Sunday, November 18, 2007

Karma - the act of god

karmaNye vaadhikaaraste maa phaleshu kadaachana|
maa karma phalaheturbhuu maate saNgotsvakarmaNi||

These two lines define my entire belief in religion. A short quick meaning is that 'do your duty, and fret not about the rewards'. There is more to it, but thats not what this short blog is about. Its more about that one word 'Karma'.

I was at a Health Summit and Conference recently in New Delhi, where i had the honor of seeing, listening and finally touching the Dalai Lama. His visit was not disclosed before (because of security reasons), and so it was a special surprise to an otherwise dull and boring work session. He spoke a bit about care, compassion and things related to the medical field, and then opened up the floor for questions.

The first question came from a person, who wanted to know, 'in this fast paced life, we dont have time to pray and think about god everytime'. He wanted the Dalai Lama to 'help us quickly remember god everyday, some mantra or special prayer that we could quickly offer everyday'. I was thinking 'hmm, interesting question, but then what could someone say to this kind of question'. While everything he says is true, what he is asking for is impossible. The very fact that someone asks such a question means lack of faith and time. Was he asking for the secret mantra that Dalai Lama had to reach god.

Then the Dalai Lama spoke (i am paraphrasing here, so please dont quote this literally) 'you dont have to pray to god everyday. Karma Yoga - that is the best way to reach god. do your best to help others. reach and remember god, by your actions'. I was flabbergasted, because that statement he made, perfectly mirrored my belief in my religion.

The Hindu Dharma has many means or paths (yoga) to reach god, Jnana, Bhakti and Karma yoga. Jnana yoga takes you to the ultimate truth, using the path of knowledge. Bhakti yoga is the path of devotion. Karma yoga is the path, through your actions. In the Bhagavad Gita, these paths are clearly defined. And while i have given very simplistic definitions and outlook to each of these paths, there is more to it than just the meaning of the words jnana (knowledge), bhakti (devotion) and karma (duty/action). But to me, us simplistic mortal, who are looking for the easy way out, the karma yoga is the really the easy way out. But action towards whom ?

To others, your fellow human beings, your family, friends, neighbours, service providers, and last but not least to yourself. I believe that we all live and breath because of the 'soul' or 'atma' in our body. We are born many times, as many living things, because we need to uplift this atma, so that it can reach its ultimate goal, the 'paramatma'. How do you get there ? Well, one lifetime at a time. Each lifetime, we better ourselves by doing better and better things, more help to people, more service to society, selfless service to human and other living things. That is our karma, and we will benefit from all the good karma in this lifetime, and have a better life the next. And so slowly, one lifetime at a life, we move along the path to the paramatma.