Yoga Sutra 4.07 the karma of the yogin is neither white nor black

Sūtra IV.7

The karma of the yogin is neither white nor black; of the others, it is of three kinds

(Opponent) Why is it only for yogins that there is no karma-stock, while there is for others?

(Answer) Because The karma of the yogin is thus neither white nor black; of the others, it is of three kinds. This sūtra is a general statement covering the perfect and the imperfect.

(Opponent) But the previous sūtra too was just a general statement.

(Answer) No, because it had a purpose, namely to praise the perfections arising from samādhi; and praise of samādhi-perfections is not a general statement. On the contrary, through the reference there to meditation practice giving siddhi-perfections (parisankhyāna), it related to a special field; it was mentioned along with the undesirability of the four kinds of similar siddhi-perfections arising from birth, etc., so it is a praise of perfections arising from samādhi.

Furthermore, as intended to prohibit, for one seeking Aloneness, the means of obtaining these perfections by birth and so on, the previous sūtra had a special field. But this one is purely a general statement following on what was said in the previous sūtra.

There are four classes of karma. The black is of those of evil nature. Those actions which are achievable by external means are white-black. Inasmuch as their performance is by way of harming others and also being kind to them, a (corresponding) karma-stock is laid down.

There are four classes of karma. The black is of those of evil nature, wicked souls who transgress the path of scripture and are very impure. Those actions which are achievable by external means to be effected by such means as a wife, son, cattle, or begging, are white-black. What are they? Inasmuch as their performance is by way of harming others and also being kind to them, a (corresponding) karma-stock is laid down since they involve a variety of taints, so they are black and white.

(Opponent) But actions like the jyotiṣṭoma rite are taught us from scripture, so they can be white only, never black.

(Answer) The answer is, Not so. For they are performed for a particular object, and so there are other considerations. They are in fact causes of both good and the reverse of good.

(Opponent) They are done with the idea of some result like heaven, so they will lead only to good.

(Answer) No, because the same argument would apply in the case of a man’s rape of the wife of another; there too it should lead to good, because it is a longed-for desire.

(Opponent) Well, such actions as seizing another’s wife entail sins like cruelty, and are prohibited, and occur under the impulse of passion and so on, so they are not the same thing.

(Answer) The same element is there. Selfishness is forbidden and so it leads to an undesired consequence. Taking life inevitably entails some cruelty, and so (animal) sacrifice must lead to both consequences, desired and undesired. The important point is that undesired consequences must follow because of the pain caused to others, for that is something prohibited.

It is an inescapable fact that without taking life (in sacrifices, etc.) one cannot come to experience the joy of heaven. And if this is so, jyotiṣṭoma and other such rites entailing giving pain have a dual nature.

(Opponent) What is forbidden is not the rites themselves, but to take life.

(Answer) Not so, because that comes to pass when they are performed.

Taking life is part of them. But those of your way of thinking should perform just the daily household rites, in which they would not be engaged in taking life. In fact they do them, and never omit them, and it is accepted that there is a causality from them.

Now if the action involving taking life is transferred (as merit) in heaven to another body, it would follow that there would never be release, for even though one abstained from selfish and forbidden actions, the results of what had been done in previous lives would be inescapable.

(Opponent) That is why the daily rites are done: to destroy that karma of previous lives.

(Answer) Not so, because no distinction can be made. There could not be anything to single out only those previous actions which have begun to produce undesirable effects as their fruit, but not those of desirable fruits. Since there must be the unseen (future) fruits, though one may perform only the daily rites, still he will not get release but will be reborn.

So it is established that even (those actions performed only for) desirable ends have the dual causality, because actions with external means take the form of both injuring and helping. It cannot be supposed that by the nitya rites the previously performed karmas of desirable fruit, such as jyotiṣṭoma, will come to an end, because there is no opposition between them. The non-opposition is because they are both of a pure nature, which is also confirmed in the holy texts.

Then again one may say that there are actions which should initiate more than one life, so that at the end of each successive life there will be various karmas-in-operation that remain over. So too since the karma of the present life perishes in giving the fruit of the present life, it is only the fresh desireful karma produced by the present life that initiates heaven, and also the suffering for taking life; there again it comes out as white-black.

We find, then, both the suffering concerned with taking life, and the joy known as heaven, and so the cause of the latter we infer to be of double nature. That being so, the prohibited acts of killing beings, performed in animal sacrifices like agnīṣṭomīya for the kratu rites, we infer to be black karma. The killing for the kratu rites, though something altogether undesirable, does secure the end.

(Opponent) If some holy texts are arbitrarily made out to be preliminary, and others the final ones, then those which exemplify the preliminary class become unauthoritative. Then arbitrarily some texts are made to contradict the very nature of the sacrificial rite, so that they rule out those texts on sacrifice.

(Answer) But the killing involved does not produce a contradiction; it is simply that there is a dual causality, like the dual causality in the case of simple eating, which gives both pleasure and also bodily sustenance. Again, bathing at a sacred place gives refreshment but has also a transcendental purpose. So the killing, though admittedly involving some undesirable result, never fails to bring about the great result of the kratu sacrifice.

(Opponent) Though they are to be done with external means, the daily rites (nitya) must be white karma when performed for themselves, and not in connection with any desire.

(Answer) Because they are indistinguishable from the same rites done with some desire, there is a defect in them. With all works of desire performed by the man of desire, there is a defectiveness of works-of-desire by the very association with desire; so there is the defect of Ignorance which causes desire and the rest, and this applies indiscriminately. All the daily rites have the dual nature. That there is Ignorance in the daily rites is shown by the fact that there is always something of which the performer has cause to repent (in the prayer at the end).

In any case, it is only an Ignorant man who performs actions at all: no action occurs to a Knower. For the Knower, the Puruṣa, does not conceive of any result apart from the state of his own true nature. The state of his nature exists alone, as cessation of all operations; thus no undertaking for any effect is appropriate to a Knower. Just so, one who is committed to a journey by land does not take to boats and so on, which are means of going by water.

(Opponent) In that case there is no distinction of the daily rites from rites performed specifically to get something desired.

(Answer) The daily rites are without defect when performed with the aim of doing away with action for any desired result.

Furthermore, if, when performing the daily rites, concentration in the form of right vision arises in the form: ‘Why am I doing this?’ or ‘What is the result of this?’ or ‘What are the inherent defects in performance of these rites?’ then that does make a distinction of the daily rites. But as to their both being white-black in essence, there is no distinction between these actions, inasmuch as there is the fact of having to be carried out with external means, and the involvement with giving pain to others. And so it has been said:

The white is of those who perform tapas, self-study, and meditation (dhyāna). For these, being a matter of the mind alone, are not concerned with outer means, nor do they give pain to others.

The neither-black-nor-white karma is that of the renunciates (saṃnyāsin) – wanderers whose taints have faded away. Their karma is not white because they have renounced; it is not black because there is no cause for that.

But for those of the other party, the fruit is of three kinds, as previously explained.

The white class of karma is of those who perform tapas, self-study (svādhyāya) and meditation (dhyāna). For these, being a matter of the mind alone, are not concerned with outer means they do not look to outer means, nor do they give pain to others.

The neither-white-nor-black karma is that of the renunciates (saṃnyāsin), wanderers whose taints have faded away. They are occupying their last body, already existent before their realization. Their karma is not white because they have renounced; it is not black because there is no cause for that, there is no reason for it. Nor is it a mixture of white and black, because of the two facts: they have renounced external things, and there is nothing to cause it. So it is said:

When they depart who have not renounced, the fruit of their karma is of three kinds:

Desirable, undesirable and mixed. But not so for the saṃnyāsin renouncers.

But for those of the other party for the others who have acquired perfections by birth or drugs or mantra or tapas the fruit is of three kinds white, black and mixed as previously explained, for instance in the Second Part, in the sūtra 12: ‘Rooted in taints’.

(Opponent) If it is so, one ends up with this conclusion: Suppose there is karma laid down a hundred aeons ago which should result in birth as a cat, while in the immediate past there is karma which would justify divine birth. From the opposition of the nearer saṃskāra-group of the divine, the causal potency which should manifest in a cat birth will not be actualized. The saṃskāra-groups of the cat karma, distant by a hundred aeons, would not be fulfilled because of remoteness, and it would have to be supposed that the karma which should have caused that fruition did not actualize it. The corollary would be that karmas and saṃskāra-groups are meaningless.

(Answer) To this he says:

 

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