Karma demystified – the essential nature of creation

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Karma / Wisdom For Seekers


In this talk, Sadhguru simplifies this profound and often misunderstood word - 'Karma'. He explains that the way we see with our eyes, it is influenced by our memory. Without memory, the eye can not see. Memory means it is accumulated information. Everything in a human life is run by memory. Looking at life through this memory is traditionally called as 'Karma'. To get rid of Karma, is a long process. Instead, one should strive to bring a distance from this memory.


Duration: 13 min


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9 min read

Karma demystified – the essential nature of creation

The following is an unedited transcript of Sadhguru's video. For better readability, breaks and highlights have been added by the editors.

Now, the essence of all this is – first thing is to understand the nature of how existence is happening. Either you can ‘this’ [self], or you can look at the atom, or you can look at the universe. If you want to look at the universe, it is complex, it is difficult – because you don’t have a gallery seat, you know. There is no – it is not like a stadium, you can sit somewhere and watch the whole universe. Very difficult. You can only see it in pieces.

If you want to watch and atom – nobody has seen an atom. Do you know this? Do you know this? Even in a super electron microscope, you can’t see an atom. We have observed it’s activity. But we have never seen an atom as such. But, we have broken it. We are capable of breaking things that even we can not see. That’s our … we are very proud of this, these days. We can break anything. We can make it or not is a questionable thing, but we can break anything we want. Even if we can not see it, we can break it.

Right now your visual apparatus can see only those things which stop light

Now, what you see, and what you do not see itself is a very dicy thing. In the sense – what is it that you can see? Right now, can you see my hand? Yes. You can see my hand only because my hand stops light. If my hand did not stop this light, if it allowed light to pass through – you wouldn’t see this hand. Yes! Or in other words, right now your visual apparatus can see only those things which stop light. Anything that allows light through, you can not see it. You can not see light itself, first of all. Can you see the light that is here? No. Only whatever stops light, you can see it. What does not stop light, you can not see it. Very bad, isn’t it? You must be able to see all those things which allow light to pass through, because they are important things. But right now, your visual apparatus are trained to see, or capable of seeing only that which stops light.

So, the whole process of seeing life the way it is means – first of all evolving an eye, a thoughtless eye. An eye which is free of thought. When I Say free of thought – it is free form the taint of memory. Right now, these two eyes are heavily loaded with memory. See, you can see this – if you see a group of people like this – if you just casually look like this. If among these 100s of people, if there is one face that you are familiar with – you will see, suddenly that face sticks out. Have you noticed this? Have you noticed this? You are going on a street. There are 100 people standing there. Your friend is among that. If you look here, just this friend’s face [pops up] is more clear, than the rest of the faces. Because this eye works with memory. The more memory you have, the better it sees. No memory, it can not see.

Memory means that which does not exist, but acts out as if it does

Memory means an accumulated past. Memory means information. Memory means that which does not exist, but acts out as if it does. Memories are more real, than reality, isn’t it so? Yes or no? See, I want you to understand – everything in your life is run by memory. Not just your computer stick. Everything in your life. When I say memory – not just what you carry here [head]. Your very body is a body of memory. Why – if you [pointing to a man] eat a banana, it becomes a masculine body, and if she [pointing to a woman] eats a banana, it becomes a feminine body – is simply because of the memory that it contains, isn’t it? The information that is stored in ‘this’ body, and ‘that’ body is different. Same banana – it becomes a man. Same banana – it becomes a woman. Yes or no? Are you eating different types of bananas! Same thing, same food if you eat – it is becoming one way. In one person it is becoming dark skin, in another person it is becoming fair skin. How? The memory that you carry.

Do ‘you’ remember your great great great great great grandfather? You don’t! But his nose is sitting on your face. Your body remembers, isn’t it? You may not have… no idea, who it was. But your body remembers even today. A million years ago, how your forefathers were, still it remembers, isn’t it? So what you call as my body is just a body of memory. And eyes are loaded with memory. An eye which is loaded with memory, an eye which is corrupted with memory – can not see anything the way it is. It will only see things as it is convenient, because the software is working from inside. It will not allow you to see anything the way it is. This is what traditionally we are referring to as karma.

It is there in your body. It is there in your energies. It is there in the way your chemical reactions happen. It is there in your brain. It is there in your mind. It is there in everything. The very physical energy that you carry, there is memory. Because you will see, each person’s energy behave differently from the other, simply because of the type of memory it carries. If you want to get rid of this, it’s a long process. And if you get rid of this, dismantling of the personality and body will happen. So, another way is to create a distance from it. Just hold it little away. When you want to play with it, you play with it. When you want to switch it off, you must be able to switch it off.

So, for this, and external view is needed. Right now, your ears are loaded with memory, your eyes are loaded with memory, your tongue is loaded with memory. Why – if you are born in Karnataka, if you go to North India food doesn’t taste good – is because the tongue is loaded with memory. Yes or no? Have you suffered this or no? You went North, and they said aloo-bhaji, aloo… aloo-matar, aloo-palak, aloo-parontha, aloo, aloo, aloo, aloo they said – you couldn’t stay there! Because your tongue is loaded with memory. It wants the same things back, otherwise it will suffer.

Being loaded with memory means is – a cocoon of the past is holding you

So, what being loaded with memory means is – a cocoon of the past is holding you. It will not allow you to even move into the present. A cocoon of the past holds you, and you allow it to do this, because it feels safe. It creates a cocoon. There is safety. But in safety, there is also imprisonment. You are really safe, if we lock you up in a ‘safe’, isn’t it? But the problem is, you can’t get out. That’s the whole problem. Walls that you build as self protection, they also become the walls of self imprisonment. That is the nature of life. If you lock yourself from inside, or outside, it’s the same thing. As long as you do not open the door, whether somebody locked you from outside or you locked yourself from inside – there is no difference. Anyway you are imprisoned, isn’t it? At least somebody locked you from outside, you can at least complain and scream. You locked yourself from inside – you can only be depressed. You can not even scream. At whom will you scream?

So, this process of what we are looking at is – the memory imprints itself on all levels. Right upto the elemental level. From the five elements that function here, from just after that memories work starts.

So when we uttered the word karma – it is not one simple formula. Or it’s not – you know people are saying – theory of karma. We are not talking about any theory. We are referring to a certain reality. Karma means memory. Action and memory. Past action exists only in the form of memory, isn’t it so? Yes? Memory, not just what you carry here [head]. Every cell in the body carries its own memory. Why one atom behaves differently from another atom, though the same ingredients is – it has a memory. A hydrogen atom has one kind of memory. Oxygen atom has another kind of memory. Unless you mix them up, they will continue to behave like that. It is in a small circle. You are in a little larger circle. The universe is in a much larger circle. But the same memory rules all of it.

When we said karma, we are not talking about some concept or philosophy. We are referring to a certain reality

So when we said karma, we are not talking about some concept or philosophy. We are referring to a certain reality, which is finding manifestation, as who you are. The very shape of your body is because of memory. If a bird eats a mango, it becomes a bird. If a worm eats a mango, it becomes a worm. If you eat a mango, you become a human being. Same mango, how many things it’s doing, depending upon what kind of memory it carries. Isn’t it? What you call as a seed – if you plant a seed in the same soil – ‘here’ you plant a mango tree, ‘here’ you plant an apple tree, the same soil. ‘This’ will only produce apples, ‘this’ will only produce mangoes. I know there is a newspaper pictures where a jackfruit has become bananas – that’s different.

In the same soil, if you plant an apple seed and a mango seed, ‘this’ will only produce apples, ‘this’ will only produce mangoes. Because seed is a certain amount of memory, isn’t it? Whether it is a seed of a plant, or your father’s seed which enters your mother’s womb – it is just memory, and memory, and memory, isn’t it so? This is karma. And this goes right back. Right upto the elemental level, everything is memory. Only the pure element is free from memory.

So the idea – when we start, we starting off Bhutesha. Because that’s the most important thing that he mastered the element. That’s why we bow down to him. Because he mastered the elements, he has an eye which has no memory. A taintless eye which sees everything just the way it is. So yoga essentially means developing an eye which is not contaminated by memory. Which simply sees. It does not see things the way your memory perverts it. It simply sees everything the way it is. This eye will see those things which do not stop light. Right now these two eyes can only sees what stops light. If you start seeing something that does not stop light, that means another dimension of the eye is beginning to function.


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