The Spiritual Master and Our Karma

Sant Rajinder Singh Ji Maharaj has returned to India, where he will lead a few weeks of programs on meditation and spirituality. He is tentatively scheduled to return in late June for a series of Chicago area programs, including his keynote addresses at Veggie Fest on August 11 and 12.

Among the rewards of his recent visit were many profound and motivating discourses, as well as the uplifting spiritual charging that always characterizes the company of true spiritual Masters.

In her retreat/workshop last Saturday, Mona Grayson identified yet another benefit we receive from association with spiritual adepts. It concerns our karma. In the Sant Mat tradition, the Master’s invaluable help with our karma is considered among the foremost aids to our spiritual evolution.

To appreciate this concept, we need to understand that karma is the main obstacle to spiritual realization. Karma is the fuel that drives the great machinery of birth and re-birth. Karma is the opaque curtain that obscures our soul from its own Light and from the Light of God. Karma shrouds the soul in dense layers of maya or illusion. Karma leads us to identify with the physical body, mind, senses, emotions, and personality—blinding us into accepting them as our true nature. That illusion, born of karma, is what prevents us from realizing our inherent identity with the divine.

The spiritual Master plays a unique role in helping his followers shed that karmic burden and thereby break the cycle of transmigration. Their help on this esoteric level allows us to realize our divine nature as soul and return to our spiritual Home. How does this work?

Calling on her elementary education background, Mona offered a simple explanation in her workshop. She brought along three paper bags, each bag representing one of the types of karma with which all sentient beings are burdened.

SANCHIT KARMA. This is the vast storehouse of the consequences of actions undertaken throughout countless births. Every thought, word, and deed, after all, has karmic repercussions. Those karmic consequences accumulate endlessly in the sanchit storehouse, from where they drive the great cycle of transmigration, birth upon birth, of all forms of life.

PRALABDH KARMA. For any birth we take, in whatever species, a handful of the sanchit store is allocated for that birth. This includes our current human existence. Pralabdh karma is also called fate karma, because it determines who we are and what will happen to us during this lifetime. Of course, we also have some free will, without which we could not create karma in the first place. By definition, our current existence ends the moment our allotted pralabdh karma is exhausted.

KRIYAMAN KARMA. As we exercise the free will that a human birth provides, we create new karma, called kriyaman. Whether our actions are noble or base, significant or seemingly insignificant, our every thought, word, and deed causes karmic consequences. A portion of that kriyaman karma might fructify in this incarnation as pralabdh karma. However, most of it goes into the ever-growing storehouse of sanchit karma.

How does a spiritual Master help with our karmic predicament? In two ways, mainly.

Sant Rajinder Singh Ji Maharaj addresses the first:

The law of karma is the governing law for the physical, astral, and causal regions—the three lower regions of existence. If our soul can rise above those three realms and enter the fourth realm—the supracausal region, and the fifth realm—the purely spiritual region of all spirit, we can escape the effects of the karmic law and of rebirth. The saints who have traveled beyond the three realms have the power to take us there and to free us from the effects of our karma and of rebirth. They themselves have mastered the process of separating their soul from their body and traveling into the higher spiritual realms. They know the journey back and can guide other souls to the realms where they are freed from the cycle of karma.

The spiritual Master, having himself transcended the region from which karmic law functions, can help us do the same. Once our consciousness transcends that region, the soul is no longer bound by karmic law.

The second benefit is integral to the greatest blessing bestowed by a spiritual Master—initiation into the divine Light and Sound of God. Again, Sant Rajinder Singh Ji Maharaj:

The only way out of the cycle of birth and rebirth is to come to a perfect Master. At the time of initiation the Master takes over our sanchit karma so we can escape the cycle. He only leaves our pralabdh karma, which is that portion of our sanchit karma allotted for this lifetime. Once we are initiated by a perfect Master, we are guaranteed to go home either in this life if we follow his instructions, or in another human birth under the protection of the living Master of the time, if our Master decides that would be best for our ultimate spiritual progress.

Picture taking a match to the sanchit paper bag on the left. Through initiation, the power of the Word or Naam with which the Master connects the soul, rids us of the entire store of sanchit karma. Think about what this means. Our pralabdh karma is, by definition, finished at the end of our current life. The only thing then standing between us and divine realization is the fruits of our actions performed in this lifetime. That relatively small karmic burden can be overcome by good living, regular meditation, and the further grace of the spiritual Master.

With their sacred boon of initiation, soul breaks the chains of karma and rises into the cosmic awareness. This is the ultimate goal of human existence, which the power of a spiritual Master places within our grasp.

What’s Your Karmic Footprint?

by John Wolf

If you’ve been following the news lately, you know that what is considered a pivotal climate change conference has just concluded in Cancun, Mexico. The United Nations brought together delegates from 193 nations to work out binding agreements to cut carbon emissions. By the end of the event, participating nations had signed the first truly global climate change agreement, committing to major reductions in the world’s carbon footprint.

Wanting to learn more about the conference, I turned to Google. A few minutes random surfing landed me on a wonderful application on The Nature Conservancy web site: Carbon Footprint Calculator: What’s My Carbon Footprint? Basically, you step through a wizard that asks about your lifestyle and energy use. It then outputs your personal carbon footprint quotient and a helpful analysis. (By the way, vegetarians get a significant carbon footprint credit.) It’s a telling application that’s definitely worth doing.

But this exercise got me thinking about another, more pressing, question: What’s My Karmic Footprint? Just for fun I googled that as well; no, there is no karma calculator—at least not on the Internet. Still, it’s a useful perspective to carry through life: What karmic toxins am I putting into the atmosphere each day? And, how wisely am I utilizing my own spiritual resources? After all, karma is central to spiritual development. It’s karma that shrouds the soul in darkness. It’s the negation of karma that raises us into spiritual Light.

Everything that a soul thinks, does, and says is recorded, and that soul must bear the fruits. Thus, soul has been cycling through existences on a variety of planes, in this world, and in a variety of bodies. The journey of the soul is determined by this law of karma.

–Sant Rajinder Singh Ji Maharaj

If you believe in the principle of karma, as we in the Sant Mat tradition do, carefully considering your personal karmic footprint is a sound practice. Think about it. Every deed we do, every word we speak, every thought we think, every interaction we have, leaves behind a residue—for good or for bad. Yet we mostly go through our days heedlessly, unmindfully, as those consequences accumulate to build our fates and the fates of those we touch. And they do so just as tangibly as does the constructive or destructive use of Earth’s resources.

It’s worth stepping back and weighing each of our actions and interactions in this context. Our lives and this world we all share will be better for it.  As Sant Rajinder Singh Ji Maharaj stated in his closing remarks at the 16th International Human Unity Conference:

Every day that a person develops a loving heart, the world becomes a better place. Each person comes in contact with anywhere from ten to hundreds of people a day, and that loving heart will radiate to all others. Love is contagious, and when we are loving, those around us also feel its effect and will move closer to being loving themselves. If we do so, we will see the effect that each one of us has on personal and global transformation.

Karma and the Spiritual Master

Sunday satsang at the ashram in India

As hundreds gathered at the beautiful Oak Brook Hills Marriott last Sunday to hear Sant Rajinder Singh Ji Maharaj’s weekly discourse, the Master chose as his topic the theme of forgiveness. Specifically, he addressed how forgiving and forgetting the perceived wrongs done to us by others frees our minds of the distractions that inhibit good meditations and a peaceful heart. As always, he filled his talk with stories, humor, and profound wisdom.

As a sub-theme, Maharaj Ji discussed one of the most remarkable benefits a spiritual Master brings to our lives. You may not encounter this notion in the mystic literature, but it is certainly one of the most compelling reasons to seek a fully realized spiritual guide. This blessing concerns God’s forgiving and forgetting of our karma.

First, a little context. According to the Sant Mat teachings, we all have three types of karma: sanchit, pralabdh, and kriyaman. Sanchit karma is the vast storehouse, the accumulated fruits of our actions over innumerable incarnations. “Hill upon hill, mountain upon mountain,” as Sant Darshan Singh Ji Maharaj once described it. It is this sanchit karma that impels the soul through the cycle of transmigration and blinds the soul to its inherent qualities of sat, chit, anand (truth, consciousness, bliss). Some of the actions of our current existence bear karmic fruit later in this life, but most enter the sanchit balance to play out in future incarnations. Actions alone, however noble, cannot deplete the sanchit storehouse because our actions inevitably create more karma. And even the consequences of good deeds increase this store as good karma. As Lord Krishna told Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita, bad actions are chains of iron, but good actions are chains of gold.

From the sanchit storehouse, a portion of karma is selected to determine much of our present incarnation. This is our pralabdh or fate karma. When our pralabdh karma is exhausted, we pass away from this life. Another small portion is then taken from the sanchit storehouse for the next incarnation, as the cycle of transmigration repeats over and over.

The Masters of the Sant Mat tradition teach that our lives are not entirely pre-determined by pralabdh karma. We also have free will. As we execute that free will, we generate new consequences, called kriyaman karma. As just stated, some kriyaman karma bears fruit in this life, but most adds to the sanchit store.

The powerful point Maharaj Ji addressed in his discourse is this: at the time of initiation by a Sant Mat Master, one’s entire load of sanchit karma earned up to that point is canceled out. It is forgiven and forgotten by the grace of God working through the living Master. Sant Kirpal Singh Ji Maharaj used to say that our sanchit karma is burned up by the power of God to which the soul is reconnected at initiation.  He once explained it as putting a handful of seeds in a pan over a fire; they puff up and lose their ability to grow. However the mechanics work, what greater blessing could the soul receive? Freed from the burden of its sanchit karma, only two barriers now stand between the soul and divine realization. The first is the remaining pralabdh karma of the current existence, which is by definition exhausted when this life ends. Second is any new kriyaman karma we create over the course of this life. Thus freed from the chains of its  sanchit karma, the soul has an opportunity to finally break the cycle of transmigration, fulfill its destiny, and return to its source, in oneness with God.

We attend discourses by spiritual Masters like Sant Rajinder Singh Ji Maharaj, we read their books, we view their videos, and we benefit immensely from their practical wisdom and guidance. But the real value of association with the saints comes, not from their words, but from the godly power that flows through them. They help us to end the otherwise endless cycle of transmigration and finally realize ourselves as soul, as sparks of divine consciousness. That process really begins with initiation into the mysteries of the beyond by a realized spiritual Master and his power to lift our karmic burden. As Sant Rajinder Singh Ji Maharaj said,

The saints who have traveled beyond the three realms have the power to take us there and to free us from the effects of our karma and of rebirth. They themselves have mastered the process of separating their soul from  their body and traveling into the higher spiritual realms. They know the journey back and can guide other souls to the realms where they are freed from the cycle of karma.

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