YogaBetsy Discourse Number 18
Karma, at its simplest, is cause and effect, reaping what you sow. It is sometimes compared with the consequence of sin in Christianity but Karma does not have to be negative. Karma can be good or bad because the consequences of an act may be good or bad.
Karma is energy. When it comes right down to it, everything in this world is just energy and information and that includes us. From the Yogic point of view, you are your karma. We come here with different abilities and in different conditions. Karma is the yogic explanation for these differences and in the eastern understanding of it, this embodies the concept of reincarnation and the idea that you have lived on this earth before.
There is no proof which can be offered regarding the truth or falsehood of this proposition, nor is any required for our purposes here. A scientific examination based in the here and now will do well enough.
At the outset we can see that we live in a confusing and complicated world. Science tells us that it is very much more complex than it appears to be superficially. We are also confronted with the reality that we exist but we have limited information about why and where we came from. Generally we know we were born into this world from two parents who were in their turn each born from two others back on to the beginning. Likewise we have some information about the world we live in. We have some idea of where it came from and some idea about how but we know very little about why and, unfortunately, science is never likely to be able to answer those questions.
It is not commonly regarded as such in the western world, but we have inherited the karma of our parents and their parents in a line back to the beginning. This corresponds to the idea of original sin in Christianity in some ways.
If you were born a wolf you would have wolf karma. You would have the characteristics of the wolf. Certain choices would not exist for you. You could not be a concert pianist or the fullback on a professional football team no matter how much you wished to do so and no matter how hard you tried. Those choices do not exist for a wolf. That is wolf karma.
As a human you have human karma, and moreover, the karma of your ancestors to a measurable degree. Certain choices do not exist for you and on the other hand, you may find yourself benefiting from situations you apparently had very little to do with creating. For example, you were born in the United States and had a roof over your head and food to eat instead of living in some other place in the world where the situation is very different.
The idea of being punished or rewarded for the actions of our ancestors seems very unjust to most people raised in western society. But those raised in the eastern traditions will tell them that if they follow the family line back about seven generations it will become apparent that they were, themselves, at that point in time, the head of this family. What they got in karma seven generations later depended on what they did to advance and provide for this family. Moreover, what they get seven generations from now will depend on what they do to the family and people they are surrounded by now.
Whether that is true or not, the karma, by whatever name you wish to call it still remains. It is locked into the very DNA in your body passed down to you in a line back to the beginning. It determined what kind of body you got. It determined what kind of skills and natural abilities you would possess and this process was not arbitrary. DNA does not specifically determine a fixed outcome. It responds to its environment and there can be a considerable variation in results depending on what circumstances it finds itself in. As a practical matter, every thought your ancestors had, every action they undertook before the time of your conception impacted the DNA you received and the undeniable fact is that you are karmically bound to this family, whatever the reason for that may be and whether you choose to use this name for it or not.
You are energy and information. Karma is locked into your body in the DNA and it is also locked into it by energy patterns, paradigms, ideas which you have created and accepted. This includes negative behaviors which are automatically triggered and continuously produce bad outcomes. In many cases we are not even aware that we are executing these behaviors because they are automatic. This is karma. The negative thought patterns which you hold take physical form and produce negative outcomes. Where you keep your mind has a great deal to do with what happens to you in this life.
Fortunately, karma is not immutable. The path of your life is not fixed to only one possible outcome. It can be modified, changed, and overcome. Part of this process is physical, part of it is mental. Yoga employs both methods. At its simplest there are the yoga postures. Doing them is a kind of karma. If you donít exercise your body will go to pot. The postures are important but they are only the third rung on the yogic ladder of eight steps.
There are also, in yoga, three pathways which are used to do this. They may be thought of as being religions by some people, however, none of the paths is confined in its use to a single faith or denomination. Each of them is used by individuals from many faiths. The paths are, in fact, more a method of approaching religion than being a religion.
The first path is Jnana yoga. This is the path of intellect. It is most frequently associated with Buddhism, but people from many faiths use these methods. Jnana seeks to eliminate the ego and attachment to worldly things and outcomes. It is a system like those used in meditation for getting out of your own way. When the ego is gone, when the student has given up vanity, envy, inconstancy, insincerity and false judgment, when they have abandoned their attachments to the world and eliminated desire from themselves, the way is clear. They attain nirvana which is usually translated as nothingness in western references, but nirvana is definitely not nothing. When the ego has been silenced and our lower nature set aside, the gateway is opened and what remains is everything.
The second path is the path of Karma Yoga. This is what the Wizard of Oz called, good deed doing. The idea is that good deeds can outweigh bad deeds, that we can undo bad karma by good acts. Most religions accept this idea in one form or another, but there is a problem with it. The problem is that in real life most of us are racking up new karma faster than we can begin to get rid of the old karma, indicating the need for some outside help. This leads to the third path.
The third path is Bhakti yoga, the path of devotion and it is typified by such religions as Christianity and Hinduism. In these systems there are deities, saints, adepts and gurus such as Christ, Jesus, Vishnu, Krishna who can absolve some of this karma. There are also actions you can take yourself to absolve some of it.
In practice people tend to use elements from all three paths in varying degrees but whatever your predilections or situation the fact remains that karma is part of your life and the practice of yoga will, necessarily, involve dealing with it in some form or other.
The most obvious target for improvement is the negative thought patterns and limiting paradigms each of us holds. Some of these are the result of ignorance, some of them are inherited, some of them are caused by the ego but whatever their cause, all of them are bleeding our lifeís energy away. Unfortunately, getting rid of them may require more than just doing yoga postures.
In approaching this, one of the things we must remember is that we are ultimately energy and information. Even the physical body which appears to be solid matter to us is, in fact, just energy and information. Our karma is also just energy and energy patterns. They are, in fact, sounds. Even light can be thought of as being a kind of sound.
Energy, light, or a sound can be changed and this can be demonstrated in a simple way very easily. If we have a beam of red light we can change this manifestation by mixing it with green light. The result will be yellow light. If we mix pigments instead of beams of light you would mix blue and yellow to get green. If you strike one note on a piano the nature of the manifestation can be altered by playing one or more additional notes to produce a chord. It is often quite difficult to make a sound or manifestation go away. It is generally much simpler to change it into something else.
This basic idea is what is involved in using the using vowels sounds. These chants impact the energy patterns, including our karma, and can change them, far more can go on there than just increasing your energy level.
When the western educated person hears someone from an eastern tradition singing one of the traditional ancient chants they generally assume that this is superstitious nonsense. However, there is more than a little reason to believe they are not. These chants and vowel sounds are not just any old sounds, they are very specific and produce very definite results.
The teachings of yoga, now embodied in all the martial arts and disciplines such as acupuncture run in a line thousands of years long and have billions of practical outcomes to attest to their worthiness.
Tonight we will work with one of the simpler chants. For this to make sense you must understand that the ancient languages like Hebrew and the much older Sanskrit were different than English is today. In English an A is just an A. This is not the case in the older languages like Sanskrit and Hebrew. Each letter has a meaning in its own right. It is also a number and it has phonetic value, an energy peculiar to it.
Thus the vowel sound AUM has many depths of meaning as well as a blend of special energies. In our language this corresponds to the word Amen, which is generally used improperly by most of us. Both of these words, Amen and AUM, are, in fact, words of great creative power.
In yogic practice these sounds are associated with certain energy centers in our bodies to produce certain results including an elevation in the level of our consciousness. The words must be pronounced properly, and with the correct intention while concentrating our energy by use of breath into the proper area.
AUM is, in fact, composed of some other sounds. The Ah sound, the Oooo sound and MA. For our purposes here tonight we want to hold the Ah sound at the naval chakra, Oooo sound at the heart center and the MA sound at the throat chakra.
Now, when we hold certain kinds of thoughts a condition is established around us which attracts a kind of energy called grace, a power that lies far beyond anything we, ourselves, are capable of generating. What we are doing is receiving an energy from a higher source. This is sometimes called grace. It is also known as the power of the holy spirit though it has other names as well.
By any name, it not only empowers and develops us but the mere existence of this condition among us raises the power of everyone and everything around us. Moreover, because of our configuration in this temple and because of our intention in being here it is a power of vastly greater magnitude than we could possibly hope to generate as a group of separate individuals.
We do not need to save the world. We do not need to point out or correct the faults and imperfections in others. We need only to remove them from ourselves. We need only, in the days and weeks ahead rededicate ourselves to that task. We need only to accept that grace which will flow here this night because of our convocation and invocation and allow it to flow into the world though us.
To initiate this process tonight we will begin with the AUM chant by using its component parts. These sounds are, again, Ah, Oooo, and Ma, which are to be focused with our concentration and breath at the navel chakra, the heart center and the throat center respectively. We will do this three times.
First visualize a ball of golden light at your navel chakra. Now visualize a ball of golden light at the heart chakra. Now visualize a ball of golden light at the throat chakra.
First I will demonstrate the chant once. Ah, Oooo, Ma.
Now concentrate on the ball of golden light at the navel chakra and chant the sound Ah. Concentrate on the ball of golden light at the heart center and chant the sound Ooooo. concentrate on the ball of golden light at the throat center and chant the sound Ma.
(repeat twice more)
Now, direct your concentration to your third eye center located at the pituitary gland at the center of and behind the two eyebrows.
The sound for Grace Light is Arut Perum Jyoti which is Sanskrit for the light of God and Tani Perum Karunai which is Sanskrit for A gift of God, you cannot buy it, you cannot earn it, it is a gift.
Concentrate on your third eye center and Listen to the sound.
Arut Perum Jyoti, Arut Perum Jyoti, Tani Perum Karunai, Arut Perum Jyoti Arut Perum Jyoti, Arut Perum Jyoti, Tani Perum Karunai, Arut Perum Jyoti Arut Perum Jyoti, Arut Perum Jyoti, Tani Perum Karunai, Arut Perum Jyoti
Now direct you attention to your heart center and allow the light to flow down from your third eye center to the heart.
Concentrate on the heart center and listen to the sound.
Arut Perum Jyoti, Arut Perum Jyoti, Tani Perum Karunai, Arut Perum Jyoti
Your body is now infused with the grace light.
Having received the light, you are now expected to give the light. Let our united circle radiate peace, joy and love into the world.