Sivananda Yoga FAQ
Q 1: How to free ourselves from Karma?
A: Feel, as you do your daily duties, that you are only a witness of all that goes on around you, of even your own actions. This is called Sakshi Bhav. You should inwardly realize that you are different from the active principle in you. This is the method of Vedanta. There is the other, easier, but equally potent method of Nimitta Bhav. Feel that the Lord alone is the real doer of all actions and that you are an instrument in His hands. Your actions will be transformed into worship of the Lord, and you will not be bound to them. Work without expectation of any reward and without egoism. Root out the idea of agency; feel, “I am not the doer”. You will be freed from the shackles of Karma. You will not accumulate new Karma. Allow your Prarabdha Karma to work out; and you will attain liberation.
Q 2: Are not the circumstances a person meets earned by their own actions? Can a person take initiative and change the circumstances of themselves, as well as others?
A: Surely one can take the initiative. He can do good to himself and to others. He can determine the circumstances and environments. Just see how much one can do for others, how much one can really assist them in the relative plane. One can impart knowledge to the illiterate and the ignorant, extend monetary help to the poor and the needy. One can educate the orphans and contribute to the institutions that take care of the children. Indeed, one can spend not only his time but entire earnings, but there is something more! Why should there be any doubt in regard to one’s being, in turn, really helpful to others? Take the example of Gandhiji. Did he not do immense service and good to the nation and to the world at large?
Q 3: A person doing a wrong thing argues that he is doing it because of his Karma; and he does not even try not to do it, because it gives him immediate happiness. How to impress upon him not to do it?
A: Karma does not compel a man to do wrong actions. Samskara does, to a certain extent. But God has bestowed free will on man, with which to make or mar his career. Man has no Bhoga-Svatantrata or the freedom to enjoy or suffer, which factor is governed by Karma. But, he has got Karma-Svatantrata or freedom to do good or evil. He can substitute good Samskaras in place of the old vicious Samskaras by Vichara-sakti, will-power and continued practice of good actions. That evil seems to give immediate happiness is the greatest temptation and the greatest obstacle to the cultivation of virtues; and it can be removed only by discrimination and experience. Contemplation over the ultimate and permanent damage done to the very soul of man by the evil actions, and the harm he is causing to the entire society itself by his evil, ought to compel a man to desist from evil action– however pleasant it might appear superficially. There is no short-cut to this really serious problem; the wicked heart will not yield easily. And therefore our ancients have exalted Satsang. Constant association with the wise and spiritually evolved persons alone can remove these wrong notions from the mind of the wicked one.
No words can describe the supreme experience, when the Yogi feels one with God. – Swami Sivananda
SAKSHI – Witness
NIMITTA – Cause; Instrument
BHAV – Feeling; perception; direct experience; mental attitude; subjective state of being; attitude of mind; state of realization in the heart or mind; a right feeling and frame of mind; right intention; right imagination; right mental disposition; purity of thought. Bhava is a Sanskrit term; there is no proper equivalent in English. It means mental attitude or mental disposition. Bhava is internal feeling. There are three kinds of Bhavas, viz., Sattvic Bhava, Rajasic Bhava and Tamasic Bhava according to the nature of the quality that predominates in man. Sattvic Bhava is divine Bhava. It is Suddha Bhava. Just as thought or memory or will can be cultivated or developed by practice, so also, Bhava can be developed.
Sakshi Bhav – The attitude of remaining as a witness. Nimitta Bhav – The attitude of performing as an instrument of God. A devotee that always thinks that God does everything and they are only an instrument (Nimitta), directed by the hands of God, then this is Nimitta Bhava. The Bhavas of a Bhakta and a Vedantin differ. The Vedantin entertains Sakshi and Akarta Bhavas. The Bhakta entertains Nimitta Bhava. The Vedantin develops Brahma Bhava. The Bhakta develops Dasya Bhava, and so on. http://sivanandaonline.org/public_html/?cmd=displaysection§ion_id=1526
Prayer invokes the inner potential of the individual which flow only from God. Prayer can certainly work miracles. – Sri Swami Sivananda