Karma Management Day 3, Part 3
Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami , 2002-08-25
2002 Kauai Innersearch Day 3, Part 3 Bodhinatha unveils the 5th principle of Karma Management, "create no new negative karmas." This involves making a promise to ourselves, a vrata of a sort. To fulfill this vow we must carry our karma cheerfully and not add to it. The 6th principle is "divinely influence karma," meaning that it's okay to ask Lord Ganesha for help, so we must develop a personal relationship with Him, which leads to the clarification of our svadharma, our personal dharma, or that next natural step in our soul's unfoldment.
We are ready for the fifth principle which also relates to actions we are considering doing or doing in the present. It is called - 'Create no new negative karmas'. It is the ideal, that we are wise enough in our actions, controlled enough in our actions to create no new negative karma. This is something we can do.
How do we do it? Well, we understand the law of karma first, in the sense of what is the consequence. That is the previous principle. We understand the karmic consequences of different actions. How do we understand the karmic consequences? Well, we can read Gurudeva's teachings. We can read scriptures like the Tirukural. We can talk to wise people. We can gain an understanding of what are the karmic consequences of different kinds of actions, if we are unclear. Then, we can commit ourselves to acting in that way.
What is the point of creating new karma, negative karma? What is the point of adding to the karma? It is just creating more lives, right? There is no reason to create new negative karma. All it does is postpone the end of the journey. Every time we create a negative karma, we are moving the end of the journey forward. So what is the point of that? Don't we want to get there, at least, on time? Maybe we want to get there sooner. We can talk about how to get there sooner, how to move the end closer. There is no reason to move the end farther away.
The idea is we need to take a pledge, at least, unto ourselves. We can create a form. "I promise henceforth to refrain from all actions that create negative karmas." That is a promise. We need to promise ourselves, commit ourselves to putting this into action.
Gurudeva has a nice summary of this. "Wise handling of karma begins with the decision to carry the karma we now have cheerfully," - that is not being a moanist! - "and not add to it." I will read that again since I made a joke in the middle, distracted everyone but this is how it tied into the lesson of the day, not being a moanist. "Wise handling of karma begins with the decision to carry the karma we now have cheerfully and not add to it."
So that is the essence of this idea. Carry the karma we now have cheerfully and not add to it. Be cheerful. We are working through our karma. Why not be cheerful? Sometimes, it is pleasant. Sometimes, it is not. But, we can still be cheerful. We are going through it and we don't want to add to it. There is no reason to create new negative karmas to face in the future, which is the shortcoming of this approach. It doesn't focus us at all on not creating more karma. It is kind of saying, "No problem. Create more karma, do more yagnas." This is important, right? When it comes to new actions in the present, we want to consider the consequences and then act in a way which creates no new negative karma. Those are the two principles relating to that idea.
The sixth principle, 'Divinely Influenced Karma'. This is our theism. Theism means, it is okay to ask for help. "Lord Ganesha, please help me." - that is theism. We don't have to do it all on our own. This isn't totally leaning on your own spine. You are supposed to lean on your own spine, but it is also okay to ask for help. Karma management does not have to be done totally on our own. Help is available, divine help in fact. Such help comes from none other than Lord Ganesha, who has the duty of helping sincere devotees manage their karma in the best way possible, once an individual develops a personal relationship with Ganesha through sincere worship.
What in the world is a personal relationship with Lord Ganesha? What is a personal relationship with a person? That is when you know someone well. There are lots of people we know but we don't know them well. We don't consider them friends. So we don't really have a personal relationship. People we work with, distant relatives, these are people we know. Employees, but we don't know them well, we don't consider ourselves to be really good friends.
So, good friends know each other well, feel close. How in the world do you get close to someone you can't see? That in itself is a vast subject, which we can't touch on this morning. But personal relationship means you feel close. You feel like Ganesha is a friend, someone you can talk to, someone you can actually share your problems with and so forth. How to get to that state is in the Lord Ganesha book, 'Loving Ganesha'. It probably develops it the best, of Gurudeva's teachings.
What happens when you do that? Well, an amazing thing happens. You end up in your svadharma. Svadharma. 'sva' means one's own, one's own dharma. It means the best way of working out your karma and moving forward. That is one's own dharma. It includes things like, "Do I get married? Do I become a monk?" For someone who is a monk, to get married or for someone who is naturally married, to become a monk, they are missing their svadharma. They are not taking their next natural step forward. It is like, for most people, to go and sit in a cave and meditate ten hours a day is a waste of time, absolute waste of time. It is not their svadharma. It is not their next natural step on the path. It is like trying to move from the sixth grade to the tweflfth grade, instead of into the seventh. There are some, who are a genius, who can do that. But, most people cannot make that big a step from the sixth grade to the twelfth grade. It is too big a step in maturity. Likewise, to keep going through the sixth grade year after year after year doesn't make any sense either, right? To move along from one life to the next in a series of natural steps forward is the idea of svadharma. You don't want to take too big a step or take no step or step backwards. You want to move forward naturally. It includes your profession, includes your religious commitments, the sadhanas you are trying to do. Like I was saying, most people sitting in a cave ten hours a day will not cause them to make spiritual progress. They can even go backwards, get discouraged, get depressed. They are alone all the time, it is not natural.
So, we want to move forward in a natural way. How do we do that? Well, it is hard to know. It is hard for the intellect to figure it out because there are so many influences on us - parents, friends, television, whatever. It is hard to figure it out. Therefore, the worship of Lord Ganesha helps us do that.
There are clues. Quite often, someone is born into a family who has a similar svadharma to the family. Therefore, it is natural to follow the professions of the parents, as a clue, it is not always the case. Quite often, that is the case particularly if the husband and wife are close in svadharma . Then, the children tend to be of that svadharma. So a doctor family might naturally have a son who wants to be a doctor. It is not just because of the parents' profession, it is because of svadharma. A priest family would have a son, who wants to be a priest.
In a certain situations which are less common these days, you get individuals reincarnating into the same group. It is a group reincarnating into itself like a big family, a sub caste, a priesthood. Like, Chidambaram has a priesthood called the dikshatars. It is a hereditary priesthood of a few hundred families, I forget the exact number. A situation like that reincarnate into yourself, you reincarnate back as a dikshatar, you keep doing that. That is one of the logic about arranged marriages. You can get a group that is reincarnating into itself and therefore refining itself, constantly refining itself. But that is another topic.
Svadharma, our natural occupation and duties to family, friends, relatives, deceased relatives, community, guru and temple. One story on that, there was a doctor from Canada, a single doctor in his 30's, just getting started in his practice in Canada and having second thoughts. It wasn't exactly what he envisioned, the reality of the medical practice he was in. He faces the same problems gurus do - you give advise and no one follows it. You go to the doctor, get his advise, follow it for a week or two. It is too hard, you have to change your diet, exercise. Two months later, you go to another doctor. It is easier to go to another doctor and hope for easier advise, right? So it is easier to go to another guru and hope for different advise because this is hard to do. Anyway, he was kind of wondering about his svadharma a little late. He had been to medical school and so forth but he was still wondering. So I handed him the 'Loving Ganesha' book and I said, "Worship Ganesha and if you worship Ganesha in a sincere way, it will become clear to you, what you can do with your life. Your svadharma will clarify itself. Ganesha will stimulate your own intelligence regarding this matter."
Ganesha, in addition to helping us establish ourselves in svadharma which enables us to move forward spiritually in the easiest way, also guides our karma. An analogy for that is, we have a two-year old. The mother is guiding the two-year old all the time. The mother is the lord of obstacles. In this case, the mother is Ganesha. When we think of the Lord of Obstacles if we don't think about a two-year old and we think about ourselves, we always think if I pray to Ganesha, He will remove the obstacles. But, if you are the mother of a two-year old, you don't want to remove the obstacles. You have got obstacles here, there and everywhere to keep the child from hurting itself, obstacles all over the place. You have created obstacles to keep the child from hurting itself. The electric plug has a cover, so the child cannot stick the finger in it. The matches are on the top shelf and not down there and so forth. You created all kinds of obstacles. Why? To prevent certain actions from happening in the first place.
So, Ganesha in that sense, when we are close to Him, controls what happens to us, just like a mother controls what happens to a two year old through placing and removing obstacles. Directs the whole experience, does not change the karma but makes it work out more smoothly, avoids certain negative parts of it. The karma will still manifest itself but in a smoother way, in a more enjoyable way. It is easier to be cheerful and go through it.
Gurudeva comments on svadharma. "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."
So, it is the fulfillment of all previous efforts, meaning secular and religious. External accomplishments in the world and internal accomplishments in the intellect. Internal accomplishments in spiritual development. It is the fulfillment of that . We are moving forward in all those areas. That is svadharma.