Discriminating Powers & Future Karma

Swami Vivekananda discusses Patanjali‘s Yoga Aphorisms.

16. To the discriminating, all is, as it were, painful on account of everything bringing pain either as consequence, or as anticipation of loss of happiness, or as fresh craving arising from impressions of happiness, and also as counteraction of qualities.

The Yogis say that the man who has discriminating powers, the man of good sense, sees through all that are called pleasure and pain and knows that they come to all, and that one follows and melts into the other; he sees that men follow and ignis fatuus all their lives, and never succeed in fulfilling their desires. The great king Yudhishthira once said that the most wonderful thing in life is that every moment we see people dying around us, and yet we think we shall never die. Surrounded by fools on every side, we think we are the only exceptions, the only learned men. Surrounded by all sorts of experiences of fickleness, we think our love is the only lasting love.

How can that be?

Even love is selfish, and the Yogi says that in the end we shall find that even the love of husbands and wives, and children and friends, slowly decays. Decadence seizes everything in this life. It is only when everything, even love, fails, that, with a flash, man finds out how vain, how dream-like is this world. Then he catches a glimpse of Vairagya (renunciation), catches a glimpse of the Beyond. It is only by giving up this world that the other comes; never through holding on to this one. Never yet was there a great soul who had not to reject sense-pleasures and enjoyments to acquire his greatness. The cause of misery is the clash between the different forces of nature, one dragging on way, and another dragging another, rendering permanent happiness impossible.

17. The misery which is not yet come is to be avoided.

Some Karma we have worked out already, some we are working out now in the present, and some are waiting to bear fruit in the future. The first kind is past and gone. The second we will have to work out, and it is only that which is waiting to bear fruit in the future that we can conquer and control, towards which end all our forces should be directed. This is what Patanjali means when he says that Samskara are to be controlled by resolving them into their causal state (Sutra 10).

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