Karma: Cause or Consequence?
- Part 2
by M. Govindan Satchidananda
We have defined karma as that law or principle of nature which
requires that every action, word or thought has an effect or consequence.
We have discussed the various types of karma, and whether our
lives are determined by fate or by free will.
In continuance of our previous
discussion of questions which the term Karma elicits, we may also
"What is grace?" "What
does it have to do with karma?" and "How can Kriya Yoga
What is grace? The concept of
grace is found throughout the teachings of the Siddhas, as well
as in many world religions. It reflects the widespread recognition
that our prayers are answered by a source of benevolence, independent
of whether we are deserving. With karma, we get what we deserve.
With grace we receive what is uplifting and edifying to our soul,
in response to its call. Just as every action, word or thought
has by the law of karma a necessary con-sequence or reaction,
there is a higher law by which the enables the individual soul
(the jiva) to communicate with the Supreme Soul of the universe
The Siddha Tirumular refers
to Grace as one of five acts of the Lord:
"Creation, Preservation, and
(that for Jivas grant rest from birth-and-death whirl)
Obfuscation and Grace
(that redeem Jiva after life below)
These, for Sakala souls He filled
All these acts five,
Beginningless His are."
-Tirumandiram verse 2418
(Sakala souls are those who are encumbered by
all three impurities: ignorance, karma and delusion)
Furthermore he gives a form to this grace: Nataraja,
the Lord of the Dance:
In the splendorous temple (of
For the two rishis (Patanjali and Vyagrapada to witness)
Form, Formless and as Cosmic Form,
Within the Divine Grace of Sakti
He the siddhas, the anandas,
As Form of Grace
He stood and danced."
-TM verse 2790
Thus Self-realization and God-realization
is a Divine Grace, which descends upon the devotee who surrenders
to the Lord. The purpose of the above mentioned five acts of the
Lord is to help the souls get rid of their impurities, known as
"pasa" or bindings.
The five acts are not amusement, but because
of the Lord's love for the souls. This is clearly stated in the
It was His grace that led me
into Pasa (bondage to impurities)
It was His grace that freed me from that Pasa
It was His grace that in divine love granted Mukti
It was His grace that granted me the love
For the state beyond Mukti.
-TM verse 1802
How can the Lord cause souls to be born into
a life of suffering? Tirumular answers this question:
In His Grace was I born;
In His Grace I grew up;
In His Grace I rested in death;
In His Grace I was in obfuscation;
In His Grace I tasted of ambrosial bliss;
In His Grace, Nandi, my heart entered.
-TM verse 1800
So, the Lord gives souls a body
to work out their karma; he supports them so that they can experience
the results of their action, and so learn wisdom from them; he
gives them rest through destruction of the body; he gives obscuration
to veil their true nature as consciousness (cit) and eventually
bliss, resulting from equanimity with regards to karma; finally
he gives them release from the bondage of delusion that I am the
body, I am the desires, in liberation. Thus all of His acts are
expressions of His Grace.
Patanjali has made it clear
that the Lord Himself is unaffected by karma or desire, therefore,
his grace is not bound by these:
"Ishvara is the special Self
untouched by any affliction, actions, fruits of action (karma)
or by any inner impression of desire (samskaras)." -Yoga-Sutras
He also adds to Tirumular's
statement of purpose by telling us that "The Seen exists only
for the sake of the Self." -Yoga-Sutras II.21. That is, the world
(the Seen) gives experience and by such experience we gradually
wake up from the dream that we are the Seen, and realize that
we are the Seer.
Is Divine Grace accessible to
all? Yes, but only those who have prepared themselves know of
its availability and aspire for it. The Mother has said: "The
Grace is equally for all. But each one receives it according to
his sincerity." This requires tapas, or intensive practice of
Yoga, but even before this one must begin by cultivating non-attachment:
Sunder your desires and passions;
The Lord's place easy be
-TM verse 2613
Sunder your desires, sunder your desires
Sunder your desires even like the Lord;
The more the desires, the more your sorrows;
The more you give up, the more your bliss shall be.
-TM verse 2615
Those souls which have reached
a state of detachment (vairagya) are in a state of equanimity.
They look upon the results of good actions and bad actions equally;
they do not become excited or saddened by either. Consequently,
Divine grace comes to them in the form of a spiritual guide, who
shows them the path to liberation.
"When the Jiva attains the state
To deeds, good and evil,
Then does divine Grace in Guru form descend,
Removes attributes all,
Implants Jnana that is like a heavenly cool shad;
The Jiva thus rid of egoity,
And other Impurities Three,
Shall with Siva in union merge.
-TM verse 1527
So, the Divine Grace descends
according to the degree of striving and blossoming of the souls.
This descent is classified into four types, according to the speed:
slowest, slow, quick and quicker. These are referred to as four
paths to the feet of the Lord: dasa-marga, satputra-marga, saha-marga,
Dasa-marga or carya is the path
of the servant of the Lord, and involves service in the temple,
cleaning, preparation of offerings, praising the Lord, lighting
lamps and to the Lord, as a devotee.
Satputra-marga or kriya is the
path of the son or daughter, wherein the relationship is more
intimate. Various forms of worship are to be performed, including
the use of chants, incense, light, flowers, mantras, and images.
Saha-marga or yoga is the path
of friendship, and requires one to perform Kundalini Yoga to withdraw
the senses and control of the breath, turning ones energy inwards
through the sushumna nadi, internal worship of the chakras, contemplation
of the inner light at the crown.
Sanmarga is the path of jnana,
wherein one realizes ones true identity as the Self, and ultimately
as Ishvara. The knower, the known and knowing become one in a
state of transcendence. Grace manifests in four stages of release.
All impurities dissolve in the fire of the consciousness of the
Supreme Being within. All previous contradictions are resolved.
They adore the Lord night and day in a state of intoxication,
and mystical transcendence.
Sri Aurobindo and the Mother
teach that the establishment of a divine life upon earth itself
can only be achieved with the conjunction of two forces: a steadily
mounting ardent aspiration from the side of the sadhak, and from
the Divine's side, an answering Grace, descending from above in
response to the sadhak's call. And whenever there is the flame
of aspiration burning bright in the sadhak's heart, the Grace
of the Divine Mother cannot but respond. Aspiration is an upward
movement of our consciousness through the psychic part of our
being toward all that is good, pure and beautiful; it is a thirst
for spiritual knowledge, a steady and quiet seeking of the Divine,
a spiritual enthusiasm of our soul towards perfection, contact
with Divine Love, Harmony and Presence. It is an inner purifying
flame, a need for the light of consciousness. An intense seeking
to be absorbed in the Divine. "I want you lord, and nothing which
you can give to me. It feels: "I want to live only for you, in
you, without separation." One does so without impatience, but
with faith, equanimity, concentration. Desire, in contrast, manifests
the ego, which refuses to dissolve itself in the One Being. Aspiration
is the opposite; one is intensely aware of the limitations of
the ego bound existence, and one seeks to come out of its prison.
One directs one's energies away from the ego-center. One rejects
the ego's negative and contracting impulses.
How can Kriya Yoga neutralize
Kriya means "action with awareness."
It is derived from the word karma, which means "action with consequences,"
or "action with reaction." Awareness occurs whenever part of our
consciousness separates itself from that which is involved in
the five senses, thinking or other movements of the mind, and
standing back, merely watches. Awareness occurs whenever we are
fully present with whatever is occuring, and when we choose to
be the Seer, or Witness to the drama of our lives. One practices
various techniques or "kriyas" in order to cultivate such awareness
in all five planes of existence: physically through the asanas,
or physical postures, vitally through Kundalini pranayama breathing,
mentally, through special meditation techniques, intellectually
through Kriya mantra yoga, and spiritually, through the cultivation
of Kriya bhakti yoga of love and devotion.
Kriya is therefore an antidote
to karma, because when one can act with "awareness," one can reflect
beforehand, and allow oneself to be guided by one's higher Self.
Being fully present, centered and calm, one is not swept away
by attachments or aversions. On the other hand, in the ordinary
physical consciousness, one reacts to the forces of nature, acting
through various karma, driven by habitual impulses or samskaras,
which in their totality constitute our karma. One continues to
create new karma as a result of attachments and desires and aversions.
Such practice of "Kriya Yoga" enables one to integrate it into
daily life, where the real practice of Yoga begins. One cultivates
being "actively calm, and calmly active," reinforcing the presence
in one's life of the sattva guna, of balance, equanimity, awareness,
detachment, beingness, acceptance and love. This is the antidote
to our karma, which acts through the other two major forces of
Nature: rajas (activity, through attachment, with the feeling
"I am the doer") and tamas (inertia, doubt, fear with the feeling:
I can't, it's too hard, I am afraid). By practicing the, various
Kriyas in Babaji's five fold path of Kriya Yoga: asanas, Kundalini
pranayama meditation, mantras and bhakti yoga, one develops more
and more the sattva guna, or balanced mode of Nature within, and
one becomes a master of one's life. One ceases to perpetuate karma;
one exhausts old karmic tendencies. One realizes that "I am not
the doer" but merely an instrument, and that one is indeed, the
Seer. This requires a systematic purification of the ego tendencies,
and so Kriya also involves self-purification of the false identification
with the body, mind, personality, and a detachment from the ego's
negative and contracting impulses. As a result, one realizes unconditional
joy, or ananda, which is independent of whether is getting or
not getting what one desires, physically or emotionally. Sat chit
ananda: Being, consciousness, and bliss, therefore becomes both
the vehicle and destination of Kriya Yoga. It is the method, and
the goal, because the Lord is Sat chid ananda, and the world is
His self-manifestness. One realizes a higher law, which enables
us to supersede the Law of Karma.
The systematic practice of Kriya
Yoga thus becomes the masterkey to overcoming karma, and to realizing
the ultimate goals of Dharma: Self-realization and God Realization.
Copyright: M. Govindan Satchidananda,
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