The law of Expectation, The Law of Karma

‘Karmanyeva Adhikarasthe
Maa Bhaleshu kadachana.
Maa karmabhala hethurbhoorma
Te sango asthwa karmani’.

"You have a right to perform your assigned duty, but not to the results of your actions at any time. Let there be no desire in you for the fruits of your actions. Nor should you ever get attached to inaction or non-performance of duty."

[Chapter 2 verse 47]

Perhaps, this is the verse that has eaten away much of our thought energy in its right interpretation.

What is the idea behind this verse? As a man we can’t simply sit without performing any Karma. Thought is Karma. Actions are Karmas. Nature cannot exist without any Karmas. Brahman has no Karma. The entire trouble lies not in the Karma but in the Bhava (feeling) behind it. Expectation is one kind of feeling that is normally inseparable from the Karmas that we usually perform.

While uttering this verse, Krishna was well aware of one thing - that happiness or misery meant the difference between the expected result and the actual result. For example, I expected a rank in an exam but missed it by just one mark! I am in misery. Who asked me to expect so? If I say that I have the freedom to expect, then, I should also admit that I am bound by the law of such Expectation - misery or happiness as the case may be. When the actual result is greater than the expected result, I am in happiness and when the actual result is lesser than the expected result, I am in misery. This is the sum effect of having Expectations. Accepting this fact, I can go on expecting anything in life but am I ready to accept misery too by this law of Expectation? Law of Expectation actually demands from us to accept both happiness and misery in an equal way. We do accept only happiness and mentally reject misery. This is where the trouble lies if we accept the theory that we can’t live without expectations.

Krishna was aware of this human mental situation. So he asked the mankind not to have any expectation attached to our Karmas. The fruits will reach our life according to the quality of the Karma itself! If we can forfeit the results of our Karmas before god, then, all the results are only the gift of god. This is an attitude. This means that salary is not our birthright but only the fruits of our work. We should respect our salary as the gift of god. This is the meaning of it. Do we have this attitude? Only an attitudinal change is required here - everything is the gift of god. Nothing is our birthright - not even this air and water. We may have to give up our salary when war breaks out in the country. When earthquake happens who can claim his lands? We will have to run into deserts and die. See, we have no respect for the five elements- air, fire, sky, water and earth and we suffer. Not even once we feel that our birth is the very gift of god.

Expectation leads to misery - this is the key view behind this verse. ‘Nishkama Karma’ is what our Oriental philosophy teaches us. Do your duty and accept the results as the ‘Prasada’ (gift) of god. The Lord asks us to discharge our duties in a dispassionate way. This is the central idea. If we discharge our duties and responsibilities in a passionate way, the quality of Karma would definitely get affected at some stage by the element of our ego and vest interests. Only selfless discharge of duties would bring the world to ultimate prosperity.

The West as a whole maintains the idea that without minimum expectation and passion, we can’t live in this world. But what is the definition of this minimum expectation? The West is not definite about this answer. There is no maximum limit for minimum expectation. This is the truth. Now the reader can reflect on the philosophy of the East and the West regarding the idea of Karma and the Law of Expectation working behind it.

Whenever I think of Karmas and their effects, the following example comes to my mind. The illustration is this:-
Suppose a man is living in a rented house. He has a family too. One day he eats a mango and throws the seed. It grows. He protects it in every possible way. Five or six years eclipse. The mango tree begins to bear fruits. Squirrels and little birds taste the fruits. The family tastes the fruits. The fruits are given to neighbors. The ripe mangoes are sold. They reach different markets all over the world. Men living in different parts of the world taste these mangoes. The fruits reach different hands. The seeds reach different lands.

This is one situation. There can be other situations. The tenant dies before the tree bore mangoes. In this case also, the above situation can prevail except for the fact that the man who sowed the seed didn’t actually taste the fruit.

A third situation is also possible. The tenant and his family left the house before the tree actually bore fruits. Now they are living abroad. A new tenant is now living in that house. He gets a chance to taste the mangoes. The mangoes can reach the place where the man who had actually sown the seed is now living, by way of export. There is a chance of him buying these very mangoes and tasting them and exclaiming that these mangoes are as sweet as the mangoes he used to taste once upon a time! He is unaware of the fact that these mangoes are of the same old tree.

What are our conclusions? Every seed requires a gestation period before it gave out fruits. This is applicable to the law of Karma. Karma also needs a gestation period before it gave the result. If a woman is pregnant, she has to wait for ten months to claim the baby. If you are a salaried person, you will have to wait for one month to get your salary in the normal course. Likewise, we can extend. Result means an effect. Seed is the reason. Fruit is the result. And the fruit becomes the seed. This is an endless chain. Actually speaking, seed and fruit are only two perceptions as defined by man. One is direct evidence whereas the other one is only indirect evidence. What we term as different Karmas are but only the same working force of Nature. The difference lies only in our definitions. We cannot actually say that we are the doers. It is only one level. Strictly speaking, we serve only missing links in the endless chain of Karma. This means that we serve only instruments in the endless chain. If it is not our turn to perform an act, then somebody else will take our position. Time will not wait for a particular body. Nobody is indispensable in this world. The show will continue so long as it is the necessity of the world.

The second conclusion is this- Nobody can definitely say about the gestation period of any Karma and when the effect would altogether be over. My seed was not the first seed. It was only one of the seeds in the endless chain over a passage of time. I was only an instrument to sow it and shape it to my imagination (Samkalpa). Mango was my ultimate Samkalpa in the above illustration. The effect practically continues till the end of the world.

Thirdly, if you dispense with the idea that you are the doer and enjoyer, and hold the view that you are only an instrument in the endless chain of Karma, you can see one thing. This Prakrithi is the ultimate doer and the enjoyer of all Karmas. We call it by different names. We call it squirrels and birds. We call it Mr. X and Mr. Y and Mr. so and so. We fix the risk and responsibility according to our individual view and nature. Mr. X and Mr. Y and other names are only indices to fix the reasons and problems. The real truth is that it is only the Prakrithi in multifarious forms that is doing everything and enjoying/suffering everything. So long as there is not the concept of ‘I’, there is not the concept of either the doer or the enjoyer. Enjoyment and suffering are also relative terms. What I may term as sufferings need not be so to another man. This is the point. There is no point in asking why God is punishing so and so person. It may be a punishment from our point of view but it need not be so from that person’s point of view. For example, Ramana Maharshi had an attack of cancer. The world thought that he was suffering out of it. The world asked the question why God was merciless towards him. But from his point of view, he was not at all suffering. He never held the view that God was merciless towards him. He was aware of the eternal truth. There is no point in asking why God is merciless to the world under many situations when He is considered to be all merciful. God is neither merciful nor merciless. This Prakrithi is all merciful to every living form. It is expressed through every form. Man has to be merciful towards all living beings. Then only it becomes the mercy of God. We are all instruments. Again, the world has already quantified the level of mercy, love etc. We expect these qualities out of the world in a quantified manner as defined and fixed by every individual. The world is actually merciful towards you but your expectations in this regard can be on the higher side. You may be expecting 100 rupees from somebody but if you receive only fifty rupees, you may think that the world is not merciful. Your expectation regarding the level of mercy has actually deceived you in this context. The world is merciful to its levels by its own definitions. The problem is that the qualities of mind are being quantified by the individual like one Kg of salt or 2 liters of coconut oil by the demand of the situation and his level of expectation. Within this Prakrithi, all concepts are only relative, all truths are but relative. But we try to quantify everything and universalize them. We always compare situations for our conclusions and judgments. God has no hand in this game of our judgment. Again, are we merciful towards the world? Are we really giving it first before expecting it from the world? This is the question. If we have the arguments, the world too has arguments for its defense. This is the truth. Give it first. Then, it will certainly return.

We can see that all Karmas are very potent and capable of producing remarkable effects over an endless period of time. If we are aware of it, we can sensibly make use of the effect by turning it into a result/or sensibly get out of its way if the effect is bad, and try to improvise upon it. The problem of the world is that it is often unaware of the effects of Karmas. We do not know either about the intensity of the effects or the period over which the effects would persist. Every word, thought, idea, deed and action produces an effect and the present world is nothing but a cumulative effect of all that had taken place in the past. We should recognize the fact that bad Karmas bring about bad effects not only for those who indulge in it but for the entire world/universe over an endless period of time. Remember, our mangoes are eaten not only by us but by others as well. Karma is a kind of physical/mental force and its effect is also a force. Both are certain energy fields. The fields act on other fields of the universe and bring about a change in the total network. Karmas from a higher angle are nothing but an invocation of subtle energy, fields that are spread throughout the universe. When we are chanting Mantras, we are invoking certain fields. When we are worshipping the natural elements like the wind, water, earth in the form of Devi-Devatas, we are tuning ourselves to certain energy levels. The whole universe will be at our feet if we are able to invoke natural forces through the nobility of our Karmas. It means that our Vasanas, Samkalpas, Samskara, thought, word and deed everything should be highly noble and pure. Acceptance is the key word. We should accept life with all diverse nature. We should have an open approach to the various concepts of life. Any kind of mental weakness is resistance. It affects the degree of conductivity of the field. The values are thus affected and the fields of the universe will work against us. Natural calamities are not calamities that remain outside our existence. The cumulative effect of our selfish Karmas brings about such disasters. Man has been committing this right from his first appearance in this world. The cumulative effect is great. We are seldom applying our heart to whatever we think, utter or do. This is our problem. We have practically lost the Visudh Bhava behind our Karmas and thus our Karmas turn out to be a mechanical affair. Out of this mechanical creation, monotony and boredom are born.

While we indulge in bad Karmas, the whole energy spectrum falls into a negative value. Any good Karma done with a bad intention, done in a bad attitude, done with an indifferent mind gives a negative effect. For example, we may be giving alms to a beggar but if we give it with a curse or with an indifferent attitude, the effect will be negative. We will have to suffer a resistance both from within and without. Every thought, word, deed has a recoil and if our thoughts are not sublime, words not of softness, deeds selfless ones, the recoil will be great. Sufferings surmount due to the recoil. Not only that we would suffer more but that we would pass our sufferings to the world in the form of threats, violence, agony, restlessness etc. So, we have to be careful of our Karmas. Anything of a negative quality should be avoided. We often would say that circumstances force us to commit errors in life. We blame the circumstances and try to wash off our hands. Who creates the circumstances? People other than you. Who are these people? Once again, individuals like you. So, what is the conclusion? Every individual has to mentally progress so that his thoughts, words; deeds do not harm the world. Our basic intentions are to be good. Our basic attitude should be very positive. We should understand we cannot live alone in this world. We need this entire universe for our survival. Even a star at the end of the universe can give us a balance of life. Sharing is life. Live and let live should be our watch word. Why should we think that others are always damaging us through various means? Don’t we too damage the various life giving systems? If we are kind enough towards the world, the world will also be mindful to us. The world often expects good word, deeds and qualities like honesty, love, first from others and so if we are able to show our nobility first, the world is ready to reciprocate it. When I am expecting you to keep a high morale in life, I forget the fact that you are also expecting the same from me. It cannot be conditional. So, it is better that we became good in the first place rather than expecting the world to be better than us. Why should we unnecessarily expect? The world at any rate won’t become good the way we expect. Secondly and very importantly, how can you judge that the world has become good unless you have become better than the world? How can the teacher know that the student has improved unless the teacher stood at a better level than the student? Better judgment of an improvisation is possible only by a refined mind. So, it goes on without saying that we have to improve in our quality first before the world has actually improved.

So, we enjoy or suffer on account of our Karmas. Out of our two responses- in favour of and not in favour of- enjoyment and sufferings are born. We can check and recheck when Karma is not yet born into an action and is in the Vasana or thought stage – that is, when Karma is in the pipeline. Once it is thrown in the form of an action, nothing can be done and we have to bear the effect of it. We can take a decision before we triggered the gun. Once it is over, the shot will take its own event horizon. Since we are the performers of Karma, we are the receivers too, whether the result is good or bad. We receive it individually and collectively. We can overcome the situation by thinking that we are neither the performers nor the receivers but such a situation can be as ideal as the existence of an unicorn horn. So long as I continue to think that I am the performer, I am bound to suffer or enjoy. This is the eternal truth. God has no hands in it. So long as I keep the view that I am the doer, I can’t blame God why He is punishing me for my bad Karmas. The doer-enjoyer concept is outside the circle of God. God has nothing to do with the concept. I am the doer and God is the punisher- it won’t work. If I think that I am only an instrument in the hands of God, God will no more punish me. Any blow will be seen as part of the very law. I am no more the sufferer and enjoyer but only the custodian of the worldly treasure that has been entrusted to me by God during my life time. I have a responsibility to give it back to God before I finally left the world. I have to keep this treasure for all generations to come. I should not damage his treasure for my selfish enjoyments. 


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The Law of Expectation and the Law of Karma - Perhaps, mankind has spent greater mental energy in pondering on this subject than on anything else. Here, I am trying to give the Law of of Karma with certain lucid expamples. I hope the readers can easily capture the theme.
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