“Could you please write something on how meditation helps on karmic levels.” There was this question, so writing it as a post.
The short answer. If you do regular Dhyan, you will realise that Karma is an illusion. You will actually experience this fact. Then you remain in eternal happiness, Param-anand.
Now the longer discussion.
There are three types of karma,
Sanchit karma – the entire accumulated load from several lives which you have to rebalance at some point of time, either in this life or the next ones.
Prarabdha karma – that part from the above load which you have decided to rebalance in this current life. This is chosen by you at the time of birth and lasts till the moment of physical death. This can be seen from your horoscope. As long as your soul animates this current 5-layered body, its linked Prarabdha karma will run its course. It is like an arrow released and will continue its motion till it exhausts its energy. In case you attain Realisation, ie Sadyo-Mukti and become a Jivan-mukt, the body will continue to be animated and operate as per the chosen prarabha karma till the time of physical death. (Do read the posts on on Sadyo-mukti/ Krama-mukti and on Jivan-mukti/ Videha mukti.)
Agaami karma – The karma which you will possibly create in this current life. If this is of a smaller magnitude, you will be able to rebalance it in this current life itself. But if it is of a larger magnitude, it will be added to your Sanchit karma and you will rebalance it in your future lives.
When you achieve Sadyo-mukti, ie experience yourself as the Parabrahma, the Advaita, the Nirvishesh brahma, all the stored karma Sanchit karma is burnt at that very instant. And now you are a realised soul, so creation of new karma will be impossible too.
Karma is linked to the 5-layered body which is animated by your soul. No karma can touch the Soul/ Atma. The Soul is beyond all concepts of karma. But when a Soul resides in the body it mistakenly believes that it is linked to karma, now this is called an individual soul or Jiv-atma. Eg there is the Sun in the sky and clouds over it. The clouds are nothing to the Sun and neither are linked to him. But we think that the Sun is covered by the clouds. The Soul is similarly covered by the clouds of karma. When you do Dhyan, these clouds are shown to be immaterial and you experience the Soul.
Meditation is a very misunderstood word. Modern people think that listening to relaxing music or not thinking of anything or sitting motionless in a dark room is mediation. All this is good to relax your mind, but it won’t do anything for your spiritual progress.
The correct word is Dhyan. There is no translation possible of this Sanskrit word ‘Dhyan’. Here you are required to elevate your limited awareness to the level of the Parabrahma by thinking of yourself as the Parabrahma itself. This continued thought is called Dhyan. You concentrate on this one thought exclusively. No other thoughts are allowed to enter your mind except this. You give all your attention to this thought, you appreciate its non-duality, its existence within yourself.
Dhyan means ‘motionlessness’. This ‘absence of movement’ has very deep connotations. The continuous motion of the three-Gun, the Satva-Raja-Tama is stilled. Prakruti stops her performance, ie the illusion of manifested creation stops. You observe oneself, you become a witness. And you identify with the catalyst who remains still rather than the puppet who is in motion.
You are required to sit (post here). Not lie down, as you will go to sleep. Neither can you stand or do any actions while doing Dhyan, because your mind will also think on how to do these actions or how to keep standing without falling. Dhyan needs continuity of the physical state so that your mind can concentrate only on the non-dual subtlest intelligence within you. So you have to sit. If the body is at rest the mind also rests. It becomes easier to focus.
But there really are no rules on how to sit or where to sit or how to sit at what time etc. But to begin with, you have to fix your place (asan) and also a time, eg daily at 7am or whatever is possible on a regular basis. This will help your mind get used to the idea of Dhyan. Later, with practice, as the mind gets trained, there are no rules as this becomes a constant thought. Even later this goes deep that every instant is a Dhyan. This will continue non-stop till physical death. If you are able to strongly hold on to this thought at the instant of death you will attain the highest Sadyo-mukti of the Videha kind when you exit the body.
The life you are living is actually a preparation for the instant of physical death. If you concentrate on something for a life time, you will easily be able to concentrate on it at the moment of your exit thus achieve it. The moment of exit is the most powerful moment of your life. Eg if you concentrate on the idea that you are a devotee of Vishnu, you will go to Vaikunth. If you concentrate that you are a devotee of Shiv, you will go to Kailas. These states are called the lower Krama-mukti. The moment of physical exit is the critical point. If at this moment you are fixed in the idea that you are the Parabrahma, you will attain the highest possible Sadyo-mukti of the Videha kind. You will be able to do this only if you have trained your mind for a life-time, so we are all required to do Dhyan.
There are just the three possible mantras which are possible for Dhyan, Om, Soham and Hamsa.
Om is generally used by people who have renounced all forms of material bindings and are totally focussed on the Eternal. There is are specific ways of using Om, this will be taught to you by your own Guru. I know someone very senior who does Om Dhyan. Aged, now in his 70’s, his wife too in her 70’s. He was initiated when he was in his 20-s, after which his family got him married. His wife once told me that he used to beg for her permission to become a formal ascetic, but she refused. If you practice Om-dhyan in all its intensity, it is equivalent to formal asceticism. Even if you feel attracted to material life from time to time, it will be superficial because Om will always strongly pull you inward. Om is is Sanyas. Sanyas सम्यक् न्यास means that you are putting the Conscious energy perfectly within yourself. Once you start it in real earnest, you cannot get interested in or remain much in the material illusory world, the Eternal will pull you very strongly.
Then Hamsa and Soham are the two Ajapa mantras. Every living being unconsciously recites these mantras with every breath. If you adopt them as your Mantra, now onwards, you will use them consciously. Hamsa is the Ajapa mantra when you first exhale and mentally recite ‘hmm’ and then inhale and mentally recite ’saaa’. Together it makes ‘hamsa’. The details of this are given in detail in the Hamsa upanishad. But this upanishad is so utterly high level that even if you understand what it means, you won’t be able to perform the process. Possibly it involves Hatha yog too as complicated movements of pran and bandha etc are described in it. Hamsa vidya is when this mantra gains power with regular practice. I have not been taught it so do not know more. But it is a very powerful means of attaining the Self.
Soham is the second Ajapa mantra. My Sat-Guru taught all his disciples the ‘Soham’ mantra. Here you breathe in with the internal sound ‘sooo’ and exhale with the internal sound of ‘hmmm’. Together it makes ‘soham’. It is called the Ajapa-Gayatri by some people. It enlightens you to your real nature. The only thing you have to do is to internally recite the ‘soo’ and ‘hmm’ with your every breath. All the time, every breath. This is all you need to do. Soon it will become so intense that even if you deep sleep or dream, you will consciously recite it continuously. Never force your breathing, always breathe normally gently as you do. No sound should be created by your breathing. Some people breathe heavily and a sound is created by the air moving in your nose. Avoid this, it cause damage to your Nadi-s. The breathing should be noiseless, only then you will ‘hear’ the associated ‘soo’ and ‘hmm’ sounds. If you can sit down in a formal Dhyan even 1-2 times a day then it becomes even more intense.
Everyone can do Soham-jaap. Some people have this misconception that higher level mantras can be given only to the higher aspirants. This is incorrect. A genuine Sat-Guru will give you the full and final Mantra in the first step itself. You and me both are the Advaita, the Eternal. We are all capable of focussing on our real name. Maybe someone has lesser power of concentration to begin with, but the Mantra is so powerful that it does its own work.
Now the thing is with the householder’s life, Gruhast-ashram, we are required to perform all activities related to society, family, spouse/children etc. So doing Dhyan thrice a day 1hr each session may not be possible. So the best option is to do Soham jaap whenever you can, 1-2 mins whenever you are free, during the day/night, when you are travelling etc. This will ensure that your mind is gradually trained to think of itself. ‘Soham’ is Sushuma Yog, you will pull you towards yourself with its power. And if you get time, if you can sit in formal Dhyan, your progress towards yourself will be faster.
Now when you sit for Dhyan, each breath is considered to be one life time. Each breath is used to burn the karma of a life-time. It is a very intense exercise. Can you imagine the focus needed to consciously convert the energies of say five hundred million breaths, which is about a 65yrs life span, into one breath? But this does happen when you are very highly focussed on your mantra, not otherwise. If you practice daily, it will eventually happen with you too.
Even if you cannot reach this intensity in this lifetime, whatever you did will be carried over into your next life. So it is an asset you are generating. Dhyan makes the Mind still. And then the benefits of a relatively calm mind are obvious. You will look younger, more healthier, live longer, more mentally stable, more rational, less perturbed by events around you. Even if a karmic event occurs in your life, you are more easily able to navigate through it. And the chances of creating deep-rooted Agaami karma are also reduced as you do not react to situations from your deepest core. You are more in tune with your conscience. You go through events without disturbing your innermost self. The intensity of your desires will reduce with time. Frustrations disappointments reduce in intensity as your mind fluctuates less.
Then when you continually contemplate on your Reality, you force your mind to think of Yourself repeatedly. You realise, dimly at first and then very strongly that the creation which surrounds you is an illusion. As you remove the bindings laid on you, your experiences in Dhyan become more profound. You enter even deeper into yourself, you realise that Karma itself is an illusion. You are the Soul, this intention becomes stronger and stronger. You finally realise that there is no difference in the states of happiness/sadness. Every instant is filled with the awareness of non-duality.
So the short answer is again that if you do regular Dhyan, you will realise that Karma is an illusion, you experience this reality. You will always be in eternal happiness, Param-anand.
This post is basically from the Brahma-sutra, from what I was taught by my Sat-Guru and what I personally practice.
This really old Hindi song to me is beautifully meaningful. A rough translation, “I walked together with Life. I blew away every worry into smoke and went on. Grieving about past tragedies was meaningless. I celebrated every tragedy and walked on. What was given to me, I accepted it as destined. What was lost, I forgot it all and went on. There is one point where there is no difference between happiness and sorrow. I consciously brought my heart to this final destination and went on.”