Some questions about karma

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    Sai Saurab

    Hi Ashish! I hope you are doing well. (Sorry for the repost, I was making some edits and it got marked as spam. I will be careful in the future)

    I find it useful to search through and read your blogposts related to a topic or keyword when I’m reading your books because your blogposts often deal with single topics comprehensively. So I was trying to understand karma as you talk about here.

    1. As I understand, evolution of the universe happens independently. That fixes the events in the universe and observers are laid onto this by time based on their karma. But what about non-conscious entities like stones. If wind moves a rock, which observer’s karma is being actualized there?
    2. Do lesser conscious entities like animals and plants create karma? It is colloquially said that they don’t.
    3. In the blog post you say this which I couldn’t follow. I would be grateful if you could elaborate a bit.

      Nevertheless, since the transaction is always finite (because quanta are never infinitesimal), there is perceived delay between the start and end of the transaction.

    • This topic was modified 1 year, 6 months ago by Sai Saurab. Reason: added hyperlink
    Ashish Dalela

    Nature selects the best potential candidate for a job. The conscious entities can reject it. The so-called free will in this world is free won’t. I have discussed this in many places. As regards a stone, it doesn’t reject. Like that most people also don’t reject whatever arises in their minds automatically. They are just following nature’s selection and are forced by it. In Bhagavad Gita 18.61, it is stated:

    bhramayan sarva-bhutani
    yantrarudhani mayaya

    All the living entities are roaming situated on the machine of maya.

    Just like a child goes to an entertainment park and sits on a horse, which takes it around. The child thinks that he is riding the horse when the fact is that the horse is moving the child.

    This Maya is the delusional energy; it creates desires and thoughts in us. So, Maya says: “Do this”, and the soul thinks: “That is my idea, so I must do it”. In this way, the machine is running us, and we are not running the machine. But we can run the machine, provided we are liberated.

    In the lower species of life, like plants and animals, karma is not created, because there is no understanding of duty, right and wrong. They just do whatever comes to their mind automatically. They are just like automatons, although there is a living entity. 99.99% of humans are also automatons, even though there is a soul. Very few humans actually exercise the free won’t. Mostly they agree to whatever comes to their mind. So, if there are some good impressions, then they do good things mechanically. And if there are some bad impressions, then they do bad things mechanically. That is way, transcendence is different from good and bad. It is done by free will, not mechanically.

    Regarding the last point about clarification, modern science says that light has a finite speed. The universe in Vedic philosophy is said to be 4 billion miles and covered by 7 layers, each 10 times bigger. So, if you were liberated, and moving by the speed of light, it will take you thousands of years just to exit the material universe. Also, it will take God thousands of years to come to Earth from His planet. So, if Gajendra is dying and he offers a flower, God cannot come immediately to save him.

    So, we need a different understanding of light, and that understanding is that light moves with infinite speed, but it takes time to absorb the light. The time attributed to the speed of light is the time taken to absorb light, rather than in the movement of light. Light is just like a teacher educating a student.

    If the student is bright, then he can absorb things quickly. And if the student is dull, then he cannot absorb information quickly. But that slow or fast absorption has nothing to do with the speed of information. It has everything to do with the mind of the receiver. In the same way, there is a process of entanglement between source and receiver and that entanglement takes time. Once it has entangled, then the transfer of information is “instantaneous”. This “instantaneous” transfer of information is called quantum non-locality, and the speed of light is called locality.

    We can reconcile quantum non-locality with classical locality if we understand that light is actually not “moving” like a thing. It is information that is transferred “instantaneously” provided there is entanglement between source and destination. Therefore, if you remember God, then God will come immediately, not after thousands of years based on the speed of light. But we have to be entangled with God. That process of entanglement can take thousands of years, but the transfer of information is “instant”. Otherwise, you say something, and it reaches God after ten thousand years, and then He says something and it reaches you after another ten thousand years. So, one question and answer will be longer than hundreds of lifetimes. This is what classical physics entails. But quantum physics entails that it can come to us in an instant. But we have to be entangled before that transfer.

    Once this is understood, then we can understand the above statement which is a perceived delay between when the transfer begins and when the reception ends. It is not zero, because the information is finite. Just like if you speak a sentence, it takes a few moments to complete. That delay is not because information takes time to travel to the listener, but because it takes time to emit information (and then absorb it). So, it is not “instantaneous”, and it is not the speed of light. It is truly very fast, but not zero time. In present science, the time of emission and absorption is considered zero, and all the time is spent in transfer. But the information transfer is instantaneous, and yet, the emission and absorption are not instantaneous. These are very subtle technical differences.

    Ashish Dalela

    The soul is just like an animal and is called Paśu. Then material nature is Pāśa or a rope. And Lord Shiva is Paśupati or the master of the animal. There are three kinds of ropes; these are called ādiātimakaādidaivika, and ādibhautika. Just like a thought in your mind is also a rope, automatically moved by time. The thought arises and you do something. That is called ādiātmika rope. Then there are other people pushing you to do something. That is called ādibhautika rope. And then you are in a particular situation, just like CoVID, or being part of a particular society or nation or organization, which is forcing some activities upon us. That is called ādidaivika rope.

    So, these three kinds of ropes are binding us. When good karma arises, time triggers a thought in us: “Let us do this”. It is not an accident. It is also a rope pulling us from inside. And that pull forces us to do something which then gives a good result. Similarly, when bad karma arises, and you give good advice to people, they cannot take it. They will listen to their mind, which gives them bad advice automatically. That inner voice will be so strong that any external good advice will be ignored. Bad karma is such that even if you listen to the good advice from outside, karma will find another way to trigger a thought in you by which you will end up in a situation where you will be forced to suffer.

    So the lesson is that the soul is just like an animal, the material nature is just like a rope, and time is the master controlling the rope. The master drags the animal using the rope. This rope is also sometimes tight and loose. When it becomes tight, then the animal cries in desperation. And when it becomes loose then the animal feels peaceful and goes back to sleep. So, there are only two situations, one in which the animal is sleeping, and then when it is struggling to free itself of the rope. In this way, the precarious condition of the soul is described, and very few can understand it. Most of the time, most of the people, are just hoping that the rope will become a little loose so that they can go back to sleep. Some pseudo yogis call this sleeping state “samādhi” because they cannot visualize anything other than peacefully sleeping and being awake with suffering. An awake state where there is no suffering is simply beyond their materialistic comprehension.

    Sai Saurab

    Thanks for the explanations Ashish. To probe further, in page 80 of Mystic Universe you say

    The source of information thus emits due to karma and the sink of information absorbs that information due to karma.

    “Nature selects the best candidate for a job”, but what exactly is the job of Nature? Is it to give conscious beings varities of experiences? As it is often asked (especially since quantum theory) – “When a tree falls in a forest, and there was no one there when it fell, did it make a sound?”.

    The gist of my question is – Are all events that are fixed by the evolution of the universe meant to give experiences to conscious beings? Or are there events – like two asteriods colliding – which don’t enter into the experience of any conscious being immediately or ultimately?

    Sai Saurab

    Another related question that I have is – What is the nature of these fixed events (or dialogues as you give in you analogy of a play)? Are these events like – X number of people die due to a pandemic during this time? If that is the case, how to make sense of our efforts to stop/control the pandemic? Are we only changing who dies rather than actually stopping/reducing deaths?

    Ashish Dalela

    Everything is happening by the consciousness, for the consciousness. God’s consciousness is aware of everything, so is Nature’s consciousness. God’s consciousness is for which everything happens, and Nature’s consciousness is by which it happens. Then, some soul may also be involved and that experience becomes the experience of the soul. So, these three types of consciousness ensure three separate kinds of causality–for, by, and of. Just like democracy is defined as the government of the people, by the people, and for the people, like that, the universe is for God, by Nature, and of the soul. But some soul may or may not be involved. That doesn’t mean that it is outside consciousness. It is still within some consciousness, although it may not be a soul’s consciousness.

    Events are fixed as to X number of people will be attacked by a virus. Then Nature selects which people will be attacked based on karma, and which ones will die. Once karma has been created due to past sinful activities, it will fructify. We cannot prevent death or disease; it will occur.

    The job of a ruler is to ensure that bad karma is not created, by ensuring the conditions of dharma. The job of a ruler is also to ensure that he has enough resources to provide relief when something bad happens. That doesn’t mean that he can prevent disease or death. Despite his best efforts, disease and death will happen, because it is based on the individual’s karma. But not doing the required effort because it will happen regardless, is a dereliction of duty, which invites bad karma.

    Krishna says to Arjuna: I have already killed all these kings, you just become a nimitta or incidental cause. The nimitta is the instrument that appears to be the actor or cause, but if not for him, there would be someone else or something else that will kill. That is how perfect God’s will and Nature’s execution are. If you don’t do it, there will be someone else who will do it. And yet, each person is encouraged to do their duty. If a ruler hasn’t done his job, then he will suffer in the future.

    In short, rulers should not worry about economic growth and prosperity. This type of thinking is atheistic. They should try to create the conditions in which the sinless and good karma souls will be attracted to or born in a country. Then, the sinful and bad karma souls would be born elsewhere.

    The ruler of a country is just like the CEO of an organization–his primary job is to attract the best talent available. And he can do that by creating the conditions where the best talent will come. This means proper rules and regulations, preventing cheating, lawlessness, harassment, etc. If the CEO thinks that he can create prosperity with a bad set of people, then that is foolishness. He has to bring the great talent. There may be some bad people today, and they will eventually die, or migrate out. But the CEO should think about how to attract the best talent, and create conditions for them. When the best type of souls come into a country, then the country will be automatically prosperous.

    This also means encouraging the most talented people and putting them into positions of power and removing the untalented people from positions of power. That is the CEO’s job. Change the organization structure and make it suitable for the great souls to come into a country.

    When sinful activities are prevented, then souls with good karma would be born in that country, or good souls will migrate into the country, and sinful souls will move out or will not be born. Then, based on their individual karma, the country will be naturally prosperous and free of suffering. So, dharma leads to prosperity, and this is not a new thing; it is just like hiring good people.

    Sai Saurab

    Thanks Ashish. Being used a lot of complexity in current science and philosophy, your simple explanations are a breath of fresh air.

    “But not doing the required effort because it will happen regardless, is a dereliction of duty, which invites bad karma.” If everything is done for the sake of one’s own karma, is there truly such a thing as altruism?

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 6 months ago by Sai Saurab.
    Ashish Dalela

    The belly can say that I’m doing my job for my own sake. But if it benefits the whole body–including hands and legs–then it is not contrary to altruism. The action is altruistic. So, altruism after that is simply the change of mood, not change of activity. The belly can say: I will digest the food because it benefits the whole body instead of saying that I’m doing it for my own sake.

    So, in terms of activity, there is no difference between the belly saying that I’m doing it for my sake or doing it for the sake of the whole body. But there is still a difference of mood.

    When something is done for my well-being, that is called karma-yoga. And when something is done for the sake of the whole, that is called bhakti-yoga. But the activity is the same in the two cases, only the mood changes. Therefore, bhakti-yoga is also karma-yoga, but karma-yoga is not bhakti-yoga, because there is a difference of mood, although there is no difference in the activity.

    Ashish Dalela

    In SB 7.5.31, it is said:

    na te viduḥ svārtha-gatiṁ hi viṣṇuṁ

    They do not know that their selfish interest is only Vishnu.

    The word svārtha means selfishness. So, even if a person is completely selfish, rather than altruistic, they should still worship Lord Vishnu. The liberated state of the soul is the selfish state in which Lord Vishnu is worshipped, but only because it is in my interest. And the devoted state of the soul is the change of mood in which the Lord is worshipped for the pleasure of the Lord. The activities in the two stages are the same, but there is a change of mood. So, from the outside perspective, there is no difference between altruism and selifshness–if a person has the intelligence.

    The fool thinks that by working for himself, and depriving others, he can become more powerful, richer, etc. He doesn’t know that he is cutting the very root on which his prosperity rests. So, intelligence with selfishness is that Lord Vishnu must be worshipped for one’s own benefit. And intelligence with altruism is that Lord Vishnu must be worshipped for the Lord’s happiness.

    There is always some potential for a fall when a person is intelligent but selfish; he can commit a mistake. But such potentiality for fall is greatly reduced when selfishness is destroyed.

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