Destiny and Character

Destiny and Character

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In Chinese Astrology, destiny (or karma) is said to determine one’s character. On the other hand, one’s character is the condition which allows one’s destiny to unfold. The question is; which comes first? If a person gambles away all his wealth; is that due to his destiny or his character of always wanting to make easy money?

I heard about a lady who refuses to leave her husband even though he was physically abusive to her and their children. She is a professional and is not even financially dependent on her husband. After every fight, she will always find some excuse to justify her husband’s behaviour. Yes, her karma led her to marry such a man but must she allow her karma to force her to imprison herself in such an abusive marriage? Her karmic tendency of being a victim is dictating her destiny and binds her to continuous suffering.

That is why all forms of astrology put a lot of emphasis on understanding one’s character and perception of the world. Understanding leads to freedom. If we understand what our habitual patterns are, then we can make the effort to rid ourselves of these patterns. We can watch our thinking processes and see how these thoughts lead us towards our negative habits. A person who is always chasing after the quick buck should observe his own thoughts and see how he justifies taking excessive risk and he should consider the implications of things going wrong.

Kriya Yoga ArticlesWe repeat our habitual patterns day in and day out because we do not see it as a problem. Because of that, we do not scrutinise our behaviours. We just react based on these patterns. In other words, we become the victims of our karma. We must understand that our destiny and character goes hand in hand. If we can change our character, we can change our destiny.

The first step is to recognise our habitual tendencies that can be harmful to us. The second step is to have to courage to admit to ourselves that we need to change. The third step is to watch our thoughts and see how we push ourselves towards a particular habit. Finally, we use our wisdom to argue against those thoughts to weaken their hold on us.

The first step is always the hardest. Because those habitual tendencies may have been brought from our previous life, we may be so comfortable with them that we cannot see the problem. A person who sees the world as a bad place and that everyone is out to get him, will not be able to see that as a problem even though that habitual tendency is bringing him a lot a mental suffering. He just cannot recognise the problem because it is too close to him. The lady in the example above cannot see that her habitual tendency of being a victim is a problem. She will most likely say,  “its just my karma,”  and allow the problem to persist.

We must understand that upon death, we leave everything behind…except for our habitual tendencies, be they good or bad. If the lady in the above example does not overcome her ‘victim mentality’ in this life, she will have to deal with it in her future reincarnations until she finally overcomes that habit.

Sometimes, we are just not aware of our negative habitual tendencies until a wise and courageous friend brings our attention to them. Unfortunately, most of our friends will not tell us for fear of hurting our feelings.

Another way of understanding ourselves is to read about the life of wise beings such as Paramhansa Yogananda, Swami Rama, Swami Vivikenanda, Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa. We can use their life and way of thinking as mirrors to reflect our shortcomings.

The greatest tool for understanding ourselves is our awareness. As we strengthen our awareness with our spiritual practices, we will become more and more conscious of our thoughts. We can observe which thoughts bring positive emotions and which of them bring negative emotions. Our emotions can be a useful spotlight to draw our attention to the negative habitual tendencies that we have. For instance, if we tend to think that everyone is selfish and out to cheat us, we will become fearful and angry. Unless we are fine with being fearful and angry all the time, we should make the effort to change our perception of others. Our karma is meant to be transcended. It is not there just to make us suffer for the fun of it.

Watching our thoughts by itself can weaken its hold on us because every time we shine our awareness of our thoughts, we tend to break our train of thoughts. One thought tend to lead to another similar thought and towards the end, we have a bundle of thoughts that push us to react to an external circumstance in a way that we later regret. When we are angry at another person, we will bombard ourselves with the thoughts of all the negative qualities of the person and towards the end, we will be filled with so much anger that our body becomes tense and aggravated. That person is somewhere far away not doing anything to us but we are acting as if he is right in front of us trying to make us angry!

But if we catch ourselves and start to watch our thoughts, we will break the train of thoughts before they do any damage to us.

Kriya Yoga ArticlesAccording to Patanjali, we can calm our mind with our breath. Our breath and our emotions are so interlinked that they become one. When we are angry, we must have short and shallow breath. At times, we may even stop breathing as our chest muscles become constricted. When we are relaxed and calm, we will breathe slowly and deeply.  Osho said ‘Yoga found this basic thing — that breathing is deeper than thinking. If you change breathing, you change thinking. And once you know the key, that breathing has the key, you can create any climate that you want: it is up to you. The way you breathe it depends on it’.

This gives us a quick-fix that we can use whenever we are overwhelmed by a negative emotion. Below is a technique taught by Osho:

“Whenever you feel the mind is not tranquil — tense, worried, chattering, anxiety, constantly dreaming — do one thing: first exhale deeply. Always start by exhaling. Exhale deeply: as much as you can, throw the air out. With the throwing of the air the mood will be thrown out, because breathing is everything.

And then expel the breath as far as possible. Take the belly in and retain for few seconds — don’t inhale. Let the air be out, and you don’t inhale for few seconds. Then allow the body to inhale. Inhale deeply — as much as you can. Again stop for few seconds. The same should be the gap as you retain the breath out — if you retain for three seconds, retain the breath in three seconds. Throw it out; retain for three seconds. Take in; retain for three seconds. But it has to be thrown out completely. Exhale totally and inhale totally, and make a rhythm. Retain, in; retain, out. Retain, in; retain, out. Immediately you will feel a change coming into your whole being. The mood is gone. A new climate has entered into you.

What happens? Why is it so? For many reasons: one, when you start creating this rhythm, your mind is completely diverted. You cannot be angry, because a new thing has started, and mind cannot have two things together. Your mind is now filled with exhaling, inhaling, retaining, creating a rhythm. You are completely absorbed in it; the cooperation with anger is broken: one thing.

This exhaling, inhaling, cleanses the whole body. When you exhale out and retain for three seconds or five seconds — as much as you want, as much as you can — what happens inside? The whole body throws all that is poisonous into the blood. Air is out and the body gets a gap. In that gap all the poisons are thrown out. They come to the heart, they accumulate there — poisonous gases, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, they all gather together there.

You don’t give a chance for them to gather together. You go on breathing in and out. There is no gap, no pause. In that pause, a gap is created, an emptiness. In that emptiness, everything flows and fills it. Then you take a deep inhalation and then you retain. All those poisonous gases become mixed with the breathing; then you again exhale and throw them out. Again pause. Let the poisons gather. And this is a way of throwing things out”.

Once we are sufficiently calm, we can use our wisdom to strike at the underlying thoughts behind our negative habitual tendencies. If we are angry at someone, we can start to think of his positive qualities. He may even have contributed in some way to our well being. We must also consider if we just have the habit of being angry and at that point in time, it was just convenient for us to direct our anger at that particular person.

Awareness is our shield and wisdom is our sword to fight against our negative habitual tendencies. The reward that comes with victory is priceless. If we can overcome our negative habits, we can change our destiny!

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sathia
    Dec 14, 2011 @ 17:02:57

    This is a real good article. If only such things can be taught in schools and in homes, we will have a new generation of people who can control their own thoughts, speech and behaviour and by this we can change destiny. The current believe in all forms of astrology is fatalistic although experienced astrologers tell us that astrology is a guide to prepare us for the future and the unexpected. Evolution of the mind and spirit may come about in time and we may then have a new advanced race.

    Reply

  2. rajkumar
    Dec 15, 2011 @ 00:32:51

    yes really it was helpful….Thanks

    Reply

  3. Anonymous
    Apr 18, 2012 @ 19:35:40

    Thanks for the sensible critique. Me and my neighbor were just preparing to do some research about this. We got a grab a book from our area library but I think I learned more clear from this post. I’m very glad to see such fantastic information being shared freely out there.

    Reply

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