By: Sant Rajinder Singh Ji Maharaj

Around 300 years B.C., there was a Greek philosopher named Zeno who lived in Athens. One day, the philosopher caught his slave stealing. He decided to teach him a lesson by giving him a beating for stealing.

The slave, who was a bit of a philosopher himself, said, “Zeno, why are you beating me? It was fated that I should steal.”

The philosopher Zeno quickly responded, “And it was fated that I should beat you for stealing!”

This story is rich in meaning for those who think about the question of karma. Many times people say that they committed a wrong because of their karma. They tend to confuse the law of karma with free will. The saints speak of human beings as having twenty-five percent free will. The other seventy-five percent of what happens to us in life is due to the reactions of our past karmas.

The karmic events in our life are those that are reactions of the past. They tend to be reactions that happen to us. Despite our best care to be safe, an accident befalls us without any explanation or reason. We may be working hard to make a living, and out of the blue we suffer a financial setback. We may live our lives as good people, but something bad happens to us. The law of karma is based on the belief that these seemingly unexplained events that occur in our lives are due to reactions from the past, either earlier in this life or in a previous life.

We may not have been trying hard to have something happen, but we have a stroke of seeming good luck and win a prize, get money out of the blue, or meet a special person with whom we fall in love and marry. We may suddenly meet good fortune out of the blue. All these events, both good and bad, that come to us without trying are usually the result of our past karma.

Some people use karma as an excuse to do wrong, but when it comes to our making a choice as to how to act in a certain situation, that usually falls under free will. It is not ordained that we break the law, hurt someone, or steal. Those are choices that we make in our own lives. We cannot blame God and our karmas for our shortcomings. We may come into life with our personality, but what we do is up to our choice or free will.

Just as Zeno and his slave used fate as the excuse for committing a wrong, when we do so ourselves, we are bound to get the reaction. The initial wrong might be due to free will, but the consequence then is our karmic debt that we incur.

As we live our life, we can live by the principle of “Be Good,” as Sant Kirpal Singh Ji Maharaj said. We have free will to choose between committing good or evil. We need to take responsibility for our actions. Whatever we choose, we reap the reward or the punishment.

Rather than spending time pondering over what is our karma and what is free will, we should take it that we have choices to make and should always choose to do good over evil.

 

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We tend to assume that bad times in our lives are a result of our past karma or deeds done in our past life. As a result, many who believe in karma and destiny often blame a ‘poor’ or ‘negative’ outcome of their ‘honest’ action on their past karmas. Some actually believe that their good actions in this life will influence their next life!  So store it up now.

With an obsession on oneself and results that they conjure in their minds, people often forget that they co-exist with other beings. Each being plays its own role and comes with its own destiny. That being the case, one lives with collective actions and collective destiny. The results you seek are not always determined by you or your actions alone.

Karma is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Kri’ which means to do and encapsulates all actions. In everyday life the word covers noise to silence, doing to not doing, action to inaction, movement to stillness and so on. Each of these actions result in something that you may see immediately or when it ripples into something far more apparent. ‘Karma’ literally means ‘deed’ or ‘act’. Therefore, the conquest of karma lies in intelligent action and dispassionate response.

The word also refers to the totality of mankind’s actions and their concomitant reactions in current and previous lives, all of which determine the future. However, all karmas do not have an immediate effect; some accumulate and return unexpectedly in an individual’s life later. It therefore determines what we deserve and what we can assimilate and hence, decides our destiny. However, our destiny is not only determined by our own actions. It has to do with time, place and more importantly, others who perhaps are part of a larger act.

It is not our immediate collective actions that have led to high levels of corruption or to a slowing economy or to the continuing divisions between the rich and the poor. This is a result of actions taken consistently over a long period of time leading to what today is. In effect, even if an individual seeks a specific change, the change may not occur unless others exercise a similar karma that leads to a collective result. We need to be responsible at both levels.

One of the first and most dramatic illustrations of karma can be found in Bhagwad Gita. Arjuna is preparing for battle when he realises that the enemy consists of members of his own family and decides not to fight. His charioteer, Krishna, explains to him the concept of one’s duty among other things and makes him realise that it is his duty to fight. Krishna also specifies moral duties, but the moral law of acting disinterestedly does not necessarily lead one to virtuous acts.

Our actions, both good and bad, bind us to an unhappy and happy cycle of birth and rebirth due to the relentless moral accounting enforced by the law of karma. The purpose of life is liberation from the phenomenal world. According to Krishna, “Detaching one’s actions from personal reward changes the quality of one’s actions.”

So if we take this as central to life, responsibility and moral goodness is primal to each act. In a democracy this applies not just to each of us but also to the four estates that govern the nation. Given the state of our nation, it is clear that only collective karma with a common purpose can bring a change that most wish to see. In short, collectively, karma does mean a revolution.

 

Did you create your reality consciously?  Did you create a crappy “back row karma” or did you get front row seats?

Tuesday, August 07, 2012
Look how you have made another day to pass by without changing it significantly. Are you going to let this happen today, tomorrow and the day after?
~ Dr. Pillai

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The best way to have something good come your way is to do good for others. This foundation to give poor kids an extraordinary education does extremely good service. Watch this video and decide to donate what you can. It’ll be good for you!

 

 
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