There are primarily two reasons why a soul comes to this earth again and again, through a chain of rebirths. The first one of these reasons is that every soul has to take a new life in order to settle the karmic account of the good karmas as well as the bad karmas done by it during its previous lives and the second reason is the resolutions taken by a soul during its previous life or lives, as such resolutions force this soul to take birth again and again. Let’s find out why a specific soul tied to the concepts of settlement of good and bad karmas of past lives, as well as to the concept of resolutions, comes to this earth again and again in new shapes and forms.
Let’s first deal with the concept of good and bad karmas due to which a soul has to take many births. In order to understand this concept in a better way, let’s first understand what good karmas are and what are bad karmas? Karma can be divided into three types: good, bad and neutral karma and it is easy to understand each of these types. Anything that you do or say or sometimes think, and other people or species or the universe on the whole is benefitted from it, is called a good karma. On the other hand, anything you do or say or even think and other people or species or the universe suffers a loss through it, is called a bad karma. The easiest is the third which says that anything you say, do or think which doesn’t have any direct positive or negative impact on other people, species or the universe as a whole, is a neutral karma.
Let’s try to understand these three types of karmas with the help of practical examples so that you may have a perfect understanding of this theory of karma, which has been in the root of all the good and the bad happening to us since our first birth, and it will always be in the root of all the good and the bad happening to us in this life and in all the coming lives. Understanding good karmas is easy. Doing charity work, making donations, being helpful, helping others, contributing to society, promoting equality and other similar activities are good karmas.
So when you are helping a poor man or offering your service to a physically disabled person or an old person, treating an injured dog or a cat lying on the side of the road, planting more trees so that the earth may become a better and cleaner place to live, educating other people about good and bad karmas or about the ways through which they can improve their lives as well as improve the society and the earth they are living on, and you are engaging in all other similar types of activities, you are indeed doing good karmas for which you will sooner or later receive the rewards in the form of addition of more positive energy to your aura.
On the other hand, when you are robbing a poor man or any human for that matter, indulging in physical assault or violence against other humans or other species, for reasons which do not demand such acts in the name of justice and in order to restore peace and balance in the society or in the world, perform brutal actions like raping a helpless and physically weak girl, killing a dog or a cat or some other animal for no just reason and just for fun, doing more and more things to pollute the atmosphere and disturb the eco system as well as the life balance on this earth, misleading fellow people to engage in negative or bad deeds which can harm others, and all other similar type of activities where someone or some system is suffering by virtue of your karma and where such action or karma can’t be justified by any just reason, you are indulging in bad karmas.
Let’s now look at neutral karmas. Anything you do, say or think that does not directly benefit or harm others is a neutral karma. For example, while you sleep, drink water, eat and do other such things which are either your daily need activities or activities done for fun or time-pass, as long as these activities don’t directly harm or benefit others, are called neutral karmas. It should be mentioned here that thinking is most of the time a neutral karma and it seldom becomes a good or a bad karma and that is when it gains importance. The definition of good or bad karma includes certain types of thinking patterns and thoughts which we will understand with the help of examples.
Though most of our thoughts and mind patterns involve us and us only and they don’t cause direct profit or loss to the others thereby falling in the category of neutral karmas, there are some specific type of activities of our mind which are classified as either good or bad karmas. For example, when you pray for the benefit of other people or other species, such prayers are included in good karmas provided they don’t include any direct benefit of yours and they are done for selfless reasons. This means if you are praying for your father to become a billionaire, it is at the most a neutral karma and not a good karma, since deep down you know that if your dad becomes a billionaire, you too will benefit and hence it is a not a good karma.
But on the other hand, if you are praying for some stranger or for some other causes which don’t bring any direct benefit to you and you are aware of this fact that the benefit of these prayers if any, will all go to the ones you are praying for and nothing will come to you directly if such prayers are granted, you are certainly doing a good karma even though you are just praying within your mind which in other words, is merely your positive thought pattern. Hence all such activities or thought patterns, which wish good luck or which pray for good things to happen to the others without any benefits coming to you, are classified as good karmas.
After understanding the basic definition of good and bad karmas, let us now see how a soul tied to a chain of good and bad karmas done by it in its past lives, comes to this earth in a new birth in order to settle the account of those good and bad karmas. Starting with bad karmas, whenever a person engages in bad karmas, he may have to take another birth in order to face the punishment for those bad karmas. For example, someone may have troubled his wife throughout his life or he may have caused pains to many people in order to get financial or other benefits for himself or he may have even killed one or more than one person for some selfish motive. All the above mentioned karmas as well as many other types of bad karmas done by a person, force him to come to this earth again and face the results of those bad karmas.
It should be noted that due to many combinations and limitations, it is not always possible to punish a person for his bad karmas during the same birth and in such cases; this person has to take one or more than one births in order to face punishment for such bad karmas. When a person takes a new birth in order to settle the account of his past life bad karmas, such person engages in more and fresh bad karmas in such new life due to his natural tendency to do more bad karmas, and these new bad karmas force one more birth on him. This way, this chain goes on and on and a soul trapped in the whirlwind of taking new births in order to settle bad karmas of past lives and then doing more bad karmas in those new lives causing even more rebirths, takes births again and again and this process goes on and on.
After understanding how the bad karmas done by a person can push him towards many new births, let’s now try to understand how good karmas done by a person can trap him in the cycle of rebirths. Some people are amazed at the mere idea that even good karmas are the cause of rebirth because such people believe that good karmas will always liberate a soul which is not the case, always. Let’s try to understand this concept with the help of some examples. Suppose a person in any one of his births, has given a big donation to a temple or he has done some great job for the welfare of that temple and all the time while he was doing such good karma, he kept asking for some specific wish or fruit which should be granted as a result of this particular good karma of serving the temple.
This specific wish might be attainment of great wealth, or fortune or it might be achievement of great name and fame, or it may be anything else like marrying some specific female. Moving on, it is not always the case that such wishes are granted straight away or even during the same lifetime. Sometimes, some wishes can’t be granted in the same life on account of various limitations and other circumstantial factors, due to which such wishes which are to be granted as the result of good karmas, are forwarded to the next life which means that this person will have to take another life in order to get the wishes which he had asked for and the wishes that he deserves as a result of his good karmas.
In such cases, such person is subjected to rebirth and as this person takes a new birth in order to receive the karmic rewards for his good karmas done in past life, in the process he does many more good and bad karmas and some of these karmas, once again push him to one more life as the fruits of some of such good or bad karmas can’t be granted in this present life. This initiates a cycle of rebirths where a person comes to earth in order to settle the good and bad karmas done in his past life or lives and in the process, he indulges in more good and bad karmas which lead to even more births. This process goes on and on and a soul keeps on taking birth after birth in order to settle the karmic debts and the rewards.
It should be noted that a person engaging in good karmas during one of his lives, will be subjected to more lives by virtue of such good karmas, only if such good karmas are done with a wish or desire for the karmic rewards meant for those good karmas, whether that wish is general or specific. On the other hand, a person engaging in good karmas during one of his lives will not be subjected to more births on the basis of such good karmas, if such person doing those good karmas willingly forsakes the karmic rewards meant for such good karmas. In simple language, it means that if a person does good karmas without having any wish for the karmic rewards of such good karmas, such good karmas don’t cause one more birth.
Such karmas are called Nishkaam karmas and Nishkam karmas do not lead to rebirths. Nishkaam means without a wish or desire and accordingly, Nishkaam karma means a good karma which is done without any wish or desire for the karmic rewards meant for such good karma. For example, if a person gives a big donation to a temple, or he does some other good thing to serve a temple and at the same time, such person doesn’t have any wish or desire for any type of karmic reward associated with this good act, such an act will be a Nishkaam karma and it won’t become the cause of a rebirth. Hence good karmas can lead to rebirths only if they have been done with a desire for the rewards and not otherwise.
Some people may think that according to this theory, if we can do a good karma without any desire for the result of such karma and such karma doesn’t force a new life on us, as it becomes a Nishkaam Karma; doesn’t it mean if we do a bad karma without any desire for the result of such karma, such bad karma should also be Nishkaam and it should not force a new life on us? Well, this is just a misconception and nothing else and this is the time we should understand that only a good karma done without any desire for result can become a Nishkaam Karma, and a bad karma can’t be a Nishkaam karma even if it has been done without any desire for the result.
In order to understand this concept in a better way, let’s suppose that someone has taken a financial loan from a bank and now for some reason, this person thinks that he will get out of this loan if he does not show any desire to pay this loan. But this is only a misconception in the mind of this person and nothing more because if you have taken a loan, it is not in your authority to exempt yourself from paying that loan back, as this authority lies reserved with the bank which has given you the loan. By giving himself such nonsense exemption and not paying the loan back to the bank, this person will only invite more troubles as the bank will initiate a suing action against him. Hence if you have taken a loan, you will have to pay it or you should face the consequences.
Bad karmas done by us are like karmic loans which have to be settled either by facing punishments set for such bad karmas or by doing specific type of good karmas which can serve as karmic installments towards the payment of such karmic loans and in both these cases, a soul has to take new birth in order to settle such karmic loans. On the other hand, the rewards or results for the good karmas done by us are like our earnings or savings and as we all know, everyone is free to do whatever they wish to do with their earnings or savings because now they have the authority to decide what should be done with that income whether it is financial or it is karmic.
Hence every person has the right to forsake the reward of good karmas done by him, just like everyone has a right to do work without pay and everyone has a right to donate their salary or income towards any cause because this is the fruit of their labor and they are authorized to do whatever they wish to do with it. To summarize, we can’t choose to not pay our loans and get away with it but we can choose to do whatever we wish, with our profits and income. The same holds true in karmic domain too, due to which the results of good karmas can be forsaken by not wishing for the rewards of such good karmas but results of bad karmas can’t be forsaken as we are not authorized to forsake them and we will have to pay for them, even if we have to keep taking birth after birth in the process.
To conclude the theory of rebirth on the basis of good and bad karmas, it should be understood that in the journey of a soul towards the final liberation, good karmas with desire for rewards are as much of a burden as much are the bad karmas. This is because both of them do the same thing, which is to force more and more lives on you, which keep you further and further away from your final liberation, which is the state where you don’t have to be born again, under some compulsion.
The philosophy of one of the world’s greatest divine souls, Swami Vivekananda says that Bad karmas tie fetters (shackles) of iron to your soul whereas good karmas tie fetters of gold to your soul, but fetters are fetters, which means that both bad as well as good karmas put hindrance in your path to the liberation. Hence in order to achieve liberation, bad karmas should be avoided altogether whereas good karmas with desire for results should be avoided and only Nishkaam karmas should be done.
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To be Continued
Lord Shiva Bless You