Doctrine of Karma – Secret of Karma

We cannot withdraw from the work of the world without, like Arjuna, being guilty of cowardice. Besides, however eager we may be to retire from a life of action, we cannot, in reality, pass outside the region of activity. If we cease to work with our bodies, our minds still remain active, and our only hope of freedom is in learning the secret of work.

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कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि — To work thou hast the right, but never to the fruits. Be not actuated by thirst for the results of action, nor be thou pleased in inaction. Bhagavad Gita, Ch.2, 47.

radha-lotus-feet“None verily, even for an instant, ever remain doing no action; for every one is driven helpless to action by the energies born of nature.” Therefore, unable to resist the inner force, we are bound to do that which we are doing. Each of our actions, furthermore, must inevitably produce some result. Every action is followed by a corresponding reaction, which returns to the point from which it started; hence the reaction of each action must come back to the soul itself and influence the doer. Further study also shows that the character of action and reaction must be the same.

The cause is inherent in the effect and the effect is the outward manifestation of the cause; therefore, if we are the effects of something, that cause must be not outside, but within us.

The cause is inherent in the effect, and the effect is the outward manifestation of the cause; therefore, if we are the effects of something, that cause must be not outside, but within us. This we learn by observing nature and understanding the law of causation. This law, moreover, is irresistible and relentless. It does not stop of the orphan’s cry or for the widow’s tears; it sweeps on without pity and unchecked by any obstacles. It molds the character of every individual, of sages and sinners, of kings and beggars. Every one is bound by it, no one can escape it. Driven by it, we are moving here and there, apparently in a circle. Starting from one desire, we go to a certain distance, describe a curve, and come back to the same place without the smallest knowledge of where and how the purpose of life will be achieved.

Our belief or disbelief can never arrest the law of karma in its ceaseless action. We have seen that all the causes of our actions are the motives or desires which lie within ourselves. So long as these desires are there, we are forced to work and reap the fruits of our labors. All work done through selfish motives binds the soul to the fruits thereof, and is in consequence a cause of bondage. If, however, we can once reach the point of working without having desire of results, without seeking any return, then the law of karma will be broken and freedom will be ours.

Wise work as if they were paying off a debt which they owe to society, to parents, to humanity. If we can labor with this idea, that all we do is merely to cancel our debt to the universe, then we can work for work’s sake. When we pay off a debt, do we think of getting something in return? No; we do our work, cancel our obligation and think no more about it.

Foolish and self-blinded men fancy that they are the doers of their actions, and consequently, continue to reap the fruits throughout their lives. The one essential thing is never to forget that the work done by mind and body is, in reality, not performed by the true self, but by nature. Some people may imagine that by giving up action they will escape the law of karma, but they are mistaken!

We cannot withdraw from the work of the world without, like Arjuna, being guilty of cowardice. Besides, however eager we may be to retire from a life of action, we cannot, in reality, pass outside the region of activity. If we cease to work with our bodies, our minds still remain active, and our only hope of freedom is in learning the secret of work. This consists, as we have already seen, in working ceaselessly without desires for returns, and without other motives than the emancipation of the soul paying our debts.

(..To be continued, 6th of a seven part series).

Author: Jyoti

Old-time Wikipedian, audio recording artist, graphic designer, professional programmer, and a blogger.

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