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Your Questions Answered
by Swami Krishnananda

Chapter 61: Degrees of Karma

Visitor: ...law of karma. Do we have a choice in our life, or is it predestined?

Swamiji: We have a choice, or?

Visitor: Or, our life is predestined – it means that we don't have choice, but what happens to us is a consequence of our past; or do we have a choice?

Swamiji: Whatever you have done in the past has two aspects: something which is good, charitable, noble, and pleasant; or, something which is detrimental, painful, harmful, etc. No one does only one kind of action. We are sometimes very good, very charitable, very kind, very honorable gentlemen; sometimes we are peevish, selfish, etc. These two aspects of karma produce two different types of reaction. That negative type of work that you have done, negative type of thought even, will push you in a direction over which you have no control. That is what you call the determining factor. But the other thing that you have done – good, noble, and pleasant deeds – that will illumine your mind, and provide you with a consciousness of personal effort in the right direction. That is why sometimes you feel that you are helpless, and sometimes you feel that you can do something.

When you are feeling that you are helpless, and nothing is under your control, everything is beyond you, the negative karma is working. When you feel it is not so bad, "I can do some good," the positive karma is working. So both these aspects are like two wings of the bird of your own total action.

Janie: Once one has the discrimination not to act or be moved by one's thoughts, to not act out of one's thoughts or, you know, be moved by them, would you say that it would be the end of karma?

Swamiji: End of karma?

Janie: When one is able to have that discrimination to not act out of one's thoughts?

Swamiji: It is not the end of karma. It is a step in the direction of ending karma. If the karma is totally ended, you would not be existing as a human being. But yet, it is a good sign that you are moving in the right direction.

Amir: Swamiji, what did you mean when you said that at the end of karma one would not exist as a human being?

Swamiji: It is the karma that makes you feel that you are existing as an individual personality. When the karma is lifted, you will melt into the cosmos and become Universal Existence. You will not be a person, Mr. so-and-so, afterwards. You will be a Universal Being. You will merge in God. It is like coming out of prison and being totally free.

Amir: But is it any different than my state?

Swamiji: State?

Amir: Is it any different than where I am now?

Swamiji: You will not be there at all. I told you that you will be like the river in the ocean. Does the river exist in the ocean, or does it not exist? What do you say?

Amir: It does not exist.

Swamiji: But it does exist; it has not vanished. So, you will be existing, and yet you will not be existing. You will be existing as a larger thing than the small thing you were earlier. Your dimension will increase into cosmic perspectives.

Amir: It is my experience that this state that you are talking about is right in front of my nose all the time.

Swamiji: Right in front?

Amir: It is right where I am.

Swamiji: Yes, you may say that.

Amir: And all I have to do is to recognise and accept the nature of reality as it is right now. There is nowhere to go, nothing more to experience.

Swamiji: It is perfectly so, but yet, at the same time, you have a consciousness that you are independently existing outside it.

Amir: I do not believe that idea.

Swamiji: If it is not there, you would not be speaking to me now. You will not speak to me, if that consciousness of personality were not there. It will be like the sky – the sky is not speaking to me. You will not even know that you are existing, as the river does not know that it is existing when it has become the ocean, though it knows it exists, in a different sense. Otherwise, you will be maintaining your duality forever. You will be Mr. so-and-so for all times, looking at something as an external universality. That is not the aim of life. You will be seeing me merged into your consciousness, so that you will not have to speak to me afterwards. That is something difficult to comprehend, at present.

Michael: Swamiji, do you mean the end of taking birth altogether?

Swamiji: Taking birth?

Michael: Yes. Or, as in your book, you are talking about the guru is not a person, that he is something beyond.

Swamiji: The Guru is a very wide dimension of consciousness appearing to be located through a person, like a high voltage current passing through a copper wire. The copper wire is only the visible thing before you, but it is charged with something which is far beyond the limitations of the copper wire. Some six thousand volts, ten thousand volts, may be passing through that. So, ten thousand volts of consciousness are passing through the divine personality, though the volts cannot be seen; you only see the copper wire. Such people we call super-men. And what did you ask?

Michael: In the guru there is still apparently an existing person.

Swamiji: Yes, yes, certainly!

Michael: But has karma ended, in that case?

Swamiji: His karma has not fully ended, but it is only very, very fractional and highly radiant, not like the binding karma of other people. Yes. His karma is like a mirror, but other people's karma is like a brick. [laughter]

Janie: Swamiji, are you saying that to exist in the human form, in the human body, a small degree of karma endures, or there is a small degree of karma?

Swamiji: There is a small degree of karma, but it is not a very binding thing, because it is radiant, like a mirror. You can see the whole Truth reflected in it, but you cannot see it reflected in the brick wall, so there is a great difference between super-men and ordinary men. They are incarnations, super-men, as you call them.

Richard: Swamiji, how is that the ocean can be aware of its own existence?

Swamiji: It is the ocean which is aware of its existence; correct. That is called God. God is the name that you give to the universal sea that is conscious of itself, but it is not a sea of water, it is a sea of consciousness.