The Supremacy of Karma
Science tells us that, on average, a person at rest takes about 16 breaths per minute. This means we breathe about 960 breaths an hour – 23,040 breaths a day and more than 8 million breaths a year.
Fortunately for us, breathing happens automatically and requires no effort on our part. Karma works much the same way as breathing. It is continuous, consistent and happens automatically – in spite of us, whatever we think, believe or expect.
Our understanding of karma is limited to the concept of ‘action and reaction.’ We have absolutely no comprehension of the intricacies that play out from moment to moment in our lives.
The entire philosophy of Sant Mat is about the evolution of the soul as it travels through the creation, adopting countless numbers of varying forms on its return journey to its true home. It is the soul and this journey in which the Master is interested, not our individual identity.
When each body and personality have served their function the soul releases them. They come to an end, but the soul does not. It returns to higher levels of consciousness based on its evolution. Life after life, though, the soul has been confined to the earth through the bonds of karma. The Master’s task is to release the soul from its bondage to time and return it to the timelessness of eternity.
In One Being One we read:
Mind and spirit give rise to bodies. That’s a fundamental principle. Of course, that leaves open the question not only of how life got started, but of how the physical universe itself got going. And that’s the final fundamental mystery to consider.
The earth’s history can be read in rocks in its crust, and from this scientists estimate the earth to be approximately four to five billion years old. Imagine how many lifetimes that could mean for a soul – it’s a very long time to be collecting karma.
During its peak consumption period a blue whale can eat up to eight thousand pounds of tiny krill. Imagine how many little krill are necessary to feed just one blue whale – one sea creature in an ocean teeming with life. One hundred million tons of marine fish are harvested annually. And automatically, appropriate karmas are assigned to all the life forms involved. From the fish swimming in the ocean to the people who eat them – no one and nothing is missed, not a single person escapes. The law of karma is supreme.
The earth teems with microscopic and tiny creatures that are the start of the food chain for ever bigger animals. In Path of the Masters the author writes:
I look out upon my garden vegetables, fruits and flowers. In that garden are thousands of precious souls kindred to myself, struggling by means of their tiny sparks of intelligence, striving always toward the light, each one slowly rising to something a little higher than itself. They are all ascending the scale of evolution. This phenomenon emphasizes the common brotherhood, the fundamental kinship, between all living beings, including animals.
All these life forms, from the smallest to the largest, exist only because their essence is Shabd – with each soul slowly working through myriad forms of life in an attempt to finally merge again into the oneness of Shabd. Rumi is quoted in With the Three Masters as saying, “First I was rotated in the plant kingdom, then in the animal and was finally born as man.”
In Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I, Maharaj Charan Singh is asked whether animals are creating karma or simply paying off karma. He clarifies this saying:
Everybody is creating karma or paying off karma. But since discrimination is not there in animals, they are not much responsible for all that. … They are creating also, but they are not held responsible so much because the sense of discrimination is not there.
But while animals and the lower species may not be held fully responsible for their karmas, these impressions have been lodged in their minds, where they are accumulated and carried forward from life to life – even to the human form. These impressions can become active in any future life.
Maharaj Charan Singh explains in the same book: “Sanskaras are deep impressions on the mind; karmas are actual actions that we have done.” And he clarifies this further by saying in Light on Sant Mat: “It is not the things themselves but the reaction which they produce upon us which really matters.”
In an animal, impressions are be largely instinctive; however, as the soul moves up the ladder of evolution the level of consciousness increases and the impressions retained become progressively more binding. Life feeds off life, irrespective of the pain and distress caused by the hunter to the hunted. At the lower levels of consciousness in the animal world, the hunter is oblivious to the pain it causes, because hunting is an instinctive requirement for survival. Its success overrules everything.
Nature really is brutal in its application and follows the law of ‘survival of the fittest’. In this regard Great Master says:
Nature is very relentless and strict. Bodies and forms do not make any difference to her. She looks only to the desire that is imprinted on the antahkaran (conscience) and which remains the same whichever kind of body one goes to.
Call of the Great Master
From the first movement we took on planet Earth, karma has been tracking and manipulating us. Our lives are governed by the processes of karma; it is the fabric within which we exist, and yet we have no understanding of it.
The law of karma is complex, intricate and multidimensional. It is a process that works on multiple levels of life and death, extending to the upper levels of Trikuti. Whether we accept it or reject it, is irrelevant. Either way, it encompasses everything we do and its supremacy is far beyond our human understanding. It behoves us therefore to make every effort to escape its clutches by following the path in accordance with our master’s teachings, thus passing beyond the grasp of karmas and attachments and entering into the realm of pure spirit.