Let us look at karma from different perspective. Karma is like a seed, that is capable of producing both good and bad results. Such results could sometimes be invisible (adṛṣṭa - invisible, not experienced or unobserved) and sometimes they could cause latent impressions (vāsanā - impressions of anything remaining unconsciously in the mind, the present consciousness of past perceptions, knowledge derived from memory). Results of good actions cause good karmas and results of bad actions cause bad karmas and these karmas are known as adṛṣṭa. The effect of both adṛṣṭa and vāsanā is only through personal experience, either though physical body or through the mind. Experience through physical bodies include diseases, disabilities, body pains and anything to do with physical body. Experience though the mind means, mental disturbances such as anger, ego, cravings, dejection, schizophrenia, mental depression, isolation, loneliness and host of other mental trauma.
But this experience differs from a Self-realized person and a normal human being. Both have to undergo both pains and pleasures of good karmas and bad karmas separately, as karmas cannot be netted. A realized person knows that he is not the doer and hence results of karmas do not exist for him. Though he experiences both pleasure and pain, he treats them as if he is dreaming (without any impact either on his body or his mind). As we know, dream state does not affect us. Similarly, a jñāni treats his pains and pleasures only as a dream and is not affected by karmic experiences. How he is different from normal human beings? He has become a jñāni only because of mastering over spiritual knowledge. Thus, only knowledge alone gives solution in not feeling the pains of karma. Such pains cannot be eradicated by performing prāyaścitta-s (atonement, expiation, amends). Therefore, spending money in performing prāyaścitta-s is only due to ignorance and this kind of ignorance will not be present in the mind of a jñāni, as due to his knowledge he understands that prāyaścitta-s will not neutralise the karmic impressions. Liberation is possible only if there is no trace of sañcita karma.
Nitya karmas do not lead to Liberation or Mokṣa. Here nitya karmas mean ritualistic worship. They only tame and train our minds to be free from mundane thoughts during the time; but mundane thoughts re-enter our minds, after the rituals are over. Here we do not train our mind to purge impurities as in the case of meditation. In meditative practices, we work on our breathing to purify our mind and also ensure that mind is being purged constantly. When the mind is totally free from thought processes, we move on to various stages of trances (samādhi) to experience Brahman in the form of Bliss. More and more we experience Bliss, we are moving closer to kaivalya (eternal happiness or emancipation).
Kaivalya is the final stage of life of a living being. Nobody is there with that being during that time. He is all alone without any help around and he has to achieve on his own. This is the final stage of one’s evolution. The soul is about to leave its present body and getting ready to merge with the Brahman. Kaivalya is liberation or salvation and hence it is called the final stage. This final stage can be reached in two ways. One is the mundane stage associated with desires and attachments where soul gets ready for rebirth. The other stage is the stage of samādi, where the soul gets ready for its union with the Brahman not to be born again. This is kaivalya.
There are four types of consciousness. They are sālokya, sarūpa, samībha and sāyujya. Beyond this is kaivalya. Sālokya is the stage where one performs ritual worship, worshipping idols or portraits of gods. In sarūpa he leaves idol worship and does not differentiate himself from god. In samībha he goes near the god and in sāyujya stage, he merges with god. These are the stages of one’s consciousness that finally lead to kaivalya. One has to progress from one stage to another and this progression happens depending upon the level of spiritual knowledge on gets from his Teacher. By being spiritual does not mean one has to be religious. Spirituality transcends religious affinities, though religion forms the foundation of spirituality.
To attain kaivalya stage, one has to progress from ritual worship to mental worship (meditation). By making sufficient progress in meditation, one has to search for the Brahman within. Once the Brahman is located and realized within, the practitioner moves to the stage of kaivalya, by detaching himself from worldly affinities by staying connected with his Creator. His soul is now under preparation to merge with Him, for final liberation. Finally, he gets liberated with no further transmigration for that soul.
Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad (IV.iii.32) explains Bliss, which is prelude to Liberation. “This is supreme attainment; this is supreme glory; this is the highest world; this is Bliss.” What is that stage? This is the stage where one acts only as a witness and one without a second. We experience this, in our deep sleep state.