Actions and Destiny
Consciousness is in everything that exists; the elemental force of the Universe that vibrates in every atom. The development of consciousness commences first at the level of the stone, and continues in metal, crystal and vegetation. Plants already have the ability to feel, but are not able to express or communicate their feelings to others. At the next level of development are life forms such as coral and anemones that appear to be plants but actually belong to the animal kingdom. Then come fish, birds, mammals and finally humans as the most highly developed earthly beings.
Some of the more highly evolved animals have developed a certain limited capacity to discriminate, but humans are the only living beings on earth with comprehensive discrimination and free choice over their actions. Only we humans are capable of consciously shaping and changing our life.
Because we are “I-conscious” and behave wilfully, we also bear responsibility for our behaviour. That is why the cosmic law of KARMA is valid for us humans. The Karmic Law states that every action we take will at some time come back to us in the same way as it went out from us.
Therefore the most important precept that should be observed is:
To harm no-one by our thoughts, words or deeds.
We produce Karma in four ways:
- through thoughts
- through words
- through actions that we perform ourselves
- through actions that others do under our instructions.
Put briefly - everything that we have ever thought, spoken, done or caused is Karma; as is also that which we think, speak or do this very moment.
After death the physical body remains on the earth and decays; the elements detach from one another and return to their source. We again find ourselves as a bodiless, spiritual being in the astral plane because the subtle sheaths – the astral, mental and causal bodies – continue to exist. In these all our feelings, knowledge and memories remain. But there is one thing we lose after death - Kriyā Shakti , the ability to act. Only in the physical body are we are capable of doing good or bad. After death we are unable to do anything. Our earthly possessions, title and position no longer have any value - whatever level we reach in the Cosmos depends entirely upon our Karmas.
There are three types of Karma:
- SANCHITA KARMA is the accumulated Karma from all of our previous lives. It would be impossible to experience and endure all Karmas in one life. Therefore only a small part of the Sanchitakarma comes into effect with each birth.
- PRĀRABDHA KARMA is the portion of the accumulated karma that has “ripened” and appears as a particular problem in the present life.
- KRIYAMĀNA KARMA , however, is everything that we produce in our present life. This Karma flows into the Sanchitakarma and consequently shapes our future.
When we plant an apple seed in the earth then naturally an apple tree grows. We can only expect apples from it and no other fruit. And in the same way the seeds of our actions also produce the appropriate effect.
The Law of Karma says that the energetic vibration arising from each action will one day come back to the one it originated from, either with the same qualities or even stronger through other intervening interactions. Through our actions we plant the “seeds” of our future destiny and therefore whatever happens to us is the “fruit” of our own past. If we think and act negatively we increase the disaster-bringing influences of our destiny; whereas positive thoughts and deeds develop the happiness-bringing potential.
There are two types of adverse actions; those we perform unconsciously, and those we do consciously and against our better judgement. Undoubtedly the latter weigh more heavily. Those who make a mistake out of ignorance do not invite such heavy karma to themselves as those who intentionally inflict harm and pain. But just as poison affects us if we take it unknowingly, suffering caused unintentionally, and therefore unconsciously, also gives rise to an appropriate karmic effect.
The great sage and poet, Srī Tulsīdās , said:
“Our destiny was shaped long before the body came into being.”
Just as a farmer first prepares his field so that later he can harvest a crop, we have first “sown” our destiny and, according to plan, those circumstances through which it can be fulfilled are produced.
If destiny is fashioned in this way, then what point is there to our efforts? Are we merely “puppets” moved by the thread of an inevitable fate? Not at all! We are able to exert an influence and alter the course of providence. What happens to us is pre-determined in the same way as the target of an arrow that has already been shot. Its course is foretellable and predictable – unless it is deflected or diverted by a new influence. Even though the events of our destiny are, in fact, lawfully caused and steered as a consequence of earlier actions, we do, however, have the opportunity to avert, or at least lessen, the impact through our present behaviour.
We are therefore in a position to change the course of our destiny – but only if we do something about it. Not just “anything”, but the right thing at the right time. Through positive actions, pure thoughts, prayer, mantra and meditation we are able to resolve the influence of the Karmas from which we are suffering in this present life, and in this way gradually turn our destiny around for the better. The spiritual Master helps us with this. He knows the “karmic formula” and is aware of the sequence in which our earlier and present actions will bear fruit. That is why he is able to advise us and show us how we can partially or completely deflect the “arrow” of our karmas and so escape avoidable sorrows.
What does Karma look like? One can neither touch it nor see it. When fortunate or unfortunate events affect us, we say: “That was lucky” or “That was unlucky”. But it is really our own vibration that pulls us towards luck or misfortune. We are driven hither and thither by it, just like a boat moved about in the wind and currents. Karma is a vibration that surrounds our subtle “Phänomen” . Its fine vibration is not limited spatially and accompanies us everywhere. The effect of our phänomen can be compared with a dynamo that generates two kinds of energy: negative and positive.
Positive Karmas – love, forgiveness, help and selfless service, practising mantra, prayer and meditation – generate a positive, healing energy that purifies and enlightens our phänomen. If the being of a person is filled only by the radiance of positive and divine qualities, his phänomen is completely illuminated. Such a person is an “enlightened one”; one who is united with God – because God is love, light, harmony, knowledge, reality, truth and unity.
However, through negative thoughts, words, deeds and harmful qualities, such as anger, hatred, jealousy, attachment, passion, greed, fanaticism and egotism, destructive energies are produced which darken our phänomen. We produce negative Karma because we lack knowledge and clarity. The purpose of our existence here on earth is to gain correct knowledge and insight. If we do not make use of this opportunity and remain in ignorance, then after death we must again return to the world in a new birth to clear all unresolved Karmas.
Whether we believe it or not – rebirth is a fact. As humans, however, we have the possibility to make more rapid progress towards the light through the practice of good Karma. This is why we should not allow the precious opportunity given by a human life to slip by! We are travellers who have come to the “Hotel of the Earth” for just one brief night. Soon a new day will dawn and we must again depart. We can take nothing with us; everything remains here except the quality of our actions.