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Karma and reincarnation

Friday, December 01, 2017

The most commonly used word that is misunderstood is “Karma“. The literal meaning of Karma is action. Action could be latent, could be in the form of a tendency, and it could be something that happens in the future. These are the three forms of Karma.

So Karma means:

The impression of the past that will draw similar actions in the future (this is future Karma)

The present action you are doing that is creating an impression in your mind. That is again called Karma

Every habit is a sort of Karma. Suppose you have been drinking coffee every morning, and one day you don't drink it, you end up with a headache. This is coffee Karma. Now how to eliminate coffee Karma?

By drinking coffee

By not drinking coffee but just observing the sensations in your body

By doing some breathing exercises, or meditation

Being aware of a tendency in you will help you overcome the tendency. Here comes the play of knowledge (awareness). Knowledge does not mean informative knowledge; it means awareness – the sense of knowingness.

When you increase your sense of knowingness, your Karma stands reduced. For example, you feel like throttling somebody, but because you are aware, you don't do it. If you are not aware, then when the tendency comes up to throttle somebody, you just go and throttle them. You act on it.

Every impression is Karma, but there is nothing to worry about because Karma is not like an engraving on a rock – it is fluid. And Karma is always bound by time, because every action has only a limited reaction – it is not infinite.

All animals have only Prarabdha Karma, which is the Karma over which they do not have any control. Mother Nature runs them, so they don't accumulate any future Karma. If you are totally like an animal, you don't get any Karma. But as a human being, this is impossible because the mind stores impressions and accumulates future Karma. And Karma is that which propels reincarnation.

However, there is one thing that can erase Karma and that is knowledge and self-awareness. If you are aware of yourself and if you are in total love, then you are free from Karma. Then you are not bound by any impressions – you are free. What gives you freedom is your awareness.

Our mind is energy, and by the law of thermodynamics, you know that energy cannot be destroyed. If mind is energy, then what happens to this energy when someone dies?

Death is almost like sleep. What happens when you sleep? While sleeping, your consciousness and your attention shrinks and you shut out from your outer experiences and move inward into a void. And when you wake up in the morning, the same consciousness that had shrunk starts expanding and opens up, and you wake up.

If you carefully observe the mechanism, the last thought that you get just before falling asleep becomes the first thought when you wake up. This gives you a clue of your re-incarnation. That is why it is said that the last thought is most important. Whatever you do throughout your life, at least in the last moment of your life, you should be free and happy. If you are happy in the last moment, before you leave the body, then you get a better body the next time around.

    — Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

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