A discussion between Seekers and Master is reproduced below. The discussion throws light on a number of beliefs one may have about Karma.
Seeker 1 : Master, what exactly is the Law of Karma?
Master : Letus examine everyone’s beliefs here about Karma before we exactly come to the law of Karma. Let us suppose young Sam stole from his father. He stole 100 dollars worth of money from his father’s wallet. What according to you will happen as per law of Karma? What do each one of you think? Let us start with you – since you asked the question…
Seeker 1 :Well, I think if Sam stole from his father, when Sam grows up – his son will steal about the same amount of money from him.
Master :What about interest? (smiles) J What if he does not get married at all? What do others think?
Seeker 2 :Well, I believe that someone will steal back from him. It may be money, it may be ideas. It will be sometime or the other. But nature will pay back. And it may not be from a similar relationship. Nature will repay back through anybody.
Seeker 3 :I believe that something wrong will happen to him and God will square off. It is not necessary that someone will steal. But for every ‘debit’, there will be a ‘credit’ in some form or the other. Something bad will definitely happen to him.
Master :So, do you think there is ‘someone’ to square off? Is there a divine accountant who keeps track of every karma?
Seeker 3 :Yes, I believe so.
Seeker 2 :Maybe nature keeps track. That is the law. Like the law of attraction, the law of karma comes into operation and someone, somewhere keeps track.
Seeker 4 :I believe this is all humbug. Nobody keeps track. There is no impact of any karma. You steal and you enjoy the money. That’s it. Maybe you will get caught. Then you suffer. It is all practical. This whole thing about Karma is unscientific. So, I do not believe in Karma at all.
Master :Every answer here clarifies what beliefs you carry. Let us change the question. What if in the story – young Sam apologizes to his father the next day? He confesses and gives the money back. What do you think will then happen as per the law of Karma?
Seeker 1 :Someone will steal something from Sam when he grows up and that person will also confess to Sam.
Seeker 2 :I agree with this answer. Only thing is that it will not necessarily be when he grows up. It can be any time.
Master :So, now for something Sam has done – someone will be made to not only ‘steal’, but also confess. All to square one person’s karma off?
Seeker 4 :Exactly – that is why I believe this is all humbug. Sam steals – he feels unhappy. He has gotten the result. Sam confesses – he feels happy. That’s the result. No more, no less.
Seeker 3 :Well, if he confesses, then it is an altogether different thing. Then there is no impact of Karma. Also, I have a new idea. How ‘young’ Sam is also makes a difference. If Sam is a child, then it does not matter at all. There is no impact of Karma. But, If Sam does it knowingly – there is an impact. I have a Jewish friend. He was telling me that Jewism believes that when children reach their teens – then they become responsible for their Karma. Till then, all actions are their parents’ responsibility.
Master :Yes – the Jews celebrate the Bar Mitzvah for every child to signify this coming of age. Let us go back to the question and change the question further. What if Sam did not steal in the first place? What if he only thought about stealing? Is that Karma?
Seeker 1 :No, thinking is not Karma. “Doing” is Karma.
Seeker 2 :True. Karma means action. Thinking is not “action” in the truest sense.
Seeker 3 :I believe even a thought is Karma. But, the impact of the Karma will be lower. Like someone will think of stealing from Sam. That’s all the impact will be.
Seeker 4 :When there is no big ‘consequence’ of doing – there is nothing at all for thinking. Maybe, he thinks of stealing and the only consequence is that he feels guilty. Or then maybe he is a sadist and enjoys thinking about stealing. All this does not matter because there is nothing like the law of karma. Let us look at this scientifically. A thought is an electro-magnetic impulse. It is too much to think that every electro-magnetic impulse will have any consequence besides the impulse itself.
Master :(smiles) J All very good answers. Now, consider with an open mind what the Law of Karma is all about from a different perspective. Consider that the only consequence of an action is that a ‘tendency’ is formed. If Sam steals from his father – a tendency is formed in Sam to take shortcuts. The consequence or fruit of the Karma is that a pattern of taking shortcuts is formed in his subconscious mind. Or if this pattern is already there, the action reinforces the pattern. This is the only consequence. Automatically, from that pattern – Sam will attract things to his life where he will constantly seek easy shortcuts that may prove to be costly one day or the other. People will call this Karma.
Seeker 4 :So scientifically, the only thing that happens is that a pattern is formed in his subconscious mind.
Master :Yes. Let us understand this with an analogy. Imagine two pages are kept, one over the other, and you are given a pen in your hand. When you write something on the first page, the impressions of what is written on the first page get etched on to the second page too. A closer inspection of the second page will reveal such marks. This means that the deed was done on the first page, while subtle impressions got etched on the second page. If you run a brush dipped in colour on the second page, you will be able to see the subtle lines of impression.
These impressions cause the same kind of writing next time which follows the previous impressions. In the beginning, when the man starts to write…such impressions are not there. But later these impressions become deeper. Now due to these impressions or habits, a tendency gets formed. Due to this tendency, anger manifests. In fact, man does not desire to get angry, but now this becomes a habit. Once a habit gets formed, man gets easily drawn towards that habit.
Seeker 1 :Yes. This makes sense. So, if I shout at someone today, the consequence of that Karma is that my anger pattern is becoming stronger.
Master :Yes. And your anger pattern was formed in the first place through accumulation of such tendencies caused by actions of anger. People unnecessarily imagine this to be some accountant keeping a count of such accumulation of Karma.
Seeker 2 :What you say resonates with me. So, if young Sam confesses to his father that he stole the money, another good tendency is forming in him which is to courageously own up for his actions.
Seeker 3 :Maybe, the pattern he is forming is that to first do the wrong thing and easily get off the hook by saying sorry.
Master :Patterns are formed based on what intention you do the action with. Let us understand the law of Karma with one more analogy. There is a boy who thinks of cheating in his exams. He intends to copy from his notes. What do you think will the impact of this Karma?
Seeker 1 :Has he made up his mind to definitely cheat in the exams?
Master :Let us assume he is still contemplating. He thinks about it and then puts off the idea sometimes owing to fear and sometimes owing to guilt that he is thinking of something wrong.
Seeker 2 :So, based on what I have understood from you so far, the consequence of this karma is that his pattern of cheating and lying will get reinforced by this thought.
Master :Yes. Even ‘thought’ is karma. And then one day, he ‘actually’ cheats. He actually ends up copying from his notes in the examination hall because he has been thinking of doing it in the past. So one consequence of his karma of ‘thinking of cheating’ is that his tendency gets reinforced and another consequence is that he may end up committing what he is thinking all about. So, now tell me what is the consequence of his ‘action’ of cheating in the examinations?
Seeker 4 :His subconscious mind announces inside, “I am a cheat. I cannot do things in a straight forward manner”.
Master :So, the tendency is reinforced more strongly. The thought of cheating the first time which be brushes off thinking that it is not the right thing to do is like drawing a line in the sky. No significant consequence. Just a fleeting thought. If he again and again thinks about it, it is akin to drawing a line on water. There are some ripples. If he actually ends up cheating the first time, it is akin to drawing a line on sand. The impression is deeper and the tendency is reinforced stronger. Some actions are so strong that they are akin to drawing a line on a rock with a hammer and chisel. The tendencies become extremely strong.
Seeker 3 :…And depending on how deep this tendency has become, as a consequence of this pattern, he may attract more incidents of cheating in his life. It is not that someone will cheat back from him.
Master :Correct. The possibility that someone will cheat him back increases. This is so because someone who ‘cheats’ ends up attracting the company of others who cheat. So, the chances are that he will be cheated himself. He increases ‘cheating’ consciousness in his life. He attracts things from lower level of consciousness. If someone is corrupt, he starts seeing corruption more than the normal person. He not only may end up doing more corruption, but may end up attracting corruption in his own life.
Seeker 4 :This is wonderful. This is scientific too. Thank you for this understanding.