2002 Kauai Innersearch Day 4, Part 2 Bodhinatha gives us two final correct concepts about karma, that we are creating our future in the present and that the ultimate future which comes from the resolution of karma is moksha, liberation from the cycle of birth and death.
We have our last two new concepts regarding karma. First one is creating the future. Normally when we think about karma we think about the past. Karma that is my past coming into the present. That is usually all we think about. But more important than that is to think about karma, that is how my present is creating my future because we have more control of that. All of us here today have enough wisdom to control our present otherwise you would not be here, you would be out doing something else. This would not be enjoyable. But all of us here today are concerned about that and have that ability to understand the principles clearly, how what I am doing in the present is creating my future. So we can live in such a way in the present to create the kind of future we want. We want the world to be generous to us in the future, we need to be generous to others in the present. Very simple principles but a very important part of the concept of karma, to think about the future.
The second new concept has to do with resolving karma and the ultimate future. What is the ultimate future? Moksha, liberation. So, we are not just thinking about future but the ultimate future. The goal toward which we are all striving is to be liberated from rebirth on earth. Eventually we will get tired of doing the same old things. We will want to move on, the novelty wears off.
Gurudeva defines moksha in a beautiful way, it is a twofold definition. There are two different concepts in this definition of moksha. "Moksha occurs after karma has been resolved and realization of the Self, Parasiva, has been attained." So twofold. Resolving karma there is nothing more to do on earth. We have run out of things to do. There is nothing holding us here and we have realized the Absolute, Parasiva.
So, for anyone serious about moksha, what does that mean? Well, we want to be careful about karma. We don't want to create any new karma, we want to resolve the karma we have. We are very karma conscious in our actions. We want to lessen the karma we now have, accelerate it, move it forward, mitigate it, without adding to it. That is part of our moving toward moksha.
Moving on to our principles for Effective Karma Management, we will start a quick review. We have got seven principles so far. We have got the last three coming up this morning. As we were talking about yesterday, the first group of principles, the first three principles has to do with controlling how we respond to what happens to us. That is the first challenge. Other people are doing things to us, we are not initiating them. Things are happening to us and how we respond to those activities is the first challenge.
As we know, we need to forgo retaliation, we can't fight back, can't go eye for an eye. "He hit me, I am going to hit him." We have to refrain from that one.
You have to accept responsibility . Whatever happens even though it came through somebody else, "I created it because nothing can happen to me that I did not create." So we accept responsibility which takes the focus off of the person who did it to us and puts it on us.
But even then, we have to forgive the offender because we still might harbor some resentment. We still might be angry. "This person did it to me but I know I really did it to myself. But I still am upset with this person, somebody else should have done it to me, not that person. That person didn't have the right to do it to me. It should have been somebody much more important than I am." Whatever. We are not really letting go. We are still holding on because we have not forgiven them. So like it said in the story at the beginning, the ten-year olds have to forgive. In order to resolve something, you have to forgive. Forgive the offender. Then you really start over you are not harboring the anger. So that is that group.
The second group has to do with actions we are initiating. We are the one who is doing something to the world, to someone else. The first principle was consider the consequences, meaning the karmic consequences. Are we going to be happy with the karma that this brings back to us?
The second principle was to create no negative karmas. When we are serious about karma management, that is our goal. We don't want to create any new negative karmas. Why add to our burden of negative karmas through actions in the present? There is no point of doing that, at all. That is our second group.
The third group has to do with positively influencing the karma we bring into this life. This starts to get more subtle. We talked about the first principle, divinely influencing karma, bringing the grace of the Deity into our karma. We can be helped, we don't have to face this all by ourselves. We talked about by doing that through developing a personal relationship with Lord Ganesha, which has two benefits. It helps us find our svadharma, our position in life which allows us to move forward the maximum we can in our spiritual growth. We don't stand still, we don't go backwards. We are able to move forward as much as we are able to in this life if we slip into our svadharma, our natural occupation, our natural situation, our natural duties, so forth in life.
The second one is Ganesha as the Lord of Obstacles keeps us from doing certain things and helps us be successful in other areas. Just like the mother and the two-year old. The mother is constantly putting obstacles in place to prevent the child from hurting itself and then removing obstacles to allow the child to be successful. Ganesha is just like that with us as adults, the Lord of Obstacles.
The other principle we talked about for handling the karma of the past was called, 'Mitigate Past Karma'. Reviewing that one quickly came up with six different ways of mitigating past karma, reducing the impact of our past negative karmas upon us. So the first one was dharma, simply living virtuously. The second one was karma yoga, doing good deeds, helping other people, being generous. The third one was bhakti yoga, developing intensity of worship which allows us to receive blessings from the Deity. The fourth one was yatra, pilgrimage particularly one in which we would call it a serious pilgrimage because we are not only involved in the pilgrimage when we start but we are involved in the pilgrimage in preparing for it. A week, two weeks, even a month before the pilgrimage, we are doing certain disciplines as part of the pilgrimage. Some of you may have read the article in the last issue of 'Hinduism Today' on the pilgrimage, the Ayyappan pilgrimage, Sabarimala. Remember reading that? To go on the pilgrimage you have to start the disciplines 30 days before the pilgrimage. You cannot just walk up and say, "Here I am." No, you have to start 30 whole days with very strict discipline, in order to participate in the pilgrimage. So that kind of pilgrimage is how Gurudeva envisions San Marga, our pilgrimage site here, how it will naturally develop. We are not going to force it, it will have its own timing, its own way of developing. But Gurudeva saw it as a site for serious pilgrimage. Meaning, the same kind of pilgrimage to Sabarimala where people prepare themselves for weeks, even a month, before coming following certain disciplines. So we are looking forward to developing that kind of pilgrimage opportunity here in the future to fulfill Gurudeva's vision.
The fifth way of mitigating past karma was vows. We talked about taking vows like during Skanda Shasti or Vinayaga Vratram, for six or twenty-one days. For a fixed period of time usually, you fast during the day and go to the temple once during the day to worship and then eat at night for that period of time. At different festivals, vratas are taken to different Deities. So, that is an effective way of lessening our past karma.
The last one was prayaschitta, penance, such as fasting. Fasting on pradosha is a kind of penance. Or walking prostrations, it doesn't have to be around Mt. Kailas. It can just be a shorter distance, around the temple is good enough. It is a very common kind of penance, to walk, to move forward by prostrating, walking prostrations. So you take one step, you prostate, you stand up, you take next step, prostrate, stand up. Like that.
That is a quick review.