Our teacher repeatedly says in the opening verse, “Within man, there’s not only the experience of suffering, and joy and change, but there is the great Lord.” He says, “Oh, this is impossible. Oh, this could never be done. There is the great Lord.” You are saying the great Lord cannot do this, you are saying the great Lord cannot do that. He says, “It’s to awaken the great Lord within the man.
So, the causes, then, although the karmic tendencies are general, they’re not absolute and determined as sometimes is thought, but they can be changed and they’re not compulsory in that sense. Well, one can argue that this is rational and missionaries always used to complain, “We’re tired of hearing that reincarnation is much more fair than Christianity, we’re weary of this.” Yes, but they had no answer.
There’s a life of pure suffering, it may be short, but it’s a life of pure suffering. Karma does account for it, but it’s an incentive for those who have choice, who have freedom to try to aim towards freedom in this life, to cease reacting to the events of life in a way that will create new karma of passion struggle and by attachment to the fruits, we shall become bound and buy freedom. From the fruits, we shall become free.
Now, the karma as presented in Buddhism is an iron law and there’s no particular reason why people should progress, but there’s a difference between the Buddhist doctrine of karma and the Vedanta. In the Vedanta, there’s a doctrine that the ultimate aim and purpose is upward, a gradual freeing of the experiencer within by realising that he is the great Lord.
We can say, “Well, what is the evidence for this?” If we look in the Gita, we shall see repeatedly, the Lord says, “I’m the friend of all beings, I’m the father of the universe, I am the grandsire of the universe.” Friend, you could say, “Oh, but look at the things that happen.” Friend means someone who gives help, but it doesn’t mean somebody who carries you on his back when you can walk yourself. Therefore, the position of the yoga is to find great Lord within the yogi and not to try to put responsibility for the sins of the world outside, but to look within.
A man asked a Zen teacher about this, he said, “Amitabha Buddha is supposed to love all human beings. Why does he allow all this sin, and all this evil and all these disastrous things to happen?” The teacher said to him, “Do you yourself contribute to all this misery that so distresses you and so many before?” He said, “Well, yes, I have done vicious things, I admit.” So, the teacher said, “Well, you are the Buddha. Why do you do these things?”
The final doctrine is that when the actions and the impact of karma no longer leads to fresh karma, then, so to speak, the remaining ones play themselves out, but without causing these little explosions. Finally, there’s no person there on which the karma can have an effect, so all the karmas cease for that person, they cease to… there is no person there, no limited person for them to attract, but, in the meantime, until the karmas of this particular life have exhausted themselves, there’s what’s called prarabdha karma, the karma has already gone into operation.
The Chinese are not keen on analysis. In fact, they don’t believe in it, but they’re rather good on representing these things pictorially. There’s a picture of a Chinese Lohan. The karmic impulses still exist, but they no longer create these passionate, or despairing or even elevated reactions. This is supreme wisdom, but the shell, so to speak, remains and it’s shown… this is meant to show that the remnants of the karma assume a form of beauty, but they are not binding.
If you look at this, there’s no effort here and in the Gita, it says… Shankara has commented on the Gita and says in the consciousness of Brahman, there is no effort here, but there are references to the efforts in the past, which have left a trace and which still remain as an example to the world. The robe is thrown off. The robe, you can see it’s thrown off on the right shoulder, although the undergarment remains. It doesn’t in India, but, in China, it’s cold in the winter, so they’re allowed to wear an undergarment, but the robe is thrown off on the right shoulder. This is meant to show a freedom.
Now, if you look at the mouth, you will see two lines coming down on either side of the nose. One of the hints in this iconography is that those two lines are pointing, tracing down to the navel. The point of meditation is the navel and those who look our books on… Dr Shastri’s books on meditation, the meditation begins with the navel and some of them are out there. He said this is one of the contributions that the Far Eastern yogis made to the yoga techniques.
Then, if you look at the mouth, you will see it’s in a curve and it’s said that that curve is part of the circumference of a circle, which if the circle was completed, the centre would be the navel. So, the hint in the picture is of the past meditation practice which he did, which was concerned with bringing the attention here, instead of the furious activity of the eyes, and ears, and mouth in the head, to bring the attention here to tranquillity. Some of the Far Eastern psychiatrists say that if patients can be taught to do this instead of, when they are very anxious or excited, instead of fiddling with fingers or talking a lot, if the attention can be drawn in and brought to the centre, physically, it produces a calming.
So, this, then, it’s a Chinese picture. It’s not an analysis, it’s a Chinese picture of the faint shell remains through which the Lord is beginning to shine.
So, if you’d like to just try to identify the Lord within that, there’s something within us which is witnessing, which is supporting, all our movements and the tensions come and go. There’s something static which witnesses and supports and is the great Lord, a friend of all being. Om.
© Trevor Leggett
Titles in this series are:
Part 1: Karma – Kill Not the Self
Part 2: Cohesion of the universe
Part 4: Kill Not the Self – Karma
Part 5: The true self is unseen