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Karma carries the seed of its own destruction
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
13 min
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Question (Q): Acharya Ji, on being asked, can Karma ever come to an end? Ramana Maharshi says, "Karmas carry the seed of their own destruction in themselves." Dear Acharya Ji, please help me understand, how Karmas carry the seed of their own destruction?

Acharya Prashant (AP): Karma is action. We do not just act. We act with the intention of obtaining fruit of the action. So, the actor is there, the actor acts as per his own personal intellect, desires, calculations, projections. And he speculates, calculates that his action will get him a particular result. The result is in his estimation, in his imagination pretty lucrative. In fact, it is for the sake of that result, that he acts. So far so good but then comes the disappointing part and the disappointing part is - the results are never as anticipated. And never means never. Here, you would probably object, you would say, "but sometimes we do succeed in getting results of our choice." No, I would still insist. What is it that the actor is actually seeking in the result? The actor is seeking the contentment, completion, a finality, a solution in the result.

The actor doesn't merely act. The actor is a very frustrated entity. The actor acts for the sake of bringing and end to his frustration. So, you must realize that whatsoever is the target result. The actual target is contentment. The action is for the sake of the result and the result is for the sake of contentment. Now, the whole equation can go wrong at two places.

First is - you acted anticipating a particular result and result itself didn't arrive. Since the result didn't arrive, so you are not contended.


The second probability is - you acted for the sake of certain result and the result was as per your wish. Yet this fulfillment of the wish couldn't fulfill you. The wish was fulfilled you were not. There was no contentment. The actor is left 'high and dry'. High, because he has obtained the desired result. Dry, because the desired result does not suffice.

So, if the first scenario in which the action failed to fetch the desired result was bad then the second scenario where the action succeeds in fetching the desired result is worse. Now, that is not a very attractive position to be in. A position in which you have to choose between bad and worse. Would you want to be in a position where these are the only two choices available? One choice is bad, the other choice is worse. But then that's the situation of the actor. He has to pick one of these two. Very badly placed is he.

Now, what does Ramana Maharshi mean when he says, "Karma carries within itself the seed of it's own destruction"? The actor has invested a lot in the action.

The actor is the action. As long as the actor believes in himself, he will have no choice but to act the way he does. The actor and action are not separable.

Which means that the actor cannot really change his action without changing himself. Please understand! The actor really has no choice with respect to the action as long as the actor remains who he is. The actor is the action. Now, if the action and the subsequent flow of events are quite painful then actor thinks of quitting the action, correct? The actor brings about action. The action brings about the result and the result fails in bringing about contentment. And all this has involved a lot of investment of time and energy and hope and commitment, right?

The actor see is this much. The actor says, "This entire train of event is no good, sometimes things are bad, at other times they are just worse. This is no good." So, what is it that he can change? The action! But he cannot change the action if he remains who he is. The actor is the action. So, the actor is now badly stuck. If he remains who he is, then the only two choices are bad and worse. And if he wants to avoid the bad then he cannot remain who he is. He has to go away, dissolve. Give himself up! It's almost like death, quite scary. An imagination part of it.

So the actor in spite of all the brickbats and all the frustrations and defeats he has received, still tries again. See, he is an actor. What else can he do? He is choiceless in a sense. As long as he remains who he is, he will be compelled to keep doing stupid things. So, he embarks on another such stupid pursuit which is to try again. Modify the action a little, superficially and hope that the results would be different this time. The results are not. The results are not. He puts in more hard work, hoping that the results would be different.

You see, there was this lane. The lane ended in some kind of a huge hole that looked into the sewer. So, the actor used to walk down the lane and reach the end where there was nothing but rubbish and stink. And this use to disappoint him. He decides that things must change. He decides that things must change with him remaining who he is with no change in himself. He decides to work hard. He meets some motivational gurus and they tell him, "Work harder. You will succeed." So, now instead of walking down that lane he starts running. He hopes that by running he will reach some other place. To his utter frustration he discovers that he is only reaching the same stench faster and more frequently.

This method didn't succeed. So, he tries another clever method, he says, "I used to walk facing the dead end. Now, I will walk backwards. You see, I have changed my approach 180 degrees. So, the results should also change 180 degrees. Earlier, I used to walk with my face towards the end of the lane. Now, I will walk backward. I will not look towards the huge store of rubbish. I will look in the opposite direction. I will walk backward." So, he walks backwards. And he is dismayed. He has still reached the same place. Not only the same place, this time he has reached the same place with a few bruises. Walking backward he stumbled upon stones, hit against strangers and got abused. All those things happened additionally to him. Are you getting it?

Haven't tried all kind of methods then cleverness then the actor realizes that he has to go. He is his own suffering. He does not have a suffering. He is the suffering. That is what Ramana Maharshi means here.

When Ramana Maharshi says, “Karma carries the seeds of its own destruction.” What he really means is going one step deeper. "Karta" carries the seeds of his own destruction. The actor as he is constructed is not sustainable. The actor as he is conditioned, as he is modeled, as he is designed is not stable. He has no longevity. At some point, he has to given, at some point he has to accept defeat and surrender. So, Karta carries within himself the seeds of his own destruction. And therefore, Karma carries within the seeds of its own destruction. What are the seeds of the destruction? The fact that your actions will never get you what you want from your actions. And that is why your actions will have to meet an end, a destruction.

You act. The more you act the more you discover that your actions are really going to futile. Hence, the more you act the closer you will come towards the destruction of the action. The more active, the more desirous, the more confident the actor is, the faster he is running towards his own end. Are you getting it? That is what Ramana Maharshi means here.

Q: I have a question Acharya Ji, based on the response you just gave on Ramana Maharshi. So, you were saying, there are two things into this. The first thing is wherein when you reach your particular goal so then you feel bad. And you said that it is quite more worse if for example, you are able to reach your goal because in both the things we are not using the completion. So nowadays, I see, you know, specifically youth they keeping these particular quotes within their DPs or other things, So, this quote come from a very famous American-Canadian actor Jim Carrey. So, I would like to quote it firstly, he says that, "I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it's not the answer." So, in this context he is probably making the second option which you have just quoted as a very good thing to happen. So, what do you think in the same context? Like because you just mentioned that it is something which is more worsen than the first one. So, if you can shed some light of the same?

AP: In itself the statement is not incorrect. Let there be wealth and fame and you will discover that wealth and fame are not the answer. In itself that is not an incorrect statement. The only thing is that it is a very inefficient approach. It is a very inefficient approach, specially the thing about Fame.

You see, what is fame? Fame by definition is exclusive. If everybody is famous then nobody is famous. Fame must exclude. Right? Which means that if a thousand people try for fame only two can be famous. Right? It's a clear mathematical limitation. It does not depend upon social conditions or anything. It is like a law of nature. You cannot alter it. If a thousand people try for the fame, really two can be famous because fame is not a material commodity. Fame is space that you occupy in somebody's mind, correct? And the mind's space is limited. You cannot store forty thousand people in your mind. Which mean you cannot make forty thousand people famous. How many people can you remember as important - two, four, ten, twenty, fifty? So, only these many can be famous. Forty thousand people cannot occupy mind's space of others. So, forty thousand cannot be famous. Forty thousand can be wealthy but cannot be famous. I'll come to wealth as well but first Fame. So, thousand people tried for fame, two succeeded, for the remaining 998 it was a sheer waste of effort, correct? That's what I'm saying.

Secondly, even these two might obtain fame after 40 years of work. So, after 40 years of work they become famous just to discover that Fame doesn't help. Couldn't the process have been shorter?

So, while, what is being said in the statement is not incorrect. It is just inefficient. It is a very bad way of realizing.

Now, come to wealth. Wealth is both objective and subjective. Unfortunately, for us it is 99 percent subjective. What is the objective component of wealth? Whether you have enough to sustain your body, have proper nutrition, some shade? If you want to go from one place to another for a right purpose, do you have enough purchase power to buy locomotion? If you want care, medical care for your body, do you have enough with you to purchase medical services? That's the objective component of wealth, right? Whether you can have essentials of life like education? In this sense, wealth is objective. But as wealth increases it becomes more and more subjective. Subjective means relational, relative.

Now, if you have a car then you are very poor if you live in a locality where everybody has on an average four cars each or if you have a small car then you consider yourself not wealthy because all around you are people driving their huge SUVs. Are you getting it? Which means that in its subjective component wealth is very much like fame. Not everybody can be famous and not everybody can be subjectively wealthy either. So, again that makes this approach very inefficient. Everybody tries to be wealthy. Only two succeed. 998 do not get to be wealthy. So, they can never verify the statement that you made. 998 are not even in a position to verify the statement that you made. Two succeed in just reaching the place where verification is possible and they verify and they find that fame and wealth are not the answer, as is contained in the statement but then that has been a very expensive journey. Expensive and therefore, inefficient.

It is far better to reach your destination without consuming too many resources. Is it not? If you burn too much oil in covering the distance then first of all, you are wasting your time and money. Secondly, you are a climate criminal. Are you not? So, why release so much carbon undertaking a futile journey? When the same realization can happen inexpensively and rather swiftly through other means. ;

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