Questioner: Back to karma theory, Sadhguru. With the progress in medical sciences, the life expectancy of every individual is increasing, but the pain, diseases and medical sufferings are also increasing day-by-day. Do we call this karma, that we have to suffer in the human life? Why do some small infants suffer from such dreaded diseases, or is it punishment of my past karma? Why should one stay on even after completing one’s responsibilities, which usually ends when children find their jobs and settle down?
Sadhguru: Oh, don’t do that, please. These days children find jobs by eighteen–twenty.
Well, first of all, karma is not a theory, and it is not a punishment and reward system in the world. Karma is a self-recording process – every experience that happens to you, every perception that you have, this system [human] goes on recording, so that a large part of your life need not be thought through every moment. A large part of it, which is motor functions and physical world can be handled automatically.
When I say automatically – see, for example, you can walk. But do you remember when you were probably eighteen–twenty months old, when you tried to walk, how difficult it was? Because on two legs walking on a round planet, when the planet is spinning like this, is not a easy thing to do. If you look at the physical laws involved in walking, a human being walking on two legs, it is too complex. If you try to understand it, it’s enormous amount of physics, it’s crazy. But, today you can just get up and walk without thinking. But, if you start thinking, “Okay, I must put the right leg first, then the left leg, right leg, left leg,” you will be confused, you won’t know how to walk.
So, walking is not a simple thing, it’s a phenomena actually, walking on two legs. Because, as far as nature is concerned, to put a four-legged animal on two legs, it took millions of years of research and development. You can call this evolution, but essentially it’s research and development. Creation is doing research and development on this planet – to put a four-legged animal on two legs, you know, how long it took. But today you can just do it effortlessly, because all your life you’ve done it. This is all karma – there is genetic memory, there is evolutionary memory, there is conscious and unconscious levels of memory, articulate and inarticulate levels of memory. So, this whole body is memory, all right?
See right now, you may not remember how your great, great, great-grandfather looked like, let’s say ten generations ago. But his nose may be sitting on your face right now, exactly like that. Your skin colour, the skin tone, how your forefathers were a thousand years ago, your epithelial cells still remember, no way to confuse them. So, what you call as myself, this whole framework of a human being is a consequence of a certain amalgamation of memory. So, these memories are allowing you to function – this is your karma. Without this memory, you wouldn’t know one thing from the other, all right? You just wouldn’t know one thing from the other. So, karma is not a concept, karma is not a punishment and reward, you know, system. It is just that, you exist only because of your karma.
But it is like, you build a karmic stage upon which you’re supposed to do your drama. But if your karmic stage is not firm, if it is like quicksands, now you try to dance on it, you will sink into it – this is all the problem is. Your karma is not conscious, it is simply happening in a compulsive and instinctive manner This simply means, your research and development that’s gone into you, you’re wasting.
If you are any other creature, you functioning instinctively and compulsively was all right. Once you become human, you’re supposed to function intelligently and consciously. For any human being this is important in every aspect of life, but particularly for a soldier, it is super important because it’s a question of life and death, that you are conscious and you function intelligently. You don’t do compulsive reactive things, because then you will do what your enemy wants you to do, very easily they can get you into a reaction. So, this is extremely important for all aspects of life.
Karma is not a problem, you exist because of your karma. You don’t suffer because of your karma. You suffer because you react to the karma, you’re reacting to your own karma, or you’re reacting to somebody else’s karma. It is in reaction that you suffer.
See, there are only two kinds of suffering – physical suffering and mental suffering. As soldiers you might have witnessed – even when there are grievous injuries, certain men don’t suffer, they’re still on. Not that there is no pain, there is enormous pain – because physical pain is one thing, multiplying that in your mind is called suffering. Physical pain is very important for our survival. If there was no physical pain, we wouldn’t protect our body, we would rip it apart. So, physical pain is an essential part of our survival process, but suffering is a psychological reaction to either physiological situation or social situations around us.
So, karma is not the problem, karma is vital for your existence. You are an individual only because of your karmic matter. Karma does not mean good and bad, it is just memory. It is things that have already happened. Is yesterday good or bad? There is no such thing, because it’s not alive. Only if it’s alive and it can bite you, you can say it’s good or bad. But what is dead and gone, if you react to it, even today it seems to bite you and hurt you. Because what happened ten years ago people still suffer. What may happen day after tomorrow, they already suffer. So, what happened ten years ago is not alive right now, what may happen day after tomorrow cannot be alive right now, because it’s not happened – so you’re essentially suffering that which does not exist.
This is why karma is important, you understand your joy is also your karma, your misery is also your karma, your suffering is also your karma. Your Karma means you’re doing it, karma means action. When you say my life is my karma, you are admitting my life is my making. This is the most dynamic way to exist. This is the only culture on the planet who has looked life like this, a whole lot of cultures believe that their life is managed from somewhere above.
From up there somebody is managing, but we are sitting on a round planet which is spinning all the time, you don’t even know which is up and which is down. In this cosmos, is it somewhere marked, this side up and this side down? There is no such thing, you do not even know what is up and down, how come you know who is up there or who is down there? So, these are childish, you know, solace that you create in your mind.
Karma is a very dynamic, adult way of looking at life – this is my making. Right now, I am joyful – this is my making. Right now, I’m miserable – this is my making. Right now, I am the way I am – this is entirely my making. When you say, “My life is my karma,” you are saying, “My life is entirely my making.” This is the most dynamic way to exist. Do not make it fatalistic, it is nothing fatalistic about it. Because, if you see it’s my making, you can fix it. If it is God’s making, you cannot fix it. That’s a big difference.