In Conversation With H. H. Swami Mukundananda, Spiritual Guru And Motivational Speaker, Founder Of JKYog
Destiny is not something that descends from the heavens, nor is it in horoscopes.
Q #1: What is the Law of Karma?
A: We get what we deserve, is God’s Law of Karma. Humans have the freedom to perform actions but results are not in our hands. The results are bestowed by the God, based on numerous factors—our efforts, destiny, the will of God, the efforts of others, the cumulative karmas of the people involved, the place, situation, etc.
Q #2: There is a famous statement, “Without the will of God, not even a leaf can move.” If God is the doer of everything, including our actions, then why does the Law of Karma exist?
A: If God were the doer of all our deeds, all of them would be perfect because He can never make a blunder. However, our innumerable mistakes implies that we are doing things of our own free will. If God were the doer, we would not have to bear any karmic reactions for our actions. God would either bear the karmic results on His own or forgive Himself.
The statement implies that God provides us the power to perform actions, and we use that power to perform actions through our free-will. In this way, we incur karmic reactions to our deeds determined by our discretionary use of free-will.
Q #3: If we are part of the Supreme soul who is all-good, then why do we commit mistakes? Why is there crime in the world?
A: A drop, which is a part of the ocean, possesses many of the qualities of the ocean. Similarly, as tiny parts of the Lord, who is Supremely pure, we too possess His purity and are divine like Him.
God is also supremely independent. Hence, as His fragments, we also possess free-will, i.e., freedom to choose our actions. That said, we have the option to either choose God, or the world (Maya). The problem is that we have utilized our independence to turn away from God, towards Maya. Consequently, the illusory energy, Maya, has overcome us and put us in ignorance. It is because of the covering of ignorance that we make mistakes.
Q #4: If we have free-will, then what is ‘Destiny’?
A: Destiny is not something that descends from the heavens, nor is it in horoscopes. The actions we performed in our past lives created our present destiny, known as prārabdh karma. This is fixed for the present life and predetermined. However, we have the free-will to make choices and perform works in the present moment. This is known as kriyamāṇ karma. This is not predetermined or fixed. It is in our hands and can be changed as we wish. We created our present life destiny through our actions in past births. By exercising our free-will prudently in the present we can create a bright future for ourselves.
Q #5: Can performing good deeds get me out of the cycle of Karma and its fruits?
A: While performing good deeds is beneficial, they still keep us bound to the cycle of karma and its fruits. The highest we can attain is the celestial abodes through pious actions. To break the cycle of karmic reactions, we must adopt a superior principle of working—the science of karm yog. In the Gita, Shree Krishna asks Arjun to keep performing his duties as a warrior but detach himself from the fruits of this works, by working in the spirit of service to God. In this way, bondage-creating karmas would be transformed into bondage-breaking karmas. Hence, consecrating all works for the pleasure of God is the way to attain liberation from the cycle of karma.
Q #6: How can self-awareness help us make wise choices?
A: Right choices lead to success and fulfillment, while wrong choices lead to failure and misery. The driving force behind our choices are the values we cherish and the beliefs that we hold in our intellect. If our beliefs are correct, we will form proper goals and aspirations, and subsequently right choices, which will lead our life towards auspiciousness.
The Bhagavad Gita makes us aware of our self-identity – we are the individual soul, which is a fragmental part of God. Hence, the happiness we seek lies in God, not the world. If we make this our principle belief, our purpose of life will be to strive for spiritual perfection. Hence, we will make choices that lead us in the direction of noble endeavors such as service and inner-growth. Instead, if our belief is that we are the body, we will run after bodily comforts and make material opulence our goal. In either case, our beliefs get reflected in the choices we make. Self-awareness empowers us with correct values and beliefs allowing us to act from our higher self, leading to wise choices.
Q #7: Enlightened souls display equanimity and equipoise under all circumstances. How can a layperson imbibe those qualities?
A: While we easily handle favorable circumstances, we must also learn to remain equipoised in challenging times. The trick to doing so is by changing our perspective towards problems. Difficulties have a positive side to them. It is in facing them that we grow from within. Problems naturally provide opportunities for us to perfect our physical, mental, and spiritual resources by exerting them. Hence, obstacles allow for the blossoming of virtues such as resilience, inner-strength, and tolerance. This is what makes the mind stronger and able to withstand hardships.
Enlightened souls exemplify equanimity in every situation. Saint Meera bai was an oppressed widow; Tulsidas endured severe inflictions from society – yet they were undeterred and continued staunchly in their actions. They accepted both positive and negative outcomes with equanimity, as the grace of God for their elevation. If we keep the same attitude, we too can remain equanimous in all circumstances.
Q #8: Our lives are so busy with work, home, and social responsibilities. How can we practice devotion to God while performing so many duties?
A: While people feel there is a dichotomy between fulfilling their worldly duties and leading a spiritual life, Shree Krishna’s message tells that both material and spiritual goals can be pursued concurrently. We do not need to divide our works between material and spiritual, we can see all works as service to God. The Lord instructs Arjun, “Arjun! Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever austerities you perform, and whatever you give away, do it as an offering to Me.” We simply need to develop the consciousness that we are working for the pleasure of God, hence all works are means of devotion. Secondly, you can take out one hour a day for sadhana, where you absorb your mind in God without engaging in any other works. Both will help you strengthen your devotion to God while performing worldly duties.
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