Karma cycle: From Helpless to Wise

photo credit: thehealingsphere.blogspot.com

By NewsGram Staff Writer

Krishna in Bhagvad Gita says, “Four types of virtuous devotees worship me: the distressed; the seekers of wealth; the one who seeks knowledge of God; and the Jnani (wise).”

photo credit: www.patheos.com
photo credit: www.patheos.com

A distressed person is the one who has never yet given a serious thought about God. And hence there comes a time in his life when he suffers a tremendous amount of suffering. This is a result of his or her previous Karma. And then, his suffering alleviates day by day by performing even more Karma. Eventually at some stage in his life he realizes: “I am helpless; there is nothing more I can do. The situation cannot be retrieved.” This makes him cry out in distress: “Oh God save me.” He prays to God to forgive all his wrong-doings. He who till now, had never given any thought or attention to God, in this hour of extreme distress, continuously prays to Him. Then what happens? Because of this continuance remembrance of God, his sins accumulated over time begin shrinking. As this happens, his suffering too reduces. Gradually, his distress is lessened even more, until finally the suffering in question totally vanishes.

Relieved of his incessant suffering, what does he do next? He prays for even more. Observing that God is doing him well, he asks for more. By doing so he evolves into the second stage, that of a seeker of wealth. As he thus prays to God, his virtue (Punya) increases. At some time he is able to acquire some wealth. What does he do next? He addresses God as following: “Thank You God. However, do remember that I have two sons. Therefore, I need some more wealth.” He continues to pray in this manner. This act of worship further diminishes his accumulated sins and increases his store of virtues. Thus, he makes further gains in happiness (Sukha) and is able to acquire more wealth. In this level the Bhakta continues to ask from God and has all his desires fulfilled.

Now that he has all he wanted, there seems to be no need for God, and he forgets Him. Once he forgets God, even though on the surface everything appears jolly and fine, his reservoir of sins begins to rise. As the sins consequently accumulate, his Sukha starts diminishing, and he falls again into suffering and distress. We can observe this in powerful and affluent clans, intoxicated with their own power, losing it all within two or three generations.

Therefore, from the second stage, he descends back into the first, becoming a distressed Bhakta once again: the one who remembers God only at the time of suffering. Thereafter, he remembers God and thus the whole cycle begins anew. When the cycle continues, he oscillates between the two stages. Despite this however, if at some point in his life, whether in this birth or previous ones, he has performed even an iota of Nishkama-Karma (action without desiring its fruit). The fruit of Nishkama Karma manifests itself in this manner: As the devotee goes back and forth, a spark of divine inspiration is ignited in his heart. This ignition sets his thought engine rolling in the correct direction: “Who is this supremely powerful God? I have never seen Him, but He is performing such extraordinary feats.”

This is the seeker hankering after the knowledge of God, the third stage in the evolution of a Bhakta. Thus alternating from distress to seeking prosperity, he is finally jolted by divine inspiration and become a seeker of knowledge. The third stage Bhakta starts by asking the correct questions: “Why have I taken birth? What is the purpose behind this world?” and so on. These are true marks of a seeker hankering after knowledge. Thus is his life fundamentally altered. Such a seeker realizes that there is no continuous happiness in life. These things take place in cycles and happen to everybody. He understands that the only important issue is whether one is spiritually progressing or not. Once he is at this level, there is no going back or falling down for the Bhakta.

(Source: www.exoticindiaart.com; www.academia.edu)