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Meher Baba

The operation of karma through successive lives*

Part 1 of 3

Buddha Meher Baba (1894-1969)

Incarnations governed by law of Karma. In the successive incarnations of an individual soul, there is not only a thread of continuity and identity (manifested in personal memory and revived in the case of advanced souls), but there is also an uninterrupted reign of the law of cause and effect through the persistence and operation of Karma. The successive incarnations with all their particulars are closely and unfailingly determined by rational law, so that it becomes possible for the individual soul to mould its future through wise and intelligent action. The actions of past lives determine the conditions and circumstances of the present life, and the actions of the present life have their share in determining the conditions and circumstances of future lives. Successive incarnations of the individual soul yield their full significance only in the light of the operation of the law of Karma.


Persistence of Karma through mental body.The intermittent incarnations in the gross world are only apparently disconnected. Karma persists as a connecting link and determining factor through the mental body, which remains a permanent and constant factor through all the lives of the soul. The law of Karma and its manner of operation cannot be fully intelligible as long as the gross body and the gross world are considered to be the only facts of existence. Karmic determination is made possible by the existence of subtle and mental bodies and worlds.


Mental and subtle bodies. The place in which one can possess physical consciousness is the gross world. The planes on which one can possess consciousness of desires are in the subtle world, and the planes on which the soul can have mental consciousness are in the mental world. The source of desire is to be found in the mind, which is on the mental planes. Here the seed of desire is attached to the mind; the desire exists here in an involved form, in the same way as the tree is latent in the seed. The mental body, which is the seat of the mind, is often called Karana Sharira or the causal body because it stores within itself the seeds or the causes of all desires. The mind retains all impressions and dispositions in a latent form. The limited "I" or ego is composed of these sanskaras. However, the actual manifestation of sanskaras in consciousness, as expressed through different mental processes, takes place in the subtle body.


Formation and continuation of egomind. The soul, which in reality is one and undifferentiated, is apparently individualised through the limitations of the mental body which is the seat of the ego-mind. The ego-mind is formed by the accumulated impressions of past experiences and actions; and it is this ego-mind which constitutes the kernel of the existence of the reincarnating individual. The ego-mind, as a reservoir of latent impressions, is the state of the mental body. The ego-mind, becoming spirit and experiencing activated and manifested impressions, is the state of the subtle body. The ego-mind, as descended in the gross sphere for creative action, is the state of a physical incarnation. Thus the ego-mind, which is seated in the mental body, is the entity which has all the phases of continued existence as a separate individual.


Impressions in egomind determine conditions of incarnation. The ego-mind, seated in the mental body, takes lower bodies according to the impressions stored in it. These impressions determine whether a person will die young or old, whether he will experience health or illness or both, whether he will be beautiful or ugly, whether he will suffer from physical handicaps like blindness or will enjoy general efficiency of the body, whether he will have a sharp or a dull intellect, whether he will be pure or impure of heart, fickle or steadfast in will and whether he will be immersed in the pursuit of material gains or will seek the inner light of the spirit.


Game of duality. The ego-mind in its turn becomes modified through the deposited impressions of Karma (which include not only gross and physical action, but thought and feeling), and the circumstances of each incarnation are adjusted to the composition and needs of the ego-mind. Thus if a person has developed certain special capacities or tendencies in one incarnation, he takes them on to the succeeding incarnations; and things that have been left incomplete in one incarnation can be completed in the incarnations which follow. Through the persistence of impressions, the Karmic links which have been forged in one incarnation are carried on and developed in succeeding incarnations. Thus those who have been closely associated with each other through good or bad dealings, tend to have recurring contacts, carrying on the game of duality far enough to gather so much experience of the opposites that the soul, out of the fullness of its experience, eventually becomes ripe for dropping the egomind and turning inwards to know itself as the Oversoul.


* Excerpt from Meher Baba. Discourses 6. Vol3. Reincarnation and Karma. Part VI


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