Karma and Reincarnation


Everybody says that KARMA is a reflection of your past life OR what you do in current life will impact your KARMA in your FUTURE LIFE? My Question is: WHY IS IT SO? WHY IT HAS TO BE? Why not "everybody" gets their KARMA in same life, why I/other have to suffer in current life where they don't know what they did wrong in their past life? It's like you are paying a mortgage without knowing what you borrowed for. You don't know what you did wrong in your past life so bringing KARMA factor does not help.

—Amit Valambhia, USA


Dear Amit,

Consider that scientists tell us the earth and, indeed, the cosmos, is old beyond measure: billions and billions of years old. Consider how long it took since the beginning of time to form this planet; for humans to appear; and for you and me to be born. The experience of time and space seem endless even if in a flash of intuitive insight time and space seem to vanish. One human lifetime is like a speck of dust in the vast aeons of time and space. Do not think in such limited time and space frames!

Consider the simple desires to be rich; famous, beautiful; talented; popular; to achieve the pinnacle of human love. One cannot achieve wealth for the mere asking, nor indeed, any of these all-too-often sought “treasures.” Once a desire is formed in the mind, and as it is nurtured in the heart over long periods of time (but without final achievement), it remains unfulfilled. So, what happens to the consciousness and intensified energy of that desire when a person dies and it has not ripened into manifestation? (This is the same question as: “What happens when a person dies?” For what else is a “person” in the egoic conception than a bundle of desires, fears, habits, skills….in short, a psychic vortex of energized consciousness!)

“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” We would go mad if the law of cause and effect (i.e., the law of karma) did not function every day in our life. If right diet and exercise could not be depended upon to improve our health; if kindness and love were only randomly reciprocated; if hard work were randomly rewarded; education, talent, all the same: random! Why brush your teeth? Why bother to do anything if the results are always unpredictable?

The fact that results are not guaranteed doesn’t stop us from trying because on a deep and experiential level we already know that “as we sow, so shall we reap!” The law of karma.

Now, moving forward: reincarnation is the necessary corollary to the law of karma because a single human lifetime is insufficient in length and breadth to reap the results of our thoughts and actions. A murderer might die peacefully in his bed but that doesn’t mean he “got away with it!” The immense complexity of energy and matter from the quantum level to the macro level is such that, like evolution itself, large expanses of time are needed to “evolve” the right circumstances so that you can have a lifetime of immense wealth or popularity. (Only a small percentage of people can technically be wealthy or popular at any given time and space.)

It might seem unfair that we do not know the cause of our karma but consider the consequences if we did: we would be so burdened by fear of retribution or guilt for past bad deeds (or glowing in our pride of superiority) that our will power and energy would be paralyzed and depressed. Reincarnation, like a fresh Spring day, gives us a new start and new hope.

The specific form that our greed in a past life may have taken is less important than the impulse to be greedy. That’s all that matters; the details are unimportant. A fresh start means we can look anew at our greed and begin to weed it out with acts of kindness and generosity. A fresh start gives us new people and circumstances with which to try again.

The one thing that ties a past action to me is ……. ME! The ego is the post to which the string of karma is tied. Dissolve the sense of separateness and the strings are cut. The karma cannot change but it cannot affect you because you have merged in God-consciousness. The returning karma may be simply mitigated by the power of your soul’s magnetism or even if it were to come full-0n, you, like a strongman in a wrestling match, will be able to wrestle it to the ground, victorious in your God-attuned power and equanimity.

We have not one body, but three: the physical, yes (obviously). But then two more: the astral body of light and energy is felt whenever we dream at night or when we feel the power, life, vitality, and energy flowing through our body. The difference between you or me and a corpse is the presence of the body of life: the astral or pranic body. Thus, when we die this astral body leaves the physical body and carries with it the psychic seeds of unfulfilled desires, fears and tendencies. The third body is the body of the soul or causal body. It is our true nature but until we awaken spiritually we are unaware of it. We rest in the causal body in the state of dreamless sleep from which we awaken and remember the happiness and refreshment we enjoyed during that time and as a result.

The astral body, therefore, is the link between our “pure” soul (made in the image of God and untouched by our karma) and our physical body which is a manifestation of the complex matrix of our accumulated karmas being born at the right time for the continuation of our journey towards union with the soul and with God.

Meditation and yoga work, then, with awakening us first to the living presence of the astral body. Converting our “mass” into “energy” an explosion of awakening begins to take place. Through advanced meditation techniques such as Kriya Yoga which works directly on the hidden seeds of karma lodged in the astral spine, we can, by effort and by grace, dislodge and dissolve these seeds and thus work out karma more quickly than the “bullock cart” route of countless lifetimes wherein perfect circumstances for the fulfilment of karma can arise.

A desire fulfilled is NOT a desire released, unfortunately. The satisfaction of desire results in planting the seeds for more desires. Thus Krishna teaches us not to act from desire (and thus plant more seeds of karma) but to action WITHOUT DESIRE for the results of actions: only acting out of a calm sense of duty, cheerfully, willingly and without seeking the results for ourselves (for ego) can we prevent the accumulation of more karmic seeds.

But even if we successfully halt or substantially reduce the creation of more desires, we still have billions of past desires as yet unfulfilled. That is where meditation, selfless service, satsang and devotion can raise the energy in the astral spine, dislodging many of those unripened seeds, and attuning our consciousness to the soul (at the top of the head through the point between the eyebrows). The more we are guided by Krishna (the Christ-consciousness in the forehead) the quicker will be our victory over the forces of desire lodged in the lower spine.

We are as old as God! Don’t think for one moment that one lifetime is all there is. Armed with the knowledge that countless lifetimes await you unless you begin your spiritual journey now, and in earnest, you can make rapid progress toward freedom in God.

With unceasing blessings,
Nayaswami Hriman
Seattle WA USA