Karma Management Day 2, Part 3

2002 Kauai Innersearch Day 2, Part 3 Bodhinatha reviews the first two principles of Karma Management and proceeds with number 3, "forgive the offender" and number 4, "consider the consequences." The first three principles have to do with the return of karma from past actions and how we respond to it; principles 4 and 5 deal with the creation of new karma.

Unedited Transcript:

Turning to the third area, 'Ten Principles for Effective Karma Management', we will review the first two principles, then go on to principles three and four.

The first principle is 'Forego retaliation'. The opposite of that, I have a quote for that, to start and then a quote for the right approach. "Revenge lasts for only a day, but oh, what a day!" That is the wrong approach, "Revenge lasts for only a day, but oh, what a day!" That is not in the Tirukural. The Tirukural says the right thing. It says, "The joy of the vengeful lasts for only a day but the glory of the forbearing lasts until the end of time." So that is the correct approach. It also says, "Worthless are those who injure others vengefully, but those that stoically endure are like stored gold." It is encouraging everyone to forego retaliation.

It is an interesting principle. It can be broadened out into a variety of situations. One of Gurudeva's teachings is that at this time on the planet, any worthwhile endeavor has opposition. It is just the nature. You are trying to do something good, somebody will oppose it. You try and do something great, somebody will oppose it even more. So to expect that kind of opposition was Gurudeva's wisdom. Not to not expect it. Some people don't expect it and therefore they are disappointed. They are discouraged when they reach that kind of obstacle. They say, "Oh, so many people are against me. This is terrible."

Well, Gurudeva would say, "So many people are against me, I must be doing something really good." He would turn it around. He would expect the obstacle and when he encountered it, would measure the worth of what he was doing.

This principle applies into how to handle opposition. For example, when we first started publishing our magazine, 'Hinduism Today', on a broad scale, it was receiving recognition as a vehicle for uniting Hindus worldwide. We got some opposition from the VHP, Vishwa Hindu Prarashad. They were concerned because they wanted to be the only umbrella, global, Hindu organization. That is their goal, Vishwa Hindu Prarashad. They thought we had similar ambitions. So, they would criticize 'Hinduism Today'. Of course, we were all CIA, which was quite a compliment! Funded by the government, we had this vast budget, which is also a compliment! You know, it must be a good publication for them to think the whole government is funding it!

It was a very interesting time and of course, we are on good relations now. It didn't last because they realized that, that wasn't our goal. We don't want to be a global Hindu organization. We just want to be a magazine, that is all we want to be. We are not trying to be global, Hindu organization. So they didn't feel we were competing after a while. But initially they did and so Gurudeva's approach, which relates to this idea of forgoing retaliation, is what he called, "the friendly, firm wall."

In a situation where a group is opposing you, you have certain rules. You don't initiate contact with them. If they initiate contact with you, "friendly, firm wall." Means, you smile and you say, "Oh, yes thank you." Then, you promptly forget about whatever they have said. You do that enough times, what does it do? It creates a wall, it creates a distance between you and their group. Whereas if you interact with them either on your own initiative or responding to what they say, you start to tangle the two groups up. But if you keep the wall up, "friendly, firm wall", what happens? Well, their antagonistic action hits the wall. What happens? It bounces back on them and it doesn't hit you because you have tied yourself together. Eventually, the karma of what they are doing comes back on them and then it finally works itself out.

So, it shows how this principle can be used in business or in life or a number of situations, governments. It is not a principle which relates to just one person, it can be applied to a number of situations quite effectively.

Our second review is, 'Accept Responsibility'. That is the second principle. We will start with a Kural quote. Yesterday, we were doing Gurudeva quotes, today it is the Kural. "Why should those who rejoice when destiny brings them good, moan when that same destiny decrees misfortune?" Definitely happens, right? Everybody is happy when their karma brings them something good. Everybody is sad when it brings them something difficult. A spiritual person might look at it the opposite way because he knows he unfolds more when he is facing difficulty. But that is not normal human nature. So, it is just human nature that is the answer. When we face difficulties we tend to get discouraged, we get externalized, we react emotionally, we don't act wisely. It is human nature to go through that because we have hit something we have not expected.

Whereas what we need to do is to remain centered and act from wisdom. That is the goal, of course, when experiencing difficulties, applying Gurudeva's teachings to that situation. If we can remain centered, then we can act with wisdom. But that takes practice, but of course that is the goal. You have to understand the goal intellectually first, before we can apply it.

When we look at things that way, in the midst of difficulties we can hang on to this important principle, that everything that happens to me is my own creation. The only person I can praise, the only person I can blame for whatever happens to me, is me. Even if it happens to come through other people, they are simple the instrument to return my karma to me. They are not the creator of the action, I am the creator of the action. So that is, accept responsibility.

Moving on we have a new principle, the third principle "Forgive the Offender". We have a story, this one is a teenage youth in Singapore who would occasionally send in these dilemmas, loved to come up with a dilemma. "This is happening to me in life and this is happening and this is happening and I want to do this and I want to do that. How does this apply to that and that apply to this?" and so forth. Very good at making everything complex, ending up in a quandary. His problem was, he wasn't being treated fair at school. A number of boys in the class were always teasing him, giving him a bad time. He was able to apply the first two principles. He was able to forgo retaliation. He didn't tease them back. He didn't hit them. He didn't do anything in return, so that was good. The second one, he was able to understand intellectually, "Well, this is happening to me. Therefore it is my karma." He accepted responsibility, this was even without reading these principles. It was just how he was looking at it. But he was still upset with them. He really wanted to hit them back but he knew he shouldn't and he really thought about it a lot, he was just bothered about it. "Gee, these boys are treating me this way. They shouldn't, you know. Maybe their karma will come back on them or something will happen here because really it is unfair. But, I know I should do this and that." So, he was in this state, common state.

What is the problem? He followed the first principle, he followed the second principle. He needs the third principle, forgive the offender. He hadn't forgiven the offender, he wanted them to suffer. He kept thinking about it. It was bothering him. It was making him angry. He would hold on to it for a year. Some people hold on to these things for a lifetimes, I mean, one lifetime, fortunately you forget. Hold on to them for a lifetime. Some people delight in holding on to things for a lifetime. It is their life. But, in this case, we are trying to get rid of it. So, we need to forgive the offender. Actually not feel bad that they did it to us.

There is a wonderful story that Gurudeva used all the time. Many of you have heard it, about Swami Sivananda which illustrates this point so beautifully. Swami Sivananda had an ashram in Rishikesh. That was his main ashram and daily satsang. At one evening satsang, a man came up behind him with an axe trying to seriously injure Him. But he hit him with an axe and only slightly injured him. Of course, the devotees there jumped on the man and subdued him quickly. What was Swami's reaction? Was he angry at the man? Did he tell his devotees to punish the man? What did he do? The next day, he gave the man some books, gave the man a train ticket to get home, gave him some money and most importantly said, "Thank you so much for bringing this karma to me. Now, I am free from it."

Isn't that an interesting perspective? He didn't blame the man. He didn't even need to forgive the man because he was so wise in the first place. But he held no ill will toward the man at all. In fact, he was grateful that the man had brought this karma back to him and gotten rid of it. Maybe that was his last karma in this life. Maybe then he could attain moksha because the karma had been gotten rid of. What a wise way of looking at someone doing something to you!

Though we may not muster up that much wisdom, at least we know we should forgive the offender and not continue to harbor ill feelings that they did it to us, because really, we did it to ourselves. That is the best way to look at it.

Our fourth principle is 'Consider the Consequences'. It is the same idea as, think before speaking, think before acting. Consider the consequences but in this case, not the practical consequences but the karmic consequences. We want to train ourselves before we speak or act, to think about the karmic consequences of what we are about to do. Do we want to create that karma? Or, are we simply acting through emotion? Are we reacting to what someone else did without thought? Unfortunately, that is what happens sometimes. Someone insults us, so without thinking we insult them back, almost like a dog barking. There is a sound, a dog barks. Someone insults us, we insult them back. It is a habit. So, if we have those habits we want to work ourselves out of them. But in any case we want to think about the karmic consequences before we act.

Again, this relates to child raising. It is something we can instill in a person when they are a child, to think this way. First, it is not the karmic consequences, but the consequences. If you do something what is going to happen? So there is an interesting example on that principle that happened about a year ago, that came up on the News. It was in Australia. There was a fire caused deliberately by some teenagers and the fire caused damage. It damaged homes as well as, it burned people. So the approach they took was not simply to blame the kids and put them in juvenile detention or whatever. No, they took them to the hospital where the people who had been burned were hospitalized. They had to go and visit the people in their rooms to see what the fire had caused, to see the actual damage the fire had caused to people. It hurt people. What they had done to have fun had actually hurt people in a serious way. They were exposing them to the consequences of that act. They were old enough. They were not going to get shocked or anything, they were teenagers.

Photo of  Gurudeva
It is by means of worship of and meditation on God that our self-created sufferings are softened and assuaged. God is the God of all--of the believers within all religions, and of the nonbelievers, too.