Can I change my destiny? It seems like everything is already programmed. But do not forget, we are creating our future destiny right now. We are the programmers. In the world today there is this whole computer movement. Many people want to be programmers. But we are all programmers. We are programming our future right now.
Is there any way to change this sequence that is ongoing? I act, I create karma and then I have to take another birth because of my karma. And then I act and I create more karma, and I take another birth and it keeps going, even if it is all good karma.
In reality, most people aren’t concerned about having too much good karma. This is the goal of many so-called religions: be good, do good, create a lot of good karma, then your life will be perfect, you will go to heaven. That is not true. Many people say, “I am a good guy. I don’t hurt anybody. I’m honest.” Even if you do create all good karma, you have to take another material birth to reap the rewards. You still must have another birth, you still experience disease and then along comes old age and another death. You will create more karma, etc.
That is not the solution. And that is not the solution given in the Vedas. It is all explained: this is how it can be, but it is not recommended. The recommendation is: live a life that is karma-free, no good karma, no bad karma. It is called akarma. So one can ask, “How do I do that? I do not even see how it is possible. If I do good things, I get good karma. If I do bad things, I get bad karma. What else is there? Is there something else besides good and bad?” The answer is ‘yes.’ But to actually achieve it, to live our life karma-free, I have to take a different approach. I have to start living according to a higher authority. I have to quit being the decision maker. I have to start listening and acting according to a higher voice. And, of course, that voice is the Supreme Lord. I cannot figure this stuff out. I have to admit: I do not know, I do not have a solution.
Like here is a guy and he hears about karma. I remember when I heard about karma for the first time. Somehow or other, I knew that what I was hearing was true. I did not hear very much, just the most basic explanations. But immediately I looked at my life as it was at that moment and thought, “Man, I got a problem. I got a big problem. I have to change a lot in my life.”
So here is a guy who hears about karma and starts thinking, “I have to solve this.” He is normally thinking about bad karma. So as he thinks more and more, he realizes that even his eating creates karma, “I have to eat to live, but this eating causes a lot of karma.” So, he is trying to solve this problem by thinking about it. He concludes, “I know, I will become a vegetarian. I am not going to eat those cows, pigs and chickens, because when they are killed, they suffer, and I eat their meat and I am involved in all that. I do not want to be involved, I do not want that karma. I will be a vegetarian.” And we say, “Very good! It is a very good idea. It will greatly reduce your karma. But it is not good enough because even though you eat only vegetables, you still have to kill the carrot, you will have to cut the head of the cabbage. There is still karma.”
The guy is very confused, “What do I do now?” So he is thinking again, solving his own problem, “I know! I will become a fruitarian. I am going to eat just fruit because you do not have to kill the tree and no karma.” About this time he feels, “I am very hungry, all this thinking made me hungry.” So he sees an apple hanging on an apple tree and he goes over to pick this apple but he stops, “I am not going to pick that apple, I might hurt the tree. I am going to wait for the apple to fall on the ground. And then I will eat it.” So, he waits and waits and he is very hungry. Finally, the apple falls. Immediately he rushes over and picks it, “Oh, good, no karma.” But what about all those people he stepped on going over to pick up that apple? What about all those people living on the apple? What about that long guy living in the apple? You cannot avoid karma like this. It is impossible. There is only one way.
In the material world, in our material consciousness we live for ourselves, “I live for me. My will be done.” And everyone and everything revolves around me, “I am the center of my universe.” I am acting completely independent from God’s will and God’s laws. Therefore, I am responsible for my actions – karma.
But we learn from the Vedas that God is the Supreme Person. Just as we have our individual will, God has His Supreme will. His will is always done. And our position is to serve the will of God, not our own will, not live for ourselves but to live for the pleasure of God. When I do this, whatever activities I perform in this loving relationship of service produce no karma, there is no karma. Not only is there no karma for that activity but all previous karma from previous activities is removed. It is quite easy to understand this concept.
There is a military pilot who flies his plane over the enemy, drops his bombs and causes so much pain, suffering and death to so many people. Yet when he comes back to the airbase, when he gets out of his plane, there is nobody waiting for him with handcuffs. In fact, if he did a good job, he is congratulated, “Oh, thank you! Go and get some rest, and do it again tomorrow.” But if the same pilot goes into town that night, gets in a fight and kills one man, there is somebody waiting for him with handcuffs. He is immediately arrested, taken to jail and charged with murder. Now, what is the difference? There he killed many people, here he killed one. There he is congratulated, here he is incarcerated. The difference is: there he was acting under the sanction of the higher authority, here he was acting independently. So there he has no responsibility and here he is fully responsible.
So if we are independent from God, which is what the material world is based on (we want to be free, independent, do what we want to do), then the law of karma is there, we are continuously controlled by that law. But when we dovetail our will with God’s will, then everything is different. Now my life is lived under the guidance of and sanction of the Supreme Lord. Absolutely no karma is incurred and all previous karma is removed. So when I come to the end of my life, I do not have to take another birth. I can now truthfully say, “I have lived my life correctly.”
And if I lived according to the philosophy of Bhakti yoga, not only have I removed karma, but I have also developed a loving relationship with the Supreme Lord. My desire is to go with the Lord, my attachment is to the Lord. I leave my body at death, as we all do, but now I do not go into another material body. I am immediately transferred to the spiritual world. This is my original eternal home. Now my journey in the material world from one lifetime to the next is finished. I have used the human form of life as it is intended to be used. My life was truly successful. And my reward is eternal happiness and love.
This is the philosophy of Bhakti yoga. Some people are attracted to this philosophy. Some people hear it and it is like a breath of fresh air, it is like water for a man in a desert. This is what they have been looking for. Last week a girl came to our retreat and heard the teachings. It was like she won a lottery, and she had. Other people do not want to hear it at all. But that is our freedom.
Remember, we have a free will. We choose. We choose our destiny. Is my destiny going to be returning to the spiritual world? Is it going to be ongoing rebirth in the material world? Will it be life on heavenly planets or hellish planets, in human bodies or animal bodies? Whatever. Our free will is our free will. But free will used in ignorance is a big cause of trouble; it gives us a lot of trouble. A free will used in knowledge brings us the greatest reward. So it is up to us.
So these are the ideas. We can change our destiny completely. Whatever is set right now is already set. But once I come under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Lord directly, then everything is controlled directly by Him, not by the law of karma.