If people are suffering because of their Karma, why should we help them? What is the need to be compassionate towards others despite knowing that they are suffering because of their Karma?

It is indeed true that if one undergoes suffering, it is because of the effects of one’s bad karma done in previous births or in the distant past.

But a fact of Karma is that if God’s grace is there, the suffering due to Karma gets reduced.

If someone is doing a good karma, he is going to reap good fruits for it at some time in future.

So, if you are helping someone who is suffering,

  1. You may perhaps be the channel through which God’s grace is acting on the person to reduce his suffering.
  2. By helping the person genuinely, you are acquiring good karma for you.

My Guru Mata Amritanandamayi (Amma) says that if somebody is suffering is because of their bad karma, extending help can be your dharma! A person fallen into a pit shouts for help.  If a passerby thinks ‘Why should I help? After all, he is suffering his karma’, it is not a right mindset. Instead, he should think, ‘It is my dharma to extend my helping hand to pull the person out of the pit’. That is the right attitude, says Amma.

When Bhagavad Gita says that we should offer the fruits of our work to God, where is the motive do the best of our work?

Every action we are doing is sure to bring a fruit. Even though we may claim it to be a sacrifice to God (as per Karma Yoga), that fruit is sure to come back to us only, at some point of time, at some context, at some quantity and fashion. How and when cannot be exactly comprehended by us, because God is definitely going to give it back to us as per His will, with our welfare in mind. God is beyond needs and wants and He is not looking to retain the fruits of OUR labor with Himself!

My Guru Mata Amritanandamayi (Amma) use to say that when Bhagavad Gita says work should be done by surrendering the results to God, it means we don’t have to break our head or worry about the fruits of Karma, which will in any case come back to us. It means we will be able to focus better on our work in hand by doing our best, without wasting our mental energy about what the results could be.

Since the results are sure to come back to us, it is always prudent to do our best, because we will get back the best fruits of it at some time, in some way, at some juncture (as schemed by God) for our betterment only!

Amma also used to point about two fruits in every action — one is drishta Phalam (visible result) and adrishta phalam (invisible fruit). Suppose a destitute boy who has not eaten for a couple of days knocks at our doors. Suppose we call the boy inside and offer him a sumptuous meal. As we watch the boy eating the food in a hurry and relishing every bit of it, it definitely gives us an instant joy. It is drishta Phalam. By feeding a poor boy, we acquire some punya to our credit. That is adrishta phalam.

If we had served the boy some stale food from the previous day’s remnants, he would have perhaps consumed it too to satiate his hunger. But by feeding him with fresh meals, we are offering our best. That satisfaction will be greater than offering him a stale food for sure. Giving the best definitely carries a bonus value!

 

God is always seen preaching of love and peace. Then why in holy books such as Mahabharata and  Ramayana they are seen killing evil doers? Peaceful talking is the answer to everything. Isn’t it?

“Peaceful Talking is the answer to everything (resolving every conflict). Isn’t it?”

NO.  IT IS NOT!

There is no point in talking sweetly to a person who is a deaf, who is a lunatic, who is a drunkard, who is a drug addict or who is at the peak of egotism by virtue of his power, position, arrogance, self-rightism, and total lack of principles and values — a person of demonic tendencies.

Our scriptures suggest four-step process for resoling conflicts — Sama-dana-beda-dandaSama is talking and trying to resolve issue by negotiations. If it fails, dana is to be tried — i.e. offering compensation, incentives; if it fails, next is beda —create a divide and internal disputes in the opposite camp; if it too fails, the last resort is danda – physical/capital punishment.

With people of demonic nature like Vali, Kara, Dushana, Surpanaka and Ravana in Ramayana and Kamsa, Sishupala, Jarasandha, Karna and Duriyodhana in Mahabharata, sama-dana-beda just won’t work. Lord Rama and Lord Krishna being Avatars knew pretty well that demonic people cannot be brought to the side of dharma by any means; punishing and eliminating them is the only way for establishing dharma.

What does Krishna say in Bhagavad Gita about the people having demonic tendencies?

“Demonic people don’t know what is right to do and what is wrong that should be avoided; They have no purity, no right conduct, no truth” (16.7)

“They say world is full of falsehood, unstable, Godless and is created by sexual craving through the union of man and woman….” (16.8)

“These people are petty minded; have no spirituality. They engage in fearful and abominable acts leading to destruction of world” (16.9)

“Losing themselves to insatiable desires — desires that will only end in death, thinking that fulfilling innumerable desires is the only highest goal of life, they become slaves to their desires and anger, and strive to earn money in all wrongful ways. They become head heavy, self-boasting, and arrogant” (16.10–12)

“They proudly claim “I got what I wanted; I will get what I desire; This adversary of mine was killed by me; I am going to kill them all; I am the supreme emperor; I am born to enjoy; I am the most powerful; I am the greatest enjoyer…. No one is equal to me …..” (16.13–15)

“Immersed in egotism power and pride, they hate me, the indweller in all living beings. I push these demons — the worst among human beings who are filled with hatred, crookedness and spite to demonic births again and again. These idiots, however many times they take birth, would never seek me; they are fit for lower and lower births only” (16.19,20)

Though Sri Krishna uses the harshest words and specifies the highest punishment for them in the above verses, in reality, both Sri Rama and Sri Krishna did their best to delay their delivery of punishment to Ravana, Duriyodhana and the like. They did try sama-dana-beda wherever feasible before taking up danda.

Krishna tried his best to avoid the war between Pandavas and Kauravas by personally going for negotiations. He did offer dana — in the form of the very country owned by Pandavas — just for giving 5 villages in exchange! He did try beda, by trying to woo Karna to Pandava’s side by offering him the kingship of Hastinapuram! But none of his tactics worked, precisely as he knew already.

With Jarasandha, Krishna retreated from war 17 times, conceding defeat. Finally he got Jarasandha killed using Bhima’s prowess.

Krishna excused 100 wrong doings of Sishupala and then only killed him.

Rama tried to reason with Ravana several times; he even allowed Ravana to retreat from warfield after he lost all his arms and stood vulnerable.

Only in case of Vali, Sri Rama went straight ahead with danda, perhaps based on the reason that the arrogant and powerful monkey king, who was obviously not amenable for any sort of reasoning with his own brother Sugriva will never be fit for trying out sama-dana.

If the self is already eternal, deathless, and one with Brahman, why do I have to make any spiritual effort in life?

Yes. All gurus, all scriptures say that my Self is already eternal, deathless and one with Brahman. Yes, I nod in agreement.

But I am worried about my debts; I get restless if my food is not served in time. I hate my neighbor for whatever omissions and commissions he does. I just cannot accept that he is also Brahman like me!

I am having pain on my left shoulders and I am deeply worried — is it the symptom for impending heart attack? What will I do if attack comes suddenly? Oh! I am scared of death. Who will look after my family if I die suddenly?

So, my theoretical knowledge that I am deathless and I am Brahman is absolutely useless to me, until I experience that state so that I remain in bliss always with no mundane worries.

Sadguru Mata Amritanandamayi (Amma) says that if you write ‘ honey’ in a piece of paper and lick it, it will not taste sweet. She further says that it is indeed true that a tree is contained in the seed. We are like seed now. For the seed to become a tree, it has to go into earth, its outer sheath should split so that the sprout comes. Conditions should be favourable too. A seed fallen on a rockey surface or in a desert is not likely to sprout. It should get water, nutrients etc to grow. Climate should be favorable. When all things are favorable, only then the seed will become a tree and bear fruits.

That’s why spiritual effort is needed “for the seed to become a tree”. Going into the earth indicates surrender (to guru). Outer sheath breaking indicates breaking of one’s ego. Ambience, climate etc becoming favorable indicates guru kripa.

Amma says “kalam, pryatnam , and Easwara kripa” (Time, effort and divine grace) are the 3 things essential for success.

What is mind?

What is mind?

Hindu philosophy gives lots of weightage to grasping what mind really is. At the pinnacle of its conclusion, the whole universe is nothing but a projection of mind. A man thinks he and the world around him exists because his mind makes him believe so. Where the mind ceases to exist, everything in the perceptible world ceases to exist. For ordinary mortals, the mind stops to function only during deep sleep state and at that state one forgets the existence of his body and the world around him.

In absolute reality, it is just the Atman that exists; Atman has two projections born out of maya in an individual soul: One is the mind and the other is prana, the life force (which is usually associated with breathing, whose existence is basic for the existence of the physical body ). Prana and mind are intricately interconnected.

It can be easily observed that when mind is agitated, breathing also becomes fast. When the mind is calm, breathing also slows down. When the mind stops, breathing also stops. Great yogis in deep Samadhi state totally calm their minds and during such periods their breathing also stops, though they continue to be alive.

The converse is also true. If one can control and slow down breathing, the thought flow in the mind also is controlled and the mind gets slowed down. This is the basis on which the practice of Pranayama was evolved by yogis as a means for practicing meditation.

What is mind? Mind is nothing but thought flow. Mind is like a river. A river exists only when there is a flow of water. Mind is frequently compared to a monkey. A monkey can hardly remain unperturbed even for a moment at one place. It keeps swinging and jumping from one branch of a tree to another. Likewise, the nature of mind is to keep swinging from one thought to another with seemingly no respite during waking state.

Here is an analysis of what sort of activities the human mind keeps engaging itself unceasingly and an attempt to put them into some typical categories, with examples, that most of the people can easily relate to.

  • Relishing and rewinding past sweet memories: Like the games you played with your street children / class mates and your winning a particular game in a spectacular way that made you a hero for an evening
  • Licking the pain by rewinding past bitter memories: Like your first girlfriend ditching you right royally and then flirting with your staunch enemy…
  • Regretting the past mistakes/ rewinding guilt : like the blatant lie you made knowingly about a friend of yours to his girlfriend that ended up in breaking their relationship and making your friend near mad afterwards.
  • Justifying your past mistakes and acts: You fumbled up in a decision making in your office and the repercussions were bad. You are asked to appear before the CEO for an explanation. You mind churns out excuses and justifications to justify your decision.
  • Rehearsing a talk: In the above case, you have formulated your justifications. Now you keep thinking on how you will word your explanations, how you will counter the accusations and how you will put the blame on others very smartly.
  • Thoughts of hate: Your boss insulted you publicly in a meeting. You keep on thinking about his act and you anger and hatred against him keeps on rewinding in your mind.
  • Scheming vengeance: It is the continuation of and aggregation of hatred. You start scheming as to how to insult or offend your boss in the next opportune moment to teach him a lesson…
  • Thoughts of love: “Oh! The first meeting I had with my girlfriend… In the cool breeze at the sea shore, when she came with a bright smile that seemed to light up the whole beach…”
  • Grieving: “I just can’t bear the death of Johnny, my little younger brother…”
  • Arguing in absentia: You picked up an argument with your friend about something and he cornered you; you could not defend your viewpoint at that time. Now your mind works overtime to get you points over points to counter his argument !
  • Extrapolated imagination: Your boss scolded you this morning about a serious lapse of you on your job. Your ego refuses to believe that the mistake was yours, though deep within you, you know it. Now you find your colleague walking with your boss in the corridor and both of them are laughing together. “Ah! It is this fellow who must have informed the boss about my lapse; I know he was always conspiring to corner me in some issue or other. See! Both of them are laughing together about me, for sure. Rascal! I know this useless fellow wants to snatch my promotion …”
  • Worrying about body/ health: “My face looks ugly; my body stinks; this dress does not suit me. This cold is going to lead me to fever and I am afraid I may become bed ridden. This back pain is unbearable…”
  • Day dreaming: “If I were to be the President of USA, I will …..”
  • Planning, Problem solving: Your computer broke down this evening. Tomorrow you have to prepare a spreadsheet present it in a meeting. How to rectify the computer yourself, how to find alternative means of preparing the spreadsheet, how to postpone the meeting ….
  • Creative thinking: Remembering a past incident and then trying create a short story out of it that you can write later. Seeing a movie and then thinking “If I were the director of the movie, I could have ended the story this way…”
  • Imagining/ planning for future: “If the appointment order comes from the company that interviewed me last week, I am sure they will agree to double my current salary; I will dispose my old car first and buy a new one…..”
  • Worrying about the future: “What if I don’t do well in the examinations? What if I don’t get a job? …”
  • Harping on the current anxiety: Your dearest mother is hospitalized. You are sitting beside her and nursing her. Her pain, her suffering, the worry about the possibility of her dying keep on nagging your mind.
  • Praying: “Oh God! Please give peace and quick recovery to my mother. Don’t take her life away now…..”
  • Worrying about the world: “What will happen if another great earthquake triggers a huge tsunami across several continents?”
  • Frustrating/ negative thoughts, feeling helpless: “Oh! My country is going to dogs. There is so much corruption, inefficiency, useless politicians, overpopulation, traffic problems on the roads, accidents, pollution,…..” “Right from childhood, I was not lucky. I was not the favorite child of the parents…”
  • Analyzing / criticizing others: “ K. is very greedy; B. is very moody; F. is too talkative……”
  • Self analysis: “For the past three days, I am able to get up promptly at 5:00 AM. I should strengthen this habit further; I eat too much sweet. This is one bad quality that I should get rid of”. “I thought it was a harmless joke, but my father-in-law was very visibly offended by it. I think I should not have said it….”
  • Understanding and absorbing: “This specific piece of advice I read in that book today is very apt for me to follow. However the author said something differently in another chapter that ….”
  • Feeling proud/ pampering the ego: “Ah! I felt so happy when my boss said in front of the CEO that I am the most valuable person in his team….” “My writing must be really impressive. See many appreciative posts have come from readers for my blog….” “ I predicted one year back that this government will fall within one year and it just happened! I seem to have the right political acumen…”

The funny way of working of the mind is that it may not cling to any one stream of thought for long. If you are in a despondent mood, your mind may start with a current anxiety, then switch to a worry about future, then go back to thoughts of hate on somebody, and then start worrying about the world next. In moments of despondency, your mind will refuse to entertain any positive thoughts or joyful thoughts. Likewise, when your mind is particularly upbeat, it will refuse to entertain negative and depressing thoughts at that juncture.

If the mind is just allowed to go on and on with the thought flow day and night, one will end up a lunatic. That’s why nature has provided sleep to give a forced rest to the mind.

However, for a person to evolve spiritually, resting the mind only through the normal process of sleep is just not adequate. The mind has to be stilled when it is awake. Only in a stilled mind, the reflection of the Atman can be seen. Meditation is the way for it.

Why God permits evil in this world if he is truly all powerful?

If there is really any God and if it is really true that He is all merciful and compassionate as scriptures eulogize Him, then why on earth are there so many painful and incongruous things happening at all times — children and parents suffering from famine in some countries, little children getting raped, tortured and abused, animals suffering under cruelty of man, religions encouraging herd mentality in their followers, existence of glaring inconsistencies and inequalities in creation and so on?

This was the question raised in one of the Hubpages discussion forums, by a lady with a very soft heart who had been pained by many such realities of the world . She was wondering whether there is really any God; if one were to be there, would He ever allow all these glaringly painful goings-on?

There are a couple of different ways in which these anomalies and doubts can be analysed and answers found.

 

Is God all merciful?

A) God-as-a-Loving-mother approach

When you are a very little girl, let’s assume you pinched your little younger brother out of contempt, out of sibling rivalry, not because of any omission or commission of his, but because you were angry that your mother loves him and cuddles him more than you.

When your mother comes to know of it, if she is a level headed woman, she will understand the reason, be patient with you and explain why you should not do such things. If you have a good heart that can understand, you will know immediately that what you did is wrong. Or your mother may warn you severely on your act and advice you not to behave like this in future.

If you happen to repeat such acts in the future knowingly or unknowingly, she may smack you at the back and warn you of more severe punishment if you don’t behave.

Now analyze the above in detail. There are three different ways you may react:

1) You may be endowed with a good heart that understands why what you did was wrong and you will not repeat it again.

or

2) You may understand what is wrong with you, know that it’s bad, but at some other occasion when your heart sinks to a lower level, out of an emotional an spurt, you may do the mischief again on your little brother.

or

3) You may not be willing to listen to any logic behind your act and your mother’s advice or warning and continue to repeat your vicious acts of vengeance in future, with increased degree of hatred. As your brother grows up, he too may start retaliating, thereby a sibling rivalry may grow to a lifelong contempt between a sister and a brother.

Now think of your mother. Whatever be your mode of negative behavior, is you mother going to dislike you and disown you? Will she not always try to reason with you, at times give punishment to you, at times act too magnanimous with you, at times get too angry with you –but will she not, as a mother, continue to love you and be concerned with your moral well being?

That’s the same thing with God. All of us are God’s children — be the doer of a heinous crime or the sufferer of the crime.

Just as a mother, God loves both the categories and his concern is only the right moral conduct and gradual evolution of all. He knows some of his children are good and some are bad. He knows that he cannot totally wash his hand off from his bad children.

We must also understand that the creation is too large, the canvas is too big, the children are too many, the acts of crimes are too varied, and the time period of God’s delivery of justice and consolation to the affected children or punishing the mischievous children is too wide for scrutiny by others who see “only a small duration of a very long movie.”

Hinduism states that this “long movie” is not confined to one birth. The “cause and effect” cycle goes on and on across several births. God’s way of consoling the affected and punishing the wicked has got its humanly incomprehensible time scale.

As an erring child, you may not be sure when your mother may behave soft with you or act tough with you. At times, you will expect your mother to beat you, but she may leave you with a warning. At times, for an insignificant mischief done by you, your mother may flare up and beat you disproportionately.

When such unpredictability exists with a human mother, why not it be so with the Universal Mother, the God? But, what looks to be unpredictable to you, may be very intentional in God’s scheme of things, because, he knows what’s best.

Hinduism calls all these unpredictability of creation as Maya. The act versus the fruits of act is dealt with in detail by Karma theory by Hinduism.

In a nutshell, an ordinary man cannot sit in judgment about God with his limited intellect. A finite scale cannot measure the infinite.

Amma (Mata Amritanandamayi) – loving and serving one and all with no discrimination – be a saint or a sinner.

B) God as the Divine Player with Dualities

According to Hinduism, the whole creation and all that’s going on in it is a sort of divine play (lila) of God. Going still deeper, how did creation come into being? you need a raw material to create anything and that raw material too must have been created earlier out of something by somebody! Since all that can be created could come only from God, it leads to the fact that it is God who became the creation. “The created (Shritshi) as the creator (Shirshta) are not two different entities” says Mata Amritanandamayi, explaining the core Advaita (non-duality) philosophy of Hinduism.

Good Vs Evil – Lord Rama watching Sugriva- Vali fight – Ramayanam

The unique aspect of creation, which is part and parcel of God’s maya, is the existence of mutually conflicting dualities — Day and night, light and darkness, good and evil, health and sickness, laugh and cry, sweet and bitterness, pleasure and pain, selfishness and sacrifice, violence and forbearance, truth and falsehood and so on. In God’s divine play, all these will always be there, but he transcends both. He is not affected by any of their conflicts. “”Atmospheric air carries good smell and bad smell, but is not affected by both” – says Sri Ramakrishna to explain this.

Why should it be so? Why should God be playing jugglery with all these conflicts? Hinduism says that there is no answer to it. It cannot be comprehended from human point of view. If you have to comprehend it you should look it from the point of view of God and in order to get that view, you should become God!

But one thing is clear; knowingly or unknowingly, we all want good rather than bad; we want joy and not woe. We want to enjoy rather than suffer. Misguided and morally degraded people may choose evil to goodness, violence to forbearance and opt to give pain to others than pleasure — because they seem to derive some joy out of their lopsided behavior — till they end up facing the consequent punishments for their evil ways. We can safely say that such people are in the minority.

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa — “Evil is also needed to know the glory of Good”

Sri Ramakrishna explains that the negative-halves in all these dualities are indeed needed to understand and choose the “better half” for good. Without darkness, how can you understand the glory of light? Without pain, how can you know the benefit of pleasure? Without knowing how bitterness tastes, how can you grasp the joy of tasting sweet? Without grasping what is adharma(unrighteousness), how will you know the benefit of dharma? Without undergoing hunger, how can you feel the satisfaction of a filled stomach?

So the evils exist only to glorify the good. Reject the evil and follow the good for the sake of your well being. That’s why the conflicting dualities exist in God’s creation, according to Hinduism.

Related reading: Understanding the concept of Karma in Hinduism

Understanding relationship between health and religion