The Threads of Karma
We discussed the definition of Karma in a previous blog. Let us examine it further with an example. If I plant a seed in the ground, it sends up a stem, grows leaves, fruits or flowers one fine day. And then a seed falls back on the ground and the cycle is repeated. We know that the same seed produces the same plant. So a grape produces grape, rice produces rice.
The next example is one of our actions. I ask a friend ‘why are you going to Bombay?’. He says “I want to buy a new phone and I thought I could get it there’. Or he may say “I wanted to see a friend, I thought he was in that city and I went”. The 3 key words here are “I wanted, I thought, therefore I acted”. These are always together.
Want is also called desire (the 1st stage), then we think how to get it (2nd stage) and we act to get it (3rd stage). Every action of Karma always has 2 steps behind it. These 3 things — “actions-thoughts-desire”are the threads of Karma. So if people around us are happy or unhappy, we have sown the seeds which grow back (remember rice grows rice). What we sow comes back to us, this is Karma.
Action has thought behind it. That thought is called character, defined also as the nature and attributes of mind we have. As we think about something a great deal, our mind becomes that. If we think kindness, we become kind and so on. So when we are reborn, we carry forward these predominant thoughts we sow again. This is also Karma.
But thoughts have desire behind it. Magnets attract iron and the same way desire attracts worldly objects. If we desire richness, learning, love, all these come back and we shall have an opportunity in the next life as well. This also is Karma.
You may ask, If my actions now are the outcome of my past thought and my past desires, am I not helplessly bound? It is true to a certain extent only. There is enough space to exercise new thoughts, desires via knowledge gained and introspection.
So introspection seen through an example could be — ‘I am a cheese producer and a batch of cheese has gone bad, the enquiry would look into the milk, the cow, the grass that was fed. The same way, we need to enquire our actions and always trace back to thoughts & desires and that is the repository of all answers. (Meditation, Mindfulness and other techniques help in this process)
So if you act cruelly this life, go back to the desire level and figure out why you are wired in this fashion. You will then try to change and there will be resistance but it is not impossible to overcome it. That is how samsaras (loosely translated as ingrained habits) change.
That is the true purpose of a human. And that is how we go to each desire, examine and detach from it. A moment will come when all desires will be loosened and that is the moment when mortal becomes immortal
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