Many times we think that life is unfair and at times really it can be unfair beyond our imagination.
We may try, with positive mindset and progressively, to travel with life but we can’t avoid encountering unpleasant experiences and sometimes, with a great intensity of unfairness at almost every step of life. Other unpleasantries we may experience are misery, depression, hostility, conflict, turbulence etc.,—this is not a pessimistic or fatalistic view of life but is a fact or way of life.
In the Bhagavad Gita (8.15), Lord Krishna describes the material world as ‘temporary, which is full of miseries’. The Bhagavat Purana (10.14.58) also describes the materiel world where there is ‘danger at every step.’
We may then question the cause(s) for these bad experiences in life. When not being able to find satisfactory answers, we may turn to our religious scriptures which provide various explanations though we may not necessarily agree with them wholeheartedly.
The Law of Karma, is one such explanation, which simply is —“for every action there is equal and opposite reaction.”
In the Karmic process an individual (the eternal soul – jivatma, which is not the material body) is constantly subjected to the laws of Karma —Arising primarily out of the desires and subsequent actions of the living individual in various lives of his or her past.
The Yogis teach that there are two great principles at work in the matter of Karmic Law affecting the conditions of rebirth. The first principle is that whereby the prevailing desires, aspirations, likes, and dislikes, loves and hates, attractions and repulsions, etc., press the soul into conditions in which these characteristics may have a favorable and congenial soil for development. The second principle is that which may be spoken of as the urge of the unfolding Spirit, which is always urging forward toward fuller expression, and the breaking down of confining sheaths, and which thus exerts a pressure upon the soul awaiting reincarnation which causes it to seek higher environments and conditions than its desires and aspiration, as well as its general characteristics, would demand. These two apparently conflicting (and yet actually harmonious) principles acting and reacting upon each other, determine the conditions of rebirth, and have a very material effect upon the Karmic Law. One’s life is largely a conflict between these two forces, the one tending to hold the soul to the present conditions resulting from past lives, and the other ever at work seeking to uplift and elevate it to greater heights.
Accordingly, the living entity either enjoys (pleasure) or suffers (pain) in the world.
But the Law of Karma is a limiting phenomenon, in the sense the resultant good or bad reactions only bind the jiva (the individual) further to this material universe. Therefore, for ultimate freedom, we may want to go beyond the influence of the Law of Karma.
We may wish to escape the ‘miserable world’ totally and attain that state where miseries do not exist—such a state does exist and according to our Vedic scriptures it is called the State of Liberation or Moksha —The Kingdom of God.
Lord Krishna gives solutions for attaining liberation in the Bhagavad Gita:
How this liberation can be achieved?
ananya-chetāḥ satataṁ yo māṁ smarati nityaśhaḥ
tasyāhaṁ sulabhaḥ pārtha nitya-yuktasya yoginaḥ
He says, “For one who always remembers Me without deviation, I am easily attainable, O son of Prtha, because of his constant engagement in devotional service.” (BG 8.14)
mām upetya punar janma duḥkhālayam aśhāśhvatam
nāpnuvanti mahātmānaḥ sansiddhiṁ paramāṁ gatāḥ
“After attaining Me, the great souls, who are yogis in devotion, never return to this temporary world, which is full of miseries, because they have attained the highest perfection.” (BG 8.15)
ā-brahma-bhuvanāl lokāḥ punar āvartino ’rjuna
mām upetya tu kaunteya punar janma na vidyate
“From the highest planet in the material world down to the lowest, all are places of misery wherein repeated birth and death take place. But one who attains to My abode, O son of Kunti, never takes birth again.” (BG 8.16)
According to Swami Sivananda — Learn to become wise. Learn to discriminate. Learn to control thoughts and desires. Watch your thoughts carefully. Do not allow any evil thought to enter the gates of the mental factory. Nip it in the bud. Always entertain holy, sublime thoughts and desires. Renounce unholy thoughts and unholy desires. Develop passion for Self-realisation. This one strong and holy desire will annihilate all other worldly desires. Understand well the theory of Karma. Cut the three knots of Avidya and realise Satchidananda. Then you are beyond the operation of the law of Karma. Then you are a Jivanmukta or a liberated sage even while living. This is the highest goal of life. This is your highest duty. All other duties are secondary and self-imposed through Abhimana, ignorance and delusion.