Extract Path to Inner Peace
By Subhash Jain
Excerpted with permission from Mastering Karma.
A “shooting” star in the sky distracts me for a few minutes from thinking about the physics lecture, but then I find myself wondering why both parents and religions preach that one must do good things. This thought brings to mind a teaching I read in a book on karma last summer. The book was given to me by one of my best friends, Ajay Jain, who practices Jainism.
At this point in my life, I feel a need to find my own path that will bring spiritual transformation and expanded inner resources. As my Western culture’s spiritual tradition repudiates reincarnation, and hence actions in past lives, my upbringing has not included any understanding of the universal karma doctrine as elementary to the soul’s journey and human life. Still, I find the karma doctrine intriguing, and I feel it could be a missing piece of my path. That’s why I want to delve into this enigmatic karmic process before entering college, where a normative Western lifestyle will surely prevail.
Many people think that the suffering and heterogeneity in this world cannot be understood and that God has a plan that cannot be apprehended. But this is not convincing reasoning to a lot of people, and I’m one of them. I believe there must be a logical explanation for the suffering and heterogeneity in the world. That explanation may be found in the law of karma.
“We will follow a logical procedure that involves three phases. The first phase entails learning a set of presuppositions that will serve as the foundation of the karma doctrine model. These presuppositions, like the presupposition of the existence of God in some other paradigms, can neither be proved nor disproved but must be considered true, or else the model would be meaningless. Based on these presuppositions, in the second phase we will discover a metaphysical model of the karma doctrine. Then in the third phase we will test the metaphysical model by applying it to examples from everyday life, including finding the path to inner peace that leads to liberation from the cycle of birth and death. We will explore many concepts having to do with spiritual awakening, reincarnation, free will, and several other topics. Do you understand?” asks Guru.
“Is the mind made up of living matter, or a non-physical substance?” asks Guru.
“My research pointed out that scientists are divided into two groups on this issue. One group considers the mind to be a part of the body and hence it’s made up of living matter. The other group believes that there are two types of mind: physical mind and non-physical mind. Physical mind is characterized by what it does, while the non-physical mind is characterized by the way it feels as a conscious experience. Consciousness is a property of a non-physical substance.”
Guru continues, “My personal belief is in accord with those scientists who support two types of mind: physical mind and non-physical mind. The non-physical mind is the soul, with consciousness as one of its properties. The physical mind is made of matter.
If the karma doctrine is to be universal, then the laws that govern the relationships between actions and their consequences also should be universal. The consequences of an action should depend only on the action, not on the time and place of the action. Whether the action is performed in the U.S. or in India, or somewhere else in the universe, the karma-doctrine-governed consequences of that action must be identical.
I am sure you now understand that the question why some evil people have favorable experiences of wealth and prestige while some good people have unfavorable experiences of poverty and disgrace cannot be answered with the karma doctrine.
Though the main cause of karmic debt is moha, it takes the support of other factors to manifest itself. It is important to know these factors that impact the karmic debt, so that one can try to control them.
We now have all different components of the karmic model governed by universal laws, which provide an innate moral order to living beings. Based on the presuppositions described in earlier discourses, the metaphysical model of the karma doctrine can be summarized as follows:
Human beings have the ability and power to manage their karmic debt by managing their actions.
Ego expresses itself in various ways. Due to ego, we develop consuming desires for things concerned with our bodies and remain engrossed in attachment to worldly objects and gratification of our senses. Unfulfilled desires lead to anger, jealousy, depression, anxiety, dissatisfaction, and resentment.
Apparently, I have the freedom to pick efficient causes of karmic consequences. Using my free will, I decided to answer the cell phone, which was picking an efficient cause of the karmic consequences in this situation.
When we first started talking today, acquiring wealth seemed like a natural path to happiness, but now I see that wealth provides only superficial happiness and even results in violence to others. And only nonviolent actions can lead to real happiness and realization of inner peace.
All of us, except a handful of people, carry a large karmic debt. Our ego is so intense that we have a false belief that we are made of body only and do not pay any attention to our soul. We are either incorrect about, or are ignorant of, the karma doctrine and thus think of it as nothing but a heap of imaginary ideas.
Now that you have discovered the karma model, the question might arise, what can I do with it? Now you have two models: the familiar materialistic model and the newly discovered alternative karma model. The karma model offers you an alternative view regarding how life functions. It gives you insight to everlasting inner peace. Life is and becomes what we believe. For a while, conduct your daily routine using both models—what can you lose? Keep in mind that each of us has the potential to achieve everlasting inner peace by liquidating our karmic debt with our own effort. Always remember the golden rule that spiritual growth is achieved by conducting nonviolent actions that reduce karmic debt. Spiritual growth leads to the destruction of ego, the change in our attitude toward life and outlook toward worldly objects, and the realization that the soul is the location of inner peace. Every person should devise their daily conduct to reduce karmic debt for achieving spiritual growth.
Path to Inner Peace: Mastering Karma presents the fundamental principles of the Jain karma doctrine through a fictional account of the relationship between a guru and his American student. As the story unfolds, the guru instructs the student on how ‘karmic debt’ is incurred as the result of personal action and how this ‘debt’ can be reduced through behavioral choices.
With an emphasis on nonviolent action, Jainism elucidates the path whereby karmic attachment is decreased, leading to inner peace. The Path to Inner Peace serves as an in-depth analysis of which actions lead to karmic attachment, how to avoid karmic attachment and what the consequences of karmic attachment are. The issues of free will versus determinism and good versus evil are also dealt with in detail.
Path to Inner Peace: Mastering Karma by Subhash Jain is available from www.mantra-books.com and wherever books are sold.