And then there is the law of karma. That is the law we gonna be mentioning tonight. The law of karma is an all-incomposing law, we cannot escape it. People do not know about it, perhaps, “I do not believe in karma. I do not know about karma. Therefore, it does not affect me.” It affects us.
What is this law of karma? Actually, it mentioned not only in the Vedas, but in other scriptures. The Holy Bible says, “As you sow, so shall you reap.” And some writers have said, “What goes around comes around.” Everything you do is going to come back to you. We may not act according to this knowledge, “Oh, I can do anything I want. I am rich, I am famous, I am powerful. It does not matter what I do”. But there will be a surprise in the end.
The word “karma” means “action”. A spirit soul is active by nature. If you look at any life form what do you find? Activity from the one-cell amoeba… Action. The soul is active by nature. We cannot not act. So, there is a law of action, it is called the law of karma. What we do matters. It counts.
The law of karma states this: if the activity that I perform affects the life of another living entity (and notice I say “living entity”, I am not talking about just humans – any life form: animals, plants, whatever)… If the activity I perform affects the life of another living entity in a negative way: I cause some pain, suffering, hardship, death, then I am responsible for that. And in the future I will experience come back to me pain, suffering, hardship, death. This is called bad karma. I perform a bad action, I experience a bad result. If I perform an action that helps another person, I make their material life a little better, a little easier: I feed a hungry person or a hungry dog, I do charity work, voluntary work, I speak kind words, whatever I do to make the material life of another living entity a little better, I get rewards for that. This is called good karma. In the future good things will come back to me. So, our whole life is filled with activity, we are creating both good karma and bad karma every day and it is accumulating and going up.
There are higher authorities that are recording everything. Nothing goes unseen. In our material laws, in dealing with our material laws we may be thinking, “Oh, nobody will see me break this law.” The thief very carefully plans the robbery, “Oh, I will rob this bank.” And he uses his intelligence to create a perfect scheme to enter the bank, break into the vault, take all the money and get away with no finger prints, no evidence. Perfect crime, “Oh, I have made it.” You did not make it. Somebody did see, somebody recorded. You got caught, not materially, maybe police did not catch you but it is all in its karmic record. And in the future you will have to receive the results of that action.
There are three categories of karma. There is karma that is lying in seed: the act has been performed, it has been recorded, the result determined, but it is as a seed, nothing is happening yet. Then there is karma that is almost fructified, it is just about ready to bear fruit, to appear in our life, it is right around the corner. Today, tomorrow, next week, next year it will appear in our life. Then there is karma we are experiencing right now. What is happening to us at the moment is the result of our past activities. We have created whatever situation we are in. This is hard for many people to accept because we all think that we are good guys, “I am a good guy.” Even a thief thinks, “I am a good guy.” And the mother of the thief thinks, “Oh, he is my son, he is a good guy.” It is just the way we are illusioned.
When these adversities appear in our life: I discover I have cancer, I get in a car accident, somebody steals all my money, I break my leg, my mother dies, my loved one dies, whatever, I never want to blame myself that this is my problem, I did this, this is what I got. We want to blame somebody else, “This is her. This is her fault! I am this way because I was raised like this.” Everything is somebody else’s fault, “Do not blame me!” You go to the judge, “Do not blame me!”
The other scapegoat, there is another person we blame. These two other people we blame of outside of all the other, two big ones: the devil made me do this, “Why did you do this?”, “The devil made me do this, it is not my fault”, or God, “God did this to me.” Many people are very angry at God, “Why? Why me? Why am I suffering?” Nobody says, “Hey, this is what I deserve.”
Now, because we are under the illusion that we are this body and my existence started at birth, and for many people they think, “My existence ends at death then everything that happens in life is the result of this life.” But with Vedic knowledge we understand this is not like that. We have had many, many, many lives. And in those lives we created karma. We have got lifetimes of karma. You do not get all of your karma in one life, you take it with you. You come to the end of your life, you have got whatever karma is there, good or bad. And that goes with you into the next life. When you take birth there it is. The birth you take is the result of your karma. Who your mother is, who your father is – the result of karma. And the mother has a certain child because of karma. Father has a certain child because of karma. So, the karma of the mother, the father and the child makes it so that they are put together, “Why do I have you as my child? Why you?” And the kids, “How is it that I have got you? If I had had a choice I would have chosen somebody different.” Karma puts people together. It could be good, “Oh, I am so happy to have you as my child. I love you so much.” Good karma or bad karma. Kids cause you pain or they cause you joy. It is all karma.
A person is born and people think because of this illusion that every baby is pure. I hear it often. We all heard this, we may even said it, “Oh, look at this little baby, such a pure soul. Oh, so nice, pure soul.” We do not know, we have no idea what is underneath that little sweet baby body. Some heavy criminal who murdered, killed so many people, tortured people. He takes birth in a baby body, “Oh, he is so cute.” You do not know. Then out of that little beautiful baby body comes somebody like that.
Or, they die very young: this little innocent baby is killed in some way or died from some disease, or in some accident, or paralyzed, and we think, “I do not understand, this is wrong. What is going on? God, why? You created such a situation. You are the creator, you are supposed to be the controller. You are supposed to be our well-wisher. Look at this!”
People think God makes so many mistakes. I also heard a lot about this, “God made so many mistakes!” God did not make any mistakes. We made many mistakes. We have failed to live according to God’s laws. We are in ignorance, we do not even know what kind of laws they are. We do not know who we are. We do not know what to do in life. We do not know even what life is. It is just our existence but what is that? Many people come to the end of their life, in old bodies. For instance, I know several people like this. I talked to them in old age. It is like their conclusion is also confusing, “What is life? I was born, I lived. What I thought was a long life now it looks really short. I did this and that. I got education, I got married, I got kids. I had hard times, I had good times. Now it is all over. What was it for? What was it about? I do not understand.” This is not very good; this is not very good state of consciousness. That is why we need knowledge. So, when we look at the events in this world it is not like “I do not understand.”
Usually we have our sentimental feelings towards situations. Let’s take one: capital punishment. Capital punishment says: if a man murders somebody then he should be murdered, he should be killed. It is “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” philosophy. Ok, you murdered this person, you are guilty, therefore, you will be hanged, gas, chair – you will be executed. Some countries have such a law, some do not. In America it is a state by state decision: some states have capital punishment, some do not. The citizens vote on this. Some say, “Yes, it is good.” Others say, “Absolutely no good. No, it is wrong, nobody should kill anybody.” So, it is all about opinions and sentiments, “Is it right? Is it wrong?” We do not really know. But actually according to the Vedic knowledge there is a clear answer, not speculation like “I feel this way”, but a clear authoritative answer coming from God Himself.
Let me make it clear that Vedic knowledge is God’s instructions for us in the material world. It is not based on the ideas of men, men did not write the Vedas although people often think that some guy wrote it. This is the Supreme Lord’s direct authoritative guidance. So, according to the Vedic knowledge a person who murders somebody should be killed. And, therefore, the karma for that action is finished. They paid their duty. So, when they take the next birth, it is finished. They do not bring in their karma into the next life. But if they do not receive this punishment, they take that karma into that life and other lives, and suffer even more. This is the law of karma, you cannot change it. You cannot say, “I do not like it.” We do not have anything to do with it. So, if we have this knowledge we can apply it. We know what to do.
If you drive and you do not know traffic laws, you will have to pay fines, and you can easily cause accidents. Ignorance is not a good thing anywhere. So, ignorance in life is not a good thing. There is some fool who made this statement: ignorance is bliss. He is a fool. We should learn the truth and act according to this truth.
When I am talking about truth I am talking about absolute truth. I am not talking about one group of people who says, “This is truth”, and another group says, “No.” I am talking not about that kind of “truth”. I am talking about absolute knowledge coming from the Supreme Lord. So, we should use our human form of life to gain this knowledge. If we do not, we lose a great opportunity.
I remember there was a man who worked his whole life, he accumulated quite a lot of wealth. He had a nice wife, they were very happy with each other and they dreamed about retirement. They made elaborate plans, they together designed a perfect home, so that they could enjoy retirement years. And a friend of mine helped building this home. They had everything they could desire, just the way they wanted. They were so happy; they moved into this home, “Oh, everything is so nice.” And one night this lady died, like that. My friend went to visit this guy because they became friends while he was building the house. The guy was devastated and he said, “This was not supposed to happen. This was not in the plan.” We do not know what our plans are. We think we know, but we do not know. We have our plans, but they are our plans. There are bigger plans. Of course, we created this, but we do not even remember what we created.