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Nature vs nurture : Is everything predestined for us?

Nature vs nur­ture : Is every­thing pre­des­tined for us?

(Adi ji) So the ques­tion is a clas­sic question,”So what is our own nature, our swab­ha­va, what is it that we pick from out­side, which includes oth­ers, our envi­ron­ment, our fam­i­ly, every­thing else. And if, there is some­thing like “our own” we also see many things we have picked up from out­side and if there is some­thing like we have picked up from out­side, we also observe there is some­thing called “our own”. There is a spe­cif­ic dif­fer­ence.

So one is dif­fer­ent from oth­ers. And one can­not miss it, while at the same time there are com­mon­al­i­ties. So what per­cent­age, if we can say, what per­cent­age is which, that becomes a key thing to under­stand. So is there any dif­fer­ence? Def­i­nite­ly, yes. Is there a swab­ha­va, our own nature? Def­i­nite­ly yes. One can­not miss it. But swab­ha­va is not some­thing that is super­fi­cial. For exam­ple, we live in cer­tain envi­ron­ment. Up to school days we move with the school chil­dren, our friends, then we come to col­lege, then our nature changes. That is not exact­ly swab­ha­va. That is more like social con­di­tion­ing, the peer group that we move with. We go from col­lege to work­place and then again our out­er con­di­tion­ing changes. But that is not our core swab­ha­va. So to under­stand this bet­ter we def­i­nite­ly look at kar­ma.

Now kar­ma sim­ply means action. Action can be broad­ly, it is looked at as San­chi­ta kar­ma, Prarab­d­ha kar­ma and Aga­mi or Kriya­mana or Var­ta­mana kar­ma. So that means.…Sanchita is the store­house of all karmic imprints that we have accu­mu­lat­ed over life­times, over many life forms. Now what that exact­ly means I will come to in a short while. Prarab­d­ha is that which we are using, or that is avail­able in this life­time. And Kriya­mana or Var­ta­mana kar­ma is what we are gen­er­at­ing through our reg­u­lar actions. In the process of act­ing, what we are gen­er­at­ing. And that fur­ther adds on to the future. So when we look at kar­ma, we should also under­stand that this is a con­tin­u­um. It is not some­thing that is.…we clear­ly see, even if we need to get a job, peo­ple look at our back­ground. Peo­ple look at what skills we bring to the board. We bring on board. And that is not built just like that. Ran­dom­ly. It is built over a process of work, con­sis­tent effort, in that direc­tion and that con­tin­ues fur­ther into our work­place. And there we are gen­er­at­ing fur­ther exper­tise, fur­ther skills, we are grow­ing con­stant­ly. So kar­ma has to be looked at as a con­tin­u­um. Not as a one off thing – so it is stored and that’s it. That’s about it, it is not that way. It is dynam­ic. It is con­stant­ly in bal­ance. So when we under­stand this, we clear­ly see, to suc­ceed, for our favourable result, we def­i­nite­ly need to gain some momen­tum in that direc­tion, build up skill and then we would be able to get the desired result, in terms of kar­ma pha­la. So this kar­ma, gen­er­al­ly we eval­u­ate our­selves only with respect to our kar­ma, when we are talk­ing of swab­ha­va, we are actu­al­ly talk­ing of kar­ma. What actions are we good at, what actions we like? What actions we are suit­ed for? And so on. That is how most of us define our­selves in terms of actions. Even thoughts are actions. Sub­tle actions. So words are actions. For exam­ple, right now I am speak­ing, this is kar­ma, and that will influ­ence you in very spe­cif­ic ways. So that way, my kar­ma pha­la is not just for myself, but I am actu­al­ly impact­ing you, enhanc­ing your life, enhanc­ing your inspi­ra­tion, your ideas and so on. So thought, word and phys­i­cal action – all of these con­sti­tute kar­ma. It is not just straight­for­ward, it is not just lin­ear. So hav­ing said this, when we look at how am I dif­fer­ent from some­one else? We are most­ly look­ing at it in terms of action­at­ing, you know. My actions in terms of thought, words and deeds are dif­fer­ent, some­how dif­fer­ent and some­how com­mon also. So there is a com­mon part, there is a dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing part as well. Just as for exam­ple, we have the blue­print of a body. The genet­ic mech­a­nisms by which, the DNA mech­a­nisms by which every human being is shaped, is broad­ly com­mon, but there are also indi­vid­ual dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing fac­tors, which we call the gene pool.

So there are common factors as well as differentiating factors. So towards this, in the Indian system, we look at a human being, as trisharira or panchakoshas. A kosha is something like you can say a part of a human being. There are various components to a human being. The components are intermixed, so that there is well-defined interaction amongst the components.

So most of us are aware of the phys­i­cal com­po­nent, which is called the Anna­maya kosha, or the sthu­la shari­ra, or gross body. There are also sub­tler aspects like emo­tions, thoughts, desires, which we clear­ly realise, but oth­ers may not be able to see it, or see it through their sens­es. So those are called the suk­sh­ma shari­ra, or the sub­tle body, or sub­tle com­po­nent. So in yog­ic ter­mi­nol­o­gy, we look at that as prana­maya kosha, manomaya kosha and vij­nana­maya kosha. So prana­maya is the sub­tle ener­gy, elec­tro­mag­net­ic field. Manomaya is the realm of emo­tions, man­as. Not just emo­tions, but the low­er lev­el func­tion­ing. Now, vij­nana­maya kosha is in terms of the struc­ture of knowl­edge, bud­dhi and so on. And then we look at anan­damaya kosha which is the sub­tlest com­po­nent which we also look at as karana shari­ra. It is the causal com­po­nent, which is the root cause for var­i­ous man­i­fes­ta­tions to hap­pen. So if we look at it this way, now we have bro­ken down some­thing like a com­plex human being into under­stand­able com­po­nents, which is like han­dleable, which is man­age­able. Now if we look at it, you would clear­ly see that the Indi­an rea­son­ing is on very sound plat­form, where­in for exam­ple, birth and death, are explained in terms of anna­maya kosha and prana­maya kosha being dis­solved, but some oth­er aspects are intact. So the whole being is not lost. But the anna­maya and prana­maya kosha which are a com­po­nent of this earth, that is dis­solved. If we go to some oth­er loka, then your anna­maya and prana­maya kosha will be dif­fer­ent­ly made. That is how the rea­son­ing works. This gives us an awe­some frame­work to oper­ate on. Then, one becomes clear that,”Okay, the body falls.” Now gen­er­al­ly death is under­stood as end of every­thing. But here we clear­ly see that death is not the end of every­thing. We con­tin­ue. The core aspects con­tin­ue. It is just the out­er aspects which are an accu­mu­la­tion of cur­rent cir­cum­stances on earth that fall away, when the time peri­od is over. So this is called prarab­d­ha. When the prarab­d­ha kar­ma is over, the accu­mu­la­tion that we had for this pur­pose falls away. So what hap­pens is then we have right now have a clear way to under­stand this bet­ter, where­in a human being was a broad term which did not help us rea­son out with respect to how am I dif­fer­ent from oth­ers.

How am I common with others? So that differentiation was not clear. Now this framework, panchakoshas has given us a clear framework for reasoning out. This is how we develop the reasoning. Then we go deeper and deeper, actually we will start understanding ourselves better, in terms of differentiation as well as in terms of what is common. Then this leads to a better appreciation in terms of even life forms.

When we say, you would have tak­en mul­ti­ple jan­mas as dif­fer­ent life forms. Then this frame­work gives us a way to rea­son out, that the anna­maya kosha and prana­maya kosha is dif­fer­ent or well-formed or less evolved. So even an amoe­ba has a anna­maya kosha which is formed of food, which is depen­dent on this. Now we have a dif­fer­ent anna­maya kosha, but the fun­da­men­tal con­scious­ness, the karana shari­ra and the suk­sh­ma shari­ra could be a con­tin­u­um, in spite of hav­ing dif­fer­ent kinds of bod­ies. So this is how our Indi­an sci­ences help us rea­son out with respect to these things. So this is in broad, I have tried to give you some open­ing with respect to how to rea­son out with respect to your own kar­ma, your own swab­ha­va. What is unique with respect to you, what is it that you can actu­al­ly action­ate on and what is it that you would like to con­tribute to this world. That also by observ­ing and under­stand­ing your­selves, you will be able to actu­al­ly devel­op a sense of pur­pose and what you have come to earth for and what is it that you would like to con­tribute. So that way it becomes very very use­ful to under­stand and action­ate in this life­time.

Does the atma have a char­ac­ter?

Yes and no. Yes, in terms of what we call as atma. So now we looked up to anan­damaya kosha. So upto anan­damaya kosha, yes, you have a unique qual­i­ty. Now anan­damaya kosha can also be col­lec­tive. But there we will be enter­ing into what are now gen­er­al­ly con­sid­ered as mys­ti­cal realms. With­out touch­ing that, because that could con­fuse for some­one who is not ini­ti­at­ed into cer­tain aspects. So with­out touch­ing that, what we are refer­ring to in terms of pan­chakoshas, even the causal com­po­nent, has unique vari­a­tions. So that way, yes, you are unique. But when we refer to, what we refer to as Atma in the Vedan­ta, in the Indi­an philo­soph­i­cal tra­di­tions, that atma is one and the same every­where. So that is like space every­where, but space is also bot­tled up in one form. So now the form goes away but still the space remains. So that is the rea­son why I said yes and no.

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