60Yoga Sutras 2.12-2.14: Three results of Karma and how they are experienced
- Feb 10, 2006Yoga Sutras 2.12-2.14:
THREE RESULTS OF KARMA AND HOW THEY ARE EXPERIENCED
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YOGA SUTRAS 2.12-2.14: Latent impressions that are colored
(karmashaya) result from other actions (karmas) that were brought
about by colorings (kleshas), and become active and experienced in a
current life or a future life. As long as those colorings (kleshas)
remains at the root, three consequences are produced: 1) birth, 2)
span of life, and 3) experiences in that life. Because of having the
nature of merits or demerits (virtue or vice), these three (birth,
span of life, and experiences) may be experienced as either pleasure
YOGA SUTRA 2.12: Latent impressions that are colored (karmashaya)
result from other actions (karmas) that were brought about by
colorings (kleshas), and become active and experienced in a current
life or a future life.
(klesha-mula karma-ashaya drishta adrishta janma vedaniyah)
klesha-mula = having colorings as its origin (klesha = colored,
painful, afflicted, impure; mula = origin, root)
karma-ashaya = repository of karma (karma = actions stemming from the
deep impressions of samskaras; ashaya = repository, accumulation,
deposit, vehicle, reservoir, womb)
drishta = seen, visible, experienced consciously, present
adrishta = unseen, invisible, only experienced unconsciously, future
janma = in births
vedaniyah = to be experienced
CYCLE OF KARMA:
The word karma literally means actions. Here, the word karmashaya is
the repository of the effects of those actions. Usually, those
individual impressions in the repository are called samskaras. There
is a cycling process whereby the samskaras in the karmashaya rise,
cause more actions, which in turn lead to more (or stronger)
samskaras in the karmashaya.
COLORINGS OR KLESHAS:
The reason for the cycling process of deep impressions and actions is
the coloring or klishta quality described in sutras 1.5 and 2.3. It
bears repeating and reflecting on many times that it is this coloring
or klishta quality that is the key to removing the blocks over Self-
SEE ALSO the article on klishta and aklishta vrittis:
KARMASHAYA OR REPOSITORY:
This karmashaya or repository of deep impressions is in the latent
part of the mind, and later springs forth into the conscious part of
the mind, as well as the unconscious processing part of the mind.
These impressions cause the mind as manas to carry out the actions or
karmas in the external world, doing so through the karmendriyas.
SEE ALSO the article on levels and domains of consciousness:
ACTIONS COME AT ANY TIME:
The timing of the playing out of these actions is varied. It may come
in the present or seen (drishta) birth (janma), or it may come in
later or unseen (adrishta) births. In the meantime, the coloring or
klishta of the samskaras (karmashaya) may remain completely dormant,
or it may play out in the unconscious dream state.
SEE ALSO the articles:
Karma and the sources of Actions, Speech, and Thoughts:
YOGA SUTRA 2.13: As long as those colorings (kleshas) remains at the
root, three consequences are produced: 1) birth, 2) span of life, and
3) experiences in that life.
(sati mule tat vipakah jati ayus bhogah)
sati = since being here, being present, existing
mule = to be at the root
tat = of that
vipakah = ripening, fruition, maturation
jati = type of birth, species, state of life
ayus = span of life, lifetime
bhogah = having experience, resulting enjoyment
COLORINGS LEAD TO THREE CONSEQUENCES:
The entire principle of karma (which literally translates as actions)
is that the deep impressions (samskaras) that are colored (klishta)
leads to the further playing out of karma. That karma is of three
1) TYPE OF BIRTH: First, those colored impressions lead you to this
or that type of birth, in this or that circumstance.
2) SPAN OF LIFE: Second, there is a built-in span of life programmed
in, though that span can be altered by decisions and actions during
3) EXPERIENCES: Third, you will quite naturally have many experiences
related to those impressions as they become active and play
ALTERING THE SAMSKARAS:
Describing this process is setting the stage for the means of
altering these deep impressions. The point of this sutra is that
these consequences play out only as long as the root samskaras are
there, and that they remain colored (klishta). If the coloring is
reduced or removed (aklishta), then the consequences are altered.
Remember, once again, the foundation principle of Yoga has to do with
these colorings, as was first presented in Chapter 1, in sutra 1.5.
YOGA SUTRA 2.14: Because of having the nature of merits or demerits
(virtue or vice), these three (birth, span of life, and experiences)
may be experienced as either pleasure or pain.
(te hlada-paritapa-phalah punya apunya hetutvat)
te = they, those (referring to those who take birth, as in the last
hlada-paritapa-phalah = experiencing pleasure and pain as fruits
(hlada = pleasure, delight; paritapa = pain, agony, anguish; phalah =
punya = virtuous, meritorious, benevolent
apunya = non-virtuous, vice, bad, wicked, evil, bad, demerit, non-
hetutvat = having as their cause (the punya or apunya)
There are three major parts in this short sutra, and each are
1) Three consequences of birth, span of life, and experiences come as
a result of the karmashaya (samskaras) mentioned in the previous
2) Those samskaras (karmashaya) were imbued with the nature of either
merit or demerit (punya/apunya), virtue or vice.
3) Resulting from that, the play out or actions (karma) from those
impressions might be experienced as either pain (hlada) or pleasure
The playing out of the kleshas (colored impressions or samskaras)
mentioned in the previous sutra (2.13) will lead to experiences of
one form or another. They will not just remain inert, and will not
just go away. They will definitely lead to some experiential effect.
These deep impressions are so strong that they will also lead to
birth. Thus, it has been said that desire is stronger than death, in
that it causes rebirth. A part of the play out of the karmashaya is
also that a certain duration comes along. This can make sense by
simply reflecting on the notion that stronger drives logically last
longer than weaker ones.
MERIT OR DEMERIT:
Though not purely accurate, it has become commonplace to speak of
good karma or bad karma. In a broad sense, this is the meaning of
punya and apunya. It means that when our actions lead to deep
impressions or samskaras, they are either of a type or nature that
leads in a positive, useful direction, or in a negative, un-useful
direction. The nature of this merit or demerit (virtue or vice) goes
along with the samskara itself, in that the samskara leads to the
action, and this secondary quality comes along.
Notice that cultivating punya versus apunya is one of the stabilizing
practices introduced in sutra 1.33.
PAIN OR PLEASURE:
Once the future action starts to play out as a result of the
samskaras (karmashaya), the issue of merit or demerit will cause the
actions to be experienced as either pain (hlada) or pleasure
PLANNING YOUR KARMA:
By understanding this process, it becomes clear that ones actions can
be planned in such a way that future karma is determined. This is
described further in the next few sutras.