Image taken from Google Image search

Image taken from Google Image search


So… the title of this post is a real botch job, don’t hate me. I was combining the word karma into the word samskara. The terms are very different and yet intimately related. Karma, in its most dummied down translation, is “action” and samskara, in like form, means impression – a subtle impression that is carried with us. Have you ever reacted in a certain way and almost felt you had no choice? That was probably the influence of some kind of impression / samskara. Obviously, something like that would influence your actions (reactions) and so you can see the two are a closely knitted pair.

The Heartfulness path (aka Sahaj Marg) deals heavily with both of these concepts, although quite extensively with samskaras. The “magic” of this path and our practice is that the samskaras are “scrubbed” away through the diligent employment of our practice.

Recently, through a couple Daily Reflections delivered into my inbox, I received a nice lesson. Everyone thinks about karma and samskara in regard to thing you have done or might do. But our guru, Kamlesh D. Patel, helps us understand that there’s another side of the coin: Inaction. I guess this might mean those could’as, would’as, and should’as. The things you didn’t do or say that you should have or really needed to (not for your benefit but for the benefit of others). Many times when people speak of regret they speak of something they wish they’d said or done or somewhere they’d gone. Sometimes this feeling of regret really sticks to a person – like a subtle impression. And obviously, the application of all this is not limited to regret. After all, we’re talking about very subtle components of life. Many people wander through life practically oblivious to really blatant and mundane things, so it’s no wonder at all to consider that these impressions formed from inaction wouldn’t necessarily be on one’s radar.

In the second edition of Designing Destiny (2015), Shri Kamlesh-bhai said of inaction, “It is not only our actions that promote samskaras. Our inactions can create lethal samskaras that are worse than those created by our actions.” In the same chapter of that book, he also states, “Samskaras created by inactions, deliberate inactions, amount to the heaviest of the samskaras in our system. They can be removed, no doubt, but then a commitment of very high order is required. Your cooperation at every level is required.”

I think these quotes communicate some very serious and helpful information. Kamlesh-bhai uses the word lethal. That’s a heavy word. Means deadly, right? Without further research I won’t guess at what Kamlesh-bhai fully meant in the usage of that word, but from where I sit I see a connection to the usage of that word within the context of samskaras. For as long as we carry these impressions / samskaras, we’ll be saddled with karma. And as long as either applies to our existence, our existence will be tied directly to the wheel of samsara – which is the cycle of death and rebirth. Because death is not the opposite of life, but rather the opposite of birth, Kamlesh-bhai’s use of “lethal” seems to point directly to that connection between death and rebirth.

There are a number of things to take from our guru-ji’s words but this one implication – inaction being lethal – is really enough to give everyone pause and serious consideration to why you sometimes don’t do the things you don’t do.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti


Star: Three/Seven, The Soul and its universality

The third, official/unofficial start of Hinduism is the Soul.

The basics of this star include:

  • Universality of the existence of souls
  • All living beings have “soul” -not just humans
  • The same life, which is Atman/part of Brahman, exists in all living beings
  • Soul is indestructible
  • The whole Universe is one(family)

Earlier in his booklet, Thatte mentions Purusha and Prakruti. The soul is the Purusha of a being. Since the soul is essentially a living entity’s Atman, which itself is a small part of the Ultimate Brahman, and since every living thing has soul, all things have the same foundational essence and are thereby connected. Hence the Vedic sentence, “Vasudev’ Kutumbhakum.” Universal Family. Hinduism believes that the whole Universe is an intimately-connected family.

All living things have soul, which can also be called Self or jiva. All soul is part of the Universal Consciousness, aka Brahman. It’s because of this that all that is living must be treated with care and respect. This is the basis of environmental sensitivity which is embedded in Hindu philosophy.

What happens to the Atman when one dies?

You must first understand that a person dies because the Atman leaves the body, not the other way around. Once He has left the body, it is dead. The Bhagavad Gita explains, “Just as one discard old clothes when they get worn out and puts on new clothes, similarly, the Atman discards the body(at the time of death) and is reborn in another physical body.” (It should be noted that while the body is impermanent at best, Hinduism places great emphasis on physical well-being. Patanjali’s Yoga Shastra/Sutra is a great resource for this!)

The life form the Atman takes upon rebirth is determined by a staggering number of factors, not least of which is the Atman’s store of karma yet to be worked through as well as the condition/focus of one’s mind at the moment of death. It has supposedly taken “several million cycles of birth, death, and rebirth” to experience life as a human. Some believe that it’s possible for the Atman to regress to a lower life form, depending on one’s actions/karma. This is something I’m not sure I agree with entirely.

It seems to me that, if there is a hierarchy of life(surely based on the development of consciousness), it isn’t a two-way street. Evolution, whether physical or spiritual, must surely be a process that leads to ever-better states of existence, with no choice of going back really. So, I don’t see reincarnation as a matter of forward/backward movement of the Atman in its development. I see it as a matter of how much or how little the Atman progresses compared to what the potential for progress is. A life lived with intentionally more effort placed on improvement(punya- good deeds, etc…), versus the opposite which would be a life lived with tons of paap(badness) is more likely to know further and faster advancement.

This alone would constitute “heavenly” reward in the form of increased nearness to moksha/mukti/samadhi(freedom from the samsaric cycle of birth and rebirth), as opposed to the relatively hellish “punishment” of another turn around the wheel.

Thatte’s practical take-aways in this chapter include: We all have a soul and it’s because of this that we’re all connected. It’s because of this connection that we should strive to treat others with compassion and empathy. And although he doesn’t go much into these, he also claims as take-aways: You create your own heaven or hell. As well, we can train ourselves to control the desires generated by our senses. Controlling these desires isn’t the same as denying them, rather it means that the intellect is in charge of using the mind to control one’s senses.