What Is Karma Really?
What have spent a lot of time talking about prana. Prana manifests into the dimension of duality to manifest and sustain all existence, but what about beyond that – on the level of non duality?
We now know that the unique traits of our own personal bodies and minds comes from our mind, and the way we use our thoughts. What determines our thoughts? The subconscious dimension of beliefs and models of reality, the patterns we habitually re enact to recreate certain states and feelings. Ultimately our thoughts are influenced by our psyche, which is experienced as our state of mind, the mode that consciousness is currently expressing.
Karma – The Incentive For Incarnation
Now we must ask, why has consciousness taken this mode?
First tell me this: What is beyond the psyche?
Only the spirit.
What sort of spiritual incentive could be behind the modes our consciousness assumes? It is in fact an expression of our karma. We are here doing what we are doing, thinking what we are thinking and believing what we are believing due to karma. Let us understand this mystery a bit further.
The cycle of karma begins with pure raw universal phenomenon, that is – experience. An experience leaves an impression on your mind, and you now have two choices. Choice one is you associate with the experience and form an “I” statement regarding it such as, “i like this” or “i don’t like this”. From this personal association begins the matrix of duality with all the soon to follow desires and thought patterns evolving to fulfill the desires. From our prejudices towards phenomena comes the filtering of reality to coincide with our perspective, this allows us to move forwards towards attractions and move away from aversions. And this movement is what is propelling the soul through its many lives. The movement is karma.
To brake it down even further. From an experience comes an impression, or samskara, and that samskara is given either a positive incentive in the form of attraction, or a negative incentive in the form of aversion. These create our desires, or vasanas. From our desires come the thoughts, vrittis, and the conscious mind which tries to observe patterns to help achieve the aim of the desire. From the thoughts comes our actions, karma. Karma literally means action, because it is this action that completes the cycle by either reinforcing the original impression or forming a new one.
In this way, these samskaras, or the seed impressions that give rise to all our perceptions and desires influence all of our thoughts and actions. Only when a samskara has been transcended through either fully expressing it in your life, or through fully illuminating and understanding it, is a certain cycle of karma broken.
The Momentum Of The Individual Soul
There are stories of spiritual aspirants being turned away by yogis when encountered high up in the Himalayas. The yogis simply tell them to ‘go back into the world and burn your karma’. This is what they are talking about. It’s not that there is some magical force following you around the universe that knows what you did last summer; but rather, it is the movement within our psyche from all our various desires and ambitions born from the various thoughts we have entertained in the past.
This motion needs to be allowed to run its course until the energy that propelled it is eventually slowed by the friction of life’s interactions. That is, as we go through the process of trying to manifest all our desires the world does it’s job of providing the friction necessary that it refines us and eventually slows us down.
The Secret Of Non-Grasping
But there is another way: A phenomena occurs and you do not associate with it. It’s not necessarily that you disassociate from it, because that would require first that there was an association. But rather, through not requiring the experience to center and orbit around you (and whether or not you ‘like’ it) it becomes possible to see it more fully for simply what it is. This is what intellectual maturity is founded upon; the realization that the universe does not revolve around us. When we take “i” out of the picture, we connect more strongly to what we are truly a part of. We are not separate and duality is only the effect of the mind in its untrained mode.
We can experience non duality. When we allow what we are experiencing to happen without the mind trying to associate a personal meaning behind it, then we are in the spiritual bliss of non duality. This is why the central message of of yogis and Buddhist is always mindfulness, awareness, etc.
If you want to be close to God, the one both inside and outside of you, learn to block the patterns of the mind from grabbing your experiences and trying to place yourself as the epicenter. This is what Patanjali meant in his opening versus of the Yoga Sutras when he said “yoga-chitti-vritti-nirodha”, which translates to, “yoga is the process of blocking the modifications of the mind”. The easiest way to block the process that modifies our filtration of reality is to live as nonjudgmental and as compassionate as possible.
This is also the great secret behind Karma Yoga. Through Karma Yoga we serve others. We abandon our own desires and allow the desire of others to be in the spot light. In such an environment and lifestyle one will quickly express their vasanas, subconscious desires, and transcend them – thus breaking the cycle of karma.
This is also part of why Bhakti Yoga is powerful, as well. The profound devotion that is generated towards either the guru or God allows one to enter into a state of such contentment that the mind takes on a very different quality. The mind is not oscillating and scattered, rather it is focused on it’s object of devotion. They have transcended their ego and placed their lord as of central importance. Now the black hole at the center of what gives the cycle of karma all its greatness has suddenly vanished, and the whole inner system and structures of beliefs and concepts flies away into the space of consciousness. You are naked before your beloved and begin to merge.
The Vehicle Of The Soul
Yoga teaches us that there are three bodies. There is the physical body, the subtle body and the causal body. The physical body is easy enough to understand. The subtle body is our astral body and is the body we move in during dreams, it is also our emotional body during waking life. The causal body is the body of the soul.
Just as you need a physical body to traverse the physical dimension, your soul has a body it uses to traverse transmigration.
The causal vehicle, of the karan sharira, wears the garment of the samskaras, which it brings along with it from life to life. Just as you pack a suit case when you travel, the soul packs a suitcase when it travels, and the contents of that suitcase is the samskaras, the latent impressions from all your past experiences.
The purpose for the soul to take rebirth again is to express these samskaras.
This is why identical twins can end up having many similarities and yet also striking differences. The differences reflect the samskaras, which as the seed state of your thoughts.
You Are The God Shining In The Center Of Your Own Universe
Therefore it becomes apparent that the way you think now is unique to you and is most likely extremely similar to how you thought in past lives. You don’t really lose as much as you think you do between lives. When the kundalini awakens at certain psychic centers in the subtle body one remembers all their past lives.
So now we understand why the psyche takes various modes of consciousness, such as compassion or greed, like what we were talking about previously. Ultimately we are here because the gravity of our karma propelled us here. And as long as we have any desires that involve ourselves as the center, we will continue to be reborn again and again. It is up to you.
In this way, we truly are the center of our own universe, and that universe will continue as long as you are the sun shining in the center of it all.
Existing As One With All Existence For All Eternity
When we begin to wake up spiritually, it is because nature has provided the friction to slow us down and weather us. Upon a strong enough spiritual awakening one can no longer live their life in a self serving way, the illusion has been shattered. From this point on one enters into a condition the Buddhist call ‘non-fashioning’, meaning one is no longer fashioning any new karma.
After the karma’s that have already been set in motion have been brought to a halt by nature (such as the karma of having a physical body), then one is completely liberated from the matrix of the illusions of mental fabrications of reality. One big misunderstanding is that moksha, or nirvana, means you cease to exist. Actually, the opposite is true. You exist in perfect totality with all life in the universe. You and everything that is, and everything that ever was or will be are one. You experience the joy of all life everywhere. You are unlimited and full, like a water drop that has merged back into the ocean after being vapor, rain, stream and river.
The beauty of this all is that it is completely up to you. Your own highest Self is guiding the progress of your evolution. We go on experiencing eternity in the form of small temporary segments. This is the grace of God, the gift of life. When we are ready to embrace eternity, then we will merge back into source; but until then, if there is any fear towards eternity (which all of us have to some extent), we get the alternative to incarnate and take our time as we slowly learn to love, learn, grow and surrender.