Introduction to the Karma Issue
Many years ago, one of my friends asked Guru to explain the difference between good karma and bad karma. Guru replied succinctly, “It is all compassion.”
I find that a very interesting statement. I have some disabling physical issues. When I was younger, I could not hear or talk properly and depended on my sister to interpret for me. I also had many surgeries which meant I could not participate in many activities that kids my age usually enjoyed. Maybe these physical problems are a result of bad things I did in my past incarnations. But does that matter? Is it also possible that these difficulties forced me to look into life, to see what life is really about? If I hadn’t needed the attention and care of others early in my life, might I have grown up arrogant or proud? I have a speech impediment, a terrible stammer, but that forces me to consider my words carefully. Is it always bad to be forced to slow down and to speak and act with deliberation and (hopefully) wisdom?
Viktor Frankl once wrote that the last of the human freedoms is to choose your attitude in any given situation. I think Sri Chinmoy would appreciate that position. Through positive thinking, tolerance of others’ imperfections (and our own!) and cheerful gratitude, we can mold our destiny. Thus, so-called difficult karma or life-experiences can be the tough unyielding clay that we stoically and doggedly bend to a higher purpose.
In one of Sri Chinmoy’s poems, he writes,
“Satisfied with Your gifts unparalleled,
The more obstructions I encounter on the way,
The greater will be my victory.”
Sri Aurobindo voiced forth a similar sentiment when he said, “Fate shall be changed by an unchanging will.”
I like what Sri Chinmoy said in a talk he gave in 1978 at St. John’s University in Queens. In this talk he is envisioning God’s uplifting words to spiritual seekers who may be wavering or struggling:
“Do not expect anything from the world. Do not expect anything from Me. Do not expect anything from yourself. Just dive deep within. Your very acceptance of the spiritual life, your very willingness to walk along the path, is more than enough satisfaction. There are millions and billions of people on earth who are not awakened and who do not feel the necessity to be awakened. You are awakened. This is more than enough. Anything else that is needed will eventually be given- that is, illumination.”
I am sometimes very sad at my own shortcomings and mistakes. I feel the best thing for me is to continue to take whatever challenges I have as opportunities for progress. Sorry to be trite! I am just saying that my train of thought is trite because I am voicing universally held truths which are very, very difficult to practice. Maybe simplicity really is the most difficult course we have to study.
I was born the day Guru composed a very special poetry book called “Transcendence-Perfection.” I treasure those poems because they are simple and lyrical. Also, they sound wonderful when read aloud. Here is a poem I like, and which I have thought about often over the years:
"The sovereignty of love
The sovereignty of love
The sovereignty of love
Is the God-shrine
In his vision-temple,
In his earth-bound,
One thing I puzzle over is to whom the poem is referring in the lines: “The sovereignty of love is the God-shrine in his vision-temple, in his earth-bound, sweet immortal height.” Is the poem referring to God? If so, then why is “his” not capitalized? I feel (and this is just my opinion) that the poem refers to the concept of the Avatar, or the divine incarnation, and how the role of the Avatar is to establish the Kingdom of Heaven, or as Sri Chinmoy puts it, the Sovereignty of Love. For some reason the line: “Earth-bound, sweet immortal height” reminds me of the famous image of Lord Shiva meditating on the summit of the Himalayas. But, in this case, because of the phrase “earth-bound” and also the word “sweet” I get the image of the immortal god meditating, unnoticed and unappreciated, right in the middle of the hustle and bustle of earthly affairs. If we could see the world from the right perspective, we would connect with the all-pervading, all-loving, blissful meditation of God. We would not have to go anywhere special to connect with that vibration.
In a story Sri Chinmoy wrote about the great Master Ramdas Kathiya Baba, he explains that:
“When one becomes a spiritual Master, his oneness-heart with God's Heart permeates all the worlds exactly the way his Beloved Supreme has permeated this reality-existence right from the dawn of His creation.”
So, the Master’s most powerful and meaningful attribute, his vibration of unconditional love, is eternal, and yet infinitely easy to access. We just have to keep our hearts and minds open to it. I am ready to collect all the beautiful roses and painful thorns of my past and future karma, and offer them diligently and soulfully to my Master.
- Thank-you to all who contributed to this edition of Inspiration-Letters with the issue of karma.
Some people may sigh at this inescapable law of nature some may happily whistle. I sometimes do both. :-)
I just wanted to add a poem by Guru that helps me in situations when I rather feel like sighing.
My Lord tells me
That His Compassion-Eye
Is not my Saviour.
Even His Forgiveness-Heart
Is not my Saviour.
Is my Saviour,
My Eternity’s Saviour.