An understanding of the gambit of samskars needs clarification on a few terms. Some of these have been discussed earlier, but I guess revision never hurts, especially not for the ‘Exam of Life’:
- Karma Samskars
- Karma Saya
- Smruti (short term memory)
- Kaarna Sharir and
Simplification of these terms will help you crack this the equation of why we are bound to take birth after birth and suffer and enjoy and live in this duality of pleasure and pain.
This is the will of an individual to exist eternally. It is a kind of force that impels a jivatma (individual soul) to exist in continuity. The intent of self-preservation that holds together our individuality is fuelled by some of the Kleshas (Asmita, Abhinivesha, Avidya).
The Klesha Cocktail
Our desire or will to preserve our I-sense or individuality of our consciousness, an intent to exist in perpetuity in this life or beyond, holding on to our distinctions from others is or becomes the Klesha of Asmita.
The fear of extinction, which in this life is called the fear of death, and in the continuity of our several lives is called the fear of losing our individuality of body, mind and soul. (Abhinivesha).
For our past stored samskars to fructify , when the time comes, there are Vasnas or tendencies that rise within our consciousness to perform a particular act or karma. This tendency to do something is purely a mechanism to exhaust the stored karma (in the form of coded impressions or samskar). They are a form of energy which brings to fore in our consciousness the tendency to perform an act or karma from our prarabhada karmas (designated to fructify in this life) at the right time.
However, due to the Klesha of Avidya or ignorance, and also due to the tendencies of the sum total of our samskars, (Our Guna mix i.e. whether the sum total of our Gunas are ‘x’ percent Satwik, ‘ y ’ percent Rajsik and ‘z’ percent Tamsik.) if most of our samskars are leaning towards negative impressions, we will be more influenced by negative tendencies and vice versa.
We start expecting our karmas to fructify and give us compensatory results. We do that due to Avidya or ignorance because of which these Vasnas which are purely technical instigations or inclinations turn into desires. Desires to do an act fuelled by their own energy. “I should not have done that but I just could not help myself ” is a common line of one whose vasnas have got the better of him or her.
When we do any Karma, we self-observe our acts (at different levels). If we expect this act to bear fruit or a result, (as reward or punishment) this desire as a result (good or bad, happy or sad) gets stored in our deeper consciousness as an impression. This storage is meant to pass on from one life to another, one body to another and fructify in the future. This samskar which is stored in a coded fashion is the form of storage of Sanchit Karmas (sum total of stored karmas). It gets decoded in the future as a potential tendency to perform an act. The selection of these sanchit karmas which are good to go (fructify) in a particular life are called prarabadha karmas.
The karmas that we perform (Prarabadha Karmas) are merely fructification of our stored samskars, but due to the strength of our Vasnas (turned into desires) we are almost compelled to do them. We also perceive them to be our actions. Our likes and dislikes add emotion to the transaction and colour it with the I-sense. Our ignorance makes us take ownership of the acts typically as “Who done it?” “I done it!”
So, a karma which was merely a result, becomes a cause for a future effect, due to our above thinking and perception. It gets coded as an impression which is stored as a samskar. The short term memory of this life is called ‘smruti’. This memory helps us recall this life’s incidents, and is stored in the same location as the samskars (long term memory), over time it gets merged with the samskars.
Your list of things to do for today are your samskars. Your motivation to do them is your Vasna and your fulfilling the list is your karma. A dash of emotion or a sense of doership converts them back into a samskar.
This is like the USB stick where all our short term memories (smrutis) and long term memories (samskars) are stored until they fructify. Once they fructify they are removed, unless they get restored as samskars.
The Karmasaya or USB stick is attached to the USB port called the Kaarna Sharir or causal body. This is considered to be our third body, below the astral body (sushmasharir). The Kaarna Shahir and its Karmasaya pass on from one incarnation to another and become the storehouse of our conditioning, our samskars.
Looking at it from another point of view, the samskars we carry in our USB stick are the real wealth we ‘will’ to ourselves for future lives.
What we need to do is try and exhaust our samskars and lighten the weight of our storage stick as much we can and cleanse this data to achieve a blank. (Tell me another!)
An ideal situation for sure, but hard to achieve on ground level. It would take several lives and many incarnations, but I think it’s worth a try.
And I must.
So must you.
At the risk of repeating myself, let me recapture the above material in other words. (If you studied chemistry in high school……….this should be a piece of cake).
The fact that a Karma is stored in your USB stick is because it belongs to your data. If it was not data related to you, it would not be stored in your USB stick and it would not be relevant to you. The ownership of the experience occurs because of your I-sense, therefore it is called your experience. Minus your individuality, it would be an experience in general and not codified as yours.
At every level Ignorance plays an important part. Let’s examine how. Let’s look at the reversed chain reaction.
We consider every karma or act we perform to be our act. We are oblivious of the fact that these Karmas are compensatory karmas manifesting to nullify the stored impressions of earlier karmas in earlier lives. The stimuli to fructify these samskaras are the Vasnas or the inclinations that rise in our chitta or consciousness. Our ignorance leads to our expectation of a fruit or result from these compensatory karmas. So we buy into ownership and are back to the vicious circle.
Gyan or knowledge would have neutralized that; we would have realized that we should not expect our karmas to bear any fruit or result. We would be detached from it’s effects. We would not have any desire to see the results of these karmas and so we would not form impressions of them. These samskars would not get stored in the USBs’ and there would be no addition to the data in the USBs’. There would be nothing loaded into the USB ports or the Kaarna Sharir’. Our stored data would be partially played out in the current Karmas and that would lighten or reduce stored data. Thus, there would be lesser Karmas to exhaust in the future. We would be a few inches closer to mukti or freedom.
Before the end of this thought process, let me share with you one of Gurudev’s pet phrases. He used to say ‘Everybody’s Paap ka Ghada has to get filled up’. (Your pot of sin needs to get filled).
Patanjali helped me understand this phrase. According to the Yogasutras, the negative samskars unfold faster than the good ones. Negative thoughts rise in your consciousness faster than their good counterparts. I guess, that’s why negativity is faster selling than positivity.
People may tend to raise the question “If we do not take ownership then is every act justifiable?” A misconception that may arise is that, if we don’t acknowledge our Karmas (especially the negative ones), then we would not need to suffer their effect. So why try to do positive deeds? (Ah! Elementary my dear Watson!).
Unfortunately, non-acceptance of our deeds is not ‘skin deep’. The observer within us cannot be fooled by the mind and would record the impression at the level of the chitta or consciousness. Therefore, the concept of non-doership has to sink deep and has to be a part of the belief system of our mind, intellect and the observatories of our inner bodies.
This is not an easy subject. You can’t just nail it! But you can turn a screw one round at a time. You may not achieve 100% results but some results is quite a gain in this life.
We have to try and avoid getting emotions attached to the karmas. Our passions and desires, likes and aversions, joys and sorrows, give karmas a touch of the ‘I’. This state of mind converts Karmas to samskaras and uploads these Karmas into our USB’s. Therefore, one of the ways to shrink the Karma balance is to do things without the emotional quotient. (Easier said than done!).
Sure, this subject is not a piece of cake, but nor is nuclear physics. Either we have to live like an ostrich with our heads under the sand, or we have to take the trouble of figuring out better ways to exist. (Nothing comes easy. Swimming is so tough to learn at first, but so much fun later. So do make the effort to understand these concepts and play the game of life. In the words of Ashwariya Rai (in a L’Oréal Advert) ‘You’re worth it’ !
Look at the concept of samskaras being your spiritual assets. It is only wise and acceptable that you claim a depreciation on your assets. 30 to 40 percent should be achievable, as 100 percent success is a myth. You may add on 3 to 5 percent negative samskars and hopefully 5 to 10 percent positive ones. So net-net, you can still offload 20% of your samskars(These are just hypothetical figures to prove a point). Unfortunately, many people add to their burdens rather than offloading.
One last ‘pain in the neck’ aspect of the Karma law is that we as humans do have the power of discrimination. The tendency to perform a karma which is powered by Vasnas is hard to resist.
But we can use our will power to avoid things we consider inappropriate. We can bear the tendency, allow it to overwhelm us, but not succumb to it. So say the Forefathers. I agree with them partially, as I believe destiny dictates, but there’s always an umbrella for the rain, doesn’t stop it but shields off a bit of the water.
Gurudev had a one point formula. SEWA. He felt SEWA would solve all these issues. The mathematics would be in our favour and heavily so. He stopped us from taking obligations so the negative additions would be minimum. Sewa lead to a desire to evolve. Mantra Vidya (he called paath) becomes a major goal. Sensitivity comes automatically, when you try to help those who are underprivileged. More often than not, you outdo yourself which gives you faith. Many spiritual experiences occur. Intuition sharpens. Gyan results. You come closer to the concept of ‘I am that consciousness’.
The guidance of the Guru is a short cut to the erasing of samskaras at the sanchit level. Deep meditation or Samadhi, certain Mantra siddhis under the guidance of the Guru can be used to free the USB stick of some of its baggage. With sadhna (dedicated spiritual practice) and cleansing a multiplier effect can take place. The Vasnas may weaken in intensity. The dilution of the I-sense can help reduce the kleshas, dilute the strength of the Vasnas and make it easier for a disciple to reach a higher level of consciousness. A chain reaction. A guru can reduce some of his disciples’ karmas by making them fructify in the dream state.
I remember a vision wherein I saw my wife lying on a bed. There were masked men with knives surrounding her. I felt they would cut her up. It was a strange environment. I saw Gurudev sitting behind her smiling away, I asked him whether she was going to die, he smiled and asked me what I wanted, I said I would leave her fate to him.
A few years later my wife was expecting our second child. There were complications and it was to be a premature delivery. In my dream 2 days before I was told that I should leave before the delivery. Gurudev was very firm about this, I did leave town the night before my wife delivered. It was bizarre. The doctors said that it had to be a caesarian birth. It was new year’s eve. At 11.15 the doctor and his gynecologist wife both went up to their home at a higher floor to celebrate New year’s eve with their friends (they had guests). At 11.35 my wife delivered normally.
I realized that the dream I had a couple of years ago with her having a caesarian delivery. The men in the masks were doctors, their knives were scalpels. Her caesarian which in my vision looked like an ominous event never finally occurred, it got exhausted in my dream state (make of this what you might).