A centipede developed gout. When one hundred knees start hurting, you can imagine what a terrible problem it is. He went to an owl for advice. The owl examined him and said, “It is best if you become a mouse. You’ll still have gout, but you’ll only have four problems. Now you have one hundred!”
The centipede thought it was an excellent idea. “How do I become a mouse?” he asked. The owl said, “Well, we only make policy here. For intervention, you have to go somewhere else!”
Creation gives you the policy. But intervention lies in your hands. Many people ask: ‘What karma did we do to deserve this virus?’ I suggest we shift from thinking about policy to intervention. Yoga is about intervention: it is the powerful science of transforming yourself. This possibility is available to everyone.
First, let us remember that karma is not a dirty word. It is not inherently positive or negative. It is how you deal with it that makes the difference. Every moment, impressions are flooding into you through your five sense organs. This stored information is hugely useful for your survival. If you deleted it, you would not know how to handle even the simplest aspects of life.
The problem is that karmic memory has stuck to you.
Your identity is like glue. If everything that passes by sticks to a mirror, it is a no-good mirror. Your mirror can no longer show you life the way it is. When you are deeply identified with memory, your perception becomes seriously clouded. This is when karma becomes a limitation.
Karma is also a boundary. It offers you form and definition, but over time, that very form becomes a limitation. You may joyfully celebrate these definitions – of family, clan, tribe, class, gender, religion, culture and language – but over time, these harden into rigid identities. Before you know it, you have become your own jailor.
How then do we live with karma? The primary step is to be responsible. What befalls you may be the consequence of collective karma, but if you want to live an autonomous, full-fledged life – not as a puppet of your heredity or environment – you must first become an individual. In the current situation, it means taking care that you are neither victim nor carrier of the virus. It is time to stop outsourcing the responsibility to parents, teachers, politicians, countries, gods and fate. Karma means becoming squarely responsible for your own destiny.
If you are the consequence of many influences, you are a crowd. Crowds can evolve over a period of time, but they cannot be transformed. Transformation, as the word suggests, necessitates a ‘form’. It is impossible for a collective to ever be transformed. Enlightenment can only happen to an individual. It is a paradox, but true: only an individual can wake up from the myth of
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