Towards India’s New Era Paradigm: Reformulating Karma and Past Lives
This article – a conversation between Indologist Wim Borsboom and a number of his social media friends, is intended to show how traditional concepts like karma, past lives, next life, afterlife, yoga, meditation, etc. can be reformulated and rephrased for this new era in India, an era with a newly developing paradigm since the tidal changes that began in 2014 when Narendra Modi became India’s Prime Minister. Suddenly a young generation of urban youth that originally grew up in an urban politically secular world, became interested in joining the Saffron Wave, a movement with traditions and concepts that contrasted greatly with their own expectations and modern-life worldview. This article aims to make the above mentioned traditional spiritual topics understandable in current terms according to current scientific views, in order to make them fit this new era in which India’s people are so eagerly and dynamically – shaping it by themselves, for themselves.
Sushil: Let me start off by explaining and describing India’s great law of karma. All of our thoughts are said to arise from intelligence and intention. So, they are, for all practical purposes, the seat of karma. No wonder then that Lord Buddha taught that the nature of karma was determined by intention rather than by the act itself.
Each thought is an action taking place at all the levels. All our thoughts give rise to actions – in other words, actions or karma are emergent on thoughts or vrittis. [Vrittis, a technical term in yoga, the contents of mental awareness seen as disturbances in the medium of consciousness. Wim] In this regard, Patanjali says:
“So long as the cause exists, it will bear fruits – such as rebirth, a long and a short life, and the experience of pleasure and of pain.” (Yoga Sutra, II.13)
The presence of our vrittis becomes the cause of our rebirth. This is the root or the cause, as stated in the sutra above, which manifests itself as the tree of samsara. These vrittis, as present in their latest form, give us the circumstances in which we were born and will be reborn. They manifest themselves in the kind of life that we live, and any experience that we pass through. So, everything is determined by the latent vrittis. All external shapes that take place, [are] rooted in the internal vrittis. When these vrittis do not complete their cycles or do not get fructified in a particular incarnation, they remain potential and become the causes of future births.
This is the great law of karma.
Wim: Sushil, you explain and describe karma, vrittis, past and next lives, rebirth, very well, but we should keep in mind that it is according to traditional understandings and beliefs. You describe them according to a paradigm that was once valid and alive – and apparently and clearly still is for many.
With all due respect to you and all those for whom this paradigm is still alive, I must say that for me, with a worldview so different (different to such an extent that I consider the worldview behind your above described topics outdated) that I, consider it “history”, I mean, that paradigm is passé!
Nevertheless though, I do add that we should not just forget about it. Of course its memory should be respectfully recorded in our history and text books, and its tangible parts in archives and museums. BUT gracefully so, and with gratitude and care. Care, the same way one hangs beautiful classical paintings in a museum and values them beyond compare. For example, take Hieronymus Bosch’s triptych “The Garden of Earthly Delights”. It is clearly one of the most memorable and, at the time, highest valued and most complete representations of Europe’s medieval paradigm, its Zeitgeist and the view it had formed of the universe (the globe), the earth (see the illustration” the globe’s content), paradise (centre panel), hell (right panel) and creation (left panel) as given below.
But we now know, it wasn’t so. Similarly, even as I decisively dismiss the ancient but still traditional paradigm that holds reincarnation, karmic repercussions, past lives, next life as true according to what we know now, I nevertheless hope I honour it well enough by considering it to be of the highest value. But history-wise, over the ages and worldwide, it impacted greatly and positively on humankind’s culture, its artistic expressions, and society as a whole, be it spiritual, religious and secular. Be it never forgotten.
Arpita: So Wim, you don’t believe in rebirth, karma and karmic retribution?
Wim: No, the notions you mention Arpita, are based on ancient, long-held (and still) deep seated traditional beliefs. Being beliefs, they are needfully consistently maintained by a number of institutional and non-institutional belief systems. When those beliefs are enforced in a manipulative manner, so as to create undue fear and dependence, thus making freedom subject to a granting authority (regardless of how guru or priest like he or she may be dressed), that enforcement actually and factually prevents a follower or believer to free her/himself and reach authentic and genuine liberation or moksha.
Let me state it clearly, Genuine liberation frees people from beliefs, any belief. Genuine liberation happens when any trace of belief and thus maya or illusion*, is erased, and when one knows and lives truth directly and unconditionally. Genuine unconditional reality remains, when, so to speak “believable realities” (pseudo realities) are let go of. Yes, that is a pretty strong statement, but there it is.
But let me say more about the notions that you spelled out: rebirth, karma, karmic retribution, etc. They actually stem from that same outdated worldview I spoke about before, a worldview or paradigm that by all-too-many people is still considered valid. As for me, such a worldview or paradigm, especially as it holds on to ideas like karmic retribution and karmic reward, does not match the testable realities of the current, modern, let me call it, “New Era Paradigm”.
It could be of course that you accept a genuine Universal God, or that you are following a genuine, fully enlightened master. Well, if so, you would know that their compassion is unconditional and all-encompassing. Such a God or such a master would do anything to help you overcome any negativity that might have been part of your life. There is no retribution or punishment to be doled out or suggested by any of them. Period ! Those very measures all came from judgemental, fear-based, “carrot or stick” institutions, socio-moral structures and binding religions.
Jaiveer: But Wim, about past lives, in deep meditation you can become aware of them.
Wim: Well, are they past lives? Here is my take on it.
In deep meditation, especially while also tapping into one’s Kundalini energy, you can access the Akashic Records (enduring universal space wave forms) and contact personages and their situations that are somehow in sync with your own vibrational energy levels.
On access, a synchronization takes place of such a kind and in such a manner that you experience those personages and their situations so intimately, that the personages feel like they are your own identity, that they are you yourself.
This feeling of self-identity can be compared to how you feel that you are the subject in your dreams, especially in dreams where the situation is “strange” and the subject is not like you know yourself to be at all.
From one of my particularly deep meditation experiences, I recall a rather involved event that many people participated in. I remember that it felt that I had been a number of different personages each of whom participated in that one and the same event.
When I recounted that episode to a group of spiritual counsellors “in the know”, some of them said those were my past lives. But I knew that that could not have been, so I asked, “How can it be that I can have multiple past lives of different people who were side by-side, simultaneously present in one situation.
In retrospect and based on that experience, I came to the conclusion that it is possible to experience any deceased person’s life and any past situation, all depending on one’s deep or urgent personal needs at certain periods in one’s life, when appropriate guidance from the past, or insight into it, is desirable and would be effective.
This is why I propose that it is possible that multiple people can experience the life of one specific passed-away person, and feel as though that passed/past life was their own. I concluded that nobody “owns” any passed-away person’s life exclusively.
To put it humorously, that is why it is possible that multiple people can claim that in their past life they were Cleopatra.
Piyush: OK, a different topic, deep meditation. What about mantra chanting and meditation?
Wim: Mantra indeed, but of course Yantra and Tantra simultaneously as well! They form an integrated tri-une dynamic. One’s vibrational energy levels can be exponentially enhanced by means of that typical Indian triple set of Mantra, Yantra and Tantra observances. Their integrated, awarely conscious application brings one’s aura to its highest and finest energies.
Regarding the human aura, it is probably best to visualize it as a hologram. Actually, consider it to be greater than a lifesize physical-body hologram, one without which the physical body is still encapsulated, and which is, while one is still alive, space and time bound UNLESS one is in the most intense state of expanded meditational awareness. This hologrammatic aura is what is traditionally called “spirit body, or the “soul” part of “body & soul”.
Here is what I propose, a more contemporary way to address the traditional conceptions of life, death and afterlife.
One could say that, after one physically passes away, that one’s auric hologram remains as a multidimensional (greater than three) unlimited size sphere-like complex wave “formation”, one in which time is three dimensional – yes, three dimensional time – and in which one is not limited anymore to linear one-directional time and three-dimensional space.
One could say that what is called Akasha when it is related to humans (identified by some as the Akashic Records), that it is a cosmic amalgam that holds all and everyone’s hologrammatic sphere-like wave formations, including a totality of their time-wise sequential life situations in a non-linear, non-spatial formation, ALSO cosmic hologram like.
So in one’s current life, one’s hologrammatic aura encapsulates the physical body** in a dynamic spatial and formative formulation, but after one passes away, the encapsulated physical mind-body gradually transitions fully into a vibrational spherical wave pattern that is not temporally and spatially “earthbound” anymore, to carry on “being around” and active in cosmic wave space.
Arpita: Wim, your reply to Jaiveer gives me the answer that I was looking for.
Wim: No, I am glad you asked. It is an quandary that often comes up in questions to me.
Most of India’s young generation’s world-view or paradigm is different from India’s traditional paradigms of which India has so many (unfortunately most of them beyond their prime) but by traditional groups still held as valid and kept alive.
So, I am very happy to help out. It enabled me to verbalize in more current terms our universe’s dynamics in terms of holography and Quantum Theory’s probability wave functions, which are all part of our “New Era Paradigm” even if that paradigm is still in its formative stages.
* Any belief is conditional.
It is, in an authoritarian manipulative manner – be it benevolent or malevolent – forced upon dependent believers.
So, any belief is conditional, if it were not, it would not be a belief.
** Although how we in our current four dimensional world sensorially perceive our physical body as a mental/physical appearance, it is in our most pristine meditational state, experienciable beyond our usual day-to-day sensorial observations…