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Freedom from the Bondage of Karma.

by Swami Rama.


Chapter 3



As we have seen, the mental cord in the rope of karma is stronger and finer than the action cord. It is easier to control action than thought. It is essential, however, that we learn to control the thinking process; otherwise freedom cannot be attained. By gaining control over the thinking process we can gain control over the impressions stored in the mind and eventually over our entire karma.

Through introspection (inspection within) one can discover the nature and origin of his thought. Mental functioning and internal motivations always precede external actions. We often do things mechanically out of habit, i.e., as a result of ingrained mental patterns. Through introspection, we can learn to understand and see clearly our habits and their origins. The word "personality" has its roots in the Latin word persona which means mask. This refers to the masks used by players in ancient theatres to "persobify" certain character types for the audience. We make out own personality. It is a mask etched by our character which is itself determined by our habits. Through introspection, we can change our habits and thus change our character and personality. In order to change habits we must be aware of our present condition and our goals. The goal is simply to be perfect. As we grow through introspection, our conscience makes us more aware of our perfections and imperfections, and we gain greater control over our mind. If our acts and throughts remain unchanged, then we display a distracted personality; we experience a lack of coordination between mind and body, between thinking and action.

To bring about the changes necessary to affect one's habit, one must attain the state of samadhi, which is resisted out of fear of the unknown part of the Self. It helps to recall that this unknown mind is one's own making, that you are not your thinking process, you are the thinker. Without changing your habits, you cannot change your personality or your thinking process. Through introspection, through observation of what effect your habits, thoughts, and actions have upon you, you can learn to distinguish between what is advisable and beneficial and what is harmful or dangerous for you. You can learn what is your real nature and what is not your real nature.

In our essence we are pure, wise, and free. It is because of our identification with the non-eternal that we become imperfect, like a pure person who is corrupted by evil friends. We can approach the process of discrimination by introspection into the procession of symbols, ideas, images, and fantasies in the mind. We see right away that the participants in this mental procession are not independent of one's life. For example, symbols are forms or representations of things within the imagination. These symbols have certain inner meanings for us. We color them ourselves, and we cannot trust them without correctly analyzing them. So there is right knowledge and wrong knwledge. Yoga science never asks us to follow anything blindly but rather to discriminate and to analyze. Learning to discriminate between useful and harmful knowledge is an important facet in the process of introspection.

That which is supported by facts is right knowledge. That which is not supported by facts is wrong knowledge. Thus sense perceptions form the first rung in the ladder of knowledge. Even the senses, however, must be supported by facts. When under the influence of an hallucination or fantasy, we may believe that our senses are telling us things which others cannot corroborate; therefore we must be discriminating. We must be sure that the facts support the knowledge gained through our senses. Much of what comes to us in meditation is wrong knowledge. It simply occupies our mind, forces us to dwell on things that are disturbing us and prevents us from finding the calm and peace which we seek.

Very often, people complain when they see nothing during meditation. They should, in fact, be grateful for this. If we see things in meditation, then how does meditation differ from life? In everyday life we are constantly bombarded by sense perceptions. Meditation teaches us how to get away from this, how to find peace. What good would meditation be if we were to continue to see things and to have our minds occupied by the same thoughts which we have in our normal waking state? Normally, we see a great deal when we try to meditate - the fantasies and symbols of our mental procession. We can eliminate these things by learning not to be affected by what we see.

Meditation is not thinking and worrying while sitting. Rather is is learning to cross the boundaries of the personal and collective mind. Here we must follow Patanjali's Yoga Sutras and become introspectors, observers and witnesses of our own thinking process. We must learn to become fully conscious and to be in control through meditation. Meditation is consciously bringing forward knowledge from the unknown part of ourselves, from the infinite library of knowledge within us. Meditation does not make you passive; it makes you dynamic and creative and allows you to unfold your total personality within and without.

When a meditator learns not to identify himself with their thinking process and their train of thoughts, they become aware of their essential nature and start witnessing things differently without any identification. The meditator is not disturbed by the actions and attitudes of others. This state requires that we learn the different functions of the mind. According to Yoga psychology, the mind has four major functions.

Manas is like the foreman in a place of business. It employs many functionaries but dislikes taking orders from the other parts of the mind, particularly from buddhi, which in principle should be the discriminating and decision-making center. Manas should be asking, "Shall I import or export? What is good for me or bad for me?" Manas must learn to listen to the buddhi. We must sharpen our buddhi and learn how to make decisions. We must use our intellect to overcome our habits.

The next set of problems is usually associated with the ego or ahankara. The ego thinks that it is the owner of the business. This is the part of the mind which requires purification, transformation into the Supreme Soul or the Supreme I. Purification means surrender of the ego and placing it at the disposal of the inner Self. Remember that conquering the ego does not mean suppressing or destroying it, but raterh enlarging and expanding it. You must ask in any given thought process or action, "Does my ego get in the way or not?" You must learn to use this question to distinguish useful from harmful thoughts and then to surrender the ego when it is causing a problem. The ego has forgotten its association with the Supreme Self. The ego has created its own bondage, a great imprisoning fortress, which can be conquered through surrender to Self, to God, to the reality within. We must learn to deny the ego when it insists on having its way or on dominating the Self and the mind. Growth requires penetration to the deeper level of intuitive knowledge. We must learn to gain control over all functions of mind, making it integrated and one-pointed.

Finally, the citta is the unconscious storehouse. It is like a vast screen on which we paint our impressions or a huge lake into which we drop pebbles or impressions derived through the senses from the external world. To see what is stored in the citta and to learn how to deal with and overcome it, we must first calm the conscious mind. This is why we must constantly observe the thinking process and see what its nature is. We generally find that the thinking process is supported by wishes, wants and desires which are not all the same. Wishes generally involve doubt. We are not certain we can have that for which we wish. Wants are usually unreasonable. They are demands for things which we either do not deserve or are impossible for us to obtain. Desire stems from need. It usually expresses the necessity to fulfill some urge or craving. All of these things must be examined and sifted through. We must decide which is good for us and which is bad, all the while observing the train as it passes by.

Withoutthe total integration of all our faculties we cannot cross the boundaries of the mind and soar to higher levels of enlightenment. One of the functions, either the ego or the citta, will dominate and keep us from reaching our goal. When we meditate we must always think, "I am thine and thou art mine." This must be spoken to the inner Self - God. This must represent the surrender of the ego and all that we have. We can accomplish this by repeating our mantra, by inspecting our thoughts and by learning to transcend all artificial beliefs.

It is necessary to learn how to follow the true teaching of the Bible, "You must be perfect like your Father." We must learn that we are the children of eternity whose purpose is to grow toward that realization. From reading the Bible, the Gita, and other great scriptures we can learn the inner meaning of life, but we have to understand what is really meant. For example, Christ left the Jews not to condemn Judaism but rather to bring about a revolution, to give man real understanding. That understanding in Christ-consciousness or Universal consciousness. This can be learned from the Bible or from Yoga or from the Buddha. Christ, Patanjali, and Buddha all had the same aim. They teach us that we are striving for inner knowledge of the Infinite Self.

No great man has ever attained Self-Realization or God-consciousness without the total integration of mind. If mind is not made one-pointed and inwards, one canoot peep into the deeper levels of the subconscious mind and go beyond the mire of delusion. Unless the mind is an integrated one, it cannot perform skillful actions, because the finer cords of the thinking process and desires will remain obstacles in the path of liberation.

To attain freedom from desires, a right method of meditation is very important, and for meditation we must learn to purify our minds. We do this through self-observation, introspection, witnessing and practicing the science of word or mantra. The science of word is found not only in Yoga teachings and scriptures but also in the Bible and in Buddhism. The first initiation, or act of grace, is a mantra initiation. It is through word and sound that we are led ever inward to the deeper meaning of the Self. Word has sound; sound creates ripples; ripples produce form and form has meaning. That meaning responds when we need a friend or guide, and it can also lead us deeper and deeper toward the inner Self. The science of mantra is one of the definite methods which is introduced by the teachers and gurus. It is through mantra that we shall be led to the inner experience of the highest state of awareness.



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