Q: Sadhguru, the other day when you were speaking about karma, you said that life has many back up processes for recording karma into a person; the mind, the body, and the energy also. Even if the mind is gone, it’s still engraved in the body and the energy. This sounds like a very elaborate and wicked ploy to keep everything in suffering. Why is this?  

Sadhguru: See, whenever I speak, you have got three recorders to record my karma, a wicked ploy to ensure that I can never go back on my word. In an unguarded moment if I make a promise, you have got three recordings to ensure that I cannot go back on it.
Now karma is not as you understand. There is nothing wicked about it. You are who you are only because of your karma. From the moment you were born until this moment, everything that you have done, thought, felt and experienced, that is your karma. That is what makes you who are right now. That is what has brought you to this place. So karma is not a wicked ploy. Yes, it is a bondage, but karma is also the protection. Karma is the very basis of your physical existence right now. If there is no karmic substance, there is no way to bind yourself to this body. Karma is the cement which has bound you to this body. If we take away all your karma, this moment you will shed your body, and we do not want that on our hands right now. So, the recordings are happening to ensure that, on the level of your body, your mind, your sensation, and your energy, nothing of you is ever lost.
The most basic instinct in you is self-preservation. To preserve yourself, you built a wall around yourself, and you enjoyed this wall and the protection it gave you for a certain period of time. But there is another part of you which is always longing to expand in an unlimited way. Now, that dimension of you suddenly starts telling you this wall is a prison. It wants to break the wall and go. But there is another part of you which is struggling for self-preservation which wants to strengthen the wall. It wants to make the wall thicker and thicker. If you look at a human being, even if we go by Charles Darwin, your history is animal nature; but there is something in you which is constantly longing for expansion. If you look at this longing, you will see it is not going to end at any point. It will not be satisfied unless it becomes unbounded.  


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The Karma Mansion

Your history is animal. Your future is divinity. Right now you are hanging like a pendulum, swinging between the two. One part of you, the strongest instinct in you, is self-preservation. Another part of you is longing to break all limitations. Karma is the wall of self-preservation. You built it at one point with great care, but now you feel self-imprisoned. Karma is a mansion of self-imprisonment. You cannot do with it; you cannot do without it. That is the problem. So now you try to expand the size of your prison, but suppose we lock you up in a 5 x 5 little cell. We kept you locked there completely, not by your choice - then you will be longing for freedom. Your idea of freedom will be the walls of the ashram, you know, the fence. If we let you out of it, it feels like enormous freedom, but within three days you will look at the mountains, look at the sky and look at the gate, and your idea of freedom will expand from the gate of the ashram to something else. We will say, okay you can go up to Thanikandi and come. That looks like wonderful freedom for some time, but then you want to go to Coimbatore. If you make sufficient trips to Coimbatore, then you feel Coimbatore is not enough. Some of you who are too influenced by traditional spirituality want to go to Himalayas. Otherwise, you want to go to a bigger city or something, you know. So your idea of imprisonment is constantly changing. Your idea of freedom also is constantly evolving.  
Why spend a lifetime to understand life step by step and in the end die feeling like a fool? This is the time to look at it. Your idea of freedom is boundlessness. Your being will not settle for anything less than boundlessness. That is clear if you look at yourself. If you want to become unbounded, breaking physical barriers is not going to make you unbounded because the physical is never going to be unbounded. Only if you transcend the limitations of physical reality, if you go beyond the physical existence itself, there is a possibility of boundlessness.  

Living by Choice

Karma is that which roots you in the physical. Without it, there is no way to be rooted. So nature is ensuring, or the creator is ensuring that you have a base to work with. Without holding to the body there is no seeking. A disembodied being cannot seek by choice. He can only seek by tendencies, never by choice, unless he is evolved to a certain point. But for an embodied being, every moment is choice, actually. If you are conscious in your life, every moment is by choice.  

It does not matter what kind of karma you have - this moment’s karma is always in your hands.

Brahmacharya or sanyasa means that you are living by choice. Now to make this process of choice into a living reality, we have devised many things in yoga. In the morning, you like to roll in your bed. That is the natural tendency of the body, but now you do asanas in the morning. You can roll in the bed unconsciously, but you cannot do asana in the morning unconsciously. Naturally the whole process of body movement becomes conscious. You want to bring that aspect of conscious action into your life - conscious thought, conscious emotion, conscious way of existing here. The very life energy is becoming conscious because only if you become conscious, your life happens by choice. Otherwise your life will happen by compulsions. The difference between freedom and bondage right now is, either you are functioning compulsively or by choice.  
Various types of karmas are there for human beings. The fruit of that is always there, but what you make out of it moment to moment is always yours - it is in your hands. It does not matter what kind of karma you have - this moment’s karma is always in your hands. In this moment, to be joyous or miserable is 100% by choice if you are willing to be conscious. So, karma being recorded, or you using three mechanisms to record me is not a problem because I am never going to go back on my words. So what is my problem? Use 300 recorders if you like. The same thing you will record. Nature is recording in a million ways. What is your problem? You can only go ahead. You cannot go back on it. So, let them record. Let the angels, the devils, and everybody record. Let the trees and the animals and insects record your karma. What is your problem?

Editor’s Note: Find more of Sadhguru’s insights in the book “Of Mystics and Mistakes.” Download the preview chapter or purchase the ebook at Isha Downloads.