Well is it mung bean? "Mung bean." So we have mung bean sprouts twice a week as a curry.
What would happen if before placing the seeds in a jar you put them in a frying pan and heated them to a high temperature. Would they then sprout? Well of course not. Well a seed which has the ability to sprout and come to life is like a karma. It's just sitting there as a seed waiting for a condition. In this case, you're putting it in, you know it's in storage somewhere in sealed container; it's not going to sprout. But it's just sitting there. You put it into the jar with the moisture and all, within a few days it sprouts. But if you take that out of the jar and you heat it and then put it into the environment it won't spout. So, that's an analogy of course.
Seeds that are heated will not sprout. Karmic seeds are the same way. If they are subject to spiritual fire they lose the ability to sprout. Said another way, the karma is totally eliminated before being experienced. What is it that provides enough spiritual fire to eliminate the karmic seed. It is intense (notice the word intense.) The blessings of the Deity.
And then, now here's the quote from Gurudeva:
"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 in the attitudes that are the natural consequences of those beliefs. (Such as: everything is my karma.) 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."
So this is coming up next.
"Darshan (which means the blessings) 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. "
So that's the idea. My summary says: Karma can be mitigated (which means lessened) or even eliminated through worship that is intense enough to cause us to receive the grace or divine energy of God Siva.
Then that material goes on to explain what does intense enough mean. Explains what it doesn't mean. It says: Stopping at the temple for a two minutes on your way home from work doesn't count as intense worship. Nice, but it's not going to be intense.
So, intense worship usually requires a number of days. So, pilgrimage is the classic example of that. We go on pilgrimage to the powerful temples in India say for two weeks. We've prepared for the pilgrimage; we're really focused during the pilgrimage on the temples. We're not just a tourist. You know, really focusing on the Deity, taking time at various temples. That is intense worship.
Or, there are festivals. Multi-day festivals. You have one called Skanda Shashti, which of course is Shashti means six. So, it's six days long. So six days long is a good length of time to take some special vrata for all six days. Ideally go to the temple every day but at least on the final day, if it's not, if you're not next to a temple.
What was it, Prime Minister Modi, he observes Navaratri vrata, right? So he was fasting for Navaratri when he was at the White House and had to have water for the state dinners. Warm water please for dinner. This is my Navaratri vrata. So, he's very serious with his religious life too. Observe, he's been observing that vrata for decades I think. To hold it up and prime minister as he's traveling, has a demanding schedule, it shows a real commitment.
But the point, in terms of what we're talking about is a nine, the nine days of Navaratri is also an excellent time for those who worship Devi in a principle way. So, nine whole days you can accomplish a lot. Or six days for Murugan and so forth. Vinayagar Viratham, that's 21 days. That's a real long one. To observe something for 21 days. But, some, some Hindus do it. I know particularly when we used to go to Sri Lanka more we noticed some of the women, who were just house wives that were observing it. You know they were able to observe it all 21 days because they, their routine, their home was near the temple so they could go to the Ganesha temple every day for 21 days, observe certain disciplines on food.
To summarize, we're making two points. The first is the lesson itself, it starts out as the title says: "How to Face Your Karma." So everything that happens to us relates to our karma. And human nature, we take credit for things that go well and we look for everybody in the world we can blame when they don't. But, we want to avoid that. And accept when things don't go well it's also our creation.
And then look at what happens, actually happens in our life is the result of three influences, not just one. One is the karma. The other is how we're living our life, particularly in terms of dharma, adharma, helping others not helping others. And then the third source is the grace of the Deity which can mitigate. You don't need intensity to mitigate a lessen. But to eliminate you need an intensity such as pilgrimage or a multi-day vrata that a longer festival can actually eliminate the karma.
So, thank you very much.
Have wonderful day.