No result exists sans action
What is the purpose of all the hard work of realisation of the Self if such a person is also going to have joys and sorrows like everyone else? Acharya Sankara clarifies in the Vivekachoodamani on a probable question the student may ask.
If the individual is established in meditation, he yet has experiences of thought movements through the sense organs. The scriptures say that the experience is because of the actions that they have already initiated after their birth in the world.
The world has millions and millions of people, trees, animals, landscapes and different environments. Yet each one of us has only a very limited or a large exposure to our share of experiences which repeat themselves day after day.
Why is it that I, being in India, do not experience as I wish the happenings in the US, Australia or Japan? Why do I have to experience what is happening only around my house or office in my city or village? The answer is our past thoughts, words and actions done through the body, speech and mind, born out of countless decisions made by the intellect. What we get in life—objects, people and circumstances—are on account of our prarabdha or, simply put, what is well begun.
Prarabdha is like an arrow that has been aimed at an animal and has left the bow. After leaving the bow, the animal might have moved, another animal may be in that place or it can be a person or just plain space. After the arrow has left, the individual’s mind might have changed from offence and attack to compassion. Yet, none of these changes will affect the course of the arrow. It will go towards the target it was aimed at.
It is the same with the results of the actions that we may get on having completed them before realisation. The realisation of the Self is not going to change the results of past actions. However, the realisation can cause a tremendous change in the response given to what is experienced.
If an individual is experiencing joy or sorrow, then as long as those experiences last, it indicates that the effects of past actions are working out. There can be no effect without initiation of an action, word or thought before. If there is no action, then no result will come out of it. With absorption in the understanding of ‘I am Brahman,’ the resultant experience—the result of all actions done for countless lifetimes—simply dissolves like a dream and is no more real on waking up.
The writer is Sevika, Chinmaya Mission, Coimbatore (www.chinmayamission.com); email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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