Showing posts with label reincarnation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label reincarnation. Show all posts

Thursday, November 30, 2023

How to Outwit Bad Karma!

 How to Outwit Bad Karma! 


There is a way out of bad karma, but the “way” is narrow and straight and “you” get left behind. You want to hear more? 

What is karma? Karma is the self-balancing after-effects of previous actions, including thoughts and emotions, not just physical deeds. Thus, the term “karma” includes what is ordinarily considered “good” karma as well as “bad.” However, most casual uses of the term “karma” tend to assume “bad” karma.  

What, then is “bad” karma? Bad karma is the unwanted boomerang effects of your previous not-so-laudable actions. If you purposely hurt someone (physically or emotionally) you might expect the law of karma to dictate that you will be hurt in return (whether by the person you hurt or another person). Good karma would be the kindness that returns to you for having been kind to others.  

The law of karma can be seen in the law of physics that states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. In nature, we would refer to the law of karma as the principle of cause and effect. Whether in science or human behavior, our expectations assume the law of causation even though we often cannot see the chain of causes that lead to a specific effect. We would go crazy if our world was not so governed. Life would not be worth living if we could not reasonably expect to exchange good habits for bad habits; if we could not improve our skills, our health, or our relationships. Science wouldn’t exist to improve our lives if experiments could not be duplicated dependably.  

This fundamentally important aspect of human life is akin to the law of gravity. Our lives would be in disarray if gravity did not hold sway on our planet. 

The justice system metes out greater punishment to evil deeds that are done intentionally as compared to accidental misdeeds. This recognizes the importance of intention. Intention reflects consciousness and the implicit participation of doership. Thus, karma is tied to the degree of conscious intention and awareness.  

Doership therefore holds the key to karma: good or bad. Accidents that I cause generate karma (effects) that cannot be changed but their boomerang impact on me sometime in the future is lessened for not having caused the accident intentionally. If I accidentally kill a pedestrian with my car on a dark and rainy night, I certainly incur karma but it is not the same as my committing “first-degree” murder.  

So how to beat my “bad” karma? There are several stages each of which relates to the degree of my ego involvement. 

Stage One: Practice Stoicism Practicing “stoicism” or non-attachment and non-reactivity reduces the tendency to ADD more karma while, at the same time, mitigates the impact of “incoming” or “ripening” karma. Stage One is therefore very efficient.  

Whether “good” or “bad” karma, the solution is the same. I’ll explain why we want to address “good” karma and not just “bad” karma. 

For my purposes, Stoicism is synonymous with non-attachment. One of the most famous aphorisms of the Yoga Sutras is stanza two which defines enlightenment as the neutralization of the mental reactive process to circumstances, thoughts, emotions, memories, and imaginationThis does not imply one becomes an automaton. Rather, to be non-reactive means to be calm and non-attached. There are countless layers of this state, but in the yoga tradition deep meditation is the key. But as the philosophers of Stoicism counsel us, it can begin with seeing life philosophically, meaning, from the God’s-eye point of view. 

Paramhansa Yogananda, author of the now-famous life story, “Autobiography of a Yogi,” gave this advice: “What comes of itself, let it come. Conditions are always neutral; they may seem happy or sad owing only to the attitudes of the mind.” 

Calmness and non-attachment are not the same as apathy, however. Apathy dulls the mind and awareness, and, to a degree, apathy steals from us the power of self-control. It thus undermines our ability to act calmly. Calmness and non-attachment require presence of mind to uphold their power when circumstances become intense, whether with success, failure, pleasure or pain. Presence of mind requires willpower and centeredness.  

Using will power and the power of habit to remain neutral is easy for the small things but close to impossible for most people when the big tests come.  

Meditation is a far more effective practice for developing consistency in achieving non-attachment. There are, however, many degrees and types of meditation. Meditation that is practiced devoid of spiritual attitudes and wisdom is far less effective than when practiced in its traditional context of devotion, selflessness, self-control, and openness to wise counsel. 

The reason I include “good” karma is that “every coin has two sides.” How can we achieve even-mindedness if we get excited over good fortune but pretend to remain even-minded in misfortune? You will find that the practice of non-attachment will impact your response to both good and bad circumstances. Non-attachment is the steady development of calmness under all circumstances. There is a deeper reason for this equality, however.  

The deeper purpose and power of Stage One is that it prepares us to detach the sense of doership from all actions: both good and bad. While intentional calmness can take us to the brink of what I will call Stage Two, it cannot by itself, cannot carry us over the finish line. 

Stage Two: Soul Consciousness. Human beings have the power to withdraw beyond the realm of causation, away from the play of opposites and boomerangs! The soul is forever free of karma for it is made in the image of God. As we accept divine guidance from within, we achieve freedom from karma. Daily meditation and inner communion with God, attuning one’s human will to the silent voice of intuition is the way out from the soul-degrading serfdom to habits and the reactive process. 

Moral reasoning; scriptural interpretations; pleading emotions; these are rooted in ego consciousness and ego consciousness is the problem. When the ego is transcended in soul-consciousness, the law of karma is transcended also. When there’s no whirling vortex of “I” and “mine” the chain of causation is cut. Our actions, guided by the divine will, accrue to the benefit of others. 

God who created the law of karma suspends the sentence of judgment for those souls who are united to Him. The way to escape the decrees of cosmic law is to live in divine consciousness.  

No matter how busy we are, we should strive in the inner silence to attune ourselves with God. By silent devotion we can deepen our awareness of divine love and wisdom. God is above the law. 

(Note the text above includes excerpts from the Wisdom of Yogananda: Karma and Reincarnation. Published by 

Joy to you! 

Swami Hrimananda 



Sunday, April 30, 2023

Heaven, Hell or No-thing?

What is our soul's destiny? What is the goal of the spiritual life? 

Is it to find happiness?

Is it to be good, and not bad or selfish?

Is it to earn the reward of an eternal after-death paradise?

Is it to avoid eternal punishment?

Is it to love God (whom you probably haven’t ever met)?

Is it to be virtuous in order to be prosperous?

Is it because you will feel better rather than worse?


 A Christian who accepts Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and is baptized in the church can go to heaven if their sins are not overly egregious. After death, the Christian might suffer in Purgatory in order to purify the soul of the burden of their venial sins before at last entering through the pearly gate where St. Peter welcomes them into heaven (assuming their name appears in the good book). In heaven, some say they sing praises to the Lord, perhaps strumming a harp. Maybe they visit with family and friends. No one is really sure but forever is a very long time. Maybe there’s no sense of time in heaven? The explanation isn’t very complete. I suppose a good Moslem has a similar experience though I’ve heard that his rewards are more heavenly sensual in nature. But for all that, the idea is similar. There’s even the idea that at some future Day of Judgement one’s former physical body is resurrected and returned to your soul. I suppose for many people these rewards are enough for them to try to be good, but not too good.

Judaism is less interested, I’m told, in dogma and more interested in behavior (a very practical, and as it turns out, modern concept). But there is some talk of an afterlife. Details are sketchy, however.

Buddhism started as a sect of Hinduism much as the first Christians were Jews. As the centuries went along and as Buddhism more or less vanished from India much as Christianity left Palestine for Europe, it has taken on, in some of its sects or branches, a more nihilistic tone—even for some to claim they are atheists, though Buddha never said that. Buddhism is not straight-forward on the question of heaven because reincarnation remained in the canon from its original Hindu roots. In general, the idea seems to be that nirvana is achieved when the self is dissolved but as there is no concept of soul and only emptiness, Sunyata, beyond form, there is, appropriately, not much to say about it (ha, ha). No wonder they are more inclined to think about improving their next life. Who would wish to become nothing? It seems a bit like committing spiritual hari kari. No wonder the Bodhisattvas choose to return to help others! While this assessment is not entirely fair and in principle is not unlike the concept of dissolving the ego, Buddhism does not admit of God and does not discuss the transcendent state of freedom from samsara (the cycle of birth, life, death and reincarnation).

Hinduism affirms reincarnation and the states between reincarnation, the afterlife, as various forms of heaven and hell, though such states are temporary rather than everlasting. The end game of this otherwise endless cycle of birth, life, death, afterlife, rebirth moves toward enlightenment and then culminates in soul liberation. Enlightenment is the kind of awakening to the soul-Self (Atman) that, when it reaches its full realization, frees one from the delusion of separateness but not necessarily from the karma of past actions and identifications. Freeing one's soul identification from the past then becomes the next goal of the otherwise free soul called a jivan mukta. Once all past karma is dissolved by releasing one’s memory and identification with past actions, then one merges into God and achieves the final state of samadhi (there are different levels of samadhi). This merging into and union with God is often described with the metaphor of a drop of water, or a river, dissolving into the ocean. The drop of water or the water of the river still exist but have been merged into the ocean. Nonetheless, Hinduism is so old and there are so many branches of it and teachers in Hinduism that there’s no point even attempting to state what “Hinduism” teaches no matter how insistently any one branch or teacher proclaims their definition of liberation, known as moksha.

Paramhansa Yogananda (1893-1952), author of the now classic story, “Autobiography of a Yogi,” offered a nuanced description of moksha: the soul’s liberation in God. Freedom from all karma, he taught, allows the Atman, the soul, to achieve identification with what it has always been: the Infinite Spirit. Yet, from the dawn of time, so to speak, each Atman, each soul, carries a unique stamp of individuality. As all created things, mental, emotional or physical, are manifestations of the One, nothing is ever apart from Spirit no matter how dark it becomes. A rock is as much God as a saint, but the rock is simply unaware of “who am I” while the perfect being (saint) is “One with the Father” even if embodied in form.

The Self-realized saint then enjoys a two-fold beatitude: the bliss of God while in incarnate and in activity and yet with access to the vibrationless Bliss of God beyond creation.

There are many stages described in the Hindu scriptures of the soul’s long journey through time and space and its concomitant levels of awakening. But in this article, we are focusing on the final stage: union with God. God realization is not barred by the fact of being incarnate in form, whether that form be the physical, astral; or causal. While it may be gainsaid that this final step is natural to the causal state of the soul, there are those who maintain that it is the desireless desire of God that the soul achieves its liberation while in the outer form of the creation as a kind of victory dance proving, like the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the supremacy of Spirit over matter.

Once merged into the Infinite, the memory of the soul’s many incarnations remain. While enjoying the bliss of union with God, the Infinite Spirit might send the soul back into the creation to fulfill the divine mission of redeeming other souls. Returning to form, such a soul is called, in India, an avatar: a descent of Spirit into form. “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14)

It is also possible that the deep devotion of an incarnate devotee might be strong enough to call back into vision or even fleshly form, a liberated soul who is in fact the savior for that soul. St. Francis, for example, walked with Jesus. Paramhansa Yogananda was visited by the flesh and blood form of his guru, Swami Sri Yukteswar months of his guru's burial.

In God nothing is lost and all is achieved; all is possible.

Meditate, then, on the indwelling, omnipresent, immanent Spirit in your Self and in every atom of creation. "Hear O Israel, the Lord, the Lord is ONE!" The Infinite Spirit sends into creation in every age a divine "son" to call the children back into the blissful Fold. The "son" says to us "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except by following Me." Krishna, Buddha, Jesus Christ, Paramhansa Yogananda and countless other "sons" (and daughters) of God have been sent. Do you hear their voice?

Blessings, friends,

Swami Hrimananda