Acharya Prashant: This is from the Avadhuta Upanishad, ‘When the results of actions set in motion are exhausted, the habitual usage also ends. This will not cease even with repeated meditation unless such actions are exhausted.’
So, the question is, ‘Is there no way out? What is meant by exhausted?’
Exhausted means that all the pent up, suppressed energy comes into motion, takes a release but this is the most painful, mechanical and time-consuming way of getting rid of your burden, the Prarabdha Karma (result of past actions which is ready to come in effect).
It is like saying that your palm is kept over a burning piece of coal and you can get relief only when all the latent energy of the coal is exhausted.
Most painful, unintelligent and time-consuming way of coming to end of suffering. And even in this process, coming to the end of suffering, coming to exhaustion is possible only if no fresh fuel is added to the fire.
It is possible only if one has the patience and the faith to bear all the results of his previous karma without creating new cause-effect cycles; without adding to his inventory of more unspent fuel. If the fellow has so much intelligence and patience and discretion that he can sit through the ordeal of the coal consuming his hand without creating more ripples and fresh karma-phal (result of actions).
And, if the fellow actually has so much patience and intelligence, then why would he sit through the torture?
He would rather get up and walk away!
What does it mean to get up and walk away from the unexhausted fuel, from the unspent residue of your previous karma? What does it mean to do that?
It means that you’re no longer attached to the coal.
Remember, the coal does not come to burn your palm. You’re the one to go to the coal, keep your hand over it, grab it and allow it to burn you, pierce you, torment you.
Walk away from the coal. That’s an easier way.
Why wait for the coal to get exhausted?
It can be a pretty big lump of coal. It can take a pretty long time getting exhausted. Do you want to wait and keep suffering?
Just walk away.
But walking away would mean giving up the coal. Coal is attractive. It looks almost like a burning cherry. It beckons. It tempts, and it has energy, it has power. Something seems happening there. We are attracted towards it. Additionally, the coal is yours. It does not belong to anybody else.
My burning coal!
My glamorous hot little cherry!
Who am I?
The lady with the lump of coal.
Who am I?
The lady with fire in the belly and fire in the palm!
It becomes difficult to walk away, right?
‘A fiery lady, am I. And this is high quality coal. It helps me maintain my standard. See, everybody is burning. So, burning is a given. It is a common denominator. What separates one being from the other is the quality of the burn. I’ve a superior burn. Mine is not low-grade coal coming from an inferior mine. Remember, pieces of coals come from mines. No mine. No coal.’
What all is mine?
Whatever is mine, is the unexhausted piece of coal piercing myself.
To walk away from that burning mass is to walk away from your very being. Your very identity. So, it is upon you, you can either wait with all your patience, with all your intelligence for the coal to get exhausted or you could simply discard the coal. Reject the falseness of its association with you and walk away.
And no method is better than the other. It totally depends on your mood. If you’re in a mood to suffer, welcome! Exhaust the karma. If you’re in a mood to not take the suffering anymore, walk away. Let go. Drop it. Renunciate!
How many lumps of coal in your pocket?
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Acharya Prashant is an emerging champion of socio-spiritual awakening in the world today. An alumnus of IIT-Delhi and IIM-Ahmedabad, and a former Civil Services officer, Acharya Prashant is an acclaimed Speaker, Vedanta Teacher and author of over 50 books. Apart from that he wears various hats: a veganism promoter, an environmental activist, a science activist, a campaigner against superstition, and a champion of essential human freedom. Know More