"In Wonders We Sail, Questing for the Answers in Veil"

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Karma : How Mind Creates Karma ?

According to Yoga Science, everything in the universe, including the mind, has evolved from prakriti (primordial nature). Prakriti is eternal and all-pervading. It is the cause of our manifest world. Itself unborn, it is the mother of the entire universe and all that exists in it. It is the highest form of energy. The energy of Prakriti, for example, is more refined than electricity, magnetism, and gravity. (According to yoga, these forces belong to the manifest world and arc not energy at all, but subtle forms of matter.) Prakriti has three intrinsic forces: sattva, rajas, and tamas. While prakriti is in its unmanifest form, these intrinsic forces remain in perfect balance. When this balance is disturbed, prakriti becomes manifest.

Everything in the manifest world consists of sattva, rajas,and tamas in varying degrees. Sattva is the force characterized by light, illumination, upward movement, clarity, purity,warmth, and inspiration. Rajas is the force of activity, movement, instability, agitation, and pulsation. Tamas is the force of darkness,heaviness,inertia, downward movement, confusion,sloth, dullness, and lack of enthusiasm. Sattva and tamas appear to be opposites, while rajas is the force of activity or animation. Due to rajas, vibration is an intrinsic characteristic of prakriti.

Unlike the vibrations evident in the material world, the vibration in prakriti has neither a cause nor a medium through which to vibrate. As long as sattva, rajas, and tamas are in equilibrium, this basic principle of vibration remains still. But once this equilibrium is disturbed, there ensues a primordial explosion of all the pairs of opposites, causing the objective world to emerge in all its diversity.

The mind-both the cosmic mind and the individual mind-is the first to emerge from the stillness of prakriti;the material world then evolves from the mind. According to the yogic doctrine of evolution, an effect must contain all the qualities and characteristics of its cause, and it cannot have qualities and characteristics which do not exist in its cause.Because prakriti is the mother of the mind, the mind consists of the three forces intrinsic to prakriti. If these forces reach a perfect state of equilibrium, the mind will no longer exist as such but will be merged in prakriti.

By the same token, as long as the mind exists, these forces cannot be in perfect equilibrium. It is the nature of the mind to be dominated by either sattva or rajas or tamas, while the other two forces are subordinate. The interplay of these three forces causes the mind to continually shift from one state to another, which is why it never functions in a perfectly balanced manner. By turns and in varying degrees it is distracted, stupefied, disturbed, one-pointed, or well controlled.

A well-controlled mind emerges when sattva is the dominant force, and both rajas and tamas are minimal.When rajas and tamas increase proportionately and the dominance of sattva declines slightly, the mind slips from a perfectly controlled state into relative one-pointedness. When rajas and tamas have increased to the point at which sattva is only slightly stronger than they are, the mind becomes disturbed.

When tamas is the dominant force and rajas and sattva are subservient, the mind becomes stupefied. When rajas dominates, the mind falls into a distracted state. The mind usually remains in one or more of the first three states - distracted, stupefied,or disturbed - only occasionally becoming one-pointed, and rarely, if ever, well controlled.

Because our thoughts, speech, and actions are either confused, organized, or peaceful, depending on our mental state,these mental states play a significant role in the formation of our karmas. ln a distracted, stupefied, or disturbed state of mind, for example, our actions as well as their fruits are confused. Actions performed under the influence of a confused mind will be accompanied by samskaras (subtle impressions) of confusion, and their results will be confused as well. Even if these actions and their impressions are positive, they will still be contaminated with confusion. A confused mind causes us to create a multitude of weak karmas, which in turn are stored in the unconscious mind in a disorganized way.

Creating Samskaras:

To get a clearer understanding of this, let us look at how two people - one whose mind is disturbed and one whose mind is one-pointed - might handle the same situation. Both  are professionals and both like chocolate. They each face a decision about which chocolate bar to buy - an innocuous decision, but one which clearly demonstrates the workings and interplay of the various kinds of karma.

In our first example, a freelance computer consultant - we’ll call him Fred - is working at home. His wife has gone to her office, dropping the children at school on the way. Early in the afternoon Fred gets a call from a customer who is furious because a defect in Fred's work is causing problems with his software. The customer insists that the problem be fixed immediately, and Fred agrees to come right over.But the moment he hangs up, the phone rings again. The school is calling to say a blizzard is expected and he should pick up his children. Intent on keeping the appointment with his customer,Fred calls his wife to ask her to pick up the children, but to his dismay she tells him she is having a problem with her car and needs a ride home herself.

Because he cannot refuse any of these requests, he becomes agitated as he tries to figure out how to get his family home safely and still get to his customer’s office. So he first picks up the children. They are cranky and demand some computer games to entertain them during the blizzard. The game store is next to the supermarket and both are on the way to his wife's office. He decides to stop and let the kids get their games while he picks up milk and other items the family will need to ride out the storm.

On his way to the dairy case, Fred passes through the candy aisle. Chocolate is his favorite food, so he stops without thinking. There are twenty different kinds of chocolate bars on display. He had no intention of buying chocolate when he came into the store, but his mind is so scattered and the chocolate bars so captivating that he starts looking at them. He can see all twenty different varieties of chocolate clearly;eighteen grab his attention because he is familiar with them. Should he buy them or not? He doesn't want to buy all of them, so which ones should he pass over? His favorite, imported from Belgium, is on sale, but he already has a good supply of them at home. After looking again and again at the different packages, he eliminates two more but still finds himself attracted to fifteen.That is still too many. He looks again and finally grabs four at random and drops them into his cart. He looks around. He is so harried and confused that he has no idea where to go next.He can't even remember why he is in the store. With an effort he reorients himself, collects the groceries he planned to buy,and goes next door to get the children.

Now let us analyze the chocolate karmas Fred created in that confused state of mind, what kind they were, and how those karmas were stored in his memory-field and became Samskaras. At the sensory level, he noticed the existence of twenty different kinds of chocolate. At this first level, none of these chocolates were good or bad, expensive or inexpensive,more or less desirable. The subtle impressions of chocolates at this stage were vague and accompanied by uncertainty and aimlessness. Let's call this first level “chocolate samskara l.” Then Fred focused his attention, distinguished one chocolate from another, and recognized their characteristics-superior, inferior, expensive, cheap, unknown, and so on. This is Fred's “chocolate samskara 2.” He then began to analyze the chocolates further. He identified eighteen of them. Based on his previous experiences, a sense of liking and disliking arose from this identification. The memories associated with those eighteen varieties of chocolate rushed forward, forcing him to buy chocolate. But still there were too many different kinds. With this feeling, which is accompanied with identification and judgment, he stored these eighteen varieties in his memory-field as "chocolate samskara 3."

Next Fred transferred the chocolate file to the decisive faculty of his mind (known as buddhi) to make a final decision about which to buy. But the buddhi was confused too. The best variety according to the decisive faculty was the one imported from Belgium. But another thought flashed: "There is a lot of it in our refrigerator; I probably shouldn't buy more." Next the buddhi eliminated three chocolate bars as inferior, but was still confused about how to choose among the other fifteen. Impelled by the craving for chocolate, but unable to make a clear decision, the buddhi motivated Fred to grab four chocolate bars at random. Fred filed this information in his memory-field as "chocolate samskara 4" with a note identifying the four bars he actually ended up buying. 

Add all these up and we can see that Fred has collected seventy-seven chocolate samskaras, although he bought only four varieties. The first twenty samskaras, engendered at the sensory level, are quite vague. The samskaras related to the four varieties he bought are the strongest, but they contain the awareness of confusion and randomness. The samskaras in between get gradually stronger, but are devoid of the samskara of purpose. 

Now let's imagine an attorney - we'll call her Elaine who has completed her duties in a peaceful frame of mind. She too hears that there is a storm on the way and decides to stop at the grocery store on the way home to buy her favorite chocolate. She walks purposefully to the candy section. At the sensory level she notices the twenty different kinds of chocolate bars on display, but she is so clear about what she wants that she barely perceives nineteen of them. She identifies the one she came for, takes it from the shelf, and walks directly back to the checkout counter. 

In her case too there are impressions of twenty varieties of chocolate stored as "chocolate samskara I," but they are so vague and weak that they hardly occupy any space in her memory-field. Versions 2 and 3 contain only one chocolate, and they too occupy almost no space in her memory. "Chocolate samskara 4" contains one strong, clear impression, and it is filed so distinctly that Elaine can retrieve it at any time almost without effort. Thus she has created only twenty-three chocolate samskaras, twenty-two of which have no power to motivate her to buy chocolate in the future. The twenty-third is endowed with clarity and purpose, but it can motivate her only if she wishes it. Fred's mind, on the other hand, will be tossed about by the confusing chocolate samskaras he has created, and he has no choice but to behave like a slave to them. 

This example may seem frivolous, but it explains how we create samskaras. If Fred's mind is bogged down by all the virtually useless chocolate samskaras he created in the space of a few minutes, think of the numberless samskaras we fill our minds with in the long journey of life. The more unstable the mind and the more sensory objects it contacts, the more samskaras are created and stored. And when actions are accompanied by confusion in the first place, their corresponding samskaras are imbued with confusion. Memories related to these samskaras in turn inspire the conscious mind and senses to undertake similar confused actions. 

Fred's problem apparently began when he got the telephone calls from his client and the children's school; it deepened when he talked to his wife, and got even worse when the children demanded computer games: this chain of events disturbed his equilibrium. According to yoga psychology, Fred's rajas became agitated when his equilibrium was disturbed; sattva and tamas immediately declined sharply. If Fred had a sattvic temperament, he would have maintained his equilibrium in spite of all these external circumstances, for if sattva is dominant, rajas will be held in check and cannot rise above a certain level. 

It is often assumed that loss of equilibrium is triggered at the level of our biochemistry. In other words,external circumstances cause our adrenaline levels to rise, and that leads us to become agitated. Yet some people do not experience an adrenaline rush in the same situations that disturb others. It is not the external situation nor the adrenaline that disturbs our equilibrium, but the interplay of sattva, rajas, and tamas and the dominance of one over the others. People dominated by sattvic energy are composed, those dominated by rajasic energy are agitated, and those dominated by tamasic energy are depressed.

Other Articles On Karma and Afterlife In This Blog :
Afterlife : Astral Heaven Explained By Paramahansa Yogananda 1
Karma : As You Sow, So Shall You Reap
Karma : The Three Types Of Karma

From Death to Birth: Understanding Karma and Reincarnation
By Rajmani Tigunait


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