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It is given that the soul is ever still, non moving, constant and the same eternal every time. SO when the soul does dharma or karmas to uplift consciousness, does the human intellect rise or the consciousness level of the soul (thus making a change==contradicting it's ever constant and same nature)?

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  • What do you mean by soul? Do you mean the Atman or jiva? Apr 2, 2022 at 12:14
  • By soul, I mean that part of parmaatma inside us. Which, along with prakriti produces life. That part, with which 24 elements of nature (5 karmendriyan, 5 jnanendriyaan, 5 Tanmantra, 5 mahabhoot, 3 gunas and chetna), it gives rise to life to a human being,
    – Aveer
    Apr 2, 2022 at 13:24
  • I am not sure of what exactly jiva means
    – Aveer
    Apr 2, 2022 at 13:26

1 Answer 1

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Let's rephrase the question. "What is a Jiva? How can a Jiva (not soul) uplift its level of consciousness through its actions (Karma) which are in line with Dharma?"

Since you have put many concepts into one question, let's get the definitions correctly:

------------------------------Vocabulary------------------------------

Jiva (link): Jīva (also pronounced as jeeva), is the innate or primordial force that inherits this body. "Meaning, it tethers both the physical body (Sthula:Śarīra) and the subtle body (Sukshma:Śarīra) and wears it like a cloth" ~ Quote by Ramana Maharshi.

Detail from Vasista's Yogam: Jiva is not bound by kālá/kālám (time), meaning it doesn’t age, nor grow weak. This Jīva makes one recognize one’s own existence in a given time but is not aware of its true self or its true source. It can be interpreted as a soul but is really nothing but agitation or vibration of Brahmān. This agitation within Brahmān is to create a temporary state of “absence-of-consciousness-of-Brahmān”. This means, out of infinite possibilities in Brahman there also exists a state where a jiva-combination also exists.

Dharma (Link):

“धरयैतअनेना:इति धर्मां” "That which is the very basis on which the Natural, Social and Cosmic phenomenon sustains is Dharma. We will look at these aspects in detail"

Rishi Jaimini, who established the Mīmāṃsā School of philosophy and was a student of Veda Vyāsa, defined Ḍharma as: “codaṇā-lakṣaṇaḥ arthaḥ dharmaḥ” That which leads to the cumulative well-being of all the surroundings.

There is no equivalent word for Ḍharma in English. Ḍharma is not a duty, nor responsibility, nor an obligation, nor a commandment. The entire Sanātana literature proclaims the concept of Ḍharma and the concept known as Ishwara (Iśvara). An action/inaction (Karma) performed is a collective of the position (like ashram or upādhi) held by a being (karta) in a given situation in time (kālá). This action (karma), together with its consequence (phala), is called karmaphala. Ḍharma is also a default inbuilt property of a being/entity that one must not override for the sake of personal desire. For example, the Ḍharma of fire is combustion, the Ḍharma of water is to flow and stick together, the Ḍharma of air or wind is to spread. In this way, Ḍharma is an inherent nature bestowed by Prakruti (Prakṛti) (nature/creation) that an entity follows, and exists in accordance with Prakṛti.

Karma (Link): Karmā is a concept that explains an action (kriya) and its consequences (phala). Kriya denotes a specific conscious action or procedure with a specific result; it isn’t necessarily used to denote compulsive or unconscious action. Each karmā corresponds to a specific result known as its karmāphala (karmā:phala), meaning the fruit of Karmā. The doer of an action is called Karta.The concept of Karmā spans various dimensions in existence. Meaning, these actions and their consequences get recorded on various levels, along with the degree of intensity.

These are very brief definitions, but these are fundamental concepts around which many other concepts revolve. So, it's best one spends some time exploring them, that is why links are provided.


Action (Karma) done as compulsion VS done towards the upliftment of consciousness:

Please note: Before one tries to start or act in accordance with Dharma to uplift their consciousness, one has to remember the results of their past karma which might hinder one's efforts today. So, do keep that in mind.

Karmā is an ingrained equation built into creation, and a doer’s choice is in choosing an action and its process of execution, and not in its consequence. This cosmic equation has countless variables that affect the outcome, knowing which through sheer information or intellectual discrimination (of an ego-centric or identity constrained being) is impossible. It can, though, be realized through the state commonly referred to as enlightenment. However, many consequences are deterministic to some level, meaning the outcome is the same each time; hence, it gives a notion of control and guarantee.

Student: But what about the actions done before the dawn of knowledge? Knowledge cannot cancel their effects. An arrow shot at a mark cannot be turned aside. Suppose you mistake a cow for a tiger and shoot at it. The arrow will not stop when you discover that the cow is not a tiger. It will strike the cow.” Śrī Śankara replied: Yes, you are right. Past actions are very powerful if they have already begun to produce their effects. They must exhaust their power through actual experience, even in the case of an illuminated soul (Ātman). The fire of knowledge destroys the whole accumulation of present and future karmās and of past karmās which have not yet begun to produce effects. However, none of these karmās can really affect those who have realized their identity with Brahmān. ~ Vivekachudamani, Swami Prabhavananda. Isherwood, Christopher. 1947

Such karmā should exhaust its momentum irrespective of current actions or intentions. Maharśi Vaśiṣṭha states in his profound Yoga to Śrī Rama that a being’s mental conditions can be interpreted as pure (free from blemish and prejudice) and impure (blemishes). The impure ones are like seeds, meaning they have the ability to grow into another tree of life (rebirth) to continue the loop of samsara. Such an impure mindset of a being is due to Avidya (absence of Vidya or Knowledge) which leads to identity and ego. However, when one lets go of these impurities or clears one’s thoughts of such blemishes, then such beings are only affected by past karmā that was set in momentum and not by present intentions or motivations. (Swami Venkatesananda. 1993)

In the chapter of Yoga of Self Effort, Maharśi Vaśiṣṭha says to Śrī Rama:

“Self-effort is of two categories: that of past births and that of this birth. The latter effectively contracts the former. Fate is none other than the self-effort of a part incarnation. There is constant conflict between the two in this incarnation; and that which is more powerful triumphs. If you see that the present self-effort is sometimes thwarted by fate (or divine will), you should understand that the present self-effort is weak. A weak and dull-witted man sees the hand of providence when he is confronted by a strong and powerful adversary and succumbs to him. Faith or divine dispensation is merely a convention which has come to be regarded as truth by being repeatedly declared to be true. If this god or fate is truly the ordainer of everything in this world, of what meaning is any action”

Maharśi Vaśiṣṭha further explains in his Yoga to Śrī Rama that past karmā or actions bear memory that shines or can get triggered anytime. These past tendencies are of two types, those which support and lead to liberation, and those which hinder one’s progress towards liberation. One who is not impelled by unconscious tendencies and latent desires but rather operates through self-effort, is free to strengthen only those tendencies which support and nurture one’s efforts to liberation. Those negative tendencies are not to be undermined either, as they have to be consciously recognized and slowly but carefully discarded. Maharśi Vaśiṣṭha further says to Śrī Rama:

“Hence, the non-enquiring fool is really a storehouse of sorrow. It is the absence of inquiry that gives rise to actions that are harmful to oneself and to others, and to numerous psychosomatic illnesses.”

Now, to definitively answer the question, can past Karmā (karmā:phala) be canceled or removed? The answer is NO. The action of the past will bear its result, which is the cosmic equation balancing itself. Can we dodge it? The answer is again NO, but we can better prepare to face it and adjust ourselves to it. Can we predict it? Yes, we can – based on our Sādhanā (practice) towards enhancing our lives to a higher and wider state of awareness, which is what Yoga is all about. Then what about Upāyas and Parihārams? Well, they are kriya (actions) designed to help us better understand and realize the reality and its effects. They will help us better prepare and equip ourselves with needed upgrades to our lifestyles because realizing it and accepting it is the first step.

Finally, to your answer, you have to Choose Karma that is in line with Dharma, yet you have to face the resutls of prior Karma which also a bigger challange. So, YOGA is the answer. Not the physical Yoga, both the Gyana Yoga and Kriya Yoga. Both the Upanishads and Yoga Sutras. The Kriya Yoga helps you prepare your body and mind to face and act. Jnana Yoga will help you choose and navigate your Karma.

Later Addition to post based on comments:

Question: It is given that the soul is ever still, non moving, constant and the same eternal every time. SO when the soul does dharma or karmas to uplift consciousness, does the human intellect rise or the consciousness level of the soul (thus making a change==contradicting it's ever constant and same nature)?

Ans: Yes, This is why I have given 3 links which explain the literary evolution of Jiva (Soul). To keep it short. Jiva is an aspect of Prakriti (Shakti), whereas Atman is that of Consciousness (Sadasiva). Jiva keeps getting mutated beyond time under the realm of Prakriti and its Maya. Jiva is that energry state which keeps creating layers and layers of "cloud/fog of illusion" around it and moves further away from 'Vid' (true knowledge). But Maya is FOREVER but Maya's effect on a Jiva cannot be FOREVER, once the Jiva strives to remove the A:vidya (cloud of illusion under maya) gradually realizes its Atman state. This state of Union with consciousness is called YOGAM. The methods to acheieve it is called Yoga. Through Yoga (Kriya + Jnana) the Jiva gradually removes the layers of false-illusions it has created. Througy Yoga, a jiva tries to do Karma by consciously choosing Dharma as the basis. As each layer of A:vid (cloud of illusion) is removed, the jiva moves closer and closer to realizing its own Atman state.

One of the best and comprehensive books compiled is Vasista's Yoga (English version is by Swamy Venkateshananda)

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  • that still doesnt clearly answer my question IMHO. Could you please tell: It is given that the soul is ever still, non moving, constant and the same eternal every time. SO when the soul does dharma or karmas to uplift consciousness, does the human intellect rise or the consciousness level of the soul (thus making a change==contradicting it's ever constant and same nature)? I want to know about the resolution to the contradiction, where Lord says 1) Soul is constant, and same, and 2) We can uplift the consciousness of the soul by Yoga (thus making it dynamic in a sense)
    – Aveer
    Apr 6, 2022 at 10:38
  • @Aveer I have added a paragraph at the end of this post with your question. Please read it and further raise your question. Pls keep your question short and precise so that we can cover it in detail. Broad questions lead to vague answers. Thank you. Apr 6, 2022 at 11:00
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    @Aveer , I will use word "Aatma" instead of soul and please Note: Aatma is cannot be understood by Sences of Human being. Consciousness and Aatma are 2 different things as Consciousness is defined for human mind and Sinc Aatma is something which is fully complete so How can we imagine it's Uplift and Crash !
    – user27254
    Apr 8, 2022 at 13:32

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