I’m not sure I understand karma. I keep finding myself questioning when to leave things up to God, and whether I’ve done enough on my part.
If you truly give up to God, your symptom will be that you don’t worry about it.
And then you can accept it as your karma?
The law of karma is perfectly just. When you say you accept something because it is karma, that is true up to a point, but it is not the complete truth. If you are accepting your karma as it is now, you are implying that you created it. That means you have given a cause for which this is the result. The solution, therefore, is that you should not create further that which has caused you to suffer.
There is one exception. If you do not want to go into this jargon about karmas, just leave all up to God. You should have no worries; you will relax there and then. The problem is that you want to take your miseries and troubles to God but not give up unto Him. God is omnipotent, the source of all energy. Ego is trying to be powerful even though it has very little capacity. So give unto Him in a true, honest way, and whatever your situation may be, you will relax right away.
When we get to God, will we still experience suffering and enjoyments?
The beauty is that you feel bliss, joy, peace and wisdom in returning to God—minus the worries, stagnation, depression, nervous breakdowns. You have this opportunity always available. And it gives you instant release. We worship God but we are afraid of God; that is the problem. We’re still holding on to “me.” There is a limit to ego’s power. Where did you get your power? Try to find the Source of your power; that will lead you to surrender or egolessness. Then you don’t fear God, because you have lovingly surrendered unto Him.
How do we choose work that is meaningful?
According to karma theory, you have to choose your occupation in keeping with your temperament or tendencies of mind. Many times, if you choose according to your temperament, it may not pay the best. It may be that if you do something else that is not your temperament, it may pay better. By pay I mean in money and position—name and fame. However, if you do not work according to your temperament, those mental tendencies remain unfulfilled. At a later stage in life they will emerge and you will feel hollow; your life will fail to satisfy you.
This is the reply according to western ideology, but according to the eastern ideology it goes further: if you care for Liberation, Emancipation, Self-realization or Enlightenment, the mind has to become purified and emptied. As long as your mental tendencies remain, you will not be Liberated, regardless of whether you have wealth or position. It is better to do imperfectly that which is your temperament rather than do perfectly that which is not your temperament. Do according to your tendencies but don’t look to the results. This will give you bliss and joy.
How do we know for sure what our tendencies are?
In the East, whenever we have such a dilemma, we go to a guru or spiritual master, just as when you cannot cure your own disease you go to a doctor. But if you don’t have a spiritual master or guru and you want to find out yourself, then sit in silence, morning or evening, a kind of meditation, and ask within: Am I motivated toward this work because of an object or desire, or is this my temperament which has no object to be derived or benefited? Try to be still inside and neutral so that the answer comes to you.
The time will come when you no longer feel interested in whatever was your temperament, when you become dedicated in selfless action, which we call karma yoga. Then your whole life becomes a prayer unto God. And that does not bind you. It is no longer yours or mine; it is God’s work.
If a person becomes mentally incapacitated, does the soul leave the body before death?
Spiritually, as long as a soul is there, the person is still living. It is the mind, the astral body, which is projecting the physical body and maintaining it. The term “soul” here is synonymous with the astral body or astral mind. Naturally when it is there, it will still make the body function in some way, even if a person is in a coma. The soul, as the astral body, may hover around the physical body or go to the astral plane and come back to see the body. As long as the silver cord is connected, we would not call it death.
We have used the word death; actually it is not death. The person is still alive, only gone to lodge in some other house. Just as you disconnect a camper from one campground and take it to another. In ignorance we call it death because we do not see beyond it. The wise know it is not death, so they do not weep. They see it as a natural phenomenon, as you sleep in the night and get up in the morning. Therefore we preach: understand death as a refreshing change, as you take a shower and come out. Next life you are again born, a very nice baby. You feel good about it. This entrance and exit is created very well: we stay some time in the room, in the world, and then leave. Then we come again.
The more you love your God, the more you are free. Do not agitate and be clingy—you will be more free, not only from your thoughts or impositions, but from death, the basic ignorance. Darkness will leave you. If you swim in Light, what else do you need? It is all blissful. Meditate upon that until you Realize.
Each of us is an actor in this play. The day you see the beauty in each role, in all phenomena, you will see the perfection of God. In its ugly, its terrible, its wretched and downtrodden forms you will be able to see the goodness and beauty. When you see God’s perfection in death, you will be grateful to Him. You won’t fear death. You won’t lament. You won’t be emotional about what you have lost. You will have joy. Develop your concentration, raise your consciousness, and get to that Enlightenment. Yena tena prakarena—a Vedic aphorism—“Somehow reach the Goal.”
© 2010 by Truth Consciousness. Excerpted from the Satsangs of Swami Amar Jyoti: The Source (N-8), Love, Freedom and God (A-30) and What Is Death? (N-7). For further information on the recorded Satsangs of Swami Amar Jyoti, please see truthconsciousness.org.