Karma Management and Ganesha
Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami , 2002-03-31
With karma management it is important to apply our philosophical understanding to our life in order for it to really benefit us. A new concept is"divinely influence karma." Through the worship of Lord Ganesha, of course! Ganesha helps us to discover our personal dharma, or svadharma, and as we sit with him on the muladhara chakra and live in the states of consciousness above it, we naturally stop adharmic practices and habits. Lord Ganesha is the Lord of Obstacles. When our life seems to be filled with problems, the worship of Lord Ganesha can help. Bring Ganesha and his band of devas into our problems in order to receive their assistance. Satsang, or religious fellowship, is important for the management of karma and stability in our life. As Gurudeva put it so aptly, "The individual helps the group, and the group helps the individual."
One of the topics we are working on is 'Karma Management', as you know. 'Principles for Karma Management', the idea being that it is not just enough to understand all the intricacies of karma, be able to rattle off the different kinds of karma, explain it clearly. We have to also apply it to our own life, in order for it to really benefit us.
We are working on this presentation which has multi uses, one of which is, it will end up in 'Hinduism Today'. That is always good. 'Hinduism Today' appreciates whenever we can do something which ends up in 'Hinduism Today'. Also, it is a good topic for lectures and it is a good topic for seminars, discussions together.
The introduction uses the analogy of the nutritionist who says it is not enough to understand all the laws of nutrition and be able to get an 'A' on any exam, if in your own personal life you are eating junk food three times a day. You have not quite applied the knowledge yet where it should be applied, which is of course is starting with yourself.
We worked out a new principle of karma management yesterday. It is called 'Divinely Influenced Karma'.
How can we divinely influence karma? Well, through Lord Ganesha, of course. He is very useful in the realm of karma
In reviewing what Gurudeva wrote on Lord Ganesha in various writings in the Trilogy and the Lord Ganesha book, the idea is that first of all we need to establish a personal relationship with Lord Ganesha. What does that mean? That means through worship, attending pujas to Lord Ganesha, doing pujas to Lord Ganesha, singing bhajans to Lord Ganesha, we appreciate His vibration, sense His vibration, go deeply into that vibration and develop a sense of closeness to Lord Ganesha, feel that we know Him, feel that we know the vibration that He is.
As Gurudeva explains, Lord Ganesha resides upon the muladhara chakra, chakra of memory. It does not sound like a very high vibration but lots of people aren't there. Sometimes we are probably not there. We fell below it, we went into fear, we went into doubt, maybe we got a little bit angry. So, Lord Ganesha helps us stabilize our selves at a certain minimum state of consciousness. We don't fall into the lower states.
Initially perhaps we have some adharmic habits. Of course, all of us here are way beyond this. But, we are talking about initially, perhaps there are some practices that aren't virtuous, that we are involved in. Getting to know Lord Ganesha over time, these practices will naturally drop away because we won't go into the states of consciousness where we could perform those actions. We stay in a certain state of consciousness, you can not act another way that is below that state of consciousness. You have to fall into a state of consciousness that really gets you angry in order to do certain things. If you never get angry you can not do them anymore. The reason the adharmic habits fall away is, we don't end up in those states of consciousness anymore. We stay above them through the worship of Lord Ganesha. We have a stability in consciousness better than we had before.
What happens when we are not doing anything that is adharmic? We are dharmic, of course. We are following a virtuous life all the time. Lord Ganesha helps us do that. But it doesn't stop there. It is not just dharma, it eventually leads to swadharma.
Gurudeva explains swadharma so nicely. I will read his explanation. "Such a life is the fulfillment of all pervious efforts and thus erases the uncomplimentary deeds and adds beneficial ones, so our next birth can be most rewardingly great and useful to the whole of mankind." That is a wonderful statement.
Gurudeva also describes swadharma as our perfect pattern. Why is it perfect? Because it allow us to work out the karma we carry in the smoothest way and to make the most spiritual advancement. So it includes the occupation we choose, the various duties we perform in life to others. All of that relates to our swadharma.
Finding swadharma is very beneficial in terms of spiritual progress because our karma then works out in a very smooth way compared to how it would if we were functioning in another pattern.
In addition to swadharma, Lord Ganesha helps us, divinely influences our karma as the Lord of Obstacles. We know the usual understanding of the Lord of Obstacles. We want something and we pray to Ganesha. He removes the obstacles and we get what we want. Of course, that is simplified.
He is also the Lord of Obstacles, in terms of placing obstacles in front of us so that, though we want it, we may not get it because it is really not good for our dharmic pattern. It is taking us in a direction that is not the most beneficial.
A simple way of understanding Lord of Obstacles is to think of a mother with a young child. There is a constant juggle of obstacles. You have to take things out of the child's reach, you have to put things up to prevent the child from going places. The child could fall down the stairs and so forth. So the mother is the Lord of Obstacles when it comes to a young child. She is constantly moving them around so the child has fun when playing and doesn't hurt himself or herself.
Ganesha is like that to us, in terms of the different kinds of actions we are performing. In some cases, He blocks them because we could harm our selves. In other cases, He removes obstacles so it is easier to be successful, all through His wisdom of being able to see past, present and future. We can't see the past and the future, we see the present. We don't have the same ability to choose our actions as wisely as He does.
There are times when our life seems awfully complicated. We have got problems upon problems upon problems. Financial problems, employment problems. It seems to really be getting worse, instead of better. In times like that, worship of Lord Ganesha can help us work our way out of these problems much more easily than we can on our own. But again it is not automatic. We have to really worship Ganesha, feel close to Him. Bring Him into our life, bring Him into these problems. Share these problems with Him. Look at Ganesha and the devas that work with Him as a partner. These aren't my problems, these are our problems. Together we can sort this out and work through this much more easily, much more quickly than we can on our own. Being able to share our complicated situations with Ganesha, taking Him and His devas as partners into our life helps work out karma again through divine influence.
The bottom line is, we don't have to manage our karma totally on our own. We can have innerplane help in the form of Lord Ganesha and His devas and work through many situations much more quickly and smoothly than simply on our own efforts.
In reading through the Ganesha book on the parts on karma, I ran into a section on satsang, satsang group and karma. Fortunately we have indexes, we thank Kumaraswami and his team for all their wonderful indexes which help you find all the quotes on karma and Ganesha so easily. I was surprised there is a whole section about satsang and part of it talks about the satsang group and the management of karma. I said, "Oh, I forgot that was there!"
Again, Gurudeva has a very powerful statement which summarizes the whole idea. "I often say that the individual helps the group and the group helps the individual." So that is the idea of satsang. The individual helps the group and the group helps the individual.
A wonderful example of that was recently at the time of Gurudeva's prayopavesa. We had hundreds of devotees coming here from all over the world. I think we all realized that having large numbers was helpful, it stabilized everyone. The grief was less, there was more joy than there would have been if one person was here. Somehow the group in that situation did just this, it helped. The individual helped the group and the group helped the individual adjust to Gurudeva's Mahasamadhi.
Why is that? Well, everyone in the group isn't moving in sync. The day that one person is sad and in grief, another person isn't. So the person who is sad or having a difficult time is supported or made to feel better by the those who are doing okay on that day. Then, two days later it all switches. This person who was happy is sad and the one who was sad is happy and uplifted. So everyone isn't in sync. We have different timings in terms of our karmas, our emotions, our distress, the difficult times in life, the joyous times in life. Fortunately, we don't all have the same karmic patterns. So, we move differently, we respond differently. We are feeling very strong and spiritually uplifted when at a time when someone else is feeling discouraged and burdened. Our feeling strong at that time helps the other person from going as low as they would if we were not associating with them.
Another reason that satsang works is that we tend to express the qualities we see in other people, if they are within us. If we spend all our free time with a group that is fairly worldly, if we have any worldly qualities in us that will catalyze them to be expressed. We find ourselves acting in certain ways that we would not, if we didn't spend so much time with these
people. In a positive sense, the religious tendencies we have are reinforced. We are more prone to express them when we spend time with people who have the same religious tendencies. So in that way satsang helps us bring out the religious part of ourselves more readily, more easily.
However, human nature is human nature and even at satsang we can see a downside if we let ourselves into that state of consciousness. For some reason, we seem to be built this way. Rather than find the faults in our selves, we would much rather find the faults in someone else. It is really strange, don't know what good it does. It is like we know there are faults in us, but we don't really want to look at them. It is so much more fun, so much easier to see the faults in someone else and then start to talk about them. "Boy, this is fun!" It is human nature.
Of course, it is counter to religious life, it is distracting. It can cause a negative vibration in a satsang group or in our case, a Church Mission group if we let our selves get into that practice, of one another talking about the faults or short comings of a third person. It may be fun but it is destructive in its own subtle way. It is a negative practice which hurts other people and certainly breaks down the strength of the religiousness of the group. We need to take the Kural's guidance there which advises us that it is so much easier to do this than to find the faults in our selves but we need to refrain from it.
If we find our selves critical of other people, turn that criticism on our self. Say, "Gee, if I can see those faults in someone else, what faults can I see at this moment in myself?" Not in the sense of trying to feel bad about our selves but in the sense of trying to improve our selves. Everyone can improve. So the idea of finding faults is to not put someone down or put our selves down, but to see the areas in which we can improve. Even if they are very subtle we can find them and make improvement, constantly refine our behavior, bring up more of our spiritual nature by taking this tendency to see the faults in others, putting up a mirror, seeing our self. See the fault in our selves and improve our own behavior.