Disciple: I have absolute faith in you. I know you are extremely patient, otherwise you could have brushed aside many of my questions. I still nurse a lot of doubts. I need clarifications on those doubts as well.
Guru: Please go ahead and I will answer your questions to the best of my ability.
Disciple: I went to an astrologer. He said that I have curse from my ancestors (pitṛ doṣa) and unless these curses are removed, I cannot prosper in my life. He asked me to go to certain places and perform certain rituals to ward off this curse. Can I go?
Guru: I am repeating what I have said earlier. You need to advance sufficiently to get the right answer for this question. I do not say that astrology is wrong. It gives a basic idea about your life. I personally do not accept that performing remedial measures can solve your problems. All of us are bound by our karmas and you have no choice except to experience your karma. There is no escape from this. When you perform certain remedial measures, your mind thinks that your problems have been resolved and even if your problem persists, they do not bother you as your mind no longer considers them as problems. Mind is the single most important subtle organ in one’s life. A human has got three bodies. Outer most is the gross body that is visible to our eyes. Another is the invisible subtle body known as mind. There is a subtlest body made out of vital air (prāṇa), which forms as a sheath around your soul. This does not mean that your soul is a single atom deep inside your body. It is present all over your body. When I say gross, subtle, causal and soul, I mean to say that they are present all over your body. If soul is present in a particular spot in your body, how you can call the Self as omnipresent. Soul is present in your hair, nails, toes, etc. Can you say that air exists only in your lungs? Air is present both inside and outside your body. Similarly, soul is present both inside and outside your body. Mahānārāyaṇa Upaniṣad (XIII.v) says, “antarbahiśca tatsarvaṁ vyāpya nārāyaṇaḥ sthitaḥ” which means that Nārāyaṇa is pervaded both internally and externally. Nārāyaṇa refers to Brahman. This is an important aspect you must understand while pursuing spiritual path. Brahman is not only within you, but also present in all shapes and forms. There is not a single place where He is not present. This being the reality, how can you confine Him in a shape or form? We confine Him in a particular object because of our inherent māyā. Please also understand that māyā is not something different from Brahman. Māyā is His own power and by casting His spell of māyā, He evaluates a person’s spiritual maturity. He evaluates not to give you liberation. Liberation is possible only after cessation of all your karmic account. He evaluates a person to shower His Grace on him or her. He creates and protects everyone, but His Grace cannot be taken for granted. Krishna explains this in Bhagavad Gītā (VII.25). He said that He is not visible to all as He veils Himself by His own yogamāyā, which is known as divine potency. You said that you are reciting Lalitā Sahasranāma. Probably you have not noticed nāma 716 māyā. First you should understand what māyā is and the next step is to transcend māyā. Divine Grace is possible only if you are able to transcend māyā. How can you be promoted to the higher grade without knowing the subjects taught in the lower grade? In the same way, you cannot pursue spiritual path without understanding māyā first. Only latter you can transcend it.
Disciple: But you have not answered my question.
Guru: I have answered your question already. But you have not understood the subtle conveyance. If you need a straight answer from me, my answer would be “no need”.
Disciple: What will happen if I go ahead and perform these rituals?
Guru: Effect is simple. You become poorer by making someone richer. No ritual can modify your karma. Even God will not do that. What I am saying may not be palatable to you. But this is the reality. Truth is always difficult to understand. God is Truth, says Taittirīya Upaniṣad. The path of truth is difficult to traverse; hence many spiritual aspirants leave this path half way. For example, when you do not perform this particular remedy as suggested by your astrologer and if you face any difficulties, you will tend to think that it is because of not performing remedial measures. You are forced to think this way because of your spiritual ignorance and māyā. Both are interrelated to each other and almost the same and are inherent in all the human beings. That is why I am repeatedly insisting that you should have absolute faith while pursing spiritual path. Without absolute confidence, no goal can be reached.
If you perform these rituals even after my explanation, neither good nor bad would happen to you. You continue to remain as you are now. Your karma cannot be modified by you through any means. What you can achieve in this life is to surrender to Brahman. Unless you know Brahman, obviously you cannot surrender to Him. You cannot stand before Him and say “I have surrendered to You.” This is the not the right way to surrender. You have to surrender through your mind, which is your subtle body. You do not have access to your causal body, but you have access to your subtle body. Remember that your causal body is prāṇa, which is different from the air that we breathe. Prāṇa is energy that we inhale and exhale along with breath. Prāṇa is subtler than air. Mind though is invisible, you can still control it. For those who do not enter into spiritual path, their minds control their activities. But those who follow spiritual path, their minds are under their control. The difference between the two is your freewill. If you act through your freewill, then the mind listens to you and if you do not use your freewill and succumbs to the influences of your sensory organs, you are under the control of your mind, which by nature acts only on the sensory inputs.
Disciple: Do you mean to say that I should not use my sensory organs? After all, they are God’s gift.
Guru: When you have sensory organs, you have to use them. God has given us sensory organs to use them. Similarly, you cannot exist without ego. Sensory organs and ego are basic requirements for our living. You cannot stop their functions. Let us take an example. You see a mango. Two things can happen after seeing the mango. One, you walk away after seeing the mango, by forgetting the presence of mango or you go around the mango and decides to get one and taste it. When you glance at the mango and go away, the sensory inputs are not recorded in your mind and if you decide to buy a mango to taste it, it causes impressions in your mind. This impression is called desire or attachment. You will not be satisfied with one mango as it is very delicious and you are not able to resist temptation for mangoes. This temptation, after repeated satiations become an addiction, because there is no end to your desire of tasting mangoes. What I am saying is that you should not follow the second instance and instead follow the first instance. Just see the mango and walk away. If someone gives you a mango, taste it and do not long for another one. You can even buy one, but do not get addicted to that. The same principle applies to all the sense organs.
The same principle applies to ego. Without ego, one cannot exist. There are two types of ego. One is essential ego, by which others identify your body. The other one is non-essential ego, through which you derive pride. You can have ego, but that should not be turned into pride. Nothing in this world belongs to you. Everything is God’s gift. Even God’s gift does not come so easily. It is the result the impressions of your past thoughts and actions known as karma. When you perform good actions, you derive good karmas and when you perform bad actions, you derive bad karmas. When you die, you do not take anything with you. If you are helping someone, do not think that you are helping them. It is your karma and his karma that makes this possible.
Disciple: You speak so much on karma. But how great catastrophes such as tsunami, earthquake, floods, etc happen?
Guru: Theory of karma is a complicated process to understand. God rules the universe based on the theory of karma and hence it is called “Law of the Lord”. It is the fundamental principle for all our actions. There are two types of karmas. One is individual karma and another is group karma. Every thought and action of yours gets recorded in a small place in your mind. Always remember that your thoughts are several times more powerful than your actions. Bad thoughts cause huge karmic imprints. Never think that someone should suffer because he has made you to suffer. Do not try to retaliate. Such thoughts will come back to you like a ball hitting on a wall. During your entire life, you peprform so many actions and you develop so many thought processes. All these are recorded in your karmic account. When you die, these karmic impressions get into your subconscious mind in the form of karma. Your mind is embedded in your subtle body and your sub-conscious mind is embedded in your causal body. When your soul leaves your body at the time of death, prāṇa acts like a rocket and pushes the soul out of your body and your subconscious mind is also pushed out along with the soul. As we are now discussing about karma let us not discuss what happens between birth and death.
When you are born again, a portion of your karma begins to manifest and rest is continued to be stored in your subconscious mind. Your subconscious mind is always the same, birth after birth. But once it is out of your body, it forgets everything about your past lives. When it gets a new body (re-birth), the subconscious mind thinks that it is a new life for it. As you grow, your karmas manifest at every point of your life. You get your wife as per your karma. It is not only your karma that works, but also the karma of your wife that makes her to marry you. This concept is called group karma. Your karma and your wife’s karma are entwined. Let us assume that you and your wife travel together in an aircraft and the aircraft crashes and both of you die. This is because of the group karma. All other people who travelled with you are bound by group karma and meet the same fate and at the same time. The same principle applies to other calamities. Your father, mother, brothers, sisters, etc are all grouped together in this birth due to group karma.
(to be continued)