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In the second of two parts, Sadhguru looks at how karma is the maya of many, and how kriyas and pranayams are a process to strengthen the etheric body, and distance ourselves from karma.

Sadhguru: Karma is essentially the maya of many. “Maya” is usually translated as “illusion” though that word doesn’t convey everything. But let’s say maya means illusion. The illusion of the many is the foundation of karmic substance. As long as you are established in, “This is me, that is you,” karma is a well-established reality. It is like a solid, real, steel structure.

However, if you confuse yourself, “Which is me and which is not me?” suddenly karma loses its foundation. If you look around and you don’t know which is you and which is not you, in this mix up the karmic foundation cannot stand anymore and just crumbles. In one moment of confusion, suddenly, whole structures of karma just collapse. Have you noticed, if you ever fell in love with someone, your likes and dislikes, who you are, what you like, what you don’t like, everything got mixed up a little bit – at least for a few days, after which it might have come back to you again! You started doing what you thought you cannot do because who you are was a little confused. The maya of the many was confused because a little bit of oneness came between two people, and suddenly the karma lost its foundation and crumbled.


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The Problem of Many

It happened like this – during 1944, eight Hitler doubles were kept in a safe house. Of all the people, these were the best fed, best kept people and they didn’t have to do anything except once in a while. They were trained to be like Hitler. They dressed like him, they ate like him – they had to do whatever he did because when they had to play the act, they had to do it in such a way that nobody would know. So, these guys were really having a good time.

Then Heinrich Himmler, one of Hitler’s trusted aides came. It was part of the routine that whenever anyone came, they had to salute the doubles just the way they would salute Hitler because they had to get used to it. So, Himmler came and said “Hail Hitler!” Then he said, “I have good news and bad news.”

All of them said together, “Good news first.”

“Our Fuhrer is alive and well.”

“Bad news…?”

“Unfortunately, he lost his left eye,” and he pulled out a cork screw.

Karma is like that. It is the problem of the many. So, the first thing is to stop creating – life works itself out. Or if you want to drop all your karma at once, that can also be done. But you need to understand, karma is not only a bondage, it is also a protection. It is a cement that binds you with the body. If all karma is dissolved, you will not be able to hold on to your body – you will drop it. If you are not aware of this, for most beings, the moment of enlightenment and the moment of leaving the body are the same. Only those who are on the path of kriya, who know the mechanics and the nuts and bolts of the body hold on to it.

Exercising the Etheric Body

In yoga, we look at a human being as five sheaths or layers of body. Three – the physical, the mental and the energy body – are physical realities; maybe subtle but still physical. The other two – the etheric body and the bliss body – are in a different realm. The etheric body is a transition from physical to non-physical. The bliss body is purely non-physical. The physical body, the mental body and the energy body carry karma. But the etheric body and the bliss body do not have any karmic substance because they are non-physical. The physical dimension of existence happens between cause and effect. But what is beyond the physical does not happen between cause and effect. So, the moment you begin to taste the divine, suddenly, it doesn’t matter how many heaps of karma you have, it has no impact on you because you are beginning to step into the realm of the non-physical where there is no karmic substance.

Karma is the problem of the many. So, the first thing is to stop creating – life works itself out.

When you do any kind of conscious breathing processes like kriyas and pranayams, you are trying to exercise the etheric body – that dimension of you which has a physical element in it but is not physical. You are trying to strengthen that because you want that to become a passage, not a barrier to the non-physical dimension of who you are. There are various other aspects to it in terms of physiological and psychological benefits, and the spiritual dimension, but one simple aspect is, if this dimension, which is the link between the physical body and the non-physical dimension that is the very source of creation, becomes a strong force by itself, then the physicality of who you are, the psychological structure that you call as “myself,” and that dimension which is the source of all this will naturally be connected all the time. The idea is that Divine is not an idea or belief in your life, Divine is a living presence in your life. That is the basis of sadhana, that these three are well integrated and connected on a moment-to-moment basis. We are not looking for highs or a once-in-a-way experience, we are looking for constant contact with that dimension. Only then it finds expression in the way you live, in the way you exist, in the way you can do things – in everything.

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.