Karma, samskaras, vasanas and overcoming fears
Question and answer. 1 June 2007, USA.
Baba in the context of this discussion of the mind and imagination and jumping from body to body, would you explain about karma?
Karma is also a very wide subject. There is really no conclusive answer. But for normal understanding every action of the body is considered as a karma but actual karma is when the mind also acts along with the karma of the body. That's what it acquires, all habits. Suppose you do some action through this body, or you talk. Your mind also gets involved into this. 'I am doing this. I have done this.' It gets excited, so by thinking it absorbs an imprint. So it absorbs karma. Whatever it absorbs that is the real karma that is absorbing. So that is how it gets involved into this karma. And according to that karma only it imagines and it gets involved into the birth, rebirth, death, again and again it goes on to be born and to die, to be born and die, again and again it happens. So this is the basic nature of the karma.
That is why rituals are taught, also sometimes in the bhakti marga so that along with the ritual your mind can become single-pointedly trying to remember God with imagination at least. So it can get benefitted. But that also does not happen. We try to do the Aarti and keep thinking of some other thing ten miles distance. So this is how the mind acquires the karmas. The most important thing is not to allow the mind to acquire any karmas. And it is the mind again which induces you to do in a particular way. to act upon. Whatever you keep on thinking you get practiced, you start developing a particular body language of showing a pleasant face, sometimes a frustrated face, sometimes an anger face. All these types of actions and your actions also might be gradually getting guided by the actions or thoughts of the mind so that is how karma after karma you get involved, get involved. So through meditation, through all the bhakti you get rid of all these habits of the mind. All your karma gets rectified and channelized perfectly.
Baba could you explain the word samskara?
Samskara is nothing but the acquired habits of the mind, as we were discussing about the karma also. Like some people think; if we were experiencing a certain thing pleasant or unpleasant that is due to our karmas, some people might explain. Karma means whatever we had imagined in the previous life you would be experiencing in this life. So that is what the mind has acquired, its habits like that. So that is called the samskara. So based on this samskara only a person has developed a basic character, a culture, a behavior all such things do happen based on this only. That is why if a person is behaving very well, since childhood if a person is trying to remember God or trying to be good-mannered or trying to show respect due to the elders, all such things are there. 'There is very good samskarum in this personality'. People try to recognize and tell these things. If the habits are not good, 'This boy's samskara is not good'. That is because of the acquired habits of the mind. That is why a person would be behaving like this. So ultimately samskara means the acquired habits of the mind.
Baba will you tell us about vasanas? You talked about samskaras.
Vasanas are also same, like samskara – acquired habits of the mind. So if the mind has acquired a certain habit the person is very likely to be behaving in the same way. Suppose for example I have a student. I shall be giving the student all my teachings based on my experience, 'You are the immortal soul, you are this, you are that.' But when such a student would behave based on the acquired habits of his mind – these are also known as the vasanas.
Sometimes negativity is very much termed as the vasanas because of these habits only one gets attracted into a particular type of culture, one particular type of activity. So these are all called vasanas. They are all the mind's practice of acquired habits since time immemorial. You see in this life also, since your childhood you would have brought a basic nature. Unknown to you, you would have developed a particular observation capability, a particular type of understanding capability, like when we give a certain type of talk. If there are ten people based on their vasanas and temperament, ten people might be understanding my talk in ten different ways. So the best understanding capability is required. This called the vasanas. It is very important otherwise I might be telling something else, symbolically, the person might be trying to understand in a different way, symbolically. All these things can happen. So this is all because of the acquired habits of the mind. This is what is called vasanas.
How are vasanas related to desires?
If the mind has such an acquired habit which is unfulfilled at all times so, based on such vasanas the mind develops desires with an imagination of happiness in a certain thing. Then it develops desires and that is how the vasanas happen. So if you control the mind all vasanas get cleared and you can totally control. Because through the senses the brain is in touch with this universe, through the senses only it absorbs all things and the brain reflects and these things are caught by the mind. So it is the mind which you should take care of and you should control then all the vasanas, everything can be taken care of and a proper type of samskara can come to you.
Samskara is directly the acquired habits of the mind, vasanas are the negative thoughts of the mind that the mind develops. Because of such things only it goes into all such negative desires which can be harmful for the physical health, mental health and the moral health of this world.
I read your book Master's Grace, the CDs also you have about how Shri Swamiji took you out of your body and showed you other worlds and said make sure not to be drawn to other worlds as you might have to be born in them. Shri Swamiji said don't gain any attraction to these worlds as you might have to finish your tapas there. So my question is, if we have these vasanas and samskaras and if they are good and we do a lot of sadhana is it possible to be born again in one of those worlds instead of having to come back to Earth?
If you go on visualizing the same thing, if you go on dreaming and imagining the same thing so you can be born. Ask Jhoti's permission [laughter] You want to get involved or not. Ultimately in my personal opinion I would advise not to get involved into such imaginations. If you can get rid of being born at all then you can be in the Supreme Being. Do you want to give up God and go to another world? What type of man you are! [laughter]
Questioner: I have this vasana that I need to ask a question
Babaji: just joking – it a good question, a very good question
Baba the other night you mentioned the need and the necessity of having courage on the spiritual path. Sometimes we might need courage. People commonly have experiences that are frightful, whether they are doing meditation or at night. Maybe there are just some aspects of life in the world that are frightening for some people. How do we develop the courage that is needed to progress on the spiritual path?
That is why to have a devotion to the Master and to God is always recommended so that the mind that would have imagined all wrong things, all the frightening things, if it imagines strongly of an opposition, of a God or a Guru then it can overcome all such fears. It has to keep thinking positively also, “I am that soul nothing can happen to me.” Everything is simply imagination. It will all come to an end and nothing can frighten you. Just like in my tapas time, whatever vision came if the negative visions were there the positive image of the Master was always there.
He simply said something which was very spiritually significant. 'If a vision occurs if a manifestation like a physical person comes, suppose it could be frightening and it could be trying to harm you, trying to come and wrench your neck and trying to cut you into pieces anything. You just keep quiet, do not react in any way. Have that total detachment. If at all death is going to happen, let it happen. I am that immortal soul then they cannot do anything at all,' that is how the Master used to tell. They will get evaporated before they can touch you. Gradually the mind learns this secret. 'Oh, it was our own imagination that had manifested to such a figure. When it was trying to wrench our neck that means it was also an imagination.' If we had got frightened in the mind then such a vision become successful to make us involved back into such worldly things.
If the mind is courageous and does not get disturbed, it understands, 'let it do anything. Let me see what is going to happen.' Then such a vision gets evaporated because really nothing exists. It is always the mind's imagination.
I can see how if what you're afraid of is slowly coming toward you from a distance then you could use your mind to do that. But for me and probably many other people the thing that causes fear to the mind is very sudden. It jumps out from behind something. It is very quick and there is no time to discuss with your mind that it is just an illusion because it happens too fast.
Now what the discussion I am talking is you practice this during the peace time when it has not happened. Throughout your life if you practice the devotion so when a thing quickly happens immediately in the same speed your mind would react and remain quiet and nothing happens. By practice only such a reaction can happen. Otherwise the mind gets victimized, succumbs to such a fear or any such thing. So if there is no such fear so mind does not react at all. It remains quiet.