Thought is an activity and also sets into motion certain energy particles in a very subtle form of matter. Combining it with previous karmas, it forms a specific reaction. Wherever there is action, be it physical or mental, there would be a reaction. That means that wherever there is a cause, there is an effect. This must be remembered in the context of relative life only – as far as relativity extends, just as far would karma extend.
Karma could be on a very gross form, or it could be on a subtler form. The most important thing to remember is that how much of an impression does karma leave on the mind? Many acts can be performed which leave no impression on the mind whatsoever, and when it leaves no impression on the mind, then that karma is non-binding, and that is what we are after.
We want to unbind ourselves from all karmic debts, and it is by unbinding ourselves that we become boundless. That is the way to achieve freedom while we are still living so that we can perform any action we like and yet it becomes non-binding.
The adept who has reached a very high stage of evolution can do anything he likes and yet he would not be affected whatsoever by the karma he does.
To the ordinary mind, he might seem to be a madman performing acts that ordinarily would be so binding, but he has reached the stage where whatever he does becomes totally non-binding. The reason is that he has transcended his ego, and he can stand aside and watch the ego functioning. He has separated himself in this instance as far as relative karma is concerned. He has separated himself from all the action which the ego or the personality of man performs, and he stands aside watching it. It means that he is non-attached. That is the secret.
Therefore, when a person becomes enlightened, he is called a man who is beyond all laws. He is a law unto himself, and that is why the Bible points out “Judge ye not that ye be judged.” That applies mostly to ordinary, average people, and it applies more so to the enlightened man. For whom is there that could understand the enlightened man?
There is a lovely little Zen story which might illustrate this point. A whole lot of pupils were sitting around a fire with the master, and the master pulls out a burning piece of coal and jabs one of the pupils on the arm. Everyone was horrified! Why have you burned the chela? So, the master replies that “this man was supposed to be burned alive, and I have done an act that will prevent him from being burned alive. This little burn on his arm will heal in a few days; in the other way, he would have lost his life.” This is just an analogy because nobody can take anyone’s karma away. But it is an analogy to illustrate that it is so difficult to understand the workings of a master. He might perform certain acts to teach. There would be a purpose that you might not understand today, but in a few years, that act will be so well understood that you will realise to yourself, “Oh, is this what was meant!”
THAT I AM THE GITA – WONDERFUL WONDERMENT
This applies to everyone. When I was ten years old and read the Bhagavad-Gita, I understood something of it. When I was 20, I understood a bit more, and when I was 25, I understood still a bit more – it is still the same book. When I read the Bhagavad Gita today, what do I understand now? That I am the Gita.
As our consciousness grows, as our awareness expands, you encompass the entire universe within yourself. So, who acts? Who is the doer? The big I within yourself remains forever changeless, and the little I, with its millions of little ripples, just ripple around, play around. When you reach the stage of non-attachment, then everything seems just a play, and when everything seems a play, how can you be affected by it? When you are not affected by it, you have become non-attached. Functioning from the small ego level, everything is work; but functioning from the big I level, you take the “irk” out of work, and what is left is the “w”, which stands for wonderful, wonderment.
There is one difference to remember here. There is a great difference between detachment and non-attachment. Detachment is when you get so sick and tired of all the problems around you that you build a wall around you and you detach yourself from your environment, or you escape away to some remote cave. But, when you escape away to that remote cave, remember you are taking the world with you. You are not leaving it. You are escaping.
Here is another famous Zen story which most of you must have read. Two Zen monks were going along the road, and they had to cross a river. There was a young damsel in distress who had to cross the river, too. The one monk picks her up and helps her to cross the river. Both monks and this young girl crossed the river, and the monks proceeded on their path. It was a law of this particular monastery that these monks should not touch a woman. The monks walked on for a few hours, and a few hours more, and a few hours more, until they reached their destination. So, the one monk asked, “Brother, you have done something terribly wrong. You touched this woman!” The other monk replies that “I left her there, but you are carrying her around in your mind.” It is a very famous story and it is very beautiful.
FREEDOM WITHIN BONDAGE
The non-attached man is the man that lives for the moment, and no attachment or no bondage is carried around with him. Apparently, on the surface level, he might seem bound to you, but he has achieved freedom within bondage, that even bondage has become freedom to him.
When my guru became a monk, he wore the ochre robes, and when I visited him a short time ago, he had an ordinary shirt like me and things like that. So, I said, “Swamiji, what happened to the ochre robes?” You know what he tells me? He says, “It is a great stage to reach renunciation, but it is a still greater stage when you develop the strength to renounce renunciation.”
This comes from strength, where you can be in the world and yet not of the world. That is what it means. If you study all the scriptures in the world carefully, they say the same thing over and over again, perhaps in different words at different times according to the needs of the people. Certain things were reported in a certain way so that people of that particular time or age could understand.
Detachment means escaping, and it is not evolutionary, it is rather devolutionary. People are escaping every day here and now. Some people escape into the bottle; some people escape into total licentiousness or escape into drugs. These are all escapes, and going away to some remote cave is also a similar type of escape. One is done with chemicals; the other one is performed with another kind of mental chemical. So that is detachment, where you cannot face your problems, where you are unwilling to face your problems, and then you escape from the problems.
Non-attachment is to be right in the middle of everything and not be affected at all. Say, for example, we have two yogis – you have yogis and so-called yogis – who is the greater of the two: the man that sits in a room surrounded by all erotic images. He sits right in the midst of them and goes away into deep meditation and becomes oblivious of it all. That is the one yogi.
Yogi number two goes to a forest where everything is so quiet and peaceful, and all the conditions are conducive to meditation, and he goes into meditation. Who is the greater?
Yogi number one is greater. For the real yogi is the non-attached man who becomes more simple than simple, more ordinary than ordinary. Many people could pass an enlightened man on the road and would not look around to see, “who have I passed?” So simple, so ordinary. He might turn up in a beggar’s dress with a begging bowl, or he might drive down the road in a Rolls Royce – yet he is an enlightened man. Who are we to judge? If you want to see the top of a 10-storied building, you have to stand on the top of another 10-storied building. Standing down here, your view on what is up there is definitely distorted.
The non-attached man involves himself in everything around him, and yet he is totally non-affected. No impression is created in his subtle body or mental body if you wish to call it that.
THE KARMIC WHIRLPOOL
When no impression is created, then there is no samskara, for samskara, or the impression, must react in a certain manner to produce an effect. In turn that effect produces another cause, and the cause produces another effect, and so you are in this whirlpool of karma, this karmic whirlpool.
Being in the whirlpool, you are just whirling around. That is why, for example, in Buddhism, they say “I want to get off the wheel of karma, the wheel of birth and death.” Why do they want to get away from birth and death? – because birth and death itself are produced by bondages.
An avatara, the Incarnation, takes birth by volition. There is a certain atmosphere created in the world that attracts, that demands, the presence of the Incarnation to bring about a balance in the world because nothing can exist in a totally imbalanced stage. In the Bhagavad Gita Krishna says, that when evil rises or becomes abundant, then I take birth from age to age to teach, to bring the balance that is created by this evil.
The forces of nature create a magnetic field whereby the Avatara is attracted, and the Avatara, the eternal wanderer who has never rests, he sits on the fence. He can merge away into total Unity, where birth for him is unnecessary, but he is the servant – not of mankind only – but to every existence in this universe. He is the servant, the server, of the entire universe. For a split second, he is in this world – you might call it 70 years – from there, he moves on to another world, and another world, and another world. Wherever he is required, the Avatara is there. He goes. He could have total peace without being bothered and merge away into Unity, but it is his will, his volition, that he takes birth.
We have had them: Buddhas, Christs, and Krishnas — that were great statesmen, like Krishna.
Buddha was born in a princely family and renounced it all. After renouncing everything and practicing extreme austerity, and having lived the life of a prince, he found the middle way, that neither of the extremes are any good – the middle road.
Krishna was born a king. He was a great statesman. He was the negotiator between the Pandavas and the Kauravas. He was instrumental in this great war of Kurukshetra on which the Bhagavad Gita is based.
Christ was a great rebel, the greatest rebel the world has ever produced. He rebelled against all the things that were going wrong at the time. He rebelled against slavery by a foreign kingdom; he rebelled against the laws that were so misinterpreted at that time; he rebelled against all of them, the Pharisees, Sadducees, the Romans. The most despised man that lived was that man called Jesus. His people turned against him, and yet he would take upon himself that suffering! Now we think he suffered. But did he suffer? It is our viewpoint. To him that very pain, that very suffering, was a joy. It was a dedication.
The eternal wanderer is always the servant. He does things by volition, but it is non-binding to him because he is non-attached. He ate fish; he drank wine; he went to houses of ill repute; he dined with publicans and sinners, but he was not affected. He was non-attached. That is what man is trying to achieve.
THE NON-ATTACHED MAN
The non-attached man is forever joyful. He might express anger to achieve a purpose. He might go to the temple and throw down the tables of the moneylenders and set free the birds and beasts, that were to be killed and sacrificed and show extreme anger, but that was for a purpose.
There is a difference between that anger and the anger that you might have. Your whole being is in that anger – your whole mind, body and soul – that even if you are put under a doctor’s test, your heart will be racing, your glands will be secreting adrenaline. You are so totally involved in that anger.
Not the non-attached man! He will slap you on the face now, and five minutes later he will kiss that very cheek he slapped. He gave you five minutes, ten minutes, a night, two nights, two months to think: “Why was I slapped? What did he tell me? What was the message contained therein?” That is how the teacher teaches. The Avatara’s are totally non-attached. They are born without attachment. They could never be attached because they were born by their own volition.
Just imagine the Avatara. He has captured the entire universe within himself and then taken the entire universe and brought himself down into this little frame of a body. Imagine the entire universe to be the top of an ice cream cone, and he brings the entire essence of the universe down to the narrow end. That was the suffering of Jesus. That was the suffering of all the Avatara’s.
Christ was crucified, Krishna was shot with a bow and arrow in his heel, they tried to poison Buddha so many times and Rama was banished to the jungles for 14 years. Those were not suffering. The real suffering was to bring himself down from that vastness into that littleness, and then, through that littleness, he could communicate with others that are little.
The finest teacher in your kindergarten school can only be a good teacher if that teacher can become like a child that the teacher is teaching. Then there is great effect; there is communication. That is why the Avatara’s, although non-attached, take birth in the form whereby this communication can take place. That is non-attachment.
EVERYONE CAN BECOME NON-ATTACHED
You do not need to be an avatara to have that non-attachment. He is born that way; that is his job. But everyone can become non-attached. Non-attached because if he learns the art of viewing anything objectively, every thought that passes his mind or goes through his mind. He could just step aside for a split second and see them not in his mind, but outside his mind, as if it is happening on a cinema screen, then he becomes non-attached. And, with practice, this is perfected. All our problems lie in the fact that we get affected.
Auntie Mary said something two weeks ago, and little Janie is still worrying about it. That happened two weeks ago, and Auntie Mary might have forgotten what she said. Dear little Janie got so affected that after two weeks it is still running through her mind. If it was left there, there would be no effects and no suffering.
PAIN & PLEASURE
This principle applies not only to pain, but it also applies to pleasure, because one cannot exist without the other.
Have fun, have pleasure. Why not! Every kind of fun is good if it is legal and moral. Have fun, but do not be attached to that pleasure, and don’t try to build expectations on that pleasure, because expectation is the seed of disappointment. ‘
You go to a restaurant this afternoon, and the cook might have been in a good mood. He was in form and he prepared a beautiful meal, and you enjoyed it thoroughly. Two weeks later, you go back to the same restaurant expecting that “Ah, two weeks ago it was such a fabulous dinner, and I am looking forward to another fabulous dinner.” While you are driving there, your mouth is watering, but that day the cook might just be off form, and the dinner is lousy – you would feel disappointment; you would feel let down. If you did not have expectation in the first place, you would not feel let down.
Let things happen for the sake of it happening. Everything is growing, growing, growing; everything is perpetuating itself. Allow it to perpetuate – be the observer. That is the start when you become the observer and as awareness expands, your observation, too, could expand, where you stand aside. You watch the entire universe unfolding in its own creative intelligence, creative power, all the time. Some people call it “Cosmic Consciousness,” where you are apart from the universe and, being apart, you can observe the entire universe.
But that is not where non-attachment leads you only. From that non-attachment, a magnetic force forms between you and the universe. From non-attachment, in a spiral form, you reach an attachment. This attachment is a different kind of attachment. It is an attachment of non-attachment. When this magnetic field develops between the entire universe and you, standing apart, an attraction takes place. The Heart expands, the Heart develops, where great Love is felt. The first has been in a coldness because you are apart in that Cosmic Consciousness. You are conscious of the Cosmos; therefore, it is Cosmic Consciousness. There are two; there is duality.
From the duality of non- attachment, you proceed further where an attachment takes place, and you start falling in love with the universe. That very attachment that takes place now on a higher level of the spiral brings in you that devotion, that love, that entire self- sacrifice, that dedication. Then that is called God Consciousness because that entire universe has become divine to you, and a magnetic pull is drawing you nearer and nearer in a worshipful manner to the Divine.
A great Indian poetess that lived 400 years ago wrote a lovely poem. The gist of the poem is this: “Oh, Lord, I do not want Nirvana; I do not want to merge into Unity Consciousness. But let me be born again and again, so that I could worship at Thy feet.”
You are conscious of that mighty Force, the all-mighty Power, Divinity, where you still want to remain apart and just be the servant, just dedicate oneself in that total devotion and love without motivation, just for the sake of that love. Then you have reached God Consciousness, and in this stage, you have your choice: “What shall I do from here? Do I want to merge away into that which has created this deep magnetism, this deep magnetic attraction?” And when you feel you want to merge away, the next step comes automatically, and you merge away in all that exists. That is Unity Consciousness.
WHEN YOU ARE NON-ATTACHED NOTHING CAN HURT YOU
You see the procedure how you start from the ordinary karmic level, objectifying every karma, viewing it as if it is apart from you. By viewing it, objectifying every karma, you slowly but surely, gradually become non-attached to every action. When you become non-attached to all of your activity, then you experience great peace within yourself. You experience great relaxation within yourself. Your awareness expands. Your Heart palpitates with Love, and Love, and Love – because you are non-attached. Nothing can hurt you.
Things hurt you because you are attached to things. You have a beautiful diamond ring to which you are attached. Let us say you should lose it. You feel so hurt. Because you are attached to it, your mind will go on to that diamond ring all the time, “Oh, I’ve lost my ring, I’ve lost my ring, I’ve lost my ring”. Yet that diamond is none better than a piece of glass. It might be worth more in monetary terms while you are living, but I would like you to take that piece of glass with you when you go to leave this body.
So where is the value of it? It has no value. You are attaching importance to all these possessions that you have because you feel insecure. You think that all these possessions that you have is providing you security. It is making you more and more and more insecure because it is creating in you a greater and greater attachment. And because of greater and greater attachment, you are in this whirlpool of karma, cause and effect.
So here we start objectifying. In this world, you find people that are so attached to little things. They are even attached to little compliments. A person does a deed and thereafter will say, “Oh, that chap never even had the decency to thank me!” You have done your deed. You do your deed for the sake of doing your deed. Finish! Then you have done it. Past is gone!
“Mull over it, think about it, and then put it into practice.” Learn to objectify; it is not so difficult. Any thought that comes up, any emotion that comes up can be viewed as apart from yourself. With a little practice, you become very successful at it. Once the objectification takes place, which is not overnight or immediate, but it becomes much easier and quicker if you do your spiritual practices regularly. Then from that objectification of your thoughts, you develop a greater and greater sense of non- attachment. As you develop a greater and greater sense of non- attachment, nothing is going to change in the world.
The same old Auntie Mary is going to be there, and you, Janie, are still there -but you are not going to be hurt. That is the difference. You have changed, but the world has not changed. This world will remain as it is for another couple of thousand years, and thousands and thousands of years hereafter. The world was the same 2.000 years ago. People had the same faults and frailties, and another 2.000 years; hence the world will still be the same. But the individual can change where nothing affects; nothing can hurt. And when nothing can hurt, remember, you cannot remain a vacuum. It has to be filled with something. If there is no pain left, then it is filled with its opposite: pleasure, joy.
YOU ARE ALWAYS FULFILLED
You cannot be empty. You are always filled – all the time. You are always fulfilled. It is just the recognition that is required, the cognition of that fulfilment. That is all that there is that needs to happen to man.
Nothing can remain a vacuum. We remove negativity by putting in positivity. If you have a jar of dirty water, what you need to do is just to put it under the tap. Let the tap run, and eventually, all the dirty water will be gone, and that jar will be filled with clean water. But let the tap run; put on the tap! No one is going to switch on the tap for you. You have to do it. That is your little, minute contribution to this great happiness.
Man has to do so, so little, and we think we have to do so much – everything is done for you. The very oxygen in the air that makes you live and breathe is there for you without you doing anything. The very food grows there without you doing anything.
You know the story of the birds in the air, it finds its worm, and the lily grows in the field, and all of King Solomon’s wealth could never produce the beauty of that lily. It is all there; it is all done. What are you worrying for, I do not know!
Yes. It is all there. There is just to gain this realisation. It is just to gain this refinement by spiritual practices, regularly done, which refines you to the extent where this great awareness dawns upon you. You are not creating this awareness either; it is dawning upon you – also for nothing. You only have to do that little thing.
LET US FACE OURSELVES
If we really face ourselves – and that is the message which I am bringing to this world: let us face ourselves! The primary purpose of all these meditational practices that is allocated to you is to make you face yourself. And once that is done, the integrative process starts, where mind, body and spirit start functioning in harmony. And that harmony leads you to non-attachment, where karma does not become binding anymore to you. You are karma-less.
The karma-less person that has achieved this is like a spinning top. The top has been set in motion, and when it reaches its peak, it seems still, and yet it is in great motion. That is what happens to life. You are in motion all the time, and yet you are so still. Have you seen the top spinning at high speed? It seems to be standing still, and yet all the motion is there. That is where you reach. That very motion that used to rock you and used to make you feel drunk and dizzy, that very motion produces stillness in you. It is just to heighten the speed, heighten the vibrations and that you do by meditation.
When these vibrations are heightened and you find that stillness, you have reached the peak, and then you only wait for the body to fall off whenever it gets tired when the organs are worn-out. You have achieved your goal in life. Then some things would happen when the top is spinning off. The top is still again, but a different kind of stillness: the stillness found at the peak of evolution and then the stillness that is found where no evolution is necessary – no more spinning is necessary.
That is how one frees oneself from karmic ties. First objectification that leads to non-attachment. Non-attachment leads to happiness because you are not affected, and when you are not affected, you are not creating a cause. When no cause is created, it could not produce another effect, and if another effect is not produced, another cause that could arise from there cannot be created again. That is the purpose of life. From stillness, we came, and to stillness, we return. That is all: to become still. “Be still and know that I am God.” That passage is so beautiful! And do you know how far away it is? So close, so very close. You are standing on the brink of it.
It is like the man standing beside a river and being thirsty—this whole beautiful river filled with water for you to drink. You are part of that river, for the very essence in that river is within you. And there is water here, there, everywhere – for you too are water. Even science tells you that 80% of your body is nothing else but water.
That is the secret of karma and karma yoga. That is the secret of joy, where you go beyond pleasure and pain and emerge in the land of bliss, untouched – like the beautiful lotus growing in mud, and yet so pure. We go beyond the mud of our karmas, for good and bad karmas are both tying, they are both binding. We go beyond them both good and bad. Good karma will give you some more fun and more pleasure. But the greater pleasure you feel, the greater pain you are going to feel. The more sensitive you become to one thing, the more sensitive will you become to its opposite. That is how the human mind works.
There is a little story about Milarepa; he said, “When I was a young boy, I used to do black deeds. When I grew up and gained understanding, I did white deeds, good deeds. Now, I do neither.” What he is trying to say is that he has gone beyond the law of opposites. That is where karma and the process of evolution are leading you. Even if you are unwilling to be led, you are forced in that direction. The only difference is this, that if you can achieve it in this lifetime, why wait for another 200 million lifetimes and go through that mincer of pain all the time when release is here and now in this lifetime?
That is the basis of karma, and it is because of karma that a person has to be born again and again and again. And that we want to be free from, where birth and death becomes the same thing to us. For life is but a death, and death is but another birth, and you can only realise this if you can stand apart from it – in the world, but not of the world – and enjoy it all.
I still like my ice creams. I still like a nicely cooked meal. Why not? Enjoy! Develop the senses to its highest pitch and enjoy it all. You do not need to become ascetics. What for? They are actually screwy!
Therefore, I always say that I am a guru for the householder. How to find Self-realisation, how to find Self-integration by living in this world as a householder, a homemaker. Wife and children and friends and all the glory that be! Those of us that are doing our practices regularly will find in a not so far away distant future that every action we perform is but an offering, a dedication. So, if you need bread, you have got to have bread. Even gurus eat also, so why must you not eat? But everything is a dedication, and what is needed comes to you. Some effort is required though.
Do you have an understanding of how karmic laws work?
… Gururaj Ananda Yogi: Satsang US 1978 – 15