Isha Upanishad- The Mother’s Institute of Research, Delhi - Session 2: Karma; Origin of Evil

Karma and Evil

Now this important question you have raised about karma, good karma, bad karma and all that sort of things. Now this is a great mystery on which I will have to speak at length if you really want an answer and I think I would not have the time now and once I start, it will take at least half an hour, so we must do it somewhere some other time. All right but you keep this question green in your mind. It is a very important question and we must be able to find an answer to this question. What is this? If all this is God’s work then what is this good karma, bad karma and the consequences that we have to suffer and all that sort of thing. What is all this? For that we have to know what is the scheme of the universe.

In the history of thought there are three answers to this question. Not this answer of this Upanishad. According to one answer, there is a principle of evil, which is independent of God and God is fighting with that principle and this battle is going on, and ultimately God will win the battle. That is one answer and ultimately, God will win the battle. This is an answer, which is not acceptable logically, but this is one answer which has been given. That God is good but is not omnipotent. This is the first answer. God is good but He is not omnipotent, therefore, there is a power of evil, which He is not able to control, and therefore there is a battle between the two principles.

The second answer is that there is no God at all. There is a Law of Karma, which is supreme, and according to the actions that individuals perform, the Law of Karma metes out justice and therefore if you increase good actions ultimately you will be free from this trouble. In this answer, there is no answer to this question, we are simply told, look this is what is happening and we are seeing this. When it began, how it began and why it began, it is something that we cannot know. What we can know is only this, that there is this Law of Karma and we are even told: do not raise this question. You are raising this question, but we are told don’t raise this question, knowing that it cannot be answered and besides why do you want to know the answer to this question? You are concerned with the liberation, you want to be free from this trouble and I am giving you the remedy for becoming free from this trouble. Use the remedy that I am giving you and feel free afterwards—the usual example that is given is that if you are walking in a forest bare-footed you are bound to be struck one day by thorns and some thorn may be very poisonous and may go straight into the flesh very sharply and there is a tremendous pain and in that state of pain you call out to a friend and he is prepared to take it out. At that time you say please do not take it out, first answer me the question, why this has happened, how it has happened. Do you ask that question at all at that time? You do not. Similarly, you are in this gross pain now and do not even raise this question because you are in a state of suffering and I am only telling you how to come out of it. This is the answer of Buddhism. That there is no God, there is only the Law of Karma in the net of which you find yourself and how you find yourself, why you find yourself and when it was entered into. These questions according to Buddhism are unanswered and unanswerable. And in this Law of Karma, which is all the time pervasive, there is one very mischievous principle—the principle of Mara—an evil principle, which wants to keep you down and even questioning of this kind is the method of Mara and prevents you from finding out a solution, so do not fall into the hands of Mara and do not raise this question as to why this has happened, how it has happened, when it started. This is the second answer to the question.

The third answer to the question is, it is not dissimilar to this answer but slightly different, which says two things ‒ first, don’t raise the question as to how it happened but I can tell you that it is because of ignorance that you are in this condition and if you remove ignorance you will be liberated from this mess in which you are now. And when you come out of it, you find that you were never in the mess. This is slightly different from the second answer. You find that you were never in the mess at all. It was a bad dream in which you thought that you were in the mess but really speaking, you were never in the mess. It was simply a kind of an illusion of Maya in the clutches of which you were having a wrong and bad dream and you were imagining that you were in the mess and you were in trouble. And the question as to how you were in it, why you were in it, that question will not arise at all because you were not there at all. The famous statement of this theory is ‒ none is bound; none is seeking to be free; none is to be freed; none is to be liberated. It is only in the field of Maya that all these questions arise, you feel bondage, you feel trouble and in the field of bondage you can be told some kind of a method again in the field of bondage. It is like saying you are in confusion, and you can come out of confusion by a confusion. You are in a confusion and you come out of it by a confusion. This is the theory of mayavada.

Now this Upanishad and the Vedic and Upanishadic thought is quite different from all these answers.

Now all these three answers are given to save God from the trouble, in the sense that God is not responsible for all this that is happening. In all the three theories you will find—in the one theory you find that God is not responsible because He is after all good and He is fighting with evil. How can you blame God? He is very good and He is not responsible for evil. In the second theory, you find that God does not exist at all so God is not to be blamed at all so He is out of the picture. In the third one, you find that when you realise God, you find that you were never having any trouble at all. So He never created any trouble at all. There was no problem at all. But you will find that all the three answers seem to be unsatisfactory. I mean when you really face the question, you do feel that you don’t find satisfaction in any one of these three answers. You find that there is an escape from a problem and nobody is facing the problem truly and everybody is trying to protect God, as it were, as it were God needed protection. If God was really responsible for all this, we human beings are trying to save God from all the trouble saying that He could not be the author of all this trouble and to save Him from that responsibility, these answers are being given. But the Upanishadic and the Vedic thought puts all the broad problems and blame on God. If at all you can say blame on God. It is true.

The Vedic thought and Upanishadic thought says that God is responsible for everything that is happening in the world. So do not take out God from the scene and face the problems squarely.

The difficulty is that by making God responsible for evil, does it follow that God Himself is evil? Who permits evil? Who allows this evil in the world? It would be seen in the first sight that naturally if He is permitting evil then there must be evil in Him otherwise, how this could come out. That is why the Vedic teaching is very intricate and very complex. On the one hand, it does not shirk at all from the responsibility. Take for example, the Bhagavad Gita which is Vedic teaching actually. It is directly a translation of the Veda, Upanishad and the entire trend of Vedic thought.

Now if you read the Eleventh Chapter of the Gita, there is the Vishwarupa darshana, where the entire scene is presented to Arjuna; where the whole world is seen to be a manifestation of God. All is God but there is nothing but God. The entire time movement is God—कालऽस्मि—kala asmi—I am the time, says Sri Krishna Himself. In one of the aspects of this Vishwarupa darshana, the Divine is seen to be dreadful. He is Rudra, and Arjuna sees that this whole battle is being fought in God Himself not outside God. In God Himself, it is not as if God is fighting a battle of evil outside Himself. That was the first answer, it is not that. The battle is fought in God Himself and Gita is not at all afraid to face this question. Very boldly it says that this battle is being fought in Me. Not only that but I have already killed the Dhritarashtrians –ते हतः ‒ all of them have been killed already. So He is the destroyer also and it is on the basis of this vast vision that Arjuna is made to be convinced that he should also fight in this battle, which he thought at the first sight was evil. Arjuna’s main question when he said that I will not fight was that this battle is evil –घोरं कर्मः ‒ this is a terrible action in which you are throwing me in the ghora karma and he felt that it is a sin. But it was as a result of this vast vision that Arjuna afterwards was convinced that he had to be a participant in this very action. So this now brings us into a kind of a focus.

So let us begin with the steps that we had already taken in our last meeting. As I told you last time this question that you have raised is so important and so intricate that it requires a very full development of all ideas involved, so that step by step if we trace out the whole thing then we can really disentangle the problem.

In the history of Indian thought, the wisdom of the Veda, of the Upanishad and the Gita was gradually lost and that is why in the intermediate period of Indian thought various kinds of ideas have been developed which are even now ruling upon us. Even the Law of Karma for example as expounded in the intermediate period is quite a wrong law, which has been propounded before us. There is a wrong view of God, wrong view of creation, wrong view of man, wrong view of Law of Karma, wrong view of bondage and wrong view of liberation, because of all these wrong views put together, we find that we are not able to resolve the problem. So we have now to trace the whole thing in such a way that the right view of God, right view of creation, of man, his bondage and liberation—all these are brought out very clearly.

Now let us restate one statement, which I had made last time. The Veda says that in the beginning what was manifested was Truth and the Right. –– सत्यं च ऋतं च विधात् तपसो ददायतः—this is the verse which I had cited last time. That in the beginning the first thing that was manifested by the power of tapas of the Divine was Truth and the Right. Here there is no logical difficulty at all because if God is Himself light, Truth coming out of It, the Right coming out of It poses no problem at all. We should expect that Truth must come out of the Divine. But then Vedas says—ततो रात्रि जायतः—out of this arose the night. And Vedas say very clearly, it is not hesitant to say this. ततो समुद्रः अर्णवः—and from there arises complete darkness. In the night at least the light of the stars so night is not complete darkness. So the first is the Right and the Truth, the second thing that comes out is the ratri—is the night and the third thing that comes out is complete darkness, where darkness is wrapped in darkness—tamah tamasa vrita—the darkness is wrapped in darkness. These three steps are described in the Veda as the description of creation. This is how it happened.

Now if you ask the question how this happened and why this happened?

Both these questions you had raised last time but we can revise them because they are now necessary to be brought forth. How does this happen? It happens by the power of exclusive concentration of consciousness. There is a special power of consciousness in the exercise of which the consciousness can be covered by consciousness. To take an example, if I am to act in a drama then it is a power of my consciousness that while I am what I am, I can ignore that and concentrate myself on the role that I have to play and to the extent to which I can ignore myself, I can act better and better. It is a power of consciousness. In other words, consciousness is complex in character. It is not uniform only—uniform means it is all over the same that is uniform consciousness but if there is a complexity, it means it is capable of multi-layered movement. Now this is a power of consciousness, which even we as human beings exercise constantly. When I am talking to a child while cooking, I am actually exercising this complexity of my consciousness. I am cooking as efficiently as I can while talking to the child in the language of the child although I know the good language in which I can talk to my neighbour and to whom I am talking in that language if the neighbour happens to be present. And while doing all this, I am arranging everything purposefully, keeping the future moment, I am preparing for the future moment—all these things I am arranging and organising for the future moment, which is also present in my consciousness. This is the power of consciousness and in the exercise of this consciousness there is no stigma of evil. It is the power of consciousness which you are using, your power. When I talk to a child in the language of the child nobody says you are an evil man. Talking to a child in the language of the child, doing something evil? You are pretending, it is not that, it is the language of the child, which I am using. So in the production of the night out of the Truth and the Right there is nothing impossible that has happened and nothing untoward has happened. If the purpose is served by this and if this power has been exercised for that purpose, it is quite legitimate it should so happen.

So the next question is what is the purpose of it? And I said last time a very brief formula to answer this question—to manifest the Totality in the embodied individual is the purpose. You remember at one stage I had made distinction between atman, purusha, Ishwara and jivatman and I had said that all these terms are to be understood in the context of the movement of the Divine. The Divine when He starts moving, starts creating you might say, starts manifesting; then the Divine takes different relationships, different poises of relationship with this movement. When the movement is seen to be moving out of His own stuff—the Divine is called atman. When the Divine takes the position of entering into the movement, He is called purusha. When the Divine is seen as ruling the movement, He is Ishwara and when He concentrates into multiple centres of consciousness then each of the multiplicity of centres is called jivatman. These are the distinctions that we have made.

Now the purpose of all this ratri and tamas was that in each one of the multiple points of concentration of consciousness, to make It embodied and to manifest the totality so that in the embodied consciousness, in the embodied condition—the jivatman realises atman, purusha, Ishwara and his own individuality. This totality, jivatman experiences in the totality in the embodied condition. This is the purpose. Now in this purpose there is nothing evil at all. It is perfectly legitimate that the perfect consciousness should manifest in each individual, perfection, and this is the purpose of the whole movement. You cannot create an embodied condition without the manifestation of matter. As long as there was only Truth and the Right, as long as there was only atman, purusha, Ishwara and jivatman – there was no matter as yet manifested. It was the potentiality in the Divine. Jivatman is fully conscious of all this but not embodied condition, that is the one lacuna you might say, if you want to say it is a lacuna. In a certain sense there is no lacuna at all. There is no deficiency at all. We must remember that according to the Veda and Upanishad the creation is not executed to fulfil any lacuna in the Divine. It is not as if the Divine was incomplete without the creation and therefore He started the creation. The Divine is capable of creating, or remaining without creation and both the conditions are equally perfect for Him. It is not as if He was incomplete but is capable of both, therefore, if He remains unmanifest that is one of the possibilities of Him, perfectly fine, but He is also capable of manifestation and therefore if He manifests that is also fine. That why one of the greatest wisdoms of the Upanishad is:

पूर्णमदः पूर्णमिदं पूर्णात्पूर्णमुदच्यते ।
पूर्णस्य पूर्णमादाय पूर्णमेवावशिष्यते ।।

That is perfect, this is perfect. From the Perfect, perfect comes out. If you take out perfect from the perfect, perfect remains.

Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 5.1.1

This is the real formula of the Divine. So it is not as if this Perfection was in need of creating a world for the fulfilment of perfection. It is not as if without embodiment, the Divine’s delight of His being was less. It was one kind of delight and a perfect delight. That is another kind of delight, which is also perfect delight, but He is capable of it and He is not bound that He must create that kind of world because He is omnipotent and free. In a sense you might say that there was no real necessity for God to create this but It was capable, the Divine was capable of creating it and therefore He could create it also and if you ask why the answer is that He was capable of it. There was no necessity nagging at Him saying that you must create because He is really free. He is not obliged to do it but if He decided to do it, He was capable of it then this is the process by which He can do it. And if He wants to manifest in embodied form, if the individual is to be embodied and in that embodied condition if His perfection is to be manifested then this process is possible and the Divine is capable of it. As I said that the power of consciousness is capable of it. To... complexity of consciousness being the power of the Divine, it could create a kind of covering of consciousness over Itself. And in fact this is the kind of play we always, every day we do it when we go to sleep, we are conscious now and then we are capable to cover our consciousness gradually and we go into sleep and then that sleep can be also again removed and recover the consciousness and connect our life of the previous day with our succeeding day. This is possible even in our ordinary consciousness.

So this being the power of the Divine consciousness, this being the purpose of the Divine consciousness, He is exercising that power to execute that particular purpose. Now having answered these basic propositions now it is easier to see the other processes.

So let us say that first of all as the Veda says first the night came out by the concentration of consciousness, by exclusive concentration of consciousness and this is an important word exclusive concentration. There is what we may call integral concentration of consciousness that is one word. There is multiple concentration of consciousness and then there is this exclusive concentration of consciousness. All the three powers are the powers of the Divine Consciousness. The integral concentration is one in which one is simultaneously aware of all. The Divine is aware of Himself as atman, purusha, Ishwara and jivataman—of all, simultaneously. That is integral concentration of consciousness. In the multiple concentration of consciousness there is the possibility of a play in which one becomes more dominantly conscious of one, less dominantly conscious of the other.

Just as when we have now entered this room, the preoccupation of the kitchen at home is in the background, the preoccupation with this particular topic on hand is more predominant but that one is not lost. It is in the background. So this possibility of making one strand of consciousness dominant and another strand of consciousness less dominant creates in us the possibility of multisided or multiple concentrations. Now out of that multiple concentration of consciousness arises the possibility of exclusive concentration of consciousness. A point can be reached when that which is dominant, you become exclusively concentrated on that and for a moment all the rest is forgotten. Is it not so?

For example, I have an examination to give in the examination hall. The examination starts at 11 o’clock sharp and there is a rule that if you do not enter the examination hall by 11 O’clock, the doors are closed and you can’t enter thereafter. Now two minutes to eleven, you are just near the gate and some friend of yours comes and tries to meet you and says ‘I want to ask you something’. Now at that moment, you will tell your friend ‘please now do not disturb me at all, I have got to reach at 11 O’clock to my gate, enter into the hall’. You don’t care for anything, the concentration on 11 o’clock is so great that at that time everything is relegated into the background and because of that trend towards exclusive concentration you can remove your friend for the moment, and go straight and reach almost at the point when the gate is about to be closed and perhaps you might succeed in getting into it. Now this is the power of consciousness in which you concentrate upon one thing and one thing alone, putting everything else into the background and that is the exclusive concentration of consciousness. Now when there is exclusive concentration of consciousness then arises the phenomenon of ignorance. This is the one word in Indian thought which is very often used and about which we are told ‘don’t ask the question, how it arose because there is no answer to this question’.

So it is by the power of exclusive concentration of consciousness that ignorance can be made operative. In fact the word ignorance itself means you ignore all the rest, and concentrate only on one point. So ignorance itself is a power of knowledge. It is not absence of knowledge, it is not absence of consciousness but it is exclusive concentration of consciousness. So avidya is ignorance is itself a power of vidya that is why in this Upanishad we are told that you should not give up avidya, you should not give up vidya. You have to have both vidya and avidya, the power of exclusive concentration of consciousness has been exercised for a specific purpose. It is not by a mistake that it has come about. As many people would like us to believe that somehow there was a mistake which has happened and ignorance has been assumed and then theories are propounded to protect God from this act, saying that God is not responsible for it, somehow Maya came out, some illusion came out and we were deluded, mistaken and then we fell into this. It was a deliberate movement. That is why Veda is not ambiguous about it. It is very clear ततो रात्रि जायतः—tato ratri jayatah—it says in very clearly that then came the night and then came a complete darkness. Without that darkness having been arrived at, embodiment would not have been possible. It is a process of doing it. Ratri is the night—ignorance, partial knowledge. In the case of ratri, there is a concentration upon one point and on that point you are conscious and of the rest you are unconscious. It is relegated in the background, so there is a partial consciousness. So ratri is a partial consciousness because ratri has at least the light of the stars. It is not a complete darkness but in complete darkness the concentration of consciousness is so deepened, so deepened, that consciousness is lost in concentration. This is something that happens when you are playing on piano for example, you become concentrated on your playing of piano and then you become so concentrated, so concentrated that only your fingers play and you are not even aware that you are playing. So there is a play, the action is on, but there is complete absence of consciousness. There is so much concentration that all consciousness is lost but the action is precise—the pianist is doing the precise action. So there is a distinction between ignorance and inconscience. Ratri and tamas this is the distinction. Ratri is the exclusive concentration of consciousness in which there is some light, some awareness but inconscience is a point where all consciousness is gone from all action. There is only action but no consciousness but action is precise. The inconscient carries out the Divine’s Will but it is fully concentrated upon it and concentration of consciousness is so great that consciousness is lost in action. Therefore, inconscience is a state of consciousness in which the action of consciousness on but the consciousness of action is completely absent. Inconscience is a state of consciousness in which the action of consciousness is being executed precisely, but in regard to which consciousness is completely lost.

Now having said this, this is all I have repeated but it bears repetition because these are so subtle ideas that they need to be told and retold. Now I come to your question about actually having this preface.

Now having produced this inconscient, the Divine to fulfil the purpose that He has in view has imposed the law, on this inconscience, that It will not impose light on it. It will not impose light on the inconscience unless the inconscience itself develops and demands light. The Divine wants to manifest the light because that was the main purpose, but for this specific purpose He had in view, He made this particular kind of a law. You might say the law of the game, the law of the play by which this particular purpose can be fulfilled, and the law of the game is that He sent the power of Agni into this inconscient, first of all. This is also the Vedic knowledge. That to awaken this inconscient, the first power that was thrown out into this was Agni and Agni began to burn, but a law was made that it will not impose light upon the inconscient until the inconscient demands it. So it is a very curious kind of a game of what is called baking the inconscient. As I told you earlier it was possible to destroy all inconscience at one stroke by sending sun on it directly because sunlight is a light in which all darkness is destroyed but then the purpose of embodiment would not be fulfilled, therefore, Agni was sent because Agni is a power which can coexist with night. If you put Agni in the night the darkness is not completely eliminated, only a little light is there and yet it can co-exist with the darkness around. It is a very special kind of power of Agni. So Agni was sent out because of this specific purpose. The purpose was to gradually develop ‒ the embodiment has to be possible—first of all body has to be brought out so matter has to come out. So matter can come out only by a process of baking under the heat of Agni, little by little by the heat of Agni, by incubation of inconscient and a little bit of inconscient as if it were woken, a little bit. You can hardly call it baking but as a result of it what we call matter emerges out of it. This matter that we see now is a first emergence out of inconscience. Inconscience is a complete darkness in which even a form of this kind is possible. This formation is because of the power of Agni. All matter is actually some kind of a formation, there is at least to be a nucleus as we now know in modern physics, and protons and electrons and many other molecules by breaking. They are constantly in motion but because of exclusive concentration of consciousness there is only play but there is absence of consciousness. Action is on and action is precise. The atomic structure behaves perfectly according to a law. There is no deviation from it. It is a very precise action in the matter but the consciousness—matter itself is not aware of itself. It works out a precise movement of law without itself becoming aware that it is the atom that is moving, it is circulating around the nucleus and so on. This kind of knowledge is not present in the atom but it is the first emergence that is brought out.

Now this is brought out as the Veda says again that when the tamas was covered with darkness there breathed only the Supreme and then there was a kama which was the origin of the mind. In one sentence it describes three steps: retas of the manas is kama, Retas is the seed, retas of the manah of the mind is kama that is life force. So out of matter the second thing that emerged was the life force; what we call plantation vegetation was the second emergence out of matter and out of this vegetation came out the mind. What we call mind, our mind, came out of that. You will see that till that point what we call error, falsehood or evil, does not exist at all either in matter or in life, or even in the rudimentary mind. It is not there at all. Matter is not evil. Plants never make a mistake. We do not say that plants have made a mistake. Plants grow automatically by the force of their nature so there is no error in it; there is no falsehood, there is no evil in it. There is no ill will in the rose or in any plant. But when the mind emerges, then there is the rain of the emerging night—ratri, which was described earlier, was not the emerging night, it was a descending night. It was a descending night, which was still descending into a greater darkness. Whereas our mind is a night which is emerging towards light, not descending towards inconscience. So the mind is the same thing as night with this difference that night was a descending night into the inconscience; our mind is a night which is emerging towards light. So the description of mind and night will be identical, basically except this difference. But this difference in practical means, it is a tremendous lot. When this mind begins to emerge towards light, its perceptions are limited. It is awaking from the exclusive concentration of consciousness but not fully emerging out of it. It is gradually rising out of its exclusive concentration of consciousness. That is the real description of our mind. Our mind, is what is called chanchala—is vivacious, constantly fluctuating—in a sense concentrated but in a sense not concentrated at all. Our mind is fluctuating all the time, that is because it is struggling to stay awake. If it was only going to sleep then this fluctuation would not have taken place. Even now for example when we try to sleep then the mind gradually ceases to fluctuate and then it goes into sleep, but the awakened mind when it is struggling to awake, it fluctuates a great deal, but it fluctuates you might say ignorantly. It does not know why it is fluctuating, what is its direction, towards what goal it is fluctuating—it does not know at all—it is ignorant of all that. Now because of that reason it gropes and this is the special quality of the present mind in which we are.

Groping consciousness is a special quality of our mind. In groping it makes experiments. It tries this, it tries that, tries another, tries another. In making these experiments it makes errors. But then arises out of this error a further development. I have told you that there is a law, which has been imposed upon inconscience. That unless it wants light, light won’t be imposed on it. Now while making an error if the mind says I want light then there will be one kind of condition but if the mind, which is committing error, does not demand light, then it will remain fixed in the error.

Question: This demand is dependent on what—demanding light or …

Answer: It must sufficiently be baked and there must be a sufficient will coming from within. These two things when combined together then this wall can be broken.

Question: What is this baking like?

Answer: As I have said that Agni has been put into this inconscience and Agni is heat, so by the warmth that is imparted to the inconscience this baking process takes place. I am using the word baking for the sake of analogy. It is also the word used in the Veda and therefore I am using that word. Veda says that you must bake your jar, that is to say that the body should be sufficiently baked. Now the question that you have raised is the precise question on which I want to concentrate.

On what now depends whereby, the error in which we get fixed, we decide that this error now we want to remove. On what will it depend? As long as we do not try to come out of it, error becomes falsehood. As long as it is groping error is good—error is error, but when you refuse to come out of the error, when you don’t want to remove the error then it becomes falsehood ‒ and this is the evil. The precise location of evil exactly lies here. What we call evil is only this. If somebody makes an error, it is not an evil thing. He is groping, making experiments but having made the error, one fixes it and justifies it, and wants to remain only there and does not want to budge out of it, and that state we call falsehood. And what we call sin and what we call evil is only this.

Question: It means it could be a wilful....

Answer: Exactly, because of the inconscient law, which has been imposed there, unless there is a will in it, unless it says I want to be delivered, the light will not impose itself upon it. This is the part of the game for a special reason that unless sufficient baking takes place, this will not happen. Now, therefore, the solution is very easy to understand now. We were told by other philosophies: do not ask this question. There is no answer to this question. You are suffering. You just want to take it out and I shall cure you, fine. But unless you know the real sting of the problem, maybe the remedy that is given is not the complete remedy. It may be a remedy but not a complete remedy. That is why when it was said that you have vidya, which is a remedy but Upanishad says that if you go to vidya it is the greater darkness into which you enter. Upanishads says so. We are normally told that if you attain to vidya then you will be free from all troubles, but Upanishad says that if you only have vidya then it will not be correct for you because then you will go into a greater darkness. If you remain in avidya then there is also darkness. Even that is not a solution. The solution is to know precisely this point where you are, where both the things have to be known, where error has to be understood as the pathfinder of the truth. Error is not to be rejected out saying that well it has no place. In this emerging movement, error is the pathfinder of the truth, so you salute error, if error takes place. Only when you begin to insist upon the error and refuse to budge from it, that is the point and that is where the problem lies and that is where we all are now. We are all in a state of error and considering the purpose that is in view up till now nothing has happened which is wrong. God is not at all shy of all that has happened. He is not irresponsible for anything. He has deliberately allowed all this.

Now to make the inconscient agree to make a consent, without imposing upon it, this is the whole point, without imposing upon it—three or four things can be done. First of all, you can allow the inconscient to experience itself. Allow the falsehood to experience its own consequences, until a point is reached when the falsehood having seen the consequence says ‘please now..., I am really... I don’t want it.’ That is one method. The second method is that the Agni which is within every one of us, which has been planted from above as it were, if Agni can be strengthened and this can be strengthened in three ways—one is through shruti. The individual who is groping can be told, he hears that there is Agni in you, awaken it, then the individual may strengthen the Agni. This can be further strengthened by knowing the exact method of strengthening Agni, not only shruti, that there is Agni in you, strengthen it. But if you know the real method of strengthening Agni, then you can be further strengthened, ‒ I mean it can become much more strong. Or third is the Divine so chooses that the right moment has come for it and he decides and Agni becomes powerful, begins to flame out, under the pressure of which the inconscience begins to feel the baking sufficiently well, and says alright, I accept, I consent. All these methods are Vedic methods. The Veda itself reveals these methods. The whole Veda is only written for this purpose, therefore, the Veda is called shruti first of all. It is a shruti, it is first of all you are told—that look this is the secret of all this here. Then the Veda gives you the vidhi—the method. We say that the Veda is full of vidhis—various methods, procedures are given, outwardly it is a procedure of making a sacrifice—lighting the fire—outer fire. Actually, all this knowledge is the knowledge of the inner fire, but to people who are ignorant it is given in the form of external fire, so that a message can be sent saying that you ignite the fire and then so many procedures are given—how to ignite it, so many methods are given, procedures, long procedures. Really speaking, all these procedures are inner procedures. A real vidhi is there, internal vidhi, which is Yoga Shastra—the shastra of Yoga. So Veda is actually the Yoga Shastra, internally speaking, it is not only vidhi shastra of outer sacrifice but it is the vidhi shastra by which yoga is practised, systematically, methodically.

Question: What part does this external light of fire play in it?

Answer: In a sense you may say nothing at all. It is a ritual which can be purely mechanical but if the people are told—‘that look, you all are ignorant and I am giving you this ritual only outwardly so that something of it may go into you’, then people while doing it will remember that something internal is to be done. It might only help a little and one day you might hopefully ask the deeper question saying ‘please tell me what is internal’. So this may be only a help for that fortunate day but otherwise in itself it has no basic meaning. But although it has no basic meaning, it has a social meaning. Meaning thereby, that if you have this ritual and you tell people to collect together all of you for that ritual, it will bring people together and solidarity of groups is always a good thing. On one particular thing if people can come together then from time to time people will forget their quarrels and they will come together one day. That helps a little and also when people come together then there will be some discussion about what is the inner meaning of it. Then one might turn to inner meaning by social intercourse. So there is a hope that by doing so, internal meaning will be found. That is why in Indian culture it was always told that external rituals are only imitations of the internal. One day you might remember and you might really enter into the real yoga Shastra but it was said very clearly that these will not take you to the real solutions. These are preparations may be, initiation perhaps, but they will not take you to the right thing, unless you psychologically do operation. Yoga Shastra is the real Shastra by which alone the real liberation will come.

Now the struggle of man is a struggle at this point. We are groping, we are committing errors because of our disinclination to consent for a greater life, we confine ourselves to error, insist upon the error and therefore we reap the consequences of that and that is the Law of Karma. By insisting and the end of it also is good. If you go on insisting, ultimately you will go into greater falsehood and greater falsehood and a greater falsehood until a point will be reached when you will find yourself exasperated by it. Then you will say ‘now I do not want any more’. Then you will find escape from it, release from it. So the Law of Karma is not the law of eternal damnation as in some religions it is. The Law of Karma is actually certainly a kind of increase of whatever you do, it is an increase. Law of Karma is a law of increase you might say. Whatever you insist it is increased, that is the law, if you increase the desire for light then that will be increased. If you increase the desire for insistence upon error and falsehood that will be increased, but ultimately when it is increased to the great extent then it carries the cure within itself. The extreme insistence on it takes you to a point where you really say I want to be free from it. This is how we find the story of Vali, the story of Ravana. By doing evil they go on and on and on, until a point is reached, when they want a release. It is an evolution but it depends upon in what direction you want to increase. So by conglomeration of all these points, if you can succeed in turning the will towards the Agni, if Agni can be raised up or if the Divine Will begins to manifest more and more which is called kripa—the grace of God, not your effort but kripa, in itself. You just call the kripa of God. It is His will that if it has any kind of a call even a good fortune it means that you have earned that in the past. It is not that either. Grace is grace, it is simply His will. It is also one of the processes by which it can be done. You can also earn grace. If you increase the goodwill, if you increase the Agni then grace also can be brought down but it can come out even without it because grace is not bound by anything. A robber can become Valmiki simply by grace, it can happen. That can also happen.

Now having seen this, this I have told you very briefly but this is the real analysis at its root, at its point of acuteness where exactly the problem lies and whether God is responsible for all this or not and the answer is ‒ yes. God is responsible for all this. God has designed all this and God is not at all absolved of it, He is not shy about this.

This is the process, which has been laid down, so that the ultimate goal in which the totality can manifest in the embodied condition is achieved.

Question: He has also shown the way out.

Answer: Exactly, that is why He reveals Himself. He is not like a monster sitting above and enjoying the chess game of human beings. Not at all and He Himself is you, actually, and even you are suffering is also you Himself. Above He is, here also He is, inconscient He is, He is everywhere, all this is Himself but in this complexity. What is important is, the Divine is complex and this game is a game of complexity. So having seen this now your question can be answered properly, ‒ Why this karma and why people are thrown into this pain and suffering?

The answer is the Law of Karma is not the law of reward and punishment. This whole idea that the Law of Karma is the law of reward and punishment is wrong, it is not. The Law of Karma is simply a scientific law of increase. At any given point you put an action, it would result in an increase of that. There is no intention of punishing or rewarding anybody. If you put your hand into the fire, it will burn, whether you are a saint or a sinner. The fire will not say that because you are a saint, my heat will be less for you. It is simply a law, that’s all. It will act impartially. There is no reward or punishment idea at all. We take it as a reward or punishment. Like a child when a child mistakenly puts his hands into the fire, he feels that fire has punished him by burning him and therefore says; now I will punish the fire. When the child falls from the chair and hurts himself, he feels that he has been punished, therefore, he wants to punish the chair in return but this is only a childish action or reaction.

Similarly, when we feel that I have now been punished for this, it is a childish reaction to it. What has happened is that you have acted in a particular way, it has increased and the consequences further increase, and if you want something else then put action in another direction and it will increase in another way—another result will come. All this is happening, this tangle is a tangle of sattwa, rajas and tamas. The inconscient, which has reached the point of mind, which is groping, is sattvic, rajasic and tamasic. Agni is not sattvic, rajasic and tamasic ‒ Agni is divine in character. The groping mind is sattvic, rajasic, tamasic. These three gunas actually are rising up right from the inconscient, these three gunas are rising. In Matter tamas is predominant, in life rajas is predominant, in the mind sattwa becomes predominant but since mind is both matter, life and mind—all the three, tamas, rajas, sattwa all the three are together, because it is here that you become self-conscious. Mind has the capacity of self-consciousness. You feel that you are an ego and you begin to feel as if you are an actor.

What is called pure mind? So since this is our mind is the conglomeration of all the three elements, therefore, it is sattwic, rajasic and tamasic prakriti. That is why in the last six chapters, all the three gunas are described in various different ways. If you want to win the prize in a sport then you have to put your effort in the direction of making rehearsals of sporting events. You have to go on for sprinting every day, if you want to win the race of sprinting. The Law of Karma will not benefit you simply because you are a very good student in the classes, you are standing first in your studies therefore even in sprinting you will get a first prize. It will not happen. The Law of Karma is simply the law of the energy, which is increased by the increase of energy, that is all. What kind of energy? The kind of energy you put forward gives results in that kind of energy. We say for example, why is it that a virtuous man is suffering. The reason is very clear. If you are virtuous then you will get increase of virtue but not an increase of happiness. If you want happiness, then you have to work for happiness. Develop those conditions in which happiness will come but if you want virtue then the conditions will such that your virtue will increase more and more.

Question: Can you have virtuous and happiness both?

Answer: Of course, it depends on your knowledge of the Law. You can so devise your life that you can have everything and that is the art and science of yoga, that yoga gives you riddhi and siddhi everything. Why not all the things, provided you know how to do it. If you know the Law of Karma properly then use the very law to give dharma, kama, artha and moksha. You can have everything. Everything you can get. Ganesha is the God of prosperity having all prosperity. He is the Lord of wisdom and prosperity both at the same time. You can combine all of them and that is the real knowledge of Yoga. It depends upon what you want. If you want the integral Divine then work out the Yoga of integral Divine then you will have ultimately everything but in the meantime, you may have many difficulties also cannot say that I must at once integrality. In the gradual process as you increase in one direction that goes on increasing then you develop another that goes on increasing; you add another, it goes on increasing. Sometimes the forces combine together and comingle together. So ultimately they all combine together. That is why we say that the real Reality Mahalaxmi and Mahasaraswati can live together in the same house. It is in our ordinary life, where we divide because of the Law of Karma, we make one effort and not the other effort that the two cannot live together but otherwise Maheshwari, Mahakali, Mahalaxmi, Mahasaraswati all of them can reside together in one personality, in one home, in one family, in one country and in one world, provided we make an effort in that direction.

Karma is basically energy which is put forth, whether you do consciously or unconsciously or as a reaction or whatever, but energy which is put forth is Karma, and then afterwards what you are saying can apply as a secondary thing. The energy may be put forth unconsciously, energy can be put forth consciously, energy can be put forth as a reaction, and energy can be put forth with a great mastery of a situation and depending upon how you put forward it will have its own consequences. All right?

But basically the Law of Karma is only the law of putting forth the energy, where energy is put forth. So the Law of Karma is not a law of punishment. God has not created the Law of Karma to punish you or to make you realise that now you see by whipping you up, you are realised, you are made aware—not at all. It is one of the processes by which the world is governed. It happens in that fashion and if you know it, as Sri Aurobindo says, “The Law of Karma is the instrument of the soul.” You can make use of the Karma instead of, wherever you find yourself, first you realise that whatever circumstances in which you are placed now is a result of all that has been done in the past. It is a resultant of all that has been done in the past, plus it is the result of the aspiration of your soul to the level at which your Agni is burning, that also creates your circumstance. And that is where you are now and if you take cognisance of the whole totality and then if you simply say and even without knowing all this, you simply say, “O Agni burn”. Even this simple thing will help you to come out of the tangle of whatever situation you are in. That is why the first verse of the Veda is—अग्निम् ईळे agnim īḷe—O Agni! I worship you. Or the last verse of the Ishopanishad is a worship of Agni, we shall see very soon—the last verse is again offered to Agni. That is the secret that after having given all the knowledge, the real recourse you have to take is to Agni. It is your nearest friend because you yourself are that Agni. What you call yourself, is Agni.