5. Karma: The Puppeteer
A good analogy of Karma is that of a person taking a train ride.
A person takes a train to go downtown. The person is thinking "I am going downtown". But in reality, the person is doing nothing. The train is going downtown. The train is doing the work. The train decides where to turn, where not to turn, where to stop, where not to stop, according to the rail tracks, stations and timetable that have been laid out for it. The person just sits back and enjoys the ride.
Similarly, in our life, we think that "I am doing this deed". But, in reality, our Karma is making us do the deed. Our Karma is just like the train. And we (our souls) are just like passengers taking the ride. Our Karma decides what to do, what not to do, where to turn, where not to turn, where to stop, where not to stop, according to the tracks, stations and timetable that has been laid out for our lives. We are just passengers who are following the timetable of Karma.
Just like the train makes the choices according to the rail tracks and timetable laid out, our Karma makes the choices for us according to the path and timetable laid out for our lives. We just think "I am making this choice". But in reality, the choice has already been made according to our Karma timetable.
We are just actors acting out the script of Karma. We think we are the doers. But in reality, we are not. Karma is the doer.
If Karma is the doer, how does Karma "do" things through us? How does it micromanage our lives?
Answer: Through the three Material Natures (Gunas): Goodness, Passion and Ignorance.
Karma micromanages our lives by manipulating the balance of these three Gunas in our mind at every instant.
Karma is the "doer" through these Gunas (the agents) which are placed in our bodies and intellect.
In this way, we are prisoners of Karma. Karma is the puppeteer and we are puppets in the hands of Karma.
We think we are the doers because Karma is hard to grasp, because it is cannot be perceived by the senses.
Seen in this way, Karma is also referred to as destiny, something which is meant to be. Our fate, as individuals, which has already been written.
There are two aspects to Karma.
- The Account part. Whatever we do gets added to our Karma account and influences our future decisions.
- The Destiny part. What we are going to do has already been decided by our past Karma account.
Seen this way, Karma seems to be an unending cycle. Our past Karma dictates the script of our present decisions, and these decisions in turn add to our future Karma.
So, in effect, it seems that we can never get rid of our Karma. We are prisoners of our Karma.
Then, how do we break this vicious cycle of Karma which binds us??
Answer: By realizing that what binds us to our Karma is the Maya (illusionary, temporary pleasures) of this Material World.
By renouncing the Maya (illusionary, temporary pleasures) of the Material World.
By transcending from the Material World into the Spiritual World.
But how do we do that? How do we break out of our Karma? How do we free ourselves from Maya (illusionary, temporary pleasures)? How do we transcend from the Material World and into the Spiritual World?
Answer: By following the 4 Yoga paths:
- Karma Yoga - The Yoga of righteous action and not expecting any rewards / fruits of the action.
- Jnana Yoga - The Yoga of Knowledge.
- Bhakti Yoga - The Yoga of Devotion.
- Raja Yoga - The Yoga of Discipline.
For now, let us just summarize our discussion of Karma in relation to the Material and Spiritual Worlds.