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Friday, 15 May 2015

Character and Karma

Hope the New Year, 2015 is treating you well. Today, I am going to talk a little about the Character of an individual and a bit about Karma.

I believe that the character of any person is the blend of his tendencies and the summation of the bent of his mind. I have heard many motivational speakers say this to their audience that we are what our thoughts have made us. Did you ever realize that every single work that we do, every movement of our body and every thought that strikes us, deliver an impression on the mind. If you notice that what we are at different moments is actually determined by the sum total of these impressions on our mind. Everybody's character is at every moment in their life is determined by the sum total of these impressions. If good impressions prevail, the character becomes good, if bad impressions prevail, it becomes bad.

Now, what is Karma? The word Karma is derived from the Sanskrit word Kri, which literally means -To Do; therefore, we can say that all actions is Karma. However, there is another meaning of this word, which is; The Effects Of Actions. In metaphysics, sometimes it also means the Effects Of Our Past Actions. But then, what is Karma Yoga?  In Karma-Yoga we have simply keep in mind the word Karma which means work. Swami Vivekananda often mentioned in his discourses, that the goal of mankind is knowledge; and it is that knowledge which is one ideal placed before us by Eastern philosophy. Pleasure should never be the goal of man; instead it should be acquiring knowledge. Pleasure and happiness will and for sure, come to an end someday.

Good and evil have an equal contribution in the construction of a person’s character. In some instances, you will learn that misery is a greater teacher than happiness. If someone does a research on the great characters of the world, I would say, in majority of the cases, it would be seen that it is misery that has taught more lessons than happiness, it would be found that it is poverty that taught more lessons than wealth, it is blows that brought out their inner fire more the praises they have received.

Now, this knowledge, I would say, is inherent in mankind. All the knowledge is already inside us; it does not come from outside. 'When we say a person "knows," in strict psychological language, should mean what he "discovers" or "unveils"; whatever a man "learns" is actually what that person "discovers," by taking the cover off from his own soul. I have learnt from Swami Vivekananda’s teachings that the soul is a mine of infinite knowledge. Let me put this across to you this way; we say Newton discovered gravitation. Was this gravitation sitting somewhere in some corner waiting for him to come and discover it? No, it was in his mind; when the time came, he found it out. Your own mind is the infinite library of the universe. The external world is simply the suggestion, the occasion, which sets you to study your own mind, but the object of your study is always your own mind. The falling of an apple gave the suggestion to Newton, and he studied it in his own mind; and how he did that? He arranged all the links of thought in his mind and discovered a new link among them, which is known to us as the law of gravitation. I would say that, it was neither the apple nor anything in the Centre of the earth. All knowledge whether secular or spiritual, is in the human mind. In most cases it would not be discovered, and it would have remained covered, and when the covering is being slowly taken off we say "we are learning," and the advancement of knowledge is actually the advancement of this process of uncovering.

In connection to what I said, Swamiji (Swami Vivekananda) had once mentioned in one of his discourse, “the man from whom this veil is being lifted is the more knowing man. The man upon whom it lies thick is ignorant, and the man from whom it has entirely gone is all-knowing, omniscient. There have been omniscient men and I believe there will be yet, and that there will be myriads of them in the cycles to come. Like fire in a piece of flint, knowledge exists in the mind; suggestion is the friction which brings it out. So with all our feelings and actions—our tears and our smiles, our joys and our griefs, our weeping and our laughter, our curses and our blessings, our praises and our blames—every one of these we may find, if we calmly study our own selves, to have been brought out from within ourselves by so many blows. The result is what we are; all these blows taken together are called Karma,—work, action. Every mental and physical blow that is given to the soul, by which, as it were, fire is struck from it, and by which its own power and knowledge are discovered, is Karma, this word being used in its widest sense; thus we are all doing Karma all the time. I am talking to you: that is Karma. You are listening: that is Karma. We breathe: that is Karma. We walk: Karma. Everything we do, physical or mental, is Karma, and it leaves its marks on us”.

There arises a difficult question in this ideal of work. Intense activity is necessary; we must always work. We cannot live a minute without work. What then becomes. of rest? Here is one side of the life-struggle,—work, in which we are whirled rapidly round. And here is the other, that of calm, retiring renunciation: everything is peaceful around, there is very little of noise and show, only nature with her animals and flowers and mountains. Neither of them is a perfect picture. A man used to solitude, if brought in contact with the surging whirlpool of the world, will be crushed by it; just as the fish that lives in the deep sea water, as soon as it is brought to the surface, breaks into pieces, deprived of the weight of water on it that had kept it together. Can a man who, has been used to the turmoil and the rush of life live at ease if he comes to a quiet place? He suffers and perchance may lose his mind. The ideal man is he who, in the midst of the greatest silence and solitude, finds the intensest activity, and in the midst of the intensest activity finds the silence and solitude of the desert. He has learned the secret of restraint; he has controlled himself. He goes through the streets of a big city with all its traffic, and his mind is as calm as if he were in a cave, where not a sound could reach him; and he is intensely working all the time. That is the ideal of Karma-Yoga, and if you have attained to that you have really learned the secret of work.

But we have to begin from the beginning, to take up the works as they come to us and slowly make ourselves, more unselfish every day. We must do the work and find out the motive power that prompts us; and, almost without exception, in the first years, we shall find that our motives are always selfish; but gradually this selfishness will melt by persistence, till at last will come the time when we shall be able to do really unselfish work. We may all hope that some day or other, as we struggle through the paths of life, there will come a time when we shall become perfectly unselfish; and the moment we attain to that, all our powers will be concentrated, and the knowledge which is ours will be manifest.

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