Practical Metaphysics

and the

Path of the Wise

Law of KARMA

Simply stated, the law of Karma is the law of cause and effect, or you could say the law of action and reaction.  Everything in the universe is controlled by the law of karma.  Many of the effects that we see are themselves causes of other effects.  Only that which is not the effect of any cause is exempt from the law of karma. [1]   In this regard, there are only three entities that are without any cause:  The Absolute, or GOD, which is one without a second; Soul (Atman) which is one and many [2] ; Nature (Prakriti) which is one (i.e., singular) but appears as many [3] (in the form of this Universe and countless other Universes).

Every Effect Has a Cause

Everything that we see, hear, smell, taste, touch, feel, think, remember, and imagine has a cause. If we are in physical pain, that pain has been caused by something; if we are mentally upset, then that mental pain has a cause. 

The law of Karma cannot be negated.  There is no effect that is not subject to the law of  Karma.  Just as no negative effect can be brought about without a cause, similarly no positive effect can be brought about without a cause. Positive and negative thoughts, feelings, sensations, experiences, and so on and so forth, do not occur in a vacuum. They originate at ‘sometime’ and take place ‘somewhere’.  In other words, they occur in time and space.  

The Effects of Time and Space

Time begins when change takes place, and change takes place (first) in the space of the mind. Of course, before the mind exists there are also other changes that take place as the Creation is unfolding, but our concern is with the changes that take place in our mind, because it is due to the mind only that we are either in bondage or we are free.

Working Through the Effects

By its very nature, the mind is always changing, being as it is an element of the Creation.  That is, everything in this created world is in motion.  The measure of that motion, or change, is called Time. Only that which is Timeless is also Changeless.  There is no such thing as the ‘status quo’, because the truth is that things are either changing for the better or changing for the worse.  Stagnation is not the ‘state of not-changing’, it is simply the state of not changing for the better, which means changing for the worse.

We cannot wait for things (including our own mind) to get better on their own, because things only get better or worse as a result of action (karma).  Without conscious effort nothing can improve.  It is only the infusion of Consciousness in the unconscious matter that has resulted in the creation of this wonderfully beautiful and amazingly intricate and intelligently organized Universe.  Without the deliberate action (conscious effort) of that Creative Intelligence, there would be only chaos. Every scientist attests to the incredible and unimaginable intelligence exhibited by every single aspect of this life, from the minutest particle to the unchartered magnitude of the Universe. 

Our Unlimited Resource

That same Creative Intelligence which created our world, and all the worlds in the Universe, and Universes after Universes after Universes. . . . that same Creative Intelligence is within us.  That Supreme Power is indivisible—It is never fractional—It is always whole, always complete, always full.  That Supreme Being is Omnipresent, all-pervading.  Understanding this, we realize that the Supreme Self is within us in all Its Greatness.  With this realization we are empowered to overcome any and all obstacles on the path to Liberation.  Liberation, or MOKSHA, means Total Freedom from wrong doing.  Wrong actions invariably cause pain and suffering.  The only way to be totally free from pain and suffering is to stop doing wrong actions. The state of being totally free (from all wrong actions) is known as the state of MOKSHA.

MOKSHA can only be attained through good action, which means actions which are in concord with our Real Nature, the true nature of ATMAN, the Soul. 

Who is the Performer of Action?

Who is the performer of action?  The living soul, JIVATMAN, is the performer of action.  This Jiva is the offspring of PURUSH and PRAKRITI, and thus possess the qualities of both.  The Jiva is equipped with ego, intellect, mind, senses, and the body.  These are the organs or instruments of the Jiva.  The first four are collectively known as the Antarkarana, or internal organ.  The outer organs comprise the physical body.  However, both of these together (the inner and outer organs) can be called the ‘body’ of the Jiva, and that body is then said to be comprised of  five layers or coverings:

  1. Annamaya Kosha, the gross physical body (which is the product of ‘anna’, which means food)
  2. Pranamaya Kosha, the body of physical energy, which is invigorated by PRANA (the life force that emanates from the soul and is known as the divine spirit, and also emanates from the Oversoul, PARAMATMAN, and is known as the Supreme Spirit) [4]
  3. Manomaya Kosha, the mental body, or Subtle Body, comprised of the mind, memory, and subtle senses [5]   
  4. and 5. Vijnanamaya Kosha and the Anandamaya Kosha, which together constitute the Causal Body.  Vijnanamaya Kosha is the body of Intelligence (the higher intellect) possessed of wisdom and understanding.  The Anandamaya Kosha is the Cosmic Ego, or the ‘feeling’ principle manifested as pure self-consciousness, pure awareness and experience of pure existence.

We Must Draw Our Inspiration From Above

The body and mind (intellect, ego, etc.) are our instruments.  With these instruments we can create the music of Life by way of our living.  The instruments are incapable of producing music on their own.  We can create music with these instruments only if we are inspired.   We are inspired when we rise above our small self and aspire to be the best that we can be.  We realize how good we can be only when we are in the company of those who are themselves good.  When we associate with the courageous, we become courageous.  When we associate with the Wise, we become wise too.  The good people, the noble people (Aryas) create harmony and good will, because they live their lives in accordance with Truth.  When we come in their contact we are inspired to raise our consciousness to a nobler level; we desire to attain the higher states of consciousness that approach our Supreme Nature.

The Supreme Nature is all-pervading and is without any doubt our Supreme Essence, our Absolute Essence.  That is why we say GOD is our Essence.  The all-pervading Supreme Soul (PARAMATMAN) is the essence of our Soul (ATMAN).  We continue to expand our consciousness, attaining higher and higher states of being until we approach the Supreme Being.  When we get so close, we cannot turn back.  We wait at the door of Eternity, already in an ecstatic state, free of anxiety and want, but absolutely certain that the door with surely open.  We have no conditions and no impatience at that point.  Neither do we have any sloth or languor. Standing at the door of Eternity we are fully energized and remain fully engaged in the moment.  Knowing that moment is a moment in Eternity, we savor it.  We never become complacent, but continue to worship that URUKRAMA (Source of Infinite Activity) by actively involving ourselves in the symphony of existence. 

The line between KARMA and DHARMA disappears for the one who is absorbed in the Love of the Supreme.  The distinction between the past, the present, and future is dissolved for the one who lives in the bonds of Love.  We are bound by the love of the Divine Spirit.  Our spirits are drawn to the Supreme Spirit because That Supreme Spirit is our Essence.

Action (KARMA) performed in the name of Truth is DHARMA. The name (quality) of Truth is DHARMA.  DHARMA is the manifestation of the Essence.  That Essence is our essence, and the knowledge and expression of that Essence is DHARMA,  and that DHARMA is our DHARMA—it is our True Nature.  When our actions are in agreement with our true nature, we are following our Dharma.  Actions that follow Dharma, lead to complete freedom from all actions that are contrary to Dharma.  When all actions contrary to DHARMA are eliminated, all pain and suffering ends. 

This is the path of the Arya.  This is the path of the Good.  This is the path of GOD that leads to the Highest Good.  This is the path of the Wise.

[1] Some persons may object to this statement and will say that only GOD, the Absolute, is exempt from the Law of  Karma. But the truth is that anything that has no cause must by reason of simple logic be exempt from the Law of Cause and Effect.  Of course, if you like, you can create another law called the ‘Law of Effect’, which states that “A cause which is not the effect of any other cause can be effected by other causes and effects.”  But this is just a mumbo-jumbo of words, since a Cause that is not an effect cannot also be an effect.   In other words, if you accept that the Soul (Atman) and Nature (Prakriti) are eternal and not caused by anything else, you must conclude that the nature or characteristics of such a beginingless-endless Cause must also be beginingless-endless (i.e., changeless), that is, neither effected by nor affected by anything. 

Primordial Nature (Prakriti) is eternal, uncaused.  Our universe is an effect that is brought about (caused by)  the Absolute (GOD) and Prakriti (the essence of invisible primordial matter).    Both the Absolute and Prakriti are without cause and remain uncaused and unchangeable before, during, and after the creation and dissolution of the universe.  Similarly, the ATMAN, the Real Self, is not caused by anything: the Soul is not the effect of something nor is it affected by anything.  The manifestation of the living soul (Jivatman) is an effect brought about the union of Purush and Prakriti, and is therefore subject to the law of cause and effect (i.e., the Law of Karma). Similarly, the Universe (i.e., the Creation) is also an effect, which is brought about the union of Purush and Prakriti.  However, neither ATMAN nor PRAKRITI undergo any change.  All changes occur in the living self (Jivatman) and the Universe, but the essence of the living self and the universe remains unchanged. 

Someone may argue that ATMAN and PRAKRITI do undergo change.  They might argue that ATMAN becomes Jivatman and PRAKRITI becomes the Universe, but this not so. If it were really so, then the state of Liberation (MOKSHA) which is attained by the Liberated could never be attained.  The Liberated state is that state of being in which the forces inherent in PRAKRITI are perfectly balanced.  That state always exists.  

[2] That is, the Soul is unique (and in that sense, one without a second) but there are countless other Souls too, which are also unique. Thus, the Soul is said to be one and many.  Whereas, the Supreme Soul, the Absolute (GOD), is One and only One, and therefore is called One Without a Second.

[3] That is, there is only one Prakriti and it is constant and consistent; it neither increases nor decreases.  It quantity and qualities are fixed. For example, (regarding quantity) when matter is absorbed into a Black Hole, its quantity does not become less after being absorbed, nor does it become more when it is released.  Similarly, (regarding quality) Prakriti is characterized by three qualities:  Sattwa, Rajas, and Tamas. There are neither more qualities nor less: the qualities are fixed.  It is the interaction of these GUNAS that brings about the appearance of the Universe and everything in it.  Multiplicity is a quality of the Universe, which is an appearance of Prakriti.  Thus, we say that Prakriti is One but appears as many.

[4] The text in the parenthesis is referring to PRANA and not the Pranamaya Kosha.

[5] The senses reside in the mind, whereas the sense organs reside in the physical body.  The mind also includes the lower intellect and little ego.

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