This is one of the interesting initiatives started in 2011 but still struggling big time! After four years of attempt - mere attempt with not much of success - do you think it's worth continuing, do you really think there is such a thing called karma were the questions I was asked as a response to my previous article. YES, it is worth continuing!! I have given my reasons for the same in my earlier articles in 2013 and 2014; though 2015 has to be written off, I still believe it is! :-) Because, every year, I seem to understand a little more and make a small progress!
First of all, let me explain, why I think there is such a thing called Karma. It is as simple as the famous Newton's third law - for every action there is an equivalent and opposite reaction. It is an extension of the basic principles like "you will reap what you sow" and the famous thirukkural "If a man inflicts sorrow upon others in the morning, it will come upon him unsought in the very evening" ( பிறர்க்கின்னா முற்பகல் செய்யின் தமக்குஇன்னா பிற்பகல் தாமே வரும்). Some times, the reaction does not happen immediately and the feedback loop is longer I feel. Main reason is, I could never explain why I was born in India, not in any other country, why to my parents and not to some cruel people and so on. It is not due to any my actions I could recollect! Similarly there are also some tough / difficult things I had to face for no reason - for example ill health that is not a result of any bad eating habit or lifestyle and totally unexplainable! A more recent example is the 2015 Chennai floods. Many parts of Chennai suffered the most by the floods. But, the maximum impact I got was, my broadband connection was cut for about 10 days, there was no power for just one day and no milk for one day while many lost their lifetime savings and establishments, a few lost their lives or their loved ones and a few others had to stay away from their homes though nothing else is lost. How do we explain this? All these made me believe that there is a longer "action - reaction loop" beyond this life time! Ancient Indian systems call this feedback loop as Karma.
If there is a next birth, it is better to be born with a clean slate and face quick feedback loop :-) After all, I do not want to go thru something without knowing the reason for it - like this birth! That is why I set out to clear this thing called Karma! But I will continue with this program even if there is no rebirth. In fact, after I started this initiative, I was not bothered about a next / previous birth. If someone can explain the unexplainable items better without associating them to karma, I am okay to drop the idea of Karma too! However, I feel, this initiative made me inch towards being a better human being - however small the move is!
It is an interesting mix of rules that test your will power and self-control, push you to do things out of your comfort zone, introspect continuously, be mindful and attentive all the time, manage the stressful outcomes with better behaviours than just expressing the dissatisfaction. I realise that all these rules can be achieved only if we love ourselves and others, live and let them live their lives as they like, understand that there is no right or wrong action but there is a consequence for each action, decide your action carefully based on what you want. I could also understand that there are contradicting expectations from others and yourself.
When it comes to others, you do not judge their actions but when it comes to your actions, you observe it very carefully all the time. You act based on what is right according to you but keep watching if your right is really right and it plays out right! You are setting an environment for others to be themselves and change if they want to change; whereas you focus seriously on changing your own behaviours to adapt to any environment. It is like the difference between the personal development initiatives and organizational development initiatives. Both are needed for a high performing organization. An organization should focus on setting up right environment that suits any type of personality and the individual has to focus on improving the personality to suit any environment & influence right change. Karma clearing program expects you to do both org change and personal development at the same time! This is one of the opposing thoughts I referred to in "Extremes"! I am hoping to achieve it at some point in life!! :-)
I should agree that, there were some learnings in this direction before even I started Karma clearing program. If you read my lessons learnt series (incomplete though), you too may agree with me. For example, not giving unsolicited advice is a key lesson that resonates with this program. I feel, all unsolicited advices are indirect criticisms in other words, telling people that they are not intelligent enough or smart enough to figure out their own solutions. "Never speak of anyone who is not present" lesson is also close to expressing criticism or dissatisfaction. But I did not follow the lessons consistently at all times with all people, in spite of making the mistake and getting hurt, unfortunately. Moreover, it is easier in professional relationships than in personal relationships; when you have personal and professional relationship with someone, it becomes even more murkier!!! I will call myself successful, only if I can refrain from expressing my dissatisfaction or criticism to my mom (Mothers are the most "taken for granted" species on earth I feel!). Till then, I will not accept success even if I do not express it to others for nine consecutive days!!
Other rules such as rising earlier, eating one meal a day and doing something that you do not like can make you tired and proud at the same time! How do you control your behaviour when you are tired and proud at the same time? On top of this, you need to introspect by observing thoughts and actions and recalling your day in reverse! Please bear in mind that any introspection will bring out the darkness in our own selves! Just knowing the gap without taking action can be really stressful. Tired, stressed out, proud person will usually react to even the slightest trigger from outside; but you can not express dissatisfaction or criticise that is, you can not react to any trigger from outside! This can build further stress and make you depressed easily…
Of course, it is just not all tough rules only; they do have some rules to help you come out of this stress too - helping others and meditating. But they are not straight forward as you would like!! Meditating is cool except that you may find it hard to concentrate with so much of stress and tiredness! You may get over it eventually. But helping others is not that straight!! Sure, recent research in the field of neuroscience has proved that helping others can release certain happiness hormones. But the catch point is, you can not let the beneficiary know that you are helping and they can not appreciate you. You may see them smile but can not receive thanks for all that you have done. I do not know if the neuroscience research eliminated this part when the happiness hormone levels were tested. Not sure, whether they measured if the happiness hormone is released by the act of helping or as a result of hearing the appreciations or seeing the smiles of people. Smiles are contagious and there is a bidirectional influence between happiness hormones & smiles! But how will the hormones react if you see their smiles but they don’t recognize you for helping them rather don’t even know that you helped them! Sure, you will start smiling, but will you continue to smile? Hmm… That will be an interesting experiment!
So the rules of the game are tricky. It is like solving a tough puzzle! It motivates you by its challenge level :-) !!It also is fascinating to see there is new learning about life every time you think thru the rules and how these rules are interwoven. There is no opponent in this game other than your own self to make it even more interesting!. Absolutely brilliant game!!! In any sport, when the player is busy with something more compelling, there can be a gap! 2015 is just that!! But, I am starting it all over again!! Even if there is a no rebirth, even if my "Karma" does not get cleared, the sheer size of the challenge and the benefits I have got so far motivate me to try it again. I can surely say, my ability to withstand pressure has gone up reasonably! My ability to let go has increased! My ability to keep mental distance from people has improved a tiny bit - but that itself is great improvement I feel. Considering all this, I believe it is worth the try with a hope that I will win this game one day! You can expect an article next year around this time on the same topic!!! :-) :-)