Question: Sadhguru, can you throw some light on the theory of karma and how one can attain moksha, and be liberated from the cycle of birth and rebirth?

కర్మ – మోక్షం

Sadhguru: Karma means action. As you sit here, you are performing four types of actions. Your body is doing something – otherwise, you would not be alive. Similarly, your mind, emotions, and life energies are also performing some action. These four are happening every moment of your life – in wakefulness and in sleep. More than 99% of your karma, your actions, are unconscious. But the residual memory of these actions builds up within you.

The human system is a phenomenal machine. It does not miss anything. Whether you are conscious of it or not, it grasps and records everything, all the time.

For example, as you walk from one place to another, there may be 10 different kinds of smells, but you may not really notice them unless something is acute. But all the 10 different smells that entered your nostrils are recorded within you. The human system is a phenomenal machine. It does not miss anything. Whether you are conscious of it or not, it grasps and records everything, all the time. Based on this memory, you develop certain tendencies. The traditional word for these tendencies is vasana.

Depending upon the type of vasana you have, you tend to move towards certain kinds of life situations. We say “It’s your karma” – that means “It’s your doing.” Unfortunately, karma is being projected as punishment or reward for something. Karma is neither punishment nor reward. It means you are building up memory; you are unconsciously writing a “software”, every moment of your life. Whatever your software turns out to be, accordingly you behave, function and experience your life.

Karma means life is entirely your making. Whether you create it consciously or unconsciously is the question. No one up in heaven is operating your life. Karma means you create your life. Once you understand that you are largely creating your life unconsciously, is it not natural for your intelligence to try to become as conscious as possible? Consciousness is like the voltage of a light bulb. If you crank up the voltage, it shows you everything. If you lower the voltage, it only shows you a little. There is no point trying to be conscious. If you make your life energies very intense, consciousness will burn within you. If there is no intensity, if you are only talking and reading about consciousness, it will not happen.

Wiping Out Karma

We must understand, in Indian culture, God is not our goal. God is one more tool. The ultimate goal and highest value for us is liberation, freedom, mukti or moksha. Right now, heaven may look like a great place, but if you go there, you will be bored after some time. But anyway, do you have proof that you are not already in heaven? You are already in heaven and making a mess out of it! If you are willing, the presence of the Divine is as much here as anywhere else.

Karma is like a software. It is all the same life energy, but with a different software. So, it behaves entirely differently.

Mukti means to break the cycle. Why would you want to break the cycle? People think if you are miserable, you will want to break the cycle. Not at all. A miserable person will want to come back richer, better, healthier, taller, more beautiful, more whatever else. Only a person who has seen life in all its facets will want to go beyond this. Mukti means we want to wear off the karmic information that we have gathered, which is trapping life in it and building a body around itself. If you dismantle this karmic information, the life within will not be you or me – it will be just life. This is a living cosmos. To give an analogy – if you blow a soap bubble, the bubble is real. But if the bubble breaks, only a drop of water will fall down. The rest of the bubble will be gone. The air that was in the bubble will merge with the air around.

Life is not only in you, it is outside of you too. That is why you are breathing in and breathing out. You cannot exist without that. You may call it oxygen or something else, but that does not matter. Essentially, what you call life is all-pervading. It behaves according to whatever kind of information it gets trapped with. That is what we refer to as karma. Karma is like a software. It is all the same life energy, but with a different software. So, it behaves entirely differently. If you dismantle the karmic software completely, where will life go? Nowhere – it is just there. Only the individual identity will be lost. In fact, the life within you never has individual identity. It is only your software which is individual. If you write it unconsciously, it will assume all kinds of forms – some you may like, others you may not. If you write the karmic software consciously, you will create what you want.

Editor’s Note: “Mystic’s Musings” includes more of Sadhguru’s wisdom on life, death and the human mechanism. Read the free sample [pdf] or purchase the ebook.

A version of this article was originally published in the January 2016 Isha Forest Flower. Download as PDF on a “name your price, no minimum” basis or subscribe to the print version.