..............................aspect of God:
"Yet in this body there is another, a transcendental enjoyer, who is the Lord, the supreme proprietor, who exists as the overseer and permitter, and who is known as the Supersoul."
Function of Supersoul is therefore to record innumerable desires of each living being and arrange for their fulfillment as well as observe activities of living beings and grant them corresponding reactions. This directing hand of God is called a law of karma.
"Fate, free will and the law of karma"
3. Karma from the action point of view
Vedic scriptures contain exact information which actions we have to perform if we wish to achieve certain results (reactions). For example it is said: if you want to be rich, you have to act in this way, if you want to be famous, do this, if you want to live a satisfactory family life, do that etc.
If someone is in this life very successful, wealthy, educated, influential or beautiful, we can conclude from it that he must have been in his previous life magnanimous, diligent, and pious and now only reaps results of his previous deeds.
But what he will do with these assets in present life is another question - it depends on his free will. Therefore we see that not every wealthy and powerful person behaves properly.
Same principle is valid for unwanted things. Vedic scriptures can advise us: if you do not want to be sick or bankrupt, you must not do this or that. If we act according to these instructions, we will surely reach desired result in this or some of our future lives. Miscellaneous reactions may come either sooner or later - some immediately and others only after several lives.
4. Karma from the reaction point of view
While looking from the other side we have to admit that whatever happens to us in this life is nothing else than reaction to to our activity in this or some of previous lives. It is not therefore, a matter of blind chance but only a result of our deeds we decided to perform out of our free will.
Therefore it sometimes happens that people who live very pious and proper life are still exposed to all kinds of sufferings. From this one can conclude that in past they had to act improperly. Usually they learn from this and decide to live properly in their present life. Also one whose life is full of success reaps the fruit of his deeds.
Materialistic life and a chain of actions and reactions are inseparable. It is like a long movie of actions and reactions and the length of one life is like its several fields. When a child is born, his present body can be understood as a beginning of another series of actions and the death of an old man as its end. From this it is clear why someone, due to different reactions, is born in rich family and someone else in poor family although they were born at the same time in the same place and under same circumstances. Who carries along with him pious reactions (good karma) will get a chance to be born in rich or pious family and who is burdened by impious reactions (bad karma) will be born in low class and poor family.
5. Four phases of karma
"Plant a thought and you will reap a deed, plant a deed and you will reap a habit, plant a habit and you will reap a character, plant a character and you will reap a fate." (Indian proverb)
Vedic philosophy (Padma Purana) explains that karmic reaction are manifested in four different phases compared to the phases of a plants' growth:
1. bija (seed) Our wishes and intentions already exist in subtle form and only later they will manifest in activities. Thus to avoid unpleasant karmic reactions (suffering) we must pay attention to our unspoken material desires before the seeds of actions did not begin to sprout.
2. kuta-stha (sprouting) Reactions manifesting after a decision to perform a deed. They are material desires which already began to sprout.
3. phalonmukha (fructifying) Reactions already bearing fruits (phala). As soon as we perform a material actions - good or bad - it is only a question of time before they manifest reactions (fruit) in the form of happiness or distress.
4. prarabdha (harvest) Reactions already fulfilled at our birth: family (defining our socio-economic situation, nationality, race), physical and psychic dispositions etc.
Previous three phases are also in Sanskrit given a summary term aprarabdha or reactions not yet fully manifested, potential happiness and suffering. Fourth phase, prarabdha-karma, is what is generally called "karma".
Upanisads describe these categories of karma:
1. sancita (stored)
1.1. anarabdha (not yet manifested) = aprarabdha
1.2. prarabdha (already manifested)
2. kriyamana (newly created)
6. Three kinds of karma
Bhagavad-gita (4.17-18) says: "The intricacies of action are very hard to understand. Therefore one should know properly what action is, what forbidden action is, and what inaction is. One who sees inaction in action, and action in inaction, is intelligent among men, and he is in the transcendental position, although engaged in all sorts of activities."
These verses describe three kinds of karma. Here 'karma' does not denote reaction but action, activity.
1. karma Activities in harmony with higher laws of nature (dharma), which are also described in Vedic scriptures. This positive action brings positive reactions in the form of happiness and enjoyment.
2. vikarma Activities forbidden by scriptures písma because they are in conflict with dharma. These negative actions bring corresponding reactions - distress and suffering.
Bad karma - a short movie from film.bullguard.com
3. akarma Activities of higher nature which are not subjected to material laws of nature and therefore are called "inactions". They do not bring any reactions, neither positive nor negative, and thus they bring reincarnation to an end. This end will occur when our "karmic account" at the end of life is zero. This cannot be achieved, however, by parallel performing of karma and vikarma, as someone may think, because they are counted independently of each other.
The cause of problems is vikarma which is at present performed by huge number of people all over the world in great amounts, and which is a threat for the whole humankind because it affects it in the form of collective karma (summary of individual karmas). This is manifested as wars, epidemics, natural disasters etc.
Reality proves that we are missing knowledge of law of karma because despite all our good intentions and efforts to alleviate suffering there is more and more unhappiness, individual and collective, in this world. This knowledge is ultimately the only solution of current problems. One who realizes this will understand that the change must start with himself.
C. Dharma - cosmic ethics
So how do we know what is "proper" and what is "improper"? This knowledge is crucial for our free decision-making. If there is a law there must be available its written form so everyone can get acquainted with it. After all, it is said that ignorance of law is no excuse.
These rules are listed in scriptures, especially in so-called dharma-sastras (scriptures describing dharma). They are law-books precisely defining how every human being should act according to one's social and spiritual position. Most famous among them is Manu-smriti or Manu's Law-book. Passages on dharma are also contained in Mahabharata (and its most important part, the Bhagavad-gita), Ramayana, Bhagavata and other Puranas, Bible, Qur'an etc.
Term "dharma" comes from Sanskrit root "dhri" (maintain, sustain, preserve in work). Usually it is translated as ethical, moral and religious principles which, however, does not fully represent its meaning. Dharma is a law or order of the material world (that which maintains its harmonic function), virtue or righteous conduct. In Mahabharata (12.110.11) Krishna defines dharma as:
dhAranAd dharma ity Ahur dharmena vidhrtAh prajAH
yat syAd dhArana sanyuktam sa dharma iti niScayah
"Dharma upholds both this-worldly and the other-worldly affairs."
rAjAnaM dharma goptAraM dharmo rakSati rakSitaH
iti me zrutam AryANAM tvAM tu manye na rakSati
Rulers are protectors of dharma. Protected dharma protects. Thus I've heard from the aryans (noble ones). But your own thinking will not protect you. (Mahabharata 3.31.7, http://yogaclassics.org/gboy/DATA/MAHABHARATA_03_ARANYAKA-PARVA_HK.txt)
dharma eva hato hanti dharmo rakSati rakSitaH
tasmAd dharmo na hantavyo ma no dharmo hato avadhIt
Violated dharma destroys; protected dharma protects. Therefore dharma must not be violated, lest the violated dharma destroys us. (Manu samhita 8.15)
Still deeper explanation says that dharma is an inherent or inseparable quality or nature. There is an example of salt whose inseparable quality (dharma) is salty taste. The word dharma would be therefore possible to translate as "ultimate cause". This term from Western philosophy expresses the reason for existence of an object. Ultimate cause - dharma - of a house is to provide shelter to people. Uninhabitable house represents adharma (opposite of dharma). Dharma defines the function of the law of karma and itself is established by God. As "pillars of dharma" are called four qualities described in Bhagavata Purana (1.17.24):
- mercy (refusal of violence, meat-eating etc.)
- renunciation/sense control (refusal of intoxicants)
- truthfulness (refusal of gambling and speculations)
- purity (refusal of sex forbidden in scriptures)
It is therefore already established which human activities are good and bring positive reactions and which are bad and bring negative reactions in the form of suffering. This value system is universally valid and does not depend on opinions of individual living beings. I may think that what I do is good and also be able to justify it intellectually and thus impress ot...