Karma and Non-Attachment
by Swami Rama
A person performs actions and is remunerated. The fruits of the actions motivate him to perform actions again, and then again he is rewarded. It becomes a cycle: the fruit arises out of the action, and the action out of the fruit. From time immemorial, life has proceeded in this manner. This is called the wheel of karma.
The law of karma is equally applicable to all. Our past samskaras are deeply rooted in the unconscious. These latent samskaras, or impressions, create various bubbles of thoughts that express themselves through our speech and actions.
It is possible for the aspirant to get freedom from these samskaras. Those who can burn these samskaras in the fire of non-attachment or knowledge, are free from the bondage created by them. It is like a burnt rope that has lost its binding power, though it still looks like a rope.
When latent impressions, though still in the unconscious, are burned by the fire of knowledge, they lose the power of germination, and will never grow. They are like roasted coffee beans. You can use them to brew a cup of coffee, but they have no power to grow.
No one can live without performing actions. When you perform actions, therein you reap the fruits of your actions. “As you sow, so shall you reap.” Nobody can escape from this law.
When you reap the fruits of actions, those actions inspire you to perform more actions. Seemingly, there is no end. This creates a sense of helplessness. You cannot live without doing your duty, but when you do your duty, you find yourself caught in a whirlpool. You are not happy because duty makes you a slave.
The first thing you should learn is how to perform your actionss yet remain unaffected. Your duty should not give you stress and strain. It should not make you a slave.
You just need to change your attitude. Decide in the morning that you will do your duty lovingly, no matter what is expected.If you think like that, you will find that you will not be tired at the end of the day as you usually are.
You have no alternative but to learn to love your duty. Then it becomes easy. If you do not love something, and yet you do it, it creates a division in your mind, and gives you stress. Learn to create love toward your duties. It can be done.
This is called human skill, human effort. Grace dawns when you have completed your human efforts. Therefore, do your human efforts with love. Learn to love.
It is possible to live perfectly on earth if one is able to work and to love—to work for what one loves, and to love what one is working at.
If you really want to enjoy life and be happy, learn to practice and understand the philosophy of non-attachment.
Often Westerners think that the philosophy of non-attachment is impossible to practice. If you dive deep into the thinking process, you will find out that it is the only philosophy that helps.
Non-attachment is like a fire that can burn the binding power of past samskaras. Non-attachment does not mean indifference or non-loving.
Non-attachment and love are one and the same. Non-attachment gives freedom, but attachment brings bondage.
We have come from the unknown, we will return to the unknown. We should be grateful to the Lord, to Providence, for whatever we have. All the things of the world are meant for us and we have the right to use them. However, they are not ours, so we should not possess them. We have no right to establish ownership over the things we have, because they have been given to us to use, but they are not ours. We should use them as means, but we should not possess anything.
Learn to love all the things of the world, just as means but don’t get attached to them. This is the secret—the philosophy of non-attachment.
Realization of the greatness of the Divine Force and the evanescence of the objects of the world results in pure vairagya, (dispassion). In the light of dispassion, or non-attachment, the aspirant attains freedom from his desires, whims, ambitions, and anxieties.
Being free from all distractions, he can undertake his practice wholeheartedly. Non-attachment enriches the nature of his practice. Practice combined with non-attachment helps him to continue his search until he reaches the goal.