Last week I wrote about karma, the past actions that determine our present and about lila, the mysterious divine play that sometimes turns our lives in unexpected ways. However, Can we change our past and our destiny? to what extent?
I am going to give you another concept to consider: samsara, which is the cycle or “wheel” of existence that repeats itself eternally. We are born, live, die and are born again… The literal meaning of samsara is “that which keep us in the current”. Sara- (or sri-) means current or flow.
Since we want to understand the dance between karma and lila, the first thing that we must ask ourselves is: Existence, is a problem or a definition of Grace? Am I trapped in a labyrinth with no exit OR am I being held by a current that keeps me afloat even in the most challenging times?
How you think about samsara is going to define two different visions of life and yoga:
a. samsara as the wheel of karma. It keeps you trapped in material existence and there is no way out (dualistic yoga). Therefore, samsara is something bad and physical living something to transcend. This vision tells us that material existence is a plane of suffering and that the only place where we can be happy is in another realm beyond this one.
b. samsara as the current that holds you and that has taken you to the evolutionary state in time/space where you are right now. In this vision you are not separated from the rest of the cosmos, which is always full of goodness (non-dualistic yoga). Here material and spiritual existence exist in one another. Our body is divine in itself and not only a vehicle. When we approach reality from this point of view, all that we experience is either a lesson that we had to learn or a test that we had to pass. You trust, knowing that life always brings you what you need to continue growing.
Those of you that know me a little bit will know that I follow the second approach in my life and in my teaching. The tradition that pulsates within me makes me relate to existence as the current that holds and guides me. Because of it I celebrate every moment. I love my past, it makes me who I am today.
In order to be at peace with the past (and transform it) there are a a few things to consider:
1. past events do not make you suffer or be happy. What makes us feel one way or the other is the interpretation of those events. If we change the way we think about the past, we transform the seeds of those karmas.
2. forgive and liberate all that is burdening you and all that makes you suffer. This is a fundamental if you want to continue along your path. Hw do we do that? It is more simple that what it seems: whenever you observe that you are thinking about the past, simply breathe with the intention of transforming and letting go those recurrent thoughts; go back to the present moment awareness and and focus yourself in the fullness of living that you are experiencing now.
3 an attitude of gratitude. If you are reading this post, it is sure that you are a lot more fortunate that the rest of the world. Your living conditions are more or less luxurious (like having internet access among other things…) and there is plenty of stuff that goes well for you, are you considering all that?
In order to understand how we can take the right turns:
1. Live here & now. Breathe life force without the need of judging if something is good or bad, just accept what in in the present moment. Be happy now!
2. Create the proper conditions that will make others happy. Think about the famous ” do unto others as you would…” shared by all spiritual traditions. The law of cause and effect is quite simple and applies all the time. We can create the causes that will generate the desired consequences for others and for ourselves.
3. Be patient and trust. Many times we fail because we want everything to happen “instant karma” style, but things have their own timing and process. Also, if Divine Grace is always holding us, whatever experience we go through is necessary for our personal evolution, remember?
It is not advisable to let random chance rule our lives, neither it is to have a negative or defeating attitude towards life. I am talking about those prevalent thoughts like “Well, everything is already determined by my karma so there is nothing I can do about it.” This is not true and, YES, there is a lot you can do. It is possible to transform the past and see how a beautiful garden full of colour flourishes in and out.
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