Matter and Karma


By Bhanu Swami

Karma – Activities of the Conditioned Soul

  • Ignorance of Krsna

  • Desire to Enjoy

  • Material body

  • Identity with body

  • Desire to enjoy in body

  • Action to get enjoyment

Immediate Experience

Of enjoyment

Or suffering

Attachment to objects

causing enjoyment

Repulsion to objects

of suffering


Desires or hatred Restrictions

in next life (vasana) in next life (karma)

Free will, intelligence


Tama Raja Sattva

Misery Immediate Detachment

Pleasure Peace

Action: Prakrti in combination with previous samskaras and vasanas stimulates man to action, to obtain enjoyment.

Immediate Result: The action leads to immediate success or failure in getting the expected happiness depending on karma ( past ), present effort and intelligence.

Samskara: The happiness or distress and how one achieved it produces an impression (samskara) on the individual, which is causes desire (vasana) for objects in this life and next.

Aprarabdha and Prarabdha karma:

The action produces a reaction in future birth: a new situation in the world of matter, according to the quality of the initial act. This is called karma phala.

Action: The individual in that situation, stimulated by prakrti and samskaras, acts again.

Free Will: The individual can activate or deactivate his samskaras and vasanas by his choice of association and place. He can use his intelligence to control feeling (samskara and vasana) for attaining his chosen goal. Then he can act according to choice, not feeling. By intelligent acts he can alter his present and future karma.

Acts of Violence (for one`s own enjoyment) leads to suffering (papa)

  • short life span

  • Disease

  • Poverty

  • Bad family

  • Legal cases

  • No education

Acts of Compassion (for others enjoyment) leads to happiness (punya)

  • Long life span

  • Good health

  • Wealth

  • Good family

  • Intelligence

How to act:

  • Punya increases your material happiness in a sattvika mode in future life, and as prayascitta will mitigate present suffering due to papa.

  • Negative: Attachment to sattva

  • Tapas (renunciation of action and sense control) can gradually reduce future karmas.

  • Negative: Difficult for common man

  • Niskama Karma, acting without self interest, gradually frees one from bondage.

  • Negative: Gradual process

  • Jnana, and meditation on the self, can eliminate future karmas. One can get free from gross and subtle bodies.

  • Negative: Indifference to world, inactive, no spiritual body

  • Bhakti, unmotivated Love of God, can eliminate present and future karmas, free one from gross and subtle bodies, and manifest a spiritual body for service to the Lord.

Purpose of Karma: Karma is not a punishment but a chance to recognize the responsibility we have for our acts. It is learning through material experience. If we commit violence we suffer violence. The condition of suffering is a message for us to rectify our exploitative mentality, and act according to compassion rather than passion. We must learn to change our actions from service to self to service to other. This is the first step in purification of the jiva.

The Law of Karma when joined to the eternal soul produces effects in future bodies. This extension of karma is called Reincarnation. Reincarnation is a series of opportunities for us to learn the same lessons if we fail and to learn new lessons if we pass.

Laws of Description Lesson

Desire Desires produce Actions, which produce Impressions, which produce DesiresWe can redirect desire with intelligence and higher taste

Karma or Responsiblity The results of our actions on others produce equal reactions upon ourselfPerform acts, which do not violate others. Perform acts, which give benefit to others

Compassion Acting with compassion for others with no self-interest yields optimum material Condition for the humanEven in optimum material condition we cannot escape suffering and dissatisfaction

Identity Mistaken identity gives dissatisfaction, therefore we seek knowledge of spirit Self is not matter but eternal spirit, we must make a commitment to achieve spirit

Spirit Like attracts like, spiritual interest generates spiritual association and action God acts as the guide to lead us to him when we develop desire to contact him

Love Love means complete surrender to God’s interest Unconditional love of God is our eternal condition


“The living entity in the material world carried his different conceptions of life from one body to another as the air carried aromas. Thus he takes one kind of body and again quits it to take another.” – Ch.13.8

“Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his his body, O son of Kunti, that state he will attain without fail.” – Ch.8.6

“Therefore, Arjuna, you should always think of Me in the form of Krsna and at the same time carry out your prescribed duty of fighting. With your activities dedicated to Me and your mind and intelligence fixed on Me, you will attain Me without doubt.”- Ch.8.7

“Thus I have explained to you knowledge still more secret. Deliberate on this fully, and then do what you wish to do.” – Ch.18.63

Facts about the subtle body called Mind

According to Modern Experience

APerceptions of energy

All matter is energy vibration.

Mind creates, transssmits, transforms, and receives energy:

The mind’s thought forms are real.

The thought forms can materialize in our world.

There are many different worlds of different vibrational frequency.

Mind can receive and send information or feelings to different levels of existence, and journey there if qualified by similar energy level.

Prayer: for spiritual benefit of the receiver, without personal motive of prayer, sincere

Negative energy , or curse can also be sent to you.

Mind travels instantaneously in time and space. It can recall events from any time and place, including ones own life.

All thoughts, words and deeds get recorded.

Every material human has a subtle body which continues after death.

After death, it achieves a place and state which is the sum total of vibration level through its actions during life, either higher or lower

Sinful violent people have difficulty leaving their gross bodies.

No one gets condemned forever. Our acts will decide.

Selfless spiritual activities increase the vibration and brightness of the subtle body.

Unconditional love is the strongest positive force.

Responsibility is the lesson we must learn.

Whatever quality of energy you expend, that quality you receive back.

Giving even one person real spiritual knowledge gives you unlimited blessings.

Preventing spiritual knowledge will give great negative reactions.


Out of body experience:

A most highly credible scientist, Dr Robert Cookall analysed over 700 reports of OBE’s. He found that 81% of those who had experienced them had a firm conviction of life after death owing to their personal experience. What astounded Crookall, a meticulous scientist, was the consistency of the reports of OBE’s coming from all over the world with near death experiences and with the communications coming from high level mediums (Crookall 1970).

Remote viewing

Major David A Morehouse, a highly decorated U.S. army officer, was from 1987 to 1991 assigned to several highly classified special access programs in the US Army’s Intelligence Security Command
and Defence Intelligence Agency. In his book Psychic Warrior- The True Story of the CIA’s Paranormal Espionage Program he quotes key figures in the program as follows.

The secret is out: remote viewing exists, it works, it has been tested, proven and used in intelligence for over two decades. The recent government admissions concerning the use of psychic warfare are crucial, irrefutable testimony that what I have said here is the truth. The government of the most powerful nation on the face of the earth has admitted that it knows humans can transcend time and space to view distant persons, places, things and events, and that information thus gathered can be brought back. I hope you comprehend the significance of this information.’ (Morehouse 1996 )

Regardless of one’s a priori position, however, an unimpassioned observer cannot help but attest to the following fact. Despite the ambiguities inherent in the type of exploration covered in these programs, the integrated results appear to provide unequivocal evidence of a human capacity to access events remote in space and time, however falteringly, by some cognitive process not yet understood. My years of involvement as a research manager in these programs have left me with the conviction that this fact must be taken into account in any attempt to develop an unbiased picture of the structure of reality.

H.Putoff., Stanford


Experiments is Psi

The deviations achieved in any given run are practically immeasurable but the results of half a million test runs show an unmistakable signature of an effect the researchers attribute to human consciousness. Detailed mathematical analysis suggests that a minute perturbation of the “elementary binary probability” is involved, as if the mind were ever so slightly nudging the electronic dice in the desired direction.

An even more puzzling result of the experiments is that the effect can be produced even if the experimenter is several thousand miles away from the random device, and perhaps even over significant intervals of time. In the most extreme case an experimenter in Europe on Monday might concentrate on producing the effect, but the actual measurements on the device are, by prior agreement, not carried out until Friday in Princeton.

Speculating on the phenomenon Jahn states, “All forces known to physics, like gravity for example, diminish with distance. And no forces in physics operate freely across time like this. It’s as if consciousness is somehow able to direct its influence directly across space and time, and understanding that certainly poses a challenge for science.”

And Dunne adds: “This is similar to what mystics have claimed through the ages, but now we have scientific evidence.”

Prof Robert Jahn , Princeton University

Near Death Experience

Dr. Moody:

A strange sound. A buzzing or ringing noise, while having a sense of being dead

Peace and painlessness. While people are dying, they may be in intense pain, but as soon as they leave the body the pain vanishes and they experience peace.

Out-of-body experience. The dying often have the sensation of rising up and floating above their own body while surrounded by a medical team and watching it down below, feeling comfortable. They experience the feeling of being in a spiritual body that looks like a sort of living energy field.

The tunnel experience. The next experience is that of being drawn into darkness through a tunnel, at an extremely high speed, until reaching a realm of radiant golden-white light.

Rising rapidly into the heavens. Instead of a tunnel, some people report rising suddenly into the heavens and seeing the earth and the celestial sphere as they would be seen by astronauts in space.

People of light. Once on the other side of the tunnel, or after they have risen into the heavens, the dying meet people who glow with an inner light. Often they find that friends and relatives who have already died are there to greet them.

The being of light. After meeting the people of light, the dying often meet a powerful spiritual being whom some have called God, Jesus, or an angel. Also, although they sometimes report feeling scared, they do not sense that they were on the way to hell or that they fell into it.

The life review. The being of light presents the dying with a panoramic review of everything they have done. In particular, they relive every act they have ever done to other people and come away feeling that love is the most important thing in life.

Reluctance to return. The being of light sometimes tells the dying that they must return to life. Other times, they are given a choice of staying or returning. In either case, they are reluctant to return. The people who choose to return do so only because of loved ones they do not wish to

In 1977, Dr. Kenneth Ring, a brilliant young professor of psychology at the University of Connecticut, read Dr. Moody’s book Life After Life and was inspired by it. However, he felt that a more scientifically structured study would strengthen Moody’s findings. He sought out 102 near-death survivors for his research.

One. Those cases who came closest to death or were clinically dead, just as Moody’s cases reported, told of being outside of their bodies, of moving through a void or dark tunnel toward a luminous light, of meeting with departed relatives and friends, of having a feeling of great comfort and bliss and of being surrounded by compassionate love, a feeling so beautiful they longed to remain, and when they returned to the “earthly” realm, were affected by this feeling the rest of their lives.

Two. No one type of person was especially likely to have this experience. It cut across race, gender, age, education, marital status, and social class.

Three. Religious orientation was not a fact affecting either the likelihood or the depth of the near-death experience. An atheist was as likely to have one as was a devoutly religious person.

Four. Regardless of their prior attitudes – whether skeptical or deeply religious – and regardless of the many variations in religious belief and degrees of skepticism from tolerant disbelief to outspoken atheism – most of these people were convinced that they had been in the presence of some supreme and loving power and had a glimpse of a life yet to come.

Five. Drugs, anesthesia and medication did not seem to be a factor in inducing these impressions and exquisite feelings of the near-death experience. Indeed, drugs and anesthesia seemed to be more likely to cause a person to forget such a near-death experience.

Six. He definitely concluded near-death experiences were not hallucinations since hallucinations are rambling, unconnected, often unintelligible and vary widely, whereas near-death experiences all tend to have similar elements of a clear, connected pattern.

Seven. Based on the information of those who had reported such incidents, the moment of death was often one of unparalleled beauty, peace and comfort – a feeling of total love and total acceptance. This was possible even for those involved in horrible accidents in which they suffered very serious injuries. Dr. Ring found there was a tremendous comfort potential in this information for people who were facing death.

Eight. After going through a near-death experience, people reported a loss of fear of death as well as a greater appreciation of life. They also reported stronger feelings of self-acceptance and a greater concern and sense of caring for other people. They had less interest in material things for their own sake. Many tended to become more spiritual – though not necessarily more involved in organized religion.

Nine. Almost all who experienced the near-death experience found their lives transformed and a change in their attitudes and values, and in their inclination to love and to help others. Dr. Ring was convinced that these were absolutely authentic experiences and noted that since returning, many of them had occasion to think about ‘what might have been.’ And their subsequent lives were powerful testimony to our common ability to live more deeply, more appreciatively, more lovingly, and more spiritually.

Past life memories:

Ian Stevenson

The causes of most birth defects are also unknown. About 35% of children who claim to remember previous lives have birthmarks and/or birth defects that they (or adult informants) attribute to wounds on a person whose life the child remembers. The cases of 210 such children have been investigated. The birthmarks were usually areas of hairless, puckered skin; some were areas of little or no pigmentation (hypopigmented macules); others were areas of increased pigmentation (hyperpigmented nevi). The birth defects were nearly always of rare types. In cases in which a deceased person was identified the details of whose life unmistakably matched the child’s statements, a close correspondence was nearly always found between the birthmarks and/or birth defects on the child and the wounds on the deceased person. In 43 of 49 cases in which a medical document (usually a postmortem report) was obtained, it confirmed the correspondence between wounds: and birthmarks (or birth defects). There is little evidence that parents and other informants imposed a false identity on the child in order to explain the child’s birthmark or birth defect.

E-mail me when people leave their comments –

You need to be a member of ISKCON Desire Tree | IDT to add comments!

Join ISKCON Desire Tree | IDT