HINDUISM - KARMA/MOKSHA Topics in Hinduism

2 points | Post submitted by suyash95 122 days ago | 8 comments | viewed 128 times

QUESTIONS N ANSWERS


  • suyash95 122 days ago | +1 points

    What are the misconceptions about karma?

    The most common misconception about Karma is that it is divine retribution or punishment from God which it is definitely NOT.

    Karma is the result of our actions which are determined by our desires which we put into practice.

    The determining factor of Karma is INTENTION (saṅkalpa) so we think about something, resolve to achieve it, and then act - that act has three possibilities -

    1. it produces joy, happiness and contributes to another’s good,
    2. it causes pain, injury or detracts from the good of another.
    3. It has a neutral effect on others but a positive or negative effect on oneself.

    We experience the outcomes of our actions in all their many repercussions - this is the fruit of Karma. Positive actions produce possitive results, negative actions negative ones. Neutral acts don’t produce Karma per se but condition the way we think and may impact on our future desires, intentions and actions.

    So address this process by first examining and reorganising you mind to clear out all negativity and try to think in a more positive way.

    Think before you act! Remember that even simple actions have effects on others - so be very mindful of the way to speak to and treat others - since this will rebound upon you.

    If you have hurt someone then ask forgiveness and make amends.

    Remember that the two properties common to all sentient beings is that they all wish to be happy and to avoid suffering - so try to empathise with them and avoid increasing the suffering in the world. Strive to be a benevolent and beneficent presence in the world.

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  • suyash95 122 days ago | +0 points

    In Hinduism, what is the role of reincarnation in achieving moksha?

    In all honesty, reincarnation is not a central provable tenet of Hinduism.

    The Vedas, Upanishads and Advaita talk about the truth that is directly observable and experienced as Brahman. But they do not focus too much on reincarnation, which they treat cursorily.

    This is the central provable tenet of Hinduism — that the individual essence is identical to the universal essence. Hindu philosophy does not need the idea of reincarnation for its validity.

    However, reincarnation is a useful inference that can be applied to explain many circumstances and situations of the material world.

    So here’s the difference. The Atman=Brahman identity is provable because it is a direct observation (pratyakSha pramANam OR aparokShAnubhUti). Reincarnation theory is not provable because it is an inference of inferences (anumAna pramANam). Reliance on scriptures (shabda pramANam) is alright for a believing Hindu, but for someone who doesn’t even believe in Hindu scriptures, you cannot prove reincarnation by independent evidence of direct observation.

    The usefulness of reincarnation is to provide psychological consolation by way of assuring the individual that if they have unfinished business they don’t have to despair because there will be another life where the knowledge and deeds from their present life will carry over to their new life in subtle ways. This is used for positive reinforcement of an individual’s spiritual journey . It can be used for negative reinforcement of karmic retribution in a future life.

    So if you haven’t reached the stage of achieving moksha in this life, there is assurance that your achievements from this life will carry over, and you don’t have to start from scratch in your next life.


    Why is attaining moksha necessary in Hinduism? Can't I live without attaining moksha?

    There are two perspectives of MOKSHA which means ”freedom” or “liberation”, the close one and the distant one.

    The two things common to all sentient beings the desire to be liberated (mukti) from duḥkha (suffering) and to achieve happiness. This desire and striving for the needs and wants of daily life and the avoiding of pain, sickness, old age and removal of hindrances is small moksha - liberation from the cycle of transmigration is Big Moksha.

    So coming back to your question you, and every sentient being is already immersed in the practice of moksha. The first moksha is awaking from sleep, then attending to your sanitary needs, then taking food for moksha from hunger, and then going to work to earn money to achieve moksha from deprivation and poverty, then taking care of your health to maintain moksha from disease, etc. etc. So every moment of your life and every desire and that you have, and every pursuit you deploy is a desire for freedom from something!

    Don’t concern yourself about Ultimate Moksha - because that, like Andromeda galaxy crashing into our galaxy is remote and of no concern right now and also not dependant upon anything you can do.

    The practice of Dharma should be your focus, not Moksha, live and be in the here and now! Try to make the best of what you have and live a good life.

    Dharma is defined by Rāmānujācārya as – Dharma niḥśreyasa sādhanam - Dharma is the means to achieve the highest common good. So please start focussing on perfecting your practice of Dharma and abandon all interest or speculation on Ultimate Liberation.


    If karma is real, did a lot of patients in the hospital get there because of it?

    Disease is a complex matter.

    Every living being is subjected to disease because our environments are swarming with bacteria and if they pass through our natural barriers disease is caused. So we are under constant attack and siege by the little buggers and health is simply maintenance of defence mechanisms known as the immune system.

    The strength of the immune system depends among other factors, on the programming of the body which we received from our parents and so there is a predisposition to certain diseases which is what we may call Karmic (past karma = prarābdha).

    Long term chronic diseases like cancer and auto-immune disease and the like are considered to be Karmic in origin since they have no known ethology in many cases - some cancers are also related to life-style choices. (Our choices are also Karma!)

    Certain diseases are related to diet and life-style and can be cured through proper diet and exercise and are therefore are not caused by past Karma but due to ignorance and neglect and our current performative Karma (kriyaman karma).

    Accidents and the like are also a combination of past Karma (prarābdha) and how we deal with the situation in the moment (kriyaman). So the circumstances are determined by past Karma and the outcome depends on how we handle the situation which is also Karma

    The projects which we are currently formulating and carrying out have an effect on others and the environment which will later rebound upon us as āgāmi Karma.


    What are the responses of Hinduism and Buddhism that believe in reincarnation about the concept of eternal life in hell if you do not believe in Jesus/Allah?

    Eternal damnation as a punishment for non believing is a thought crime.

    Comrade Stalin, Mao and Kim Jong Un have all implemented severe punishment Gulags and “Re-education camps” for this sort of evil, pernicious activity - thinking the wrong thoughts and having the wrong opinions.

    Nowadays we see the Left starting to reimpose this regime through the PC program which is becoming even more strident and stringent in the media and universities.

    Hinduism and Buddhism both adhere to the principle of free thought and free speech - without restrictions and both have a history of vigorous debate.

    So the idea of a celestial Dear Leader in the sky with his PC thought-crime agenda doesn’t impress us.


     According to Hinduism, if God doesn't directly interfere with one's karma, why is it necessary to worship God?

    Nowhere in the vast library of Hindu scriptures does it say that God must be worshiped, adored or venerated or even believed in. The reason is simple -

    Those that feel that God has to be worshiped are differentiating God from themselves i.e. creating and perpetuating the vision of duality and difference.

    The Vedas emphatically declare that this ātman which is us, is an expansion or mode or spark of the totality of Being - Brahman. Brahman or God if you will, is everything and the ONLY thing — nothing exists apart from Brahman.

    In other words each and every one of us is non-different to the source from which we sprung. Just as the sparks are non-different in their essential nature from the fire - or a drop of water from the ocean - the difference is not in quality but in magnitude.

    Thus, being sparks of the Divine Light, we have no existential need to worship or pay homage or grovel or to abase ourselves before some higher creative, authoritarian power, all we are taught to do by the Veda, is to pursue the path of Self-realization (ātma-bodha):– contemplate, meditate and realize our true essence as being one with God/Brahman — and to live an ethical and wholesome life, and to be a benevolent presence in the world.

    But for those who cannot do this and wish to form a devotional relationship (bhakti) to the Supreme being male or female - they are more than welcome to do so - it is their personal choice - not a universal compulsion. Every Hindu is encouraged to choose his/her own path and method of communing with their higher nature.

    There is complete freedom of thought, belief and spiritual practice in Hinduism.



    According to Hinduism, what happens to the soul after suicide?

    We don’t believe in ‘souls” as such we believe in the Self (ātman).

    I must stress this is a belief not a proven scientific fact! In Hinduism everything is classified according to the Gunas — or qualities of Material Nature. So there are three types of suicide:–

    (a) If a person kills themselves due to anxiety, stress, mental illness, loss, rage, body dysmorphia, dysphoria, sexual orientation, drugs etc. they do so in an extreme tamasic state and therefore they become earthbound - what is known as preta or “hungry ghost” Preta - Wikipedia Basically they are trapped in their own trauma and delusive self-identifications and experience a hellish condition.

    They remain in that state for a very long time until they realise that they are much more than just a preta and in fact a ray of the divine, and are liberated from their delusions. Ceremonies (gaya sraddha) are performed every year by some Hindus for the liberation of ALL pretas throughout the world.

    (b) If a person sacrifices their own life to save another or in self-defense - such as soldiers on the field of battle or diving into a river or sea to save a drowning person - this is known as a rajasic suicide (because the adrenaline level would be so high) and that person will attain a higher rebirth.

    (c) Sattvic suicide is when a person has finally realised the true nature of the Self (ātma-bodha) and has become totally disenchanted with material life and realised its futility, or when a spiritual person has been diagnosed with a terminal illness and understanding the temporary and ephemeral nature of life decides to end it.

    Such a person takes the vow of prāyo-paveśa or “fast to death” by first inviting all their relatives and making the formal declaration (sankalpa) in front of a priest, asks for forgiveness and gives away all their possessions in charity. They then perform a special ceremony known as ātma-śrāddha (obsequials to themselves) and then sit in meditation and begin the fast to death. It is believed that if this is done properly one attains mokṣa or Ultimate Liberation or if not, at least a higher birth.

    This method was most popular among the Jains. Other methods of spiritual suicide are also prescribed by the Shastra such as immolation in fire, leaping off a precipice (holy mountain), drowning oneself in a sacred place: river or sea, or doing mahāpasthāna — which means talking a journey into a desert and just walking until one drops from exhaustion and dies.

    No formal death ceremonies (antyeṣṭi saṁskāras) or obsequials (śrāddhas) are performed for soldiers or for suicides. There is only one ceremony done for their liberation known as Nārāyaṇa-bali.

    At one time it was very popular to throw oneself under the wheels of the Jagannath Chariot in Puri which could not be stopped - hence the English term Juggernaut.

    Now another very interesting fact which will no doubt cause some consternation among the skeptical and cynical Quorans is that suicide can be seen from a person’s Birth Chart. The ancient Indian texts give all the combinations and confluences of astronomical factors which indicate how and when this will most likely happen. I have personally seen and attested to this in a number of charts - usually after the event - no astrologer would ever discuss death with you.

    So this raises the quandary - if it is pre-determined as per the birth-chart - does one really have a choice?

    Who knows?


    Logic is the foundation of Mīmāṃsā. Where is the proof of reincarnation in Sanatana Dharma?

    Originally Answered: Logic is the foundation of Mīmāṃsā. Where is there proof of reincarnation in Santana Dharma?

    There are three sources of evidential proof in Sanatana Dharma:–

    1. pratyaksa — direct evidence of the senses, tangible and verifiable.
    2. anumāna — reasoned and logical thought
    3. āpta-vākya — testimony of a realiable authority/witness

    and some add a fourth

    • yogi-pratyakṣa — the insight and wisdom achieved through deep yogic meditation.

    From a direct evidence point of view there is no proof. No one has ever been seen transitioning from one body to another. But some children have claimed to have had pre-birth experiences - but this falls under the 3rd category āpta-vākya.

    From a logical point of view a valid argument can be made, and is made at great length in the Mīmāmsa and Nyāya sūtras.

    From a Scriptural testimony point of view we have the clear statements of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, Gītā and other Vedic texts that reincarnation is a reality.

    Many great Yogis after decades of profound meditation have also confirmed the process of rebirth and have actually recounted their previous incarnations.

    Thus far the proof from Sanātana Dharma as requested.

    Nowadays a lot of research has been conducted in the subject and there are tons of testimonies on line - whether they are from “reliable” witnesses we cannot tell for definite.


    Does the oldest Vedic material suggest that reincarnation was the ancient view, or something ancestral like other nature-oriented religions?

    As far as I know (which is very little) there is no explicit mention of reincarnation or Karma in the Rig Veda.

    These ideas are first articulated in the Brahmanas and the latter sections of the Vedas known as the Upanishads.

    The most beautiful and complete formulation of the doctrine of karma and reincarnation is given in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad belonging to the Shukla Yajur Veda and considered to have been composed about 300 BCE.

    When the embodied jiva thus departs (upon death) , all the sense organs follow. Thus the jiva attains a subtle state according to its particular state of consciousness, its past actions and latent vāsanas (habits tendencies, subliminal activators). The attained state is conditioned by its actions performed during its embodiment and its natural tendencies.

    Just as a worm coming to the end of a blade of grass reaches out and takes hold of another and draws itself forward, in the same manner an embodied jiva withdrawing from this physical body makes the transition to another body.

    Just as a goldsmith takes an old piece of jewellery and fashions it into a newer and better form, so does the embodied jiva cast off this old body and makes for itself a newer and better form like that of the ancestors, angelic beings, gods, like Prajapati or Brahma or any other being.

    The individual Self (jiva) in its intrinsic nature is qualitatively equal to Brahman the Supreme Being, but in the embodied state it identifies itself with the understanding, the mind, life-breath, sight, hearing, physical nature, with the emotional nature, with the air, space, energy, and absence of energy, desire & absence of desire, anger & absence of anger, righteousness & absence of righteousness and with every other facet of the material world.

    What one becomes is dependant upon one's actions, and attitudes. The doer of good deeds becomes good, the doer of evil deeds becomes evil. One becomes virtuous by virtuous actions and bad by evil actions. Others however will add that a person consists of desires. As is one’s desire so is one’s intention; as is the intention so is the deed that is done, and one’s deeds condition what one will become. (Brhad Aranyaka Upanishad 4:1:1 – 5)


    What is unforgivable according to Hinduism?

    The most unforgivable sin in Hinduism is INGRATITUDE - for which there is no expiation.

    brahmaghnaṁ vā kṛtaghnaṁ vā mahāpātaka dūṣitam || Garuḍa Purāṇa 1,52.24 ||

    goghne caiva surāpe ca caure bhagna vrate tathā | niṣkṛtir vihitā sadbhiḥ kṛtaghne nāsti niṣkṛtiḥ || Kishkind kāṇḍa. 34:12

    An expiation has been prescribed by the learned for the killing of a cow, for drinking alcohol, for theft, and for breaking a vow – but there is no expiation for the ingrate.

    GRATITUDE is the basis for all social intercourse - it is the basis of our respect and adoration for our parents and elders, for our loving and caring relationships with our teachers and fellow students. All friendships thrives on gratitude and it is the basis for charity and generosity and reciprocity which is the glue of society. It is what sweetens all human transactions and even our relationships with our animals and the environment itself. A grateful person could never harm others wilfully or pollute the environment or neglect animals. A grateful person is a delight and an asset to the family and society.

    So one who does not express gratitude and does not recompense others for the benefits and favours one receives, and doesn’t give back to society and the environment but only takes, takes, takes is the worst of sinners.

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  • suyash95 121 days ago | +0 points

    If karma is real, did a lot of patients in the hospital get there because of it?

    Disease is a complex matter.

    Every living being is subjected to disease because our environments are swarming with bacteria and if they pass through our natural barriers disease is caused. So we are under constant attack and siege by the little buggers and health is simply maintenance of defence mechanisms known as the immune system.

    The strength of the immune system depends among other factors, on the programming of the body which we received from our parents and so there is a predisposition to certain diseases which is what we may call Karmic (past karma = prarābdha).

    Long term chronic diseases like cancer and auto-immune disease and the like are considered to be Karmic in origin since they have no known ethology in many cases - some cancers are also related to life-style choices. (Our choices are also Karma!)

    Certain diseases are related to diet and life-style and can be cured through proper diet and exercise and are therefore are not caused by past Karma but due to ignorance and neglect and our current performative Karma (kriyaman karma).

    Accidents and the like are also a combination of past Karma (prarābdha) and how we deal with the situation in the moment (kriyaman). So the circumstances are determined by past Karma and the outcome depends on how we handle the situation which is also Karma

    The projects which we are currently formulating and carrying out have an effect on others and the environment which will later rebound upon us as āgāmi Karma.

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  • suyash95 121 days ago | +0 points

    Hinduism says there are no victims. What about murdered babies? Aren't they victims?

    There are two levels of truth and perspective taught in Hinduism.

    Vyavahārika – from our subjective, relative, limited perspective of daily life there are victims and oppressors, there is suffering and hardship, cruelty and tragedy and also elation and success - the earth also appears to be the center of the Universe, is flat and the sun seems to revolve around the earth and time is measured in seconds, hours, days, months, years etc.

    Paramārthika – the objective, ultimate, transcendental perspective in which the Universe is 14 billion years old, the earth is a tiny speck in a vast time-space field and our lives are not even a blip on the radar. From this perspective our lives, disappointments, sufferings and joys have absolutely no meaning whatsoever, it all appears as phantasmagoria.

    So everything depends upon which lens you are looking through.

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  • suyash95 109 days ago | +0 points

    Why did our soul (atman) take birth into the physical world in the first place, if samsara is caused by the karma we accumulated in past lives, how did we separate from the divine the first time?



    Firstly we don’t possess an ātman we ARE the ātman or Self which possess a body.

    So the question should be reframed as how did we separate from the Divine Source and enter into Samsāra? This question falls into the category of acintya or imponderable.

    There is no answer and pondering upon it does no good - so rather focus on the here and now and work on self-knowledge and self-improvement.

    Cultivate friendliness, compassion, generosity and imperturbability and don’t fret about how you got here.

    After falling into a well think about how to get out and not worry about how you fell in.

    CLAIM - 

    the question should be reframed as how did we separate from the Divine Source and enter into Samsāra? This question falls into the category of acintya or imponderable”.

    Aren't we one with Brahman and only Brahman exist, so how can there be a separation.

    This question can be answered if you accept duality or plurality.

    In which soul is separate and the universe is separate.

    There is infinite souls in infinite universe going through infinite reincarnation.

    More like Samkhya Nyaya, dvaita, and other schools.

    You simply can't answer this question in advaita philosophy.

    RESPONSE - 

    The sense of separation is in the mind. We wrongly misidentify with the body and thus are separate epistemologically but not ontologically. As long as the sense of identity persists so does rebirth in samsāra.

    You are right and there is a dispute between the various schools of Hindu philosophy. But you also need to consider the perspective - either relative or absolute.

    CLAIM - 

    So even to misidentify, the mind has to exist in the first place to do so but the existence of mind or any object as separate entity is due to misidentification which again requires mind to pre exist to that So how can this cyclical argument be broken?

    When did mind started becoming mind and started to act like it being different to Brahman?when did anything begin at all being separate from its true form

    RESPONSE - 

    It depends on whether you mean the brain - the hardware or mind the functioning of the hardware.

    The Brain is an application used by the body to process data. So mind-body are one thing. Consciousness is separate and exists independent of the mind - it is like the software which operates in a computer.

    In Hindu psychology the mind is called antah-karana and consists of four functional divisions, manas = cognitive mind, buddhi = intellect, ahankara = notion of self-identity and citta = sub-conscious.

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  • suyash95 93 days ago | +0 points

    Does the law of karma mean that we deserve everything that happens to us?



    “Deserve” is rather judgemental. Like “deserving punishment” or “what did I do to deserve this?”

    Karma is not about a punishment or reward system for KPI’s it is simply the economy of ACTION.

    Whatever quantum of positive, good and beneficial actions you put out into the universe the equal amount of good will accrue to your Karma account. Likewise the amount of suffering you cause to others will also come back to you in equal measure.

    If you are experiencing a period of great joy and happiness or a period of sorrow and disappointment than you are obviously reaping the results of what yourself have sown in the past.

    The way to deal with success and setbacks is to accept them stoically and recognise that your actions do have consequences and move on. Rather than grieve about why its happening to you or fret about deserving or not, just take full responsibility for all your actions, accept it and do your best to spread goodwill and cheer and to become a benevolent and beneficent presence in the world.

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  • suyash95 93 days ago | +0 points

    Claim - What I am unable to understand: ‘we project in our mind and create our own reality ‘ - How is it possible unless ‘we' or I am real. If the universe and all that you see is like a dream, the dreamer should be real to experience dreams?


    Response -

    Think science - the material world in which you live is comprised of atoms. Atoms are 99.999% empty space. So the world that you perceive to be real, substantial and permanent is nothing but empty space and you make of it what you wish.

    The body that you have changes every 7 years - in other words every cell is changed - so you have had 9 to 10 changes of body till now - only your witnessing consciousness has not changed.

    Claim- what will be the perspective of jnani towards world ? From the standpoint of Advaita, it is a dream. Isn’t it ? The universe is non-existent to him.

    Response -Objectively it is a dream from paramārthika Satya point of view - from our subjective point of view it is real - vyavahārika Satya. For a jñāni like Ramana Maharishi and Ramakrishna Paramahamsa - it is all illusory and they abide in that awareness 24/7.

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  • suyash95 47 days ago | +0 points

    What do you think about Moksha?

    Excellent answers have already been given by the learned responders but I will just add my bit repeating what some have already said (repetition is good for memory!)

    Moksha as has already been pointed out is “liberation” but liberation from what?

    There are three levels of liberation or freedom.

    • Small moksha is freedom from suffering, freedom from want, from oppression, from constriction, from disease, form danger etc. This is the pursuit of ALL living beings – all seek to be free from harm and suffering and to attain abiding joy and happiness.
    • Medium moksha is liberation from ignorance and the dawning of knowledge leading to wisdom.
    • Big moksha is the final freedom from the cycle of births and deaths.

    The Upanishads deal primarily with this topic and there are several views of Moksha given by the learned and enlightened Rishis.

    The teachings of the Upanishads can be categorized into divisions of fours. First the sate of the totality of Being. The four states of Brahman.

    1. The Ultimate Reality /Universal Consciousness / Ground of Being/ Unified Field is known as BRAHMAN – the Immensity.

    2. Iśvara — is the term given to that Absolute when conceived of as a Personal God. He has 3 sub-aspects known as Brahma, Vishnu and Siva.

    3. Hiraṇya-garbha — is the aggregate of individual Selves or modes of consciousness (jīvas/ātmas) that are still self-identified and have not yet been liberated.

    4. Virāṭ — is the material Cosmos with all its innumerable galaxies and dimensions extending into endless space.

    There are four stages of consciousness:–

    1. Jāgrata – the waking state in which we react, interact and transact with the external world.

    2. Svapna – the dream-state in which we lose external consciousness but are aware of the inner world of our thoughts, feeling, fears, etc.

    3. Suṣupti – the state of deep sleep of unconsciousness in which we are still consciously present but devoid of either external or internal awareness.

    4. Turiya – the transcendental state of consciousness which is deeper and supernal to the other three states – inexpressible and indescribable.

    Then there are four states or rather stages of Mokṣa touched upon (I will give their literal meanings.):–

    1. sālokya – living in the same world.

    2. sārūpya – having the same form

    3. sāmīpya – being close to

    4. Sāyujya – merging into.

    So now lets put them together to explain further.

    On our spiritual journey (with Vedānta) we actually ascend through 4 stages of realization and achieve four states of Liberation / Moksha.

    STAGE 1. The first stage is called sālokya — corresponding to the waking state of consciousness (jāgrata) — the realization that the entire vast universe of billions of galaxies and universes is all pervaded by the Divine Consciousness. (Viṣṇu means That which pervades the entire universe and everything in it.) It is the undifferentiated Ocean of Being.

    MOKSHA # 1 – Freedom from the idea that the world is separate and independent from us and is an ultimate source of abiding pleasure and joy.

    STAGE 2. The second stage is sarūpya or sadhārmya — corresponding to the dreaming state of consciousness – realization that every being is interconnected and all “apparently” separate jivas are embodiments of the One Divine Consciousness.

    MOKSHA # 2 ­– Freedom from ahaṅkāra - the notion of self-identity and the notion of difference and the other, thus being able to cultivate empathy with all and universal compassion for all beings.

    STAGE 3. The third stage samīpya — is intimacy with the Divine — corresponding to the unconscious dreamless state of consciousness – God-realization occurs when the nature of the saguṇa īśvara is cognized and one surrenders to Him/Her.

    MOKSHA # 3 – Freedom from all self-effort to achieve liberation, freedom from religion and its bondage and the relinquishing of all self-imposed burdens – achieving a state of equanimity, tranquility, abiding joy and peace.

    STAGE 4. The final stage sāyujya — communion with, or unification with the Absolute Godhead — corresponding to the Turiya or inconceivable and inexpressible fourth state of consciousness – a merging with the Godhead bordering on complete identity.

    MOKSHA # 4. – Absolute freedom from rebirth and suffering — the final stage of Brahma-nirvāna.

    The two major schools of Vedanta differ on the exact nature of this Ultimate State.

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