I was listening to a news reader announcing the tragic death of a young man early that very morning. Even though it was his day off, he had taken the place of his work mate and in the course of the morning had fallen to his death. The news reader concluded the item by saying, ‘He was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Recently a young man was killed by four assailants who initially only wanted to rob him. It was the early hours of the morning and the man in question was at a money machine getting cash for a taxi home. Because it was very unusual for him to be both alone and in a strange part of the city his death was described as, ‘Being in the wrong place at the wrong time.’
A small girl sitting in her bedroom in an inner city somewhere in the United States is killed by cross fire from two warring gangs. Wrong place wrong time.
This phrase gets repeated over and over and somehow suggests that if this person was actually somewhere else they would still be alive. That somehow fate has dealt them a nasty hand that they shouldn’t have had until some other time in the future. But actually every action that happens is calculated and accurate. There are no mistakes.
The little baby that has not even started life yet is suddenly struck down by some disease or is tragically killed. The toddler who is usually safe at all times suddenly runs out onto a quiet suburban street but this day, at this time, a motorist preoccupied due to looking for an address which is actually in another part of town tries to stop but is too late. The small child is killed. Wrong place wrong time.
And on and on we read and hear about such incidences. Unfortunate occurrences that happen on a daily and hourly basis.
When people read about the little baby they are aghast at such a thing happening to someone who is innocent, not even old enough to feed themselves or move from one place to another, completely dependent on its parents. How is it that this tiny defenseless being is abruptly taken away through some lamentable circumstance?
In order to answer this lets explore the idea that we are not actually these bodies but that we are travelers moving through. Our cars and how we use them is a good example to look at this subject matter.
As we get into our first little Bambina or Daihatsu, it seems we are barely able to fit. The roof is just above our head and our legs seem to be squashed up awkwardly as we try and bend our knees to reach the pedals. Then comes the terror and excitement of turning the engine on and actually putting the car into gear and starting to drive. What starts with strangeness and unfamiliarity soon becomes recognizable and even commonplace. But soon we have a new set of requirements. We advance into a bigger car, maybe a saloon car with a roomy interior, plush seats, automatic gears and fluid effortless driving. Now we are traveling. We feel safe, in control.
Our next step up might be a really big car that some people refer to as a gas guzzler. It practically drives itself with its cruise control, GPS monitoring systems, Bluetooth hands-free cell phone and state of the art computerized driving systems. We are so familiar now with how to drive a car, road conditions, other driver’s habits, night driving, driving in storms, we have it all down. We have basically nailed it.
But it seems that while we are spending these wonderful years taking ourselves from one place to another, time has caught up with us and pretty soon we are a little afraid of that great big hunky petrol tank that we have been running around in. We find that as we go to take the corner our aim is not so true and we are over the white line, slicing into the other half of the road. We notice it is harder to get it into certain car parks, that the cost of running it with the repairs and the gas prices rising and the road taxes we are left spending more of our retirement funds that we would like. We start looking at other people and the types of cars they have. We think about hybrid cars or electric cars and when we go to the dealership to talk about them we are questioned as to our capability and the length of time we have to competently manage the actual task of driving.
And as we stand there and hear the reality of our situation we don’t understand where the time has gone and it is difficult to comprehend that sixty or seventy years have passed.
The little baby is like us getting into that first small car. The living being finds themselves in a baby body, learning again the functions of movement and speech, falling over time and time again until they figure it out. Growing into a different environment, learning a new culture, language, customs and attachment for a completely new family.
Then there is the process of growing up and getting into that car that will take you to work every day, the reliable saloon car, the one that holds all the family on the weekend picnics, the one the children can learn to drive in, the one that feels like second nature.
Later on once the money is made and the kids are through university it is time to treat yourself. That big Buick or Chrysler Sedan that just fits in with everything you have achieved. You are free to go to those places you didn’t have time to go to before. Golf four days a week, a long overnight drive down the coast with your wife to visit the grandchildren. Now you really are an expert in your own world. You have made it. Your body is getting on a bit but you have kept yourself in good health, not too many aches and pains, time to slow down and enjoy those pleasures that come from being able to just take off whenever you feel like it.
Time passes and the journeys to see the family are fewer and farther between. It is a bit of a chore getting into the auto and streaming a few hundred miles every month or so. The body has gone through a few rough patches and often it’s easier to just stay at home and watch the sport on the TV. Your wife doesn’t really like to interrupt her routines either with all that gadding about. Most of the things she needs can be delivered these days. Now the body is being forced to slow down. You think about getting a smaller car, one you can just run to the shops in or pop over to the golf course every now and then.
Heading down to the local dealership you explain your situation to the agent. In the course of the hour and a half you are there, with the youthful dealer asking how long since you re-sat your license, or did you ever feel not confident on the busy roads, you come to the awful realization that this fresh faced enthusiastic car-mad young man is uncertain that you should be driving a car at all. He sees the body you have on and makes his judgements based on that. He is polite but concerned. He notices the slightly trembling hands, the shortness of breath, the weariness, the milky film in the eyes and he especially noticed the erratic entrance into the forecourt of the big hunk of metal that until this point has served you so well.
You look out the large plate glass windows to the traffic gliding past in the late afternoon sun. The young man has gone to attend to another customer and you are left there, caught in the fantasy world of being able to drive a new car forever and the reality that soon in this life you will never be the driver in any other car. Your body like the body of your car is no longer able to continue.
Has it really been sixty years or is it closer to seventy since you got into that little bubble of a car and learn to drive. Where has the time gone? It just passed in an instant, it seems like only yesterday you were just like this young man walking back to see you. You leave the car yard and the next step is not far away. The body like the old car has come to a stop. The machinery, the mechanisms, the complex actions no longer function. It is time to move on. Time to leave behind this particular family, the old gas guzzling tank still parked up in the garage, the wife, the golfing buddies, the grandchildren, the highways, the road trips, the memories. These are all left behind. It is time to step out of the machine that makes up the aged body and starts again in a baby body, somewhere else, in some other place, with a new culture, a new way of speaking, cramped up in tiny body learning over again how to make the little body move about, how to start the new life.
The person who was in the old man’s body is now inhabiting this little body and bringing with him into this new world all his desires and consequences from that previous life. In the same way we move from one car to another, we the person move from one body to another . Just as the old worn out car can no longer be driven, so the material body is no longer able to house us. The time comes to move out. To move into another house, another covering and in that new abode we are forced by our desires to act. These desires fructify as plans and we, operating from the material plane are bound by the laws of cause and effect . We do not start with a clean slate; there is no wiping it clean and starting again. We take our load of human ambitions with us and we try all over again to bring to fruition all those plans, as well as all the new ones that come with our new situation. As we traverse from one body to another we also take our subtle coverings. We have dropped the dross of the mortal coil, the mass of flesh, bones and blood and all the other parts that make up the gross energy that combines a material body. I the everlasting self , am covered by those things that I use to function every moment of my life, things that exist but can’t be seen; mind, intelligence and a false covering called ahankara or false ego. These energies travel with each and every spiritual being as they traverse from one situation to another and they manifest by being wrapped around the traveller in a subtle blanket full of unfulfilled plans and intentions. On finding ourselves starting again it is these plans and desires that motivate us and cause us to act.
We dream, we plan and we hope and while doing so we sometimes act out of intelligence and other times we are covered by foolishness and ignorance. Regardless of what our motivation is, there will always be an outcome, favorable or unfavorable. It is scientifically proven that for every activity there is a counter reaction. Sometimes this is called the law of karma, sometimes it is referred to as the law of cause and effect.It is a complete science.
If we are experiencing some painful situation we must understand that somewhere in our past we caused some similar pain to someone. It is the same for pleasure, whatever we are experiencing in terms of happiness or joy we have contributed somewhere in our past in a likewise way. The past referred to here is all of the lifetimes we have existed in previously, not just this present lifetime. The little baby body that somehow or other does not have a chance to grow and live for more than a few weeks, sometimes for only a few hours is reaping the actions that have previously been sown in another life time. It is not arbitrary, not an accident. It is the direct result of previous intentions to harm.
Karmic reaction is a vast, complicated tapestry that has as many twists and turns as we have longings and desires. There is no unexplained situation. Everything that happens regardless of how disastrous it might be can be understood if one knows the law of karma, the law of action and reaction. This does not mean that we harden our hearts to the plight of our fellow human beings or any creatures. It is advised that as we come to know our real selves we should always be cultivating a compassionate and understanding attitude toward those suffering from their previous misdeeds.
The intricacy of the karmic landscape has sometimes been likened to a woven blanket. One thread is laid down horizontally and another crosses it vertically, then another horizontally, then another vertically and so on, one after the other overlapping and being woven until each and every thread is linked by each and every other thread. All of the points of touch, each junction on the blanket is a separate mark or spot but each intricately connected by having been being woven into whole fabric. It is said that our lives are like this blanket. Each point represents one of the hundreds and thousands of people we come in contact within a lifetime. Some fleetingly, some for longer. Every single encounter we have is somehow connected with us, from being extremely significant to being almost without mention. But each and every moment of our lives we are in one way or another coming into contact with experiences, incidences and people due to our karmic bank account or due to our insatiable chasm of desires.
Our first reaction when we are in troublesome situations is to question why it is happening. We are often incredulous that such a dire situation could come upon us. We do not think that we are in fact the makers of our own misery or that the cause is through our own actions. In fact it is often the eagerness and inclination to look for someone else to blame that leads to more inappropriate action that in turn spirals into worse and worse consequences.
We read and hear every day of people who seek retribution for something they consider an offense toward them, and the outcome is often worse than the original so-called offense. Some people continue feuds for decades and even carry them over from one lifetime to another, making some original petty disagreement into the proverbial mountain out of a molehill and placing an enormous amount of obligation and ill spent vengeance on the heads of their offspring who are expected to continue vendettas long after the ancestors, who began the war, have died.
There is no situation that is not of our own doing. We may find ourselves in poverty or extreme wealth, illiterate or highly educated, we may have extraordinary bodily beauty or we may be acutely disfigured or we may be born into a situation fraught with legal complications. Any situation we find ourselves in is due to the karmic debt or credit we have accumulated in this and previous lifetimes, in conjunction with the deep well of desires that we are perpetually trying to satisfy.
No matter what combination of desires we can consider or conjure up, there is a serving of that particular taste available in the endless cycle of birth and death known as the wheel of samsara. The material world is likened to a vast mosaic of never ending varieties of desires and yearnings. If one has an inclination toward a particular type of experience then somehow it is available. This is why we are here. To try and satisfy the never ending stream of thoughts and ideas those are continually assailing us on the premise that once it has been attained we will be happy. The continuous assault of the senses to taste, hear, smell , touch or see something new, something different. That elusive element that is always missing no matter where we find ourselves. That pursuit of happiness that is always just around the corner. No matter how hard we try to throw ourselves into the enterprise of the moment we come up empty hearted, lack lustre, jaded and bereft. The problem is that we, the enduring living beings are trying to immerse ourselves in the illusory landscape of transitory and impermanent matter. There is no end to the varieties of ways we can remain on the wheel of birth and death. Deluded by ignorance, the living entity wanders in the forest of this material world, enjoying the happiness and distress resulting from his past deeds, everywhere and at all times.
Ignorant of our real nature and of where real happiness lies we search in all the wrong places for that which will satisfy us. We create situations that we think will bring us happiness such as having families and making money but after some time we feel the same emptiness. We go searching everywhere, anywhere trying to fill up the aching loneliness within. We get kicked time and time again by the consequences of our choices but we do not learn. A modern day mantra would have to be, ‘This time it will work out, this time I will be happy.’ But try as we might, all we do is entrench ourselves further and further in the quicksand of our karmic results and become more and more entangled in the material sphere.
Is there a way to extricate ourselves from this situation? How can I rise above my own desires?
The very first understanding is to learn how to differentiate between matter and spirit. This is a complete and proven science. The world and everything in it, is made up of two distinct and recognizable energies. The superior substance is spiritual and the lesser is material. The nature of spiritual energy is that it cannot ever perish. It never ceases to be. Spiritual energy is that which keeps all the material forms conscious and moving. Without spiritual energy there cannot be alertness or function. If one is ever fortunate enough to be with someone when they are leaving their body, they will be able to see firsthand that once the person, who is the spiritual being, leaves their human form behind, there is no more movement, no more awareness . Then the person has gone and they have left behind the inert and lifeless form that just seconds ago they were inhabiting. This form still has all the facial and bodily features of the person you knew but it is now no longer able to be cognizant because they, the individual being is no longer there to bring it to life. This is true of all living things, trees, ants, animals, birds, grasses, aquatics, all mammals, all humans, every living and breathing creature is only alive due to the presence of the self, the spiritual particle inhabiting the particular form. It does not take a lot of insight to see the difference between a dead body and a living one. It is just unfortunate that we are not educated in this basic premise of the laws of nature and identity.
When a person knows who they are, what their true nature or the actual true science of identity is, it means they choose to behave and act based on their actual identity. In this position they see things for what they are, not what is being presented as real. They are able to discriminate between what will make them happy and what will lead to more misery and emptiness. Having this supreme knowledge means that they can control their desires, knowing well the outcome of being out of control. They take what they require to live according to their position in life and they do not step beyond the righteous realms of their given amount. Being in this position means that they do not act out of envy or hate. They are not inclined to commit atrocities such as stealing, bribery, fraud, assault or murder to get more than is their quota. They recognize that there is a superior law governing the universe and they choose to adhere to it.
Actions performed in this way are no longer under the laws of karma which have material outcomes but rather this is considered ‘akarma’ which is action under spiritual principles . When one places oneself under the principles of a higher spiritual truth then gradually the reactions that bind one to this world begin to be severed and slowly a purifying process begins. As we progress in this way our intentions and activities also become purified.
This does not mean that happiness and distress will not be part of that person’s life but it does mean that they can view the situation wisely. They know that this is from their past but that through spiritual understanding and practices they are changing their future. It also means that they submit to the situation that they find themselves in, regardless of how bitter it might be, knowing it will pass, just like a passing storm cloud that comes out of the blue and pours a deluge of rain, and then just as quickly it is gone. Having this knowledge means that there is no one else to blame, no one to go to war with. The responsibility is mine and mine alone. This knowledge brings about a happiness that will not falter or flounder . It is a happiness that gives the living entity a sure platform to operate from. It is permanent and real and can be depended upon.
This consciousness also brings about a greater concern for all living entities and the fact that they are also caught on the wheel of birth and death, continually pursuing that which has no real substance and ending up frustrated, angry and depressed. It brings about compassion and care and a desire to see an end to suffering.
There is nothing to compare to spiritual understanding as elegantly explained by Jagad Guru of Science of Identity Foundation . It is the foundation we are all looking for. It is the way to end the karmic void we have found ourselves in and it is the elixir that will bring true happiness and caring to our hearts and minds.