The things we see, the words we hear, the words we speak, the things we touch, the things we smell—these leave an impression on our Antahkarana, the inner core. This impression, this tiny spot, this mark on our Antahkarana (inner core) is the seed of Sanskar. Whenever the same experience of seeing, speaking, listening, smelling and touching is repeated, the miniature spot, or the seed of Sanskar, expands to take the form of a minute line. Further repetition of the same experience transforms the minute line into a thick and heavy line. And this is known as Sanskar.
Let us talk briefly about Antahkarana. It was implied earlier that Sanskars are stored in Antahkarana. Swami Vivekananda defines Antahkarana as, “The organs (Indriyas), together with the mind (Manas), the discriminative faculty (Buddhi), and ego-sense (Ahamkara) form the group called Antahkarana (Inner Core). They are but various processes in the mind-stuff, called Chitta. The thought-waves in the Chitta are called Vrittis (literally ‘whirlpool’).” Manas as the recording faculty receive impressions gathered by the senses from the outside world. Buddhi as the discriminative faculty classifies these impressions and reacts to them. Ahamkara as the ego-sense claims these impressions for its own and stores them up as individual knowledge.
Now, coming back to Sanskars; the tiny spot, the impression gathered through senses on our inner core was the causal body of Sanskar. The minute line, which was formed by repetition of the impression gathered through sense organs on our inner core, becomes the subtle body of the Sanskars. And the thick and heavy one which is further repetitions of the experiences becomes the physical body of Sanskar. Since creation, going through the cycles of rebirths, we have created an infinite number of those thick and heavy lines. They are stored in our inner core. When the mind gets in contact with them, they liven up in front of the mind in their true forms. This way, the mind sees a creation inside and gets busy playing with them. As long as these lines, these Sanskars remain, success would remain a dream. These Sanskars must be destroyed, must be uprooted for success.
It is these Sanskars that maintain the cycle of rebirths – just as strongly rooted addiction drives a man to take a drug, over and over again, irrespective of his conscious disinclination and the efforts of his moral will. We may say and sincerely believe, that we are tired of the world with what Sankaracharya Ji called “pairs of opposites” – pleasures and pains – “the sweet and bitter fruits of the tree” – but, in fact, we are not. As long as these tendencies are present, our addiction to return and plunge again and again into sense-experience is a lot deeper than we comprehend. Except for brief moments of our physical and spiritual hangovers, transient and temporary fits of disgust and repentance, this recurring process of craving and aversion continues. The desire to postpone death and cling to life is one of the greatest obstacles of enlightenment. To cling to life is to cling to normal sense consciousness, thereby shunning the super consciousness within which the Atman is known, Self is realized. And this is our invitation to rebirths – warmly accepted and obliged by nature.
These Sanskars are the Mala and Avarana of the inner core. Because of these the Yogis have the Viksepa. Therefore, we must demolish these. They must be uprooted. Our inner core has light, has joy, has truth but the Self is hidden by these Sanskars. It is like a precious gem hidden underneath garbage and filth. Its sparkle is blocked by itself. If we are to look for that gem, if we want to find that gem, we will need to remove the heap of garbage; we will need to cleanse the place. Only then, we can have it. As the cleaning process progresses, we get closer to it, and we start getting glimpses of its radiance and joy. Guru Maharaj says that when all the filth has been removed, when no trace of impurity remains, you will become a Saint, a complete Yogi, a Mahatma; this is Self-realization, this is Nirvana; in fact this is everything.
Above, Sanskars were treated the same as impurities (Mala, Avarana and Viksepa). It was also implied that self realization is not possible in the presence of even a trace of impurity. It follows then, that removal of impurities and destruction of Sanskars will run concurrently. Actually, the tool for removal of impurities, destruction of Sanskars, and unwinding the wheel of Karma which leads to Self-realization is the same—Sadhana.
A few words about the doctrine of Karma: there are three types of Karma: 1. the Karma created in the past or in some previous life, which is bearing fruit at the present moment; 2. the Karma which has already been created and stored up, so that it will bear fruit in some future life, and 3. the Karma which we are now in the process of creating by our actions or thoughts. Of these, the already existing Karmas are beyond our control; we can only wait until they have worked themselves out, and accept their fruits with courage and patience. But the Karmas which we are now creating can be avoided. Not by ceasing to act – that would be impossible, even if it were desirable – but by ceasing to desire the fruit of action for oneself. If we dedicate the fruits of action to God, we shall gradually unwind the wheel of Karma. Non-attachment, dedicating the fruits of action to God is the only way to unwind the wheel of Karma.
Guru Maharaj in Ten Basic Principles of Sadhana puts us on the path to learn non-attachment by telling us, “Do all worldly work in a spirit of service – not to rule or own, and live in the world as a guest.” This will stop creation of new Sanskars. This will stop the wheel of Karma. Unwinding the wheel of Karma which also means the non-creation of Sanskars will depend on how well we master non-attachment and dedicating the fruits of actions to God.
Now, what about the other two kinds of Karma, the Karma which has already been created and stored up, so that it will bear fruit in some future life; the Karma created in the past or in some previous life, which is bearing fruit at the present moment? Are we condemned to suffer through cycles of rebirths? The answer comes from Guru Maharaj, “Absolutely not.” We do not have to go through cycles of rebirth; we can demolish the other two types of Karma, we can uproot stored Sanskars, and we must. It will be done through Guru Maharaj’s gift to us—Satsang and Sadhana.