Adventures in Advaita Vedanta, the philosophy and science of spirit. We are one you and I; are you curious why?..


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Such is Destiny

Hari OM

'Text-days' are for delving into the words and theory of Advaita Vedanta.

[You are reminded that reviewing the previous week's posts will become essential as the meanings of the Sanskrit terms may not be repeated. There may come additional or alternative meanings, but all should be noted. As study progresses, the technical terms must necessarily become 'second nature' to the student. When the Sanskrit is used, the translation will fall easily into place - or likewise, if the English is used, the Sanskrit term must easily come forwards.]

Please revisit THIS post and chant the mangala-charana. Please use the TattvabodhaH label to access all posts relevant to this text.

When watching a swami at times other than when giving discourse or satsang, it can be noted that there is little, if any, superfluous movement. The most alive part of such a sage is the eyes. They are all-seeing. To be blessed with even the most sideways glance from a Master is to know true blessing. Such an experience is never forgotten. The stillness of the physical container of the Master is a lesson in tranquillity. Every movement is economical and even the placing of a book or a pen is with repose.

If one attends satsang with such a Master, the atmosphere cannot be denied. This is not mere 'charisma'; it is something far greater. When a Master speaks, not one word is out of place… and every word is for the listener and only the listener. The fact that there might be a hundred other listeners sharing the room matters not; the Satguru is speaking only to the "I", which is Himself, and for a brief moment the individual is brought out of his or her condition and into that union.

Whether the jnaani serves by sharing the teaching this way, or remains at the work of their lifetime… or retreats to the forests or mountains… every action is merely burning up of the wick of destiny. Life, having been given, must run its course. This is destiny.

प्रारब्धं कर्म किमिति चेत्।
इदं शरीरमुत्पाद्य इह लोके एव सुखदुःखादिप्रदं
यत्कर्म तत्प्रारब्धं भोगेन नष्टं भवति
प्रारब्धकर्मणां भोगदेव क्षय इति।
praarabdhaM karma kimiti cet.
idaM shariiramutpaadya iha loke eva sukhaduHkhaadipradaM
yatkarma tatpraarabdhaM bhogena naSTaM bhavati
praarabdhakarmaNaaM bhogadeva xaya iti.

"Having given birth to this body, the actions which give result in this very world in the form of happiness or miser and which can be destroyed only by enjoying or suffering them, is called praarabdha karma."

Interestingly, the word praarabdha can be broken down to bring out "that which began well"… which sums it up rather nicely! We are born as children so innocent in at the beginning, but instantly the egg-timer starts running and it can only run according to the sanchita sands. In praarabdha, we face karma phala… the fruits of our actions.

How often have you said 'what have I done to deserve this?'; or heard another say 'oh he didn't deserve that!' Even if we are not of the tradition of Sanatana Dharma, we have some concept of having to pay a debt of some sort for our actions. Mostly we resent this! Properly understood, the karmic cycle can be a powerful influence upon us, for we start to act more consciously and conscientiously. However, a life of good acts does not necessarily preserve us from having to pay serious debts and if there is murder and mayhem several lives back, we will have to redress the balance sometime - and it may be in the current life. Further, within this life itself, we can experience the fullness of karma. It is what our reward and justice system is about. Good deeds can certainly yield reward this life itself and sour deeds may result in, for example, fines.

It is the praarabdha karma which determines the time and place of our birth, the environment, the lifespan. Do not consider praarabdha as 'set in stone' fate, something in which we are helpless. To be fatalistic, "oh there is nothing to be done, it is written in the stars", is of itself a negative karma. In fact, everything provides a learning, if we are alert, and by understanding that everything in life is a result of past action, in this life itself we can take responsibility, adjust our actions for the future, and fund a will to rise from the traps set by Maya. 

We must have the attitude that, whilst we may not have a choice in what is served to us, we do have a choice in how we 'eat' it. Adjustment of attitude from 'woe is me' to 'how can I use this' is what is required.

An arrow that has been shot from the bow reaches its target to exhaust its momentum. It cannot be withdrawn halfway. Similarly, those actions which have started fructifying can only be exhausted by giving their results. One must bear these results and the depth of their effect will be much determined by our attitude.

The jnaani, about whom this part of the text is talking, must also serve out 'time' in praarabdha, simply by virtue of having been born. However, as far as he is concerned there is no doing or enjoying or suffering. Eventually, his body, like the rest of us, must pass. The jiiva that found its freedom in mukta state (samaadhi) will now finally rest forever.

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