Karma to the Rescue

An idea starts to be interesting when you get afraid of taking it to its logical conclusion.” – Nassim Nicholas Taleb

A person with discernment sees the seed of suffering in everything. Why? Pleasure arises from interaction with objects. Change is the fundamental characteristic of the phenomenal world. Therefore, the subject, object and even the interaction itself are changing. What was pleasurable in the past may not so in the future. One sees this clearly in the case of addictions. Therefore, the Yogi embarks on a process of minimising the suffering.

Vyāsa points out that the very act of living causes harm to other beings. So causing harm is also unavoidable. One can however try and minimise it and reduce it to the bare minimum necessary for survival. So the Yogi also practices non-violence as the foremost virtue.

A logical question then would be, “Why not kill oneself to liberate oneself from one’s own suffering and harm to others?”

Some might contend that killing oneself is an act of violence. However, by opting to live the Yogi suffers for the rest of his life and commits the unavoidable violence towards other beings. In both cases he dies. So it seems suicide is not such a bad idea measured on suffering-violence scale.

However, according to the doctrine of Karma, Saṁskāras or the latent impressions accumulated do not disappear in thin air after death. Even if the Yogi kills himself, these Saṁskāras will find rebirth and the Yogi will experience suffering caused by them. The only way to avoid rebirth is to extinguish these Saṁskāras in this life through practice of Yoga. As long as these Saṁskāras exist, rebirth is guaranteed. Thus the doctrine of Karma rescues the Yogi!

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