A person’s life is based on two factors. They are impressions of his past life and his present thoughts; whichever is powerful dominates his life. When a person is born he carries with him the impressions of his past life. Present thoughts are the result of the knowledge gathered in the present birth. When a child is born his physical appearance, mind, intellect, intelligence, family and friends, surroundings, opportunities and his destiny are largely influenced by his past karmas. Mainly a person’s early life (before he matures to gather considerable knowledge and experience) is dominated by his past karmic impressions. Gradually, when he grows up his parental influence, knowledge gathered from various sources, influence from the surroundings, his own experience all these take hold on him. Past karmas give tendencies and situations in life. Any situation can be dealt either in the positive or in the negative way. It is the present knowledge which teaches the way to tackle the tendencies and deal with the situation in hand.
This article mainly deals with facing negative karmas because it is there many people succumb to strong negative emotions.
FORMATION OF KARMIC IMPRESSIONS
A person’s mental, verbal and physical activities are immediately recorded in the chitta (a combination of subconscious and unconscious mind), DNA, space (akasa) and in the planets; which means our thoughts, feelings , emotions, words and actions are subsequently recorded in these four places immediately. Among them impressions formed in the chitta are very powerful. It remains there until they are retrieved and processed at the appropriate time which is called exhausting of karmas (karma phala). The creation of the thought, emotion, feeling, subsequent action (creation of karma) and experiencing the same in return (experiencing karma phala) completes a karmic cycle. The time period to experience the karma phala may be in this life time or in the future births. It all depends on the ripening of the karma, which means it depends on the magnitude, power of the karmic impressions, the time and place suitable for experiencing the same emotions and feelings in return. The subtle impressions of the chitta leave an impression in the brain and it is executed by the physical body.
Human mind has four functions. They are the manas (conscious thinking mind), buddhi (intellect), chitta (subconscious and unconscious mind), and ahamkara (the sense of self-identity). Chitta is also called as memory or deeper mind. In fact, these four are the combination of the subtle and the causal body. The four functions of the mind together are called as jiva or an individual self. Jiva is superimposed on chit (pure intelligence, Atma). Jiva and chit (i.e Atma) together are called as jivatma. At the time of death jiva travels from the dead body and takes another body according to its latent impressions in the chitta.
Manas, the conscious mind works at two levels, the external and the internal level. The external mind is analytic. It uses the intellect and memory for its thinking and analysis. It accepts, rejects, calculates, thinks, confuses, takes information from the senses and memory and analysis all matters. This is the mind which we commonly experience at all times except in deep sleep (sushupti avasta) state. The internal mind does not do any analysis or thinking. It is also said as the inner conscience or witness of the mind (mana sakshi). In fact, it is the projection of the pure intelligence. It is always very calm, detached, impartial, witness of all the mental and physical activities. It is a great witness. It is non-judgmental and it knows the intensions, motives, and circumstances of each and every action. The internal mind which is a great witness immediately records the emotions, feelings, attitude and motive of an action in the subconscious mind, as soon as it is formed. By the passage of time, the impressions in the subconscious mind sink to the unconscious mind if not retrieved and processed. It remains there in the inactive mode. By a proper stimulus it becomes active and come again to the subconscious mind. Thus the karmic impressions are formed in the chitta. Any action is judged as a sin or a virtue by its attitude, motive, and emotional involvement. It is the mind which mostly experiences the pain and pleasure of the karmic effect.
The past karmic impressions recorded in the subconscious mind by the inner conscience are called sanskars. Sanskars play an important role because any present action is preceded by a thought. Sanskars influence the thought and we perform the present action accordingly. Thoughts have subtle energy and they have life. Thoughts have a magnetic power to attract situations, people and events. We gravitate towards the direction of our dominant thoughts. When thoughts are influenced by past karmic impressions, then we attract situations, people and events according to the past karmic impressions. Mind and buddhi works based on the dominant karmic impressions. Thus our past karmas influence our present life at the level of thoughts.
Water is an element which absorbs the thought pattern easily. Our body cells contain water and it absorbs the thought pattern (influenced by sanskars); our cells react according to our thoughts and in turn it affects the body. Many diseases and bodily problems are caused in this way. When the emotions and feelings are stronger, then our thought vibrations, feelings and emotions are recorded in the DNA. Thus our strong thought vibrations, feelings and emotions are carried to the future generations and they also experience the thought pattern of their ancestors.
Our mental, verbal and physical activities are recorded in the akasa (space) as subtle vibrations. These are called akasic records. These records are present forever. Thoughts create subtle grooves in space and the Universal energy flows towards our mind only through these grooves. If the records are positive, then its vibrations attract similar vibrations and influence our present thoughts in a positive way. The same happens for negative vibrations also.
Similarly, terrestrial bodies like planets which are in similar vibration with us and close to planet earth in the solar system also record our thought vibrations, feelings and emotions. Planets with similar vibrations record similar karmic vibrations. When the planet comes to a particular position or particular constellation (i.e alignment with our mental vibration) the absorbed information is downloaded back to the mind. This influences the mind to a large extent. When the vibration of the karmic impression in the chitta aligns with the vibration of that particular planet, then we get that planetary influence. Our thought and actions are largely affected by this process. We live in Consciousness which include the whole universe. We naturally send and receive information from everything around us. Even at this moment this effect is happening around us. Thus our mental, verbal and physical actions are recorded in the chitta, DNA, akasa and the planets and we experience theirs effects accordingly.
HOW DO WE EXPERIENCE OUR KARMIC EFFECT (KARMA PHALA)
There are three ways by which we experience the effect of our karmas. They are daivik dukha (mental suffering), daihik dukha (physical suffering), bhautik dukha (sufferings due to nature’s fury).
DAIVIK DUKHA (MENTAL SUFFERING)
Mental sins caused to someone in the past results in mental sufferings in the present birth like worry, anxiety, humiliation, fear, grief, anguish etc. Any types of psychological disorders are included in it. Mental sins are acts done deliberately with full mental awareness to cause mental injury (insult) to others. The main reason for causing mental sin is false ego which leads to jealousy, hatred, anger, revenge etc. Some physical actions like murder, robbery, cruelty to other beings, social and domestic violence etc, may be physical, but their intention, motive and attitude are mental. Majority of the physical karmas have strong intension and motive; hence they come under the category of both mental and physical suffering.
Depending on the magnitude and nature of the impression, the subconscious mind prepares a suitable opportunity to exhaust the karmic impressions. When similar action, emotion and feelings are experienced, the impressions are erased from the mind. Only then it completes a karmic cycle. Every suffering sends a strong message and helps us to take a right path by puncturing our false ego and vanity. For a spiritually evolved person, mental or physical suffering helps to realize the temporary nature of the world.
Similarly, virtues in the past life result in peaceful and compassionate mentality in the present life.
DAIHIK DUKHA (PHYSICAL SUFFERING)
Misuse of the body (or organs) for adharmic purposes in the previous life results in physical suffering like diseases, accidents, subject to physical cruelty, physical disability etc in the present birth. We have taken this body to perform actions and exhaust our karmas. If we use this body to disturb or cause pain to others, then it is misuse of the body. When the jiva leaves the body, it carries with it subtle impressions (blue print) of the physical body, mental potentials, tendencies that are to be manifested in the present birth. If the sense organs and their corresponding physical organs have done any sinful actions in the past birth, they lose their vitality in the subtle body and in the present birth it is reflected in the body with corresponding physical deformity, impairment or imperfection. Correction of the physical body in the present birth depends on the degree of the sin committed in the past. If the sensual pleasure exceeds a limit, then it is considered as physical sin and it reflects as malfunction of organs, deficiency of vitamins, diseases etc. The scar of the impression fades away by repentance and nature rejuvenates that particular organ. If physical or mental sin is not repented or neutralized in the present birth, then it is carried over to the next birth.
In the same way, virtuous deeds done in the past are reflected in the present birth with sound health and peaceful life style.
BAUTIK DUKHA (SUFFERING DUE TO NATURAL CALAMITIES)
Natural disasters are the result of disturbing the nature and the mother earth. People disturb the nature in the name of development and for personal gains. Nature is disturbed in many ways like building dams across rivers at wrong places, disturbing earth for mining purposes, buildings erected on mountains and marsh lands, polluting air by industries, discarding waste in the river and sea and many more. Earthquakes, drought, famine, deluge etc are the effect of such barbaric acts which disturbs the nature. The basic elements of nature are interconnected. When one is disturbed, it sends waves of disturbance vibration to the whole universe and the whole universe feels it.
If a group of people has done sinful action against humanity or has disturbed the nature, then they experience the result collectively. The shocking incidents will shake their life and lifestyle disturbing them mentally and physically.
Similarly, virtuous deeds done to save nature in the past will give its effect in the present birth to enjoy and use nature in the most productive way.
Karma phala (effect of karma) is received in the future for both virtuous and sinful deeds in their corresponding way.
TYPES OF KARMA
There are three main types of karma namely sanchita karma, prarabhdha karma and aagami karma.
The karmas the jiva has done in thousands of years are stored and it is called as sanchita karma. The karmas done by the jiva from the time it separated from the universal consciousness, and assumed as an individual with the help of ego are stored in the unconscious and the subconscious mind and are called as sanchita karma. These karmas are mostly in an inactive state, but with proper stimulant they become active. From the sanchita karma some of the karmas become active (according to their maturity) and they come to the surface level and gives effect in the present birth.
Karmas which become active from the sanchita karma and gives effect in the present birth are called as prarabhdha karma. In other words, karmas which are active and give effect in the present birth are called as prarabhdha karma. As said earlier, a person gets his body, mental state, intellect, family, friends, surroundings, lifestyle, situations, and events in life according to his prarabhdha karma.
There are two types of prarabhdha karma – prabhalla prarabhdha karma and durbhalla prarabhdha karma. Mental, verbal or physical actions which are done intentionally, voluntarily, or deliberately under strong emotional stimuli and mental involvement to hurt others mentally or physically are called prabhalla prarabhdha karmas. Such actions carve deep impressions and they give strong results which cannot be altered, diluted by any means. When the appropriate time, place and situation comes they give their effect. According to the nature and depth of the impression, the inner conscience makes the mind to experience the suffering till there is compatibility in the mental or physical pain experienced by the victim in the past. It is not revenge; it is the power of the impressions. The subconscious mind gravitate towards us situations, persons or events according to the karmic impression influenced thoughts. It may happen in the present life time or in future births. Sometimes, by creating good karmas in the later period in the previous birth, the sinner of the previous birth is born as a goodhearted person in the present birth. A sensitive goodhearted person feels more pain for his karmas and this helps to exhaust the karmas quickly. Sometimes, people with similar strong karmic vibrations are born in the same family and are bound to experience the same type of karmas. For example, if a person in a family goes to coma state (brain dead state) then all the members in the family experience the same mental pain. Any accidents where many people die or any natural calamity is due to the effect of collective karmas of many people.
The impressions which are comparatively weaker are called durbhalla prarabhdha karmas. Sometimes our negative surroundings, ambience, compulsion and helplessness compel us to do adharmic actions. It can also be said as involuntary mental karmas which are unknown to the conscious mind. The impressions of such actions are feeble. Such weak impressions are known as durbhalla prarabhdha karmas. They are buried in the dormant state and inactive. However, the ambiance of the present birth may suit to experience its effect; with this as proper stimuli they become active. Such weak negative impressions are wiped out by the continuous flow of strong positive vibrations.
In the present birth, while experiencing the karma phala a person will either deny or accept the karma phala. Commonly, out of ignorance he will reject, restrain or deny the karmic influence and make the situation worse. The way he deals with the situation becomes the seed for new set of karmas to be experienced in the future. In addition to this, he also does karma according to his present knowledge and influence from the people surrounding him. The karmas in the present birth which are set to give effect in the future are called aagami karmas. A jnani will not react to the situations in his life and by this way he consciously detaches from creating aagami karmas. When a jnani consciously restrain from creating aagami karma, sanchita karma detaches from jivatma and jivatma becomes paramatma. It is a gradual evolution of the mind.
CAN PRESENT THOUGH POWER OVERCOME PAST KARMAS
Past karmas attract situations and give tendencies in the present birth. How a person reacts to that situation and tackle the tendencies depend on the gathered knowledge in the present birth. A person can surpass the past negative karmas, without succumbing to the misfortunes in life, by using the positive thought power. Prabhalla prarabhdha karma does not fail to give its effect. For example, due to past karmas some people are born with physical disability; at the same time, we have witnessed the Himalayan success of such people. They shine in their chosen field. They never took their misfortune as negative; instead they took it as a challenge and performed their actions with perfection. Therefore, past karmas cannot completely flatter a person. It can give situations. Past karmas can give tendencies, but present life’s thought process is in our control. We have to decide the way we want to lead our life. One must try and take effort to make any situation positive. If it is not possible then accept the situation and overcome it by creating powerful positive thoughts. There should not be any adulteration in positive thoughts by mixing negative thoughts like jealousy, anger, anguish, anxiety, hatred, blaming the misfortune etc. All these weaken the positive thought power.
UNDERSTANDING KARMIC PATTERNS
Past karmas have already started to give its effect. We are experiencing the present life according to the past karmas. However, we have the freedom of will power. Future is in the power of our present thoughts. Scripture says, aagami karma is the effect of our present mental, verbal and physical activity. Tomorrow is the effect of our present thoughts. Even if our life is completely crippled today by the effect of the past karmas, we can build tomorrow by our present powerful positive thoughts. It is the power of freewill. What we think at the present moment creates the next moment. Of course, our past karmas influence our thoughts to an extent, but it has its limit. If only past karmas can design the present life exclusively, then what is the value of the present life? Present life exhausts the past karmas and at the same time it also creates the future karmas (aagami karma). The present life is the combination of the effect of the past life and the seed for the future. Future means the remaining period of the present birth and the future births. The way we react to the present situation designs the future. Only present knowledge and positive thoughts design a very powerful future. The magnitude and power of our present thoughts changes the future. It erases the negative durbhalla prarabhdha karma and weakens the negative prabhalla prarabhdha karma by having a meek effect on us.
Only man has the unique capacity to think, analyze and take decisions. This power is not given to man to experience life as predestined. Only man has the power to lead the life according to his choice. A person’s belief creates his thoughts and subsequently his future. If man beliefs that life is predestined and his present efforts have no value, then his life will be according to his beliefs, as predestined. If he beliefs that freewill has power, then he has the power to design his future.
If a person denies the present situation then unnecessary questions like how it happened, why it happened, who is behind this action etc, occupies the mind and he is unable to find solutions. Gradually, the misfortunes will haunt him and he becomes mentally weak. Therefore, accept the situation and create solutions. When we concentrate more on past karmas and always blame situations in life, then the universal energy which is common to all gets blocked. Whenever we deny or resist a situation then the universal energy is blocked. Our mind needs energy to survive and hence we search for that energy from others by getting emotional help or we search shoulders to cry. This sometimes helps and many times depletes more energy. Instead, if we accept the situation and concentrate on solutions, it will help to drag in energy from the universe and helps to surpass the situation with ease.
Powerful positive beliefs create powerful positive thoughts which attract positive situation and people towards us. If we fail to have strong beliefs then series of mistakes will cripple the future. Never create the thoughts about the present situation; instead create positive thoughts about the future. Design the future by your thoughts. Spiritual knowledge will not erase the karmic impressions directly. It will teach the way to accept and deal with the situation in hand and to build a positive future. Thoughts have life and power. Thoughts manifest and create destiny. Life is sankalp (assumption) to shrishti (creation). This is mind over matter.
Many people believe in horoscope and they refer to it even for taking silly decisions. It is not wrong, but this weakens the thought power and freewill. If we believe that life goes only by predestined document, then what is the value of our present knowledge and its influence in life? Basically, horoscopes are used by ancient people to understand the planetary position and the alignment of the planets in a person’s life so that performing a particular ritual or spiritual practice at a particular time will benefit that person and his family. It is not used to predict the future as it is done today. Horoscope is a science which is reflecting to us the actions done by this particular soul in the past birth and its predicted effect. It is a scientific document with precision. However the effect is only a prediction, it is not the truth. Prediction means it has a chance to change. Horoscope itself says, if a person performs the necessary self-purification act then the negative prediction will change to positive. This implies that a positive attitude will change the future according to the desires in mind and nothing is predestined.
ROLE OF THE DIVINE POWER (GOD) IN THE EFFECTS OF KARMA (KARMA PHALA)
Unfortunately, even God do not have the power to design our destiny. It is purely in the hands of our thoughts and actions. Definitely, divine thoughts have very high frequency and it elevates our thoughts. It will purify us and take us to the next higher level. However, it is not like magic. Divine thoughts will help us to create powerful positive thoughts with strong mentality (unfailing mind) and helps to have clear concentrated mind. This helps to create a bright future. Sometimes a mind with pure divine thoughts, by experiencing worldly difficulties, will detach from the material world and becomes a spiritual minded person. When his mind is attracted by divine vibrations his mentality becomes pure and peaceful. Other than this it is our own responsibility to design our destiny.
When a mind is in distress it finds peace in blaming others. It fails to take responsibility. Out of spiritual immaturity we feel that God is punishing us and we perform the spiritual rites to please him to reduce the punishment. Moreover, we think that only the supreme power has the power to write the destiny. Sometimes, some of the incidents in life will bring our life to standstill. A sudden unexpected negative happening (due to strong prarabhdha karma) makes one feel that there is a higher power responsible for this change. At this time, we blame God and we feel that praying is a futile effort. Our mentality will change to disbelief in God and to contempt of God. This is absurd. Prayer is connecting the mind to the higher power so that our mental vibration will reach that higher vibration frequency, atleast temporarily. When we often connect with that divine vibration we can understand life better. This helps us to take productive decisions and escape from the adversities of life. God never directly involves in creating any fortune or misfortune for any individual in this world. It is impossible for HIM. If we connect with the divine frequency (subtle higher frequency) then our mind gets the power to build a desired future. It gives mental purity and peace of mind.
Destiny is a complicated interwoven pathway of past and present lives. It is not exactly predictable. Profound study is needed to understand it completely.
The only message karma gives is our past thoughts and actions decide our present life and our present thoughts and actions decide the future; and hence accept the situation and take the fortune and misfortune equally and deal with the present situations in life with equanimity of mind. Refine the good qualities and polish them to have a bright future.
Srimad Bhagavad Gita bhasya of Sri Sankaracharya
The Bhagavad Gita bhasya of Swami Shivananda
Pandit Shriram Sharma Acharya, What is destiny, epublisher Ashutosh Sarswat
Swami Shivananda, Mind – Its mysteries and control, The divine life society, Himalayas, 2001
Sister Shivani in conversation with Suresh Oberoi, Happiness Unlimited, Manjul publishing house, 2015