March 12, 2007

Gita XVI----Karma and Destiny

Nature does not absolutely determine. Karma is a condition, not a destiny. It is only one of the five factors involved in the accomplishment of any act, which are adhisthana or the basis or centre from which we work, kartr or doer, Karana or the instrumentation of nature, chesta or effort and daiva or fate. The last is the power or powers of other than human, the cosmic principle which stands behind, modifying the work and disposing of its reward. There are certain factors in our lives which are determined for us forces beyond our control. We do not choose how or when or where and in what condition of life we are born. On the theory of rebirth even these are not chosen by us. It is part of our Karma that determines our ancestry, heredity and environment. But when we look from the stand point of this life, we can say that we were not consulted about our nationality, race, parentage or social status. But subject those limitations, we have freedom of choice. Life is like a game of bridge. We did not invent the game or design the cards. Our life is a mixture of necessity, and freedom, chance and choice. By exercising our choice properly, we can control steadily all the elements and eliminate altogether the determinism of nature. While the movements of matter, the growth of plants and acts of animals are controlled more completely, man has understanding which enables him to co-operate consciously with the work of the world. He can approve or disapprove, give or withhold his consent to certain acts. If he does not exercise his intelligent will, he is acting in a way contrary to his humanity. If he acts blindly according to his impulses and passions and passions, he acts more like an animal than a man. Being human he justifies his actions.

The individual should become transparent to himself and different elements should reach a fundamental integration for spontaneous or creative activity to be possible. It is mans duty to control his rajas (material desires) and tamas (physical desires) by means of his sattva (spiritual desire) nature which seeks for the truth of things and the right law of action. But even when we act under the influence or our sattva nature we are not entirely free. Sattva binds us as much as rajas and tamas. Only our desires for truth and virtue are nobler. The sense of ego is still operative. We must raise our ego and grow into the Supreme Self of which the ego is an expression. When we make our individual being into one with the Supreme, we rise above nature with its modes and freed from the bonds of the world.


Enemy of the Republic said...

This is exactly how I understood Karma as depicted in the Gita. In the west, it is seen more as what comes around, goes around. But it is a yoga of action, be it positive to build up our good karma or negative, which means we have to experience samsara and return to this earth for more lessons until we reach the state in which we can be one with the Divine. Am I on the right track?

Cocaine Jesus said...

getting beyond ego must be one of the hardest things a person can do. seeing not the I in everything but to be aware that the WE is paramount. so easy to understand but so hard to do.

Rach said...

I love your analogy of the game of bridge. So true, and it would seem that until we accept our cards, the future is not clear for us. True acceptance of our history and heritage, together with the fact that we had no control over it, can really be the realisation that sets us free to determine our futures. Great words and tank you for visiting me.

Paul said...

The way I feel about it is basically in line with the view you post here. To me it feels as if there's a measure of choice, but clearly there are other deterministic factors operating as well.

Yet feeling that you have choice doesn't prove that you do. And because you can never make time go backwards to check out whether or not you really could have done any different than what you ended up doing, I can't see how we know that we have choice.

Bug said...

I like this post a lot--it reinforces something I've had a hard time communicating to people who throw up their hands when things go wrong and say it is their destiny/fate/karma. I believe that there is an aspect of that in what happens to us, but that we also have control to some degree.

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ish said...

To follow up Paul's point, how can we ever address the the misadventures of past lives if we don't know what they are? Aren't we doomed to endlessly repeat ourselves.

get zapped said...

I like the element of choice with karma. If it were entirely destiny, then why try anything? We would merely float around like flotsam at the mercy of the currents. I'm also intrigued by your take on Sattva nature binding us. My familiarity of ragas, tamas and sattva is through the yogasanas, ragas and tamas are useful, yet, one can over take the other and throw us off balance, but a sattvic state was ideal. What is your take on that?

Anne said...

Hello! I came here from Enemy Of The Republic's blog. I like your blog very much. Good work.

I would like to address Ish's comment if you don't mind. I think our past lives do stay with us subconsciously, or in the depths of our spirit. We may even consciously remember small bits sometimes. In any case, bad karma isn't necessarily a punishment from God. It can be a lesson. For example, if you were a racist in a past life, you may be reborn as a minority to learn compassion. Or karma may be a natural consequence of your actions. If you are a drunkard, you will eventually become sick, poor and unwanted. In your next life you may have a stronger than average repulsion to drunkards, if you learned your lesson. Then later you may use that feeling to do good deeds, like helping others who have the same problem. It does stay with you in some way. And then some of what we think is karma may just be a lesson to give you knowledge without your having done anything bad to really cause it.

Oh, sorry if that comment was too long. I'm in a very thoughtful mood today. Nice blog.

Enemy of the Republic said...

Will you be writing more soon? I love this blog!

iamvisheshur said...

i appreciate this noble effort.It would be nice if you give the lines.

you have mentioned that we don't chose our birth,but the founder of the country(baratha)was said to have become a deer and again a human..

but leaving the stories apart,the value of human body is as you said to travel the yatra,the noble journey,for a human to b bad or good isn't decided his actions and virtues but rather by what experience he has manifested to receive.The world is made of one soul,the bramam the supreme self,it is there in everything(narashima avatharam) is left to us to seek the power.The virtues are set by the society to help maintain a order,the order in name of fear.It is important to know how to live as a animal(as we are also animals) and also as a man.In ancient times we were like animals,then we didn't know this thing called god,we became wise enough to create him and give a form.Now i am trying to propose a atheist theory but i am trying to tell that,it is improtant to seek god in our way.There is no one route to reach the power for all of us are.Atleast as far as hinduism is concerned both the asura and the deva are equal.

for more my views(if you are interested)you can see my blog(esp,the post mind, heart and soul)

katch photo said...

nice post

Benjamin said...

Hi Gautami,

How do you know all this? Why do you think this?

I like the bit about the 'cosmic principle modifying the work'. Yeah, it does that. It can be funny, likeable, comforting but it doesn't fit very nicely with Judaeo-Christian concepts of how things work which is all, darn it, about struggle and work.

So all the time I'm like 'I've got to struggle to do good, it's got to be hard' and life says to me 'No, take it easy, cause the universe is doing that work'.

Yeah, I guess I agree witha lot of this. Maybe I think words, phrases like 'duty' and 'nobler desires' are not wise ones to use. It's love, it's feeling, it comes quite natural to us. Duty sounds so arduous.

But yeah, peace, sister x

Benjamin said...

Hello again, Gautami,

Oh, silly me, this is the Doctrine of the Bhagavad Gita!

I'm here this morning to say how helpful I found this piece of writing yesterday when (in my own going about my business way) I meditated on these words. Thank you. I wish you something nice that the universe can choose for you.

I suppose my work (and it often feels like work) has been about following my bliss in a culture which generally suggests following one's bliss is a bad thing.

I appreciate the abstract qualities of your post, the opening two sentences that leave something to the imagination. I feel like a small thing, encompassed by something very large. I feel I have the freedom to choose any route but that, very gradually, through education from life I am (maybe, maybe just today) discovering that this big thing will stop me when I am on the wrong path and somehow lets me keep going on, going the wrong way for a moment and then going the right way for a moment. I feel like this is my path, my learning and that other people have very different learnings, very different paths.

Thank you for this. I do hope to see you around the journals too.

antonior said...

I´m so glad i found this place and this words in it.

Thanks for sharing your wisdom. I deeply agree with what you say.

I'll be back.

My compliments

Yoga Gal said...

I want to make my yoga students read your wonderful blog! They are very western and most are studying yoga for the physical practice and be L.A. chic. They believe karma is some cosmic force beyound their control but I stated that karma is also action! Please, keep writing and namaste.

Benjamin said...

I should accept i have a desire for you to come to my blog and leave it at that :)

Enemy of the Republic said...

Will you be updating soon? I crave this blog!