The Tree of Knowledge
Healing Past Wounds
Is it possible to work on one’s karma and heal past wounds? What do our spiritual masters have to say about that? They tell us first of all that that the literal meaning of karma is action. There are three types of karma: prarabdha, sanchita, and agami. Some karma can be changed and some cannot. Prarabdha means begun, the action that is already manifesting. Prarabdha is the karma that is yielding its fruits, its effect, right now. You cannot avoid it, or change it, because it is already happening. Sanchita karma is the “gathered up”, or “piled up” karma. It is latent in the form of a tendency. An impression in the mind is a latent action. It is still action, but it is latent. This is just like a memory. A memory can be functional now or latent. Sanchita karma can be burned off, changed, by spiritual practices before it becomes manifest. Strong impressions in the mind remain and form the future karma. Agami literally means “not come”. Agami karma is the karma that has not yet come, that will take effect in the future. If you commit a crime, you may not get caught today, but you will live with the possibility that one day you may get caught. This is Agami karma, the future karma of the action.
Every habit is a sort of karma. If you have the habit of drinking coffee every morning, and one day when you don’t drink it and you get a headache, this could be called coffee karma. You can postpone the headache by drinking more coffee or you can take steps to eliminate future coffee karma and stop drinking it and observe what happens to you. Perhaps you will have headaches for some days, so you take some Tylenol (paracetamol), start some exercise program, or some meditation or breathing practices. Being aware of a tendency in us will help us to overcome the tendency. Or experiencing the tendency, we overcome the tendency. Here is the play of gyana, i.e. knowledge or awareness. Knowledge does not mean informative knowledge. Here knowledge means awareness, the sense of knowingness. When you increase the sense of knowingness in you, karma gets reduced.
Animals only have prarabdha karma. This means the karma of which they do not have any control. Nature runs them. They do not accumulate a future karma. If you are like an animal totally, you don’t accumulate any karma. As a human being, this is impossible, because your mind gets into those impressions.
Of the three different karmas, sanchita — the karma which we have brought with us, prarabdha — the karma which is yielding fruits right now, and agami — the karma which we may incur in the future; sanchita karma, the karma which we have as a stored tendency, can be burned off. We can remove that karma. Spiritual practices, prayers, doing service, loving people around us, meditation, all these aid in erasing the sanchita karma which we have acquired and brought with us. The prarabdha karma, which is already yielding results, will have to be experienced. It’s already running. It’s like you are in the car and you are already on the motorway. You cannot stop when you are on the motorway. You have to pull to the side to stop. You have a choice of changing the lanes, but you have no choice but to go on when you have missed the exit. When you are on the motorway, if you have missed an exit you have to go until the next exit. You can change lanes, you can go in the fast lane or the slow lane. There is a freedom, yet there is no freedom in another sense. With the prarabdha karma, there is some freedom, but there is not total freedom. We have to experience those things, however it is.
The third karma, that is agami karma, is that which we might make in the future. If you violate some laws of nature today, in the future you will have to experience the consequences. For example, suppose you fast for three days, and the fourth day you just eat French fries. You will feel sick. This is agami karma. Knowingly or unknowingly, we create that future karma, and we have to experience the consequence. Sometimes people ask, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Today you are good. You don’t know what you did in the past. As you sow, so shall you reap. Many things from our past give results in our future. Today’s karma, if we take care of it, will not bother us tomorrow. And every karma has a limited span of its results.
Primarily there are five things that come to us in our life from the sanchita karma, from the karma you have acquired from the previous lifetime. They are birth, the place of birth, and the parents you are born to; your education and degree of education, how much knowledge you will acquire; wealth and the source of your wealth; your longevity; and the mode of your death. How rich we become, how much we can grow in our awareness, our marriage, children, and our social work, all this is prarabda karma, sanchita karma, agami karma. What you gain now becomes your future karma. You have a certain degree of freedom to act now and acquire more karma. And you have a certain fate, or destiny, that you are provided with. That you cannot change. You have no control over where you were born. This has already happened, and it is yielding the results.
Generally we can understand them like this, yet there is always a possibility that is open. What will happen is never a closed possibility. The future is always an open possibility. And what makes it an open possibility is the presence of dharma – nature, our nature, the human nature, which has freedom in it. And the second, prerna, the love that we are. Love is the common factor of the entire creation. There is love permeating the whole creation. And your connectedness with that love takes you beyond birth and beyond death. There is one thing that can erase the karma: that is self-awareness knowledge. If you are in total love, total knowledge, total awareness, then you are free from karma. That is what the Buddhas and all ancient rishis have said. You have a choice to come out of the eye of birth and death. You can decide to go there, play for some time and then come back. You are no longer bound by an impression. You are free.
Source: Wisdom for the New Millennium
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