[You can ask your own question here.]
I am wondering how karma between people is carried on from lifetime to lifetime. For example, if one person has a strong attachment to another person -- perhaps a dying wife’s attachment to the husband she is leaving behind, or a dying mother to her son -- but the other person does not have the same feeling of attraction or attachment, can the attached person force his desires on the unattached one? Could my karma be determined by someone else’s strong desires? Could someone else’s will overcome my own will?
The first thing you need to understand is that karma is always fair. Karma is a law, not a variable human opinion. It is the impersonal working of cause and effect in human life. Because most people don’t remember their past lives -- or even many parts of their present life -- or understand clearly their own motivations -- then or now -- fairness is not always self-evident or easy to accept.
It takes deep philosophical discernment to understand how, against all apparent evidence, karmic law is fair.
The modern tendency to see one’s self as a victim is, spiritually speaking, disastrous. Until you take responsibility for your own destiny, spiritual progress is impossible.
One important thing to understand, is that the lesson is not always to turn the other cheek, to be subservient in the face of abuse, or to think you are being punished and deserve what is happening to you. Not at all! Many times the lessons is to stand up for yourself, to have the courage to cast someone unworthy out of your life, or refuse to cooperate with inappropriate demands made of you by others.
Whatever it might be, there is always a lesson or you would not have drawn the experience. Even those who have had to face exceedingly difficult circumstances, often say, “It was not easy, but it made me who I am. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Karma, reincarnation, and the chakras are all one integrated system. None can be understood without the others.
Every thought, deed, response, emotion, or desire we have reflects the level of consciousness we are on at the moment that it happens. We act according to what we perceive as reality and in what we believe to be our own best interest.
Every act reflects an inner prompting toward happiness, ultimately toward bliss. Even if our responses are entirely misguided, it always, to us, seems like a good idea at the time. Otherwise we wouldn’t do it.
If someone treats you meanly and you respond with anger or carry out a cruel revenge, some part of you believes that anger and revenge is the way to happiness. This reflects a certain understanding of reality.
If your response to betrayal is compassion for that person’s ignorance, concern for the karmic consequences to him of his misguided behavior, and forgiveness for any hurt done to you personally, that reflects an entirely different perception of reality.
Jesus when crucified on the cross, instead of looking with anger at those who had so wrongly condemned him, prayed for their wellbeing. “Father, forgive them,” Jesus said, “for they know not what they do.” Spontaneous concern for the welfare of others, and forgetfulness of himself, expressed a God-united understanding of reality.
Eventually all of us will achieve that level of consciousness. In the meantime, we express who we are now.
Every level of reality has its own vibration. The chakras represent -- from the base of the spine to the spiritual eye -- a gradually ascending refinement of vibration -- from material to spiritual, from self-affirming to Self-realized. This is an oversimplification, but sufficient for this discussion.
Even though our human mind quickly forgets what we have done in the past, the energy that passes through us does not dissipate. Everything we do is recorded as a vibration in our chakras. These vrittis as they are called -- whirlpools of energy -- are stored in whatever chakra corresponds to the level of reality it stemmed from.
The chakras are part of the astral body. The physical body is a manifestation of the chakras, but when the physical body dies, the chakras remain intact, and move with the astral body into the astral world. The pattern of energy in the chakras determines what astral universe we are drawn to, and, eventually, the nature of our next incarnation.
Modern science confirms what great yogis have long asserted: matter is an illusion; everything in this universe is a manifestation of energy. The implication of this, which is just beginning to dawn on people, is that magnetism acting upon the energy nature of the universe is far more powerful than brute force.
The vrittis in the chakras generate magnetism and that magnetism -- acting upon the energy field which is the universe -- is the cause of everything that happens to us. That magnetism is the means by which karma is carried from one incarnation to the next.
Magnetism is not a matter of opinion or favoritism or whim or even the will of God considered as something entirely separate from ourselves. It is an impersonal fact. It is our karma, the accumulated result of everything we ourselves have done.
So, to your specific question.
The energy in the vrittis is only a vibration of energy at a certain level of reality. That reality could be described, for example, as the belief that security comes from having a certain amount of money. There is no vritti, however, called “money.” Money is a specific thing, and there are no material things in the chakras. The belief, however, and energy expended on the basis of that belief is recorded in the appropriate chakra as a vibration.
If the dying wife feels that her wellbeing is dependent upon having this specific man as her husband in a future life, the vibration of specific, personal, ego-based love is recorded in her chakras. Even if her love has been selfless, it is still ego-based because it is limited to one specific expression.
Yes, we do have repeating relationships with certain souls over many incarnations and love deepens and refines through repeated association. Still, even the most exquisite human love is only a stepping-stone to infinite love. We have close relationships with so many souls, from the perspective of one lifetime we literally cannot imagine how many.
Whether or not this wife will again find this husband, depends not only on the pattern in her chakras, but also on the pattern in his.
If he longs for her company in the way she longs for his that could draw them together. If he despises her, that could draw them together. If he fears being close to her again, that could draw them together. If he feels sorry for her, and worries about her wellbeing, if he lacks faith that God will take care of her and feels it is all up to him, that could draw them together.
In other words, there has to be some karmic lesson still to be learned from relating to her in order for them to be together again.
Overcoming a too-personal definition of love may be the very lesson that dying wife needs to learn. If the husband has already learned it -- loving his wife not only for herself but also as a manifestation of God -- he may not need to marry her, or perhaps anyone, ever again. Whereas she may have to live through who knows how many more cycles of personal love before she learns that it is love Itself that she craves, not any particular expression of it.
There is nothing wrong in this. We learn by experience. Karma draws the experiences we need, and, if we act with conscious attunement, we will learn from them. The more attuned we are, the more quickly we learn. The more we rebel against karmic law, the longer it takes and the more we suffer.
In the meantime, can one soul force karma onto another? No. Karma is always fair. There has to be a corresponding resonance for the two souls to be drawn together or for the conditions to manifest.
In the case of that husband and wife, if she has lessons to learn, but he has already learned whatever lessons that relationship has to teach him, her magnetism will find no corresponding resonance in him to draw them together, no matter how deeply she wants him.
Perhaps he will have transcended so completely that they will not meet at all. Perhaps she will find him, but he will not be compelled to give his life to her in the way she wants. Whatever karmic lessons remain for her, she will still learn them, but with someone else, not him.
Can the resonance be subtle? Definitely. Therefore honest introspection, prayer and self-offering to God is essential.
This is where Kriya Yoga comes in, as explained in Autobiography of a Yogi. Kriya works directly to dissolve the vrittis in the chakras. Dissolve the vritti and you dissolve the karma. You can get rid of it without having to live through it. That is why Kriya dramatically accelerates spiritual progress.
As you can see, this is an enormously complicated subject and I have only touched here on a few aspects of it. From Ananda you can find many books and other resources on the subject. Over the years I have written other letters and given many classes about this you may find interesting. They are available for free online.
[Questions and answers from other Ananda ministers worldwide can be found on the Ask the Experts page of Ananda.org.]