It is indeed a fair statement to make that one is held accountable for one’s own actions. However, the notion that we must even take responsibility for actions that we cannot recollect having committed and whose severity we are not aware of – that is an extremely bitter pill to swallow.
Mystics have spared no effort to enlighten us about our current predicament – that we are here because of our karmic debits and credits. The relationships we are born into, the friends we have grown so fond of, and all others we interact with, have been strategically placed in our lives – and this allows the barter of action and reaction to play itself out.
Society has defined our ethical, moral and legal codes of conduct. Furthermore, a judicial system is also enforced to ensure that order and fairness is maintained throughout.
On a macro level, the fairness principle is what keeps the more visibly obvious actions in check. On a micro level, however, it is this very same law that appears to be the barrier to our freedom. Gross actions, whether of philanthropy or of crime, both lead to logically just results, and we are thus able to conduct ourselves in a manner that will result in the outcome we desire. However, how can we cope with the more subtle, barely noticeable actions, such as stepping on an ant and not even realizing it? Or, by uttering a sharp passing comment that may unintentionally hurt another? Acts committed in ignorance-or even those that may seem too casual for us to think through their consequences – are also not outside this law, and have to be accounted for in kind.
The key to freedom, the saints advise, is to clear oneself entirely of all karmic burden. Sadly, karmic balance sheets are not readily accessible to track historical dues and collections, nor are human beings capable alone of settling their karma. Oblivious to whether we are reacting to an action, or acting on a reaction, we mostly end up further entangling ourselves in this vicious labyrinth, leaving little scope for a way out.
But by heeding the words of the mystics, if one tries in all earnest, it is possible to consciously retard the accrual of karmic debt. For example, adopting a vegetarian diet and leading an ethical life comprising the highest of values would seem to give us the control over our karmas that we are looking for. However, effective as this may seem, it too fails to provide a permanent solution by which we can settle previous accounts or even deal effectively with new karmas. And we are still left helplessly accountable.
Clearly, the creation’s architecture has been designed to be a foolproof system, whereby the interdependency between lives is paramount for its functioning. As a result, souls remain trapped, forever indebted to one another.
It is only through the sheer benevolence of the mystics that human beings are able to realize that they are slaves to the consequences of their own doings. Without the mystics’ intervention, the crux of this problem would have forever remained a veiled ordeal. Furthermore, not only do the saints awaken us to our current situation, they also hold with them the solution to overcome it.
The saints tell us that the key to freedom lies not in the architecture, but with the architect. He that has designed the creation is in full control of it, and while all karma can never be settled, it can be pardoned – by a perfect mystic.
He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.
Bible, John 14:9
With whose grace do we gain admission to the court of the Lord? Surely not by our own efforts. Alone, we can do nothing. We can never, by ourselves, traverse the uncharted terrain of the inner path. We owe everything to the immeasurable grace of the Master. He showers his blessings on us by joining us with the Shabd and Nam, removing all our doubts, and pulling us out of this quagmire of illusion. It is our Master who puts us on the right path and awakens in our mind abiding love and devotion for the Lord. Blessed with his infinite grace, through meditation, we seek the door, we find it, and we knock.
Maharaj Charan Singh, Die to Live
The perfect mystics are a sea of compassion, and their very essence is forgiveness. The love for their souls knows no limits as they tirelessly shepherd home those under their shelter. However, to come under the shelter of a perfect Master is more than merely coming to see him. It means discipleship and submission of the self, both of which penetrate deep to the core of one’s being. Having developed faith and trust in him, the disciple knows that the Master is in full control at all times, and is ready to pardon all that stands between him and the Lord.
However, let it be clear that in submission, we need to work with the Master through our meditation, for the pardon that we seek is not in a settling of scores, but an illumination of the self to a higher state of being – no longer bound by the law of cause and effect.
But first, to understand discipleship we must let go of our arrogance to align ourselves with our plea to the Master. Only then, in humility, can we pray: may his mercy be greater than his justice.