Significance of a religious life.

In Vedās, a religious life is prescribed for all those who have :

a. Absence of Ātma Brahman Aikya jñanam.
b. Who have rāga-dveśa.

Absence of knowledge that the real nature of oneself- Ātma, is in fact, Brahman – the vast. Popularly referred to as Self-knowledge. The Self here is Ātma as oneself, and not the notion that I am an individual. This absence is referred to as Self-ignorance or simply ignorance. Ignorance is not referring to absence of any objective knowledge, like that of Physics, Economics etc. But it is stating the ignorance regarding Self-knowledge.

In the absence of Self -knowledge, the obvious outcome is “I am an individual”. And in such a notion of individuality, obvious is the presence of rāga-dveśa, likes and dislikes.

Man is afflicted by his Self ignorance primarily. It is the root cause of “ALL” the sorrows. Sprouting from it, man then gets afflicted by the likes-dislikes. In essence, the Vedās point out that a human being, irrespective of his gender, race, colour etc. spends away his life being constantly disturbed. Sorrow is encompassing all the felt disturbances.

But, an human being, again irrespective of his gender, race, colour etc. also has the equipped faculties, to gain this Self-knowledge. In the presence of which the root of Self -ignorance gets uprooted, there is then no locus for the individuality, and thus, no likes and dislikes get formed. The person of Self-knowledge, Such a human is referred to as “liberated”. Having fulfilled his human birth potential.

To uproot Self-ignorance, a lot of internal preparation is required. Just as to sow a seed, the soil is tilled; so too, for Self-knowledge, the human mind needs tilling.

This tilling is the job of a religious life.

Does every religion then take one to Self-knowledge?

No. Though ALL religions, when followed, cultivate the soil.

Vedic vision held the performance of the Vedic Karmas as religious. This was the karma-kanda, portion of Vedās detailing the knowledge regarding Karmas to be performed as per your notions of individuality. Abiding in the performance of the prescribed Karmās was being religious.

What was the advantage of this vision? The uniqueness of the vision of the Vedas? To the extent a person abided in his ordained karma, to that an extent indirectly his internal preparation took place. The source of sorrow coming from likes-dislikes got managed. And as one got prepared, the Vedās effortlessly revealed Ātma-jñana, through the Vedānta part, also called the Upanishads. Knowing which the final source of sorrow was destroyed. The one with Self-knowledge, now is the One. Where there is no sorrow. For sorrow to be, there has to be duality. But, for the Ātma-jñani, where is the other?

Thus, Vedic Karmās relevance as a religious life. And as with any knowledge, the chances of it being understood is relative, so too with Vedic knowledge. And the non-understanding leading to misunderstanding gets compounded when the knowledge is regarding the very Subject, the person, who has to re-know himself. This leads to layers and layers of deep-rooted superstitions, fanaticism, blind beliefs, rigid adherences, which more often destroy the very purpose of knowledge. And moreover, destroy the very potential of a human existence.

Social media and Karma

Social interaction media has entered everyone’s life like televisions did in the 1970’s. The impact of it is huge. In terms of how it is affecting human behaviour. The leisure to get and remain’bored’ occassionally, is getting extinct. That leisurely boredom; which brought spires of creativity.

Imagine the time, when sitting under the stars, gazing into them till sleep took over! Or sitting by the shore, absorbing the environment with all the senses, till the sun rose or set! Or walking in the rain, or the summer thirst! Who was the constant companion then? Who was with us when we were alone?  Our own aware self. In the form of our being aware of the surroundings, people, senses, more aware of our feelings, our own thinking ways. Conscious of our own self, our responses, ready on a guard, for we knew we were being judged by other ‘bored’ people as well. Overall outcome was, there were impressions of physical sensations we carried to sleep. Our minds had a storehouse of impressions gathered from the physical reality! And now, recently I heard from someone a few months ago, “when I go to sleep, which is very difficult for me, in my mind are popping images of the colours of the candy crushes”

It is not unknown that a human takes the longest time to grow. Physically as well as emotionally, few even reach the stage of intellectual growth and very few aspire for a spiritual growth. And for all this she needs a lot of time with herself to know her own person. As a person who are we? What do we like /dislike? Why do we like /dislike what we do? What do we truly desire? What do we want? Who /what makes us uncomfortable? Whose company gives us happiness? Is that happiness my true seeking? Or is this a camouflage; the real person behind, is entirely different from their projected self? How will I know, where I want to be in 10 years from now, if I am unclear what I want? And a thousand such questions are there for a young person whose life has just begun to shape up… leading to experiences she will live in the coming years.

The point is this. Humans have to choose constantly. What to choose requires some fundamental knowledge of the kinds of choices and their outcomes. And all this requires time.

The social platforms is now ever a companion. It has successfully replaced the connection with the elements for most people. Not just the introverts.  And This. Is dangerous! For all. For the human life and its development, even of, the development of survival skills! Social platforms are robbing man of his ‘real time’ with a ‘virtual time’.

Man has a limited life but unlimited potential to live it. His greatest tool as a human being is his choice. This makes him ‘do’or ‘not do’ all the time, throughout the life. This brings experiences back to him as an outcome of his actions. The capacity of this and implications are momentous and also spiralling. Upwards or downwards, depending upon the choice and course taken.

But, when the social media engagements increase, man spends away this great choice without significant outcomes, except, may be entertainment! His connections with people, are reduced to formal responses. An adapted social behaviour. Not necessarily obliged to follow his character.

Entertainment and connection with other humans was always a human need. Perhaps, television was also an outcome of the same! Once it took centre stage of his life, there was no stopping man’s dependency for entertainment. It was becoming available at a button.

But, with entertainment also come a varied other emotions. Amongst all, dislikes also grow propotionately. We become ‘choosey’. Not based on knowing what we want, or Is good for us, but based on what entertains us!  Infact, we now believe it is our right to get entertained! Many ills in the society are known to have been generated from this.

What televisions triggered; an uncontrollable upsurge of want, to get entertained, the social interaction platforms has aggravated the situation! It is alarming, how much time averagely a person spends with their social media… television still a part of life along with all other forms of entertainment.

The issue is this.

It takes away man’s focus from the real situations! The real reality. At the slightest opportunity he plunges into the virtual reality and an imagined entertainment. It is great to connect with people. But, does the independence, in seeking independent modes of entertainment improve the social skills? Is it improving the communication between people? Is it helping her to discern the projected person from the real person? Is it teaching her to adapt to physical responses. Is it in anyway, helping the human to mature! It would be interesting if there were studies taken up, to show how man’s incessant urge for entertainment is affecting his life, physical, emotional, intellectual, social. And most, spiritual, if that is even understood to be a criterion of importance! But, any such study (of course may be there) will ever be taken up – seriously. The virtual world has reduced us to ‘a moment of pleasure seekers’.

Human being has a very short span of life and thus available opportunities to make any changes within himself. Human goal is liberation. This is the final goal. Very few, or maybe even none in a generation can ‘practically’ visualise this goal for herself. But that does not reduce the potential of a human birth. The potential of every human being is finding his limitless nature, the changeless, the birthless, the object free state of unconditional joys, the source of all knowledge and many more such expressions as a human capacity to enjoy life here on the planet (which alone is called liberation)! But, alas! Not paying heed to this, we, ignorant of our potential, barter it away for perpetual sorrows in the name of imagined possibility of a moment of pleasure seeking! That is a pity.

To come close to having Liberation as goal, even a possibility to be entertained, one has to live more in the earthly world which is to do with his connect with the physical elements. His opportunities to make a difference to his life does not come with social networking, but with elemental networking! The hand which operates the gravity or the movement of the Moon around the Earth, while the Earth rotates and revolves round the Sun, call whatever name to that Hand, it is the same, which governs the Law of Karma! For which you have to be in touch with your earthly actions, emotions and thoughts and touching the virtual keys and creating images, is not touching the full utilisation of the Hand! It has no seed capable of creating ‘adrusta phalam’, the capacity to generate an invisible result! Generating a positive adrusta phala (commonly called punyam) is essential in the beginning stages of one’s spiritual growth.

Virtual world based karmās fall in the category of only a loukika karma (worldly activity) which produces only some visible result -‘drusta phalam’. Usually,  it ends with getting entertained, being subject to misery, when not getting entertained! The problem with such an approach to life? It is not adequate, is grossly insufficient for inner maturity! And far undermining the human potential of life. Yet, as Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gītā, “यथा इच्छसि, तथा कुरु ।” “(After knowing), Do as you wish to choose!”

– ©️Deepti Vishwanath

Law called Karma – what does it mean?

Since karma has found itself in the mainstream English dictionary, here, I will continue to use it as an English word instead of, and alongwith, interchangeably with action.

No karma is done without a reason, purpose, intent, motive. It is not possible to generate the will to act without them. While the physical action obviously brings a physical manifestation-as the result, the reason for your body to be propelled to act,  it is the intent also, which affects the outcome.

How much does the intent affect the result?

For very apple seed sown you get an apple tree, is the physical aspect of the law. A दृष्ट फल Drusta phala. An observable, seen result. Then there is the delayed result, which is subtle. And also not immediately experienced. It is called the अदृष्ट फल adrusta phala. The immediately unobservable, unseen, but will surely be seen at a proper time, some time. It is a delayed result. How many apples will the tree yield? What would be the taste? This cannot be known when the seed gets sown. This remains unseen. But get known when the tree matures and yields fruit.

Karta  —> karma  —> drusta phalam + some adrusta phalam.

Karta -the doer, the decider of the action, engages in the karma, action. And that action will bring back to him results in two pronged way. The immediately observable, which will be seen shortly after the completion of the action and the immediately not observable result, which will be seen much later. And so remains unrecognised, ambiguous when it fructifies. Best known only as Luck. Good / Bad are decided by the experiencer of it.

The Drusta phala gets destroyed once it is expereinced, consumed. The adrusta phala gets destroyed when it becomes Drusta phala. Take it as in the analogy of an apple seed sown. It takes time to yield the fruit. While the fruit has not matured yet, it lays latent in the tree. But, once it has, it is now ready to be consummed. That fruit gets destroyed but its seed is still there. Lives long enough. But is perishable.  Before it does, it can possibly restart the cycle of seed-fruit-seed, or perish from its ‘seed-ness’ loosing its seediness.

No karma can be disconnected with the karta-the doer. And no karta can be disconnected with his motive for the karma. Thus, common sense says, the result of karma must be enjoyed by the karta and also that each one’s differing intentions must be a major reason for the differing results for each. Since it is a common observation, that even when the same physical action is done by different people, the same result is not experienced by them.

Law of causation explains only the Drusta phala -seen aspect. For every cause there is an effect. This is a linear equation which covers only the immediately seen. Where Law of karma explains both the immediately seen and the also immediately unseen, but will-become-seen-later aspect. Understanding the Law of Karma means understanding that karma has adrusta phala, which is far greater in implications than the drushta phala.

 

Deepti Vishwanath