Questioner: What is karma? Does the subconscious exist?
Acharya Prashant: Yes, they exist. They play their own game. You are talking about karma. The ball goes up, the ball comes down. But when the ball goes up, you are still free; and when the ball comes down, you are equally free. The ball is coming down because it went up. The whole cause and effect chain is playing out. That is the law of karma. But does it make any difference to you whether the ball goes up or comes down?
Everything that is material, everything that can be conceptualized, is bound to follow a cause-effect chain. Let the material follow that. You are not material. If you exercised hard yesterday or ran around a lot, today you will experience some pain in the body. You are getting the fruits of your karma. But let the body ache. You must not become sick.
You retain your inner health in the middle of all aches and sicknesses.
Let the fruits of karma be for the one who was the doer of the karma.
Let the doer experience the fruits of the doing.
You are neither the doer, nor are you obliged to experience and bear the results of the doing.
Na karta, na bhokta—Neither was I the one who was doing it nor am I the one who will take the consequences.
When it was being done, I was there, but not as the doer. And when its results are showing up in time, I am still there but not as the experiencer of results. Let the mind bear the results, let the body bear the results, let the inner universe bear the results, I am free of all that, I relax.
Doing everything, who was I? The relaxed one. In the middle of all the results of the actions, who am I? The relaxed one. So am I really experiencing any change because of karma? No. Now karma doesn’t matter. Are you getting it?
If you act as the doer, then you will have to live into the future to bear the fruits of the doing.
Then you will have to create time for yourself. If you reap, then you surely have sown in the past. Without having sown, you cannot reap. And today if you plant a tree with the expectation that one day it will give you fruits, then remember that along with the tree, you too will have to live to the day when the fruits come. You are preventing your dissolution. You are unnecessarily stretching yourself into time.
If you plan for tomorrow, don’t you see you will have to exist till tomorrow? And is it any fun existing as the planner, as the doer, the desirous one? If you exist till tomorrow as the desirous one, what is the quality of your existence? How does a desirous one keep feeling? Contented? Restful? Joyful? How does he feel? He feels like a man with his hand chopped off. Incomplete, awaiting completion, and suffering in the incompletion.
Why do you want to continue into the future as the doer, as the desirous one?
This is about actions that you undertake today. Kindly do not enter into any action with expectation or with fear, fear is just another kind of expectation. You will only be burdening yourself with karma. And as far as the actions, the deeds of the past are concerned, please dis-identify with the doer of those deeds. Let that doer die.
Now, who remains to bear the consequences?
You may have committed the most foul of acts in the past, but who can come to punish you if you have died? Who will come to punish you? Will you get punishment if you are already dead? But if you remain the one who committed those acts, then you will have to bear the punishment for those acts.
So, be totally free of the past, and have no eye on the future. Which means that now you get all the freedom to play around with past and future. Because they are meaningless to you, they are harmless, they are like jokes now. So you can indulge in them. That’s the great thing about not wanting anything—when you don’t want anything, you can play around with everything.
The one who has no stake in the past, can now go into memories, wallow in memories, bathe in memories, and study all history, without getting influenced. And the one who has no expectations, or fear from the future, can now speculate, project, imagine, without letting the future overwhelm him.
Only the one who is deeply surrendered to the present, gets the rights to be the master of the past and the future.
Excerpts from ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity.
Watch the session: Acharya Prashant: What is Karma? Does the subconscious exist?
Read more articles on this topic:
Article 2: How can I ‘understand’ non-doership
Article 3: Karma, Aatma, Rebirth
Books by Acharya Prashant are available on AMAZON: