KARMA AND GRACE
GRACE CAN BE EXPERIENCED ONLY
Grace is an indefinable quality or an indefinable quantity that can only be approximated or inferred by the intellect. If you observe a flower growing, there are so many things that would make the flower grow. Firstly, the minerals would have to be right in the ground. It requires the proper amount of water- proper amount of fertiliser, the proper amount of air, and the proper sunlight. All these factors combine to make the flower grow.
In the combination of the factors, we know that if there is too much water, it could kill the flower. If there is too much sunshine, it could also kill the plant. The indefinable factor balances out the minerals, the sunlight, the water, and the fertiliser. And it is because of this factor that combines and puts things into the proper proportion that the flower grows. That proportion is Grace. So, Grace is a factor that is beyond the human conception of the mind. It is a factor that cannot be analysed, but it can be experienced.
The way to draw Grace to ourselves, we have to use the law of karma. Grace is forever there; Grace is existent as the air around us is existent. But we have to do the breathing as if we do not breathe; we do not benefit from the air around us.
KARMA IS COMBINED TO THE THEORY OF REINCARNATION
When it comes to karma, it is a law that does not stand alone. It is a law that is combined with the theory of reincarnation. Reincarnation is something that one cannot conclusively prove or find conclusive proof about reincarnation. You don’t need to believe in reincarnation. Still, in this eternity of existence, we know that in this vast continuum, right from the beginning of creation or from the Big Bang where atomic particles were sent forth, it would require millions and millions and billions of years for that force to expire. In our view, the only thing we see is this very small fraction of a lifetime of three score years and ten. It is a tiny fraction situated between the start and the end in this continuum.
If we say start and end, that too would be contradictory. But we can use start and end in a relative sense because the world itself, or the Universe, is governed by cycles. One cycle ends and another cycle begins, and therefore, there are so many cycles in this continuum one after the other.
As there are so many cycles so there are just as many opportunities for that primal atom or that primal sub-atomic matter to develop. As it develops, it can replicate itself, and in the replication and with the ability to combine itself to other elements in the Universe, various forms of life are produced. The basis of the atomic structure would naturally be mineral, but it does not remain mineral only. With the combination of other factors, the mineral evolves to plant. From the plant it evolves further to the animal stage, and from the animal stage, it evolves to the stage of man. In the development of all these various stages, the Law of Grace works automatically.
The law of Grace works automatically, leading that primal atom through these various stages, and that is the work of the Law of Grace. The law of Grace is a guiding factor right from the highest evolved human being to the minutest sub-atomic particle.
KARMA AND GRACE
We measure life only with the seventy years that we live. As far as reincarnation is concerned, why should one person be born in happy circumstances, another in unhappy circumstances, one person born unhealthy while another person is born very healthy, one person born rich, another born poor. If we regard Divinity or the Law of Grace to be just, then why all this injustice? So, it is assumed and put forth by ancient philosophers that we are the total of the sum totality of all our previous existences. Whatever action we perform or have performed in past lives, we are the results of it. So, to improve the quality of life, we do, as we have said before, very consciously make an effort to live a better life.
Spiritual practices do give us the strength for right thought and right action. When right thought and right action are combined, the quality of life improves, and as the quality of life improves, we become more receptive to what we call the Law of Grace. If you want to go from here to New York, the only thing you would do is buy a ticket, go to the airport, and sit on the plane. That is all you do. The plane flies you over. It is said in most scriptures that you take one step towards me, and I take ten steps towards you. That is Grace. That is the power. But we have to create the field, the magnetic field, to draw upon that Grace.
When we live in misery, for example, or in sorrow, the first thing that one has to accept is this: that I am what I am because of myself. Nothing in this Universe has been unjust to me. My present position is what I have created. That is why people say that man is a master of his destiny. We are what we are today because of the various lifetimes we have lived, and the actions we performed and the thoughts we had thought had been the factor to bring about the totality of what we are today.
99.999% of the world’s population is unhappy. When a person can find total happiness, the only time one reaches Self-enlightenment is when one reaches that supreme Self-integration. Self-integration is Self-realisation. Self-realisation is God-realisation. It is only in that area where a person would find absolute bliss and become one with the Law of Grace.
If we want to become happier, and everyone wants to become happier, our job in this lifetime is to regulate our karma in such a manner that the Law of Grace descends upon us. It is an infallible law, and it is there for everyone to partake.
But what do most human beings do? They live beside a river and die of thirst. We live beside a river, but we die of thirst. Therefore, spiritual teachers emphasise this factor over and over again: that people are householders. They are not ascetics where one would go and live in a cave. Our temperament as householders is to live in this life and our environment and enjoy the environment! There is nothing in the environment that is against us. There is no form of negativity that can afflict us if we only acquire some strength, and spiritual practices give us the strength to face these problems.
DEVELOPING A POSITIVE ATTITUDE
There is one stanza which I love very, very much, and I have repeated it over and over again:
“Two men behind prison bars, one saw mud, the other saw stars.”
Here two people are in the same circumstance. They are both behind prison bars. Yet one could only see gloom while the other sees glory. In simple terms, we could say that the reason for this is a mental attitude. But what is the factor that governs one’s mental attitude? Why does one see gloom, and the other one sees glory? It is because of one’s karma.
If we consciously do the right thinking and right action, then automatically, our minds develop that positive attitude. For example, if a firecracker goes off here, some of you might jump through the ceiling. I would sit here, and a whole mountain could blow up, and I would not bash an eyelid. Because what is there that will happen? What could happen? Nothing at all. We attach so much importance to this little me, to this little embodied being, that everything else is forgotten. Man lives only with his body and mind and forgets that spiritual essence within himself which in reality propels the mind and body. But man believes that it is just my body and mind that makes the world go round. But it is not so. Once one is devoid of the Spirit, which one could never be, if one denies the spiritual quality within man or the Grace within man, things can only become miserable.
The difference here is not only to live in that spiritual life but also to live a relative life to its fullest value. The way to live the relative life to its fullest value would be to infuse the spiritual quality within us in every action, every form of relativity.
LIVING IN THE RELATIVE WORLD
Some teachers would say the whole world is nothing but a dream, and it is unreal. Only the Spiritual Self is real, and this conception has done more harm than good where the development of the world or a particular country or a particular person has gone back and back and back and back. No progress has been made. Here we are living in this relative world, and we make the best of relativity. If you are earning a thousand dollars a month, I say make an effort and earn fifteen hundred. If you are making fifteen hundred a month, I would say make an effort and earn two thousand. It is your right to enjoy. It is your right to enjoy whatever is desired by you.
GRACE IS ALWAYS THERE
But behind that desire, the underlying factor has to be moral and ethical, and once we introduce morality and ethics in all our actions, then the Law of Grace comes running to us. We do not need to go and chase Grace. Grace pursues us – she is a nice girl. So, we do not hanker after Grace. We have it in our minds. That subtle sound of the vibrating gong in our meditation can be equated with that Grace. That reverberating sound is always there, and yet our minds are filled with thoughts. One thought comes, and the other thought goes, they come and goes. Yet behind all that, there is that stable factor of the reverberating sound, and in our case, Grace is always there.
If we improve the relative self, we draw upon the Law of Grace, and the Law of Grace permeates every thought, word and deed; but we have to allow it to permeate. When that happens, then everything becomes joyful. You look at this flower now. It is beautiful. After a few months of proper spiritual practices, proper leadership, proper guidance, and regularity of spiritual practices, we look at this flower again. This flower will look much more beautiful because our perception has increased. With the increase of perception, the quality of love has increased, and the man who loves can do no harm.
We only think we love, and we only think we think. Do we think? We are creatures of habit, but those habits that formulate our lives can be changed because we created those patterns in the first place. It is up to us to alter those patterns. If we till the ground, then the flower will grow beautifully. By tilling the ground, we will be creating the proper conditions for the Law of Grace to descend.
THE FEELING OF GUILT WILL NOT HELP US
When it comes to karma, many people feel very guilty. That is the greatest sickness in the world today is the sense of guilt. Because of that sense of guilt, our progress is stopped. We keep on saying, “I am a sinner. I am a sinner. I am a sinner.” If you keep on saying that, you will become a sinner. Because you are affirming that all the time in your mind, if you say, “I am weak, I am weak, I am weak” or “I am sick, I am sick, I am sick,” you will become sick.
But affirm more positively! Say, “I am strong! I am strong.” The real I that is within me is divine, and what can affect Divinity? If we go through life with the thought that I am strong, we will overcome all our weaknesses. If we want to get rid of darkness, we do not analyse darkness. We switch on the light. That analysis, those feelings of guilt that I was nasty to Auntie Matilda two years ago and poor Auntie Matilda passed away, and I am feeling so guilty about it. Auntie Matilda might be waltzing away somewhere up there. She could be very happy, and your guilt is not going to help. It is only damaging to yourself.
ALTERING OUR MENTAL ATTITUDE WILL ALTER OUR ACTIONS
We start with that positive affirmation that essentially I am divine, and although I see these clouds, they will surely blow away, and the sun of Divinity will shine in its full glory. We start off altering our total mental attitude in that manner. When mental attitudes are changed, spiritual practices help one transform that, gaining beautiful inner experiences, then our thought assumes a better quality. And when our thought assumes a better quality, our actions also become better.
… Gururaj Ananda Yogi: Satsang US 1977 – 03