Question: How is the karma of the past linked to my current state of mind?
Acharya Prashant: What you call as your current state of mind is always a friction, a conflict, a tug-of-war, between two opposing forces. One is the ‘force of the past’, one is the ‘force of conditioning’, and the other is ‘the call of peace’. The call of the untouched, the call of the core.
What we call as the mind is nothing but a sandwich between these two. But it is not a normal sandwich, it is not a normal conflict, it is a conflict between two parties in which the first party is the first party, and also the power provider to the second party.
Are you getting it?
So, there is that which you can call as the core, and then there is that which you can call as conditioning, or illusion, or Maya. What is happening in the mind? A tussle between the call of the core, and the lure of the Maya. But in this, we will remember that Maya is not really a power opposing the core, because Maya itself is being powered by the core. So, two parties are in conflict. Yes, there is a tussle, yes, there is a tug-of-war. But, it is a special conflict in which one party is powering the opposite party as well; that’s why it is called ‘Leela’. I want to have a good time, so you know, I am powering the other party.
Sometimes, it happens, when you are very playful. Let’s say you want to have a race, a sprint, with someone, who can’t run too fast. So, what do you do? You run slow, or you give him a lead. You say, alright, I will cover 100 meters and you have to cover only 60 meters. So, you are powering the other party, because you want to just have a little bit of fun. That kind of war it is. But nevertheless, it is a war, and the mind is a battleground.
When you say, ‘Is my state of mind, a result of my karma, my past?’ Yes, it is.
Surely, it is. But, much more important than that, is the fact that ‘there is a power far bigger than any past’, any conditioning, any karma. You are asking, ‘Does past affect my state of mind?’ It does. But, much more powerful than that is another power available to you.
So, ‘Karma’ is a reality, ‘fate’ is a reality, ‘destiny’ is a reality; but fatalism is not right. Because fatalism would imply that fate is the biggest power. I fully well acknowledge the power of fate, but I do not acknowledge fatalism. Do you understand the difference? Because even though fate is there, surely there, yet fate is powerless in front of something else, which is far bigger than fate. So, fatalism has no ground.
All the effect, the influence of the past karma, can be dissolved ‘right now’!
No karma can affect you if you are in ‘attention’.
That power is always available.
It doesn’t matter what happened in the morning today. You can still be ‘totally present’ in this session. And when you are in attention, here in this session, then the past evaporates!
Right now, as you are listening to me, all of you are the same, and all of you are zero!
Whereas, all of you come from different sets of conditioning, and all of you had different experiences this morning. Right? But as you sit here, right now, karma doesn’t matter, past doesn’t matter, what happened in the morning doesn’t matter, because right now you are in? Attention.
So, ‘attention is that which wipes away the past’.
In other words, ‘attention is that which wipes away all your sins.’
That’s why religions have emphasized so much on cleansing. They say that this is what that will take care of your Paap/Sin. Have you heard all these things? ‘Paap dhul jaate hain’ — the sins are washed away. And that is why wise people have said that sins are not washed away in Ganga–Snaan. They are washed away in Atma-Snaan. Who was it, who was singing, “Atma-Snaanam, Mahaa-Snaanam.”
Listeners: Karma Puran.
AP: Now you understand it?
Atma-Snaan means ‘Attention’. Going within and cleansing. What does a Snaan do? It cleanses. Going within and cleansing the mind.
In that, all your sins are washed away. Whatever you might be. Whatever you might be! Your past doesn’t matter. And Saints know that! That past doesn’t matter. That’s why, they keep asking you in, allowing you in, irrespective of what you are! Because they know, it doesn’t matter whether you have been a king or a pauper, whether you have been a Saint or a sinner. It doesn’t matter at all.
Rumi has captured it beautifully — Come, come! Yet again come! Even if you have broken your vow a thousand times!
You might be a sinner, yet come back. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come! You might have been led astray a thousand times. But come back, you are still welcome. How can I punish you if you kill somebody in your dream? Come back, all dreams are the same.
The past is a dream. And all dreams are washed away when you wake up.
That is ‘Atma-Snaan’, washing away of dreams.
Now, you have woken up! How can I reject you, or how can I grant you special favors? You are all the same! Provided you have woken up, provided you are in attention.
When you are asleep, then all of you are different. When you wake up, all of you are the same. Do you realize this? All differences, all individualization, localization, is only there when you are asleep; then you have different beings, different personalities. In attention, all are same, because all are zero. How can you differentiate zero from zero?
Listener: Acharya Ji, Ramakrishna Paramhansa was taking a bath in the Ganges, and when he came out somebody asked him — you people believe that when you take bath then all your sins get washed away! So, what’s your take on it?
So, he said that when we go in the river, our sins, they go sit on the tree, temporarily leave us, but when we come back, they come back to us.
Acharya Prashant: See, that’s the only way a Saint can respond. He can only tell you jokes. How can he take your question seriously? So, that’s the only option left. He can either get irritated or tell you that, the answer cannot be captured in words, serious stuff! Or he can tell you jokes. So, good, he told him a joke.
It’s a special ability, to understand jokes.
It’s a very spiritual ability. Because jokes have no logic.
The same faculty, the same knack, that helps you enter mysticism, is also the faculty that helps you understand jokes. That’s why there has to be a great relation between jokes and mysticism.
Have you seen people who don’t just understand jokes? It happens! There are many such people, in front of them if you joke, they are like — Uh, What happened!
They are also the people, who will never understand Life. Because what is Life?
Listeners: A joke!