Swamiji has taught me two important lessons about karma. Before I begin, I want to share what I always felt about Swamiji. I always felt that Swamiji had come to this plane to bless us all before his final merging back into God. Our Guru had told him that he would find final liberation in this life. And he did. However, Swamiji had reached divine heights much before his passing. In the last years of his life, which I was fortunate to be witnessing, the expression on Swamiji’s face was always one of divine bliss. My heart always told me that he was one with Master and also one with God in his consciousness. He knew all our faults, all our struggles, and our tests. He also knew our divine potential and constantly inspired us to develop it. As devotees would go about fulfilling their dharma in life, inevitably tests and challenges would come. And if someone asked Swamiji for prayers, I know from experience that although he prayed for us, he did not try to make things easy for us, or just take away the tests. We had to go through them. We had to learn the lessons we were meant to. He did pray for us and I know that the healing he manifested was of a divine kind. Swamiji prayed for the devotee’s soul growth I think, and as a loving father or mother would do, I think he prayed that we didn’t have to go through the full intensity of a bad karma.
I deeply cherish the times when Swamiji prayed for me. I often used to share my challenges with him, and knowing my inner receptivity, Swamiji helped me to correct my attitude as I was going through the challenges so that I could develop great inner strength, the wisdom to overcome each situation and learn what God had intended for me to learn. One time, I was feeling that I had been treated very unfairly by someone. It was anger at the thought that how could that person get away with treating me so badly. I just struggled with these negative emotions and kept thinking how to get back at her for what she did to me. My mind had easily come under ‘victim consciousness’ after the episode with her. She had interfered in my personal life, and something which didn’t concern her. Had I found a way to transcend this karma with her? Not for many days. Though outwardly not doing anything ‘negative’, I was inwardly very reactive and negative.
When no amount of mental talking and meditation could enable me to forgive her in my heart, I just wrote to Swamiji. What he wrote back is something which is very important for a devotee to know and so I am sharing it here. Swamiji wrote:
I have learned that anger is rooted in the desire for things to be different from what they are. But things in this world will always remain just what they are. We can’t change them. What comes to us is the result of our own karma. We can change that karma, but we can do so only by changing ourselves. Let others be as they are. They can only change themselves. We cannot change them. This life is a pilgrimage on which all of us have to learn our lessons, purify our hearts, and learn to see God in everybody—God struggling in each one to find his own secret of lasting happiness and bliss.
You will find the greatest happiness in yourself, and will give happiness to all, once you learn above all how to share happiness with others, regardless how they treat you. Forgiveness means acceptance of everyone’s divine right to work out his own problems for himself. In this way, it is easy to love everybody.
Bless you, Gaurja. My love to you,
I really appreciated what Swamiji wrote. After reading his letter I was amazed at this revelation that it is easy to love everybody when we can see that God, who is in each person in this world, is the one struggling to find the secret of happiness for himself. I replied to Swamiji soon after reading this letter. Swamiji wrote back an hour later with another point:
Here’s another point: When people don’t treat us as we think they should—even insulting us, or trying to harm us—we ourselves gain, spiritually, if we accept their treatment calmly, and even with gratitude. For the most important thing on the spiritual path is to overcome ego-consciousness. The ego is the source of all our suffering. We must realize that God is the only reality. Whether or not we pay off our karma by right attitude, we eliminate its power to affect us.
“Whether or not we pay off our karma by right attitude, we eliminate its power to affect us.” These lines have stuck with me especially. I’ve come to realize after reading both his letters that it was my karma to attract this negative treatment from this person because probably I too had treated her or others like this in past lives. Probably somewhere deep inside I had not changed my attitude even now, which is why when the same treatment was given to me, I was thinking of returning it back to her again. But I knew it was wrong. If let’s say I had worked enough spiritually in life by this time, I probably would have been a changed person (with a changed attitude) by the time of our interaction and things wouldn’t have gone bad between this person and me. However the karma came and not only did I not have the right attitude by then, I also didn’t have the wisdom to accept the treatment calmly. That is why Swamiji helped me to learn these two lessons. I thank God that he was there to help me understand and grow spiritually.
In the case of accepting the negative karma and being grateful for the treatment one gets (how Swamiji was saying) the trick is to not give into the game that Maya is asking us to play. Satan or delusive forces want us to get perturbed, worried, feel like victims and react negatively. It’s important to always reside in a very calm and poised space of even-mindedness, where God’s peace is rooted like a strong tree within us. Nothing can uproot that tree of peace if we regularly meditate and call upon God to share our life’s journey with us. Increasing attunement with the Guru will make us very strong inwardly so that we are not affected. Swamiji offered the second option of ego-transcendence to us as the more important one because the goal of life is to give up the ego. Giving up the ego was Swamiji’s main message. He used to repeat it often. Let’s all try to overcome the challenges we face by following Swamiji’s advice- changing our karma by changing our attitude, and more importantly, trying to offer up our egos to God. One can read his letters again and again or meditate on them to absorb the full meaning as there are more lessons in them. Many blessings to all the readers from Masters and Swamiji.