Wednesday, February 27, 2013

are you ready to walk out?

Verse 2.27: One who has taken his birth is sure to die, and after death one is sure to take birth again. Therefore, in the unavoidable discharge of your duty, you should not lament.

Today, we are indirectly introduced to the concept of karma. As Prabhupada writes in the purport "One has to take birth according to one's activities of life. And after finishing one term of activities, one has to die to take birth for the next."

Let's spend a little bit of time talking about karma here. First of all, what is it? Simply put - what goes around comes around. For whatever action we perform, a corresponding reaction will be given. As a society that claims it's "scientifically driven" we observe this reality and expect this. Why then do people struggle with the concept of karma and its application in their own life? I think part of the reason is due to the fact that the effect(or reaction) may not manifest in this lifetime.

Did you know that? It's true! There is such a thing as instant and delayed karma. Not only is there good and bad karma, but delayed and instantaneous as well as group and individual karma.

Somewhere along the road, it appears that mainstream society latched onto the idea of karma and associated the word "now" to it. Probably because we are a "now" society. The truth is, we have no control over when we will feel the results of the karma we accrue, irregardless of whether it's good or bad. For somethings we may feel it right away, but for others we may have to wait lifetimes to feel the effects.

That's the reason why some people just seem to "have it all" without doing anything and the reason why some people may work hard all their life without any apparent result. In looking and judging others (something we are all guilty of doing,) we neglect to remember that we are only seeing a snapshot of that soul's journey.

Just think of a movie. When we see a movie, most of us forget that the movie is actually composed of individual frames which compose the moving picture. "When the moving picture is displayed, each frame is flashed on a screen for a short time and then immediately replaced by the next one. Persistence of vision blends the frames together, producing the illusion of a moving image." Credit: Wikipedia

Similarly, we forget that our journey in this lifetime is also just an individual frame. Puts things into perspective, doesn't it? Our problem is that we mistakenly think that what we are see happening to others, and what is currently going on with us, is the entire movie.

That's what Krsna is getting at here in this verse. Unless we stop accruing karma (whether it be good or bad), this process of birth and death will continue on and on and on. Remember the last movie you saw where you felt the story dragged on and on? Afterwards you probably commented, "They should have made it shorter! That last hour was a waste!" Well, the "movie" of our journey in the material world has become just like that - too long. Enough already!

That's what Krsna will soon present to Arjuna. Think of this like the previews....coming soon in a Gita near you! Yes, there is good and bad karma, but there is also something called "no karma". Those same good activities that you perform right now for "your pleasure", when instead done in the consciousness of service and gratitude to the Lord, result in no karma.

That's our ticket out of the cycle of birth and death. Our sojourn in the material world has become like a bad movie that just keeps dragging on. It's time to get out.

The only question remains: are you ready to walk out of this bad movie, or are you going to continue to suffer through it?


  1. From my understanding of this, is that the karma of this present life is due to many different karma's. For instance as you state the now karma is if someone does something good or bad, the results will be shown in this lifetime. But the long term Karma is involved with more than just this life, for the actions of the past lives influence ones place in the current. So for instance if someone obtains good karma in past lives, then this current live is closer to the ultimate goal. The opposite also applies, for those who obtain bad Karma in past lives, then this current life is going to be one with more trials and hardship. So to sum up the now karma is shown in this life, but the more important long term karma is shown over many lifetimes.

  2. Yes, the karma which we receive in this present life can be the result of what we've done in our previous lives, or even in this life. We have no idea of knowing that!

    With respect to instant karma and delayed karma....the bhakti texts don't distinguish between what is more important. Karma is karma. Importance with respect to karma, is not so much about what we've done (whether it's been in this lifetime or in previous lifetimes), but more about how we WILL react when faced with it now.

    Does this clarify? If not, please let me know. Thank you for you question/comment!

  3. Yes it does, thank you very much for the response. Carl Herzig recommended this site to me. I am a part of his Literature of Hinduism class. It seems the more we get into it the more it all makes sense.
    Again thanks for this site it is really helping to clarify on what we are discussing in class and it helps me make connections on a more personal level.

  4. So happy that I can be of some service! The Bhagavad-gita is all about how to apply spirituality in a very practical and tangible way. That's why I personally love it so much.

    That's so great that you are taking Carl's class. He's a fantastic person and wonderful teacher. Hope you are enjoying the class and please feel free to comment/ask questions!

    All the best!