SHIVA, KARMA AND LIBERATION
As a man’s desire is, so is his destiny. For as his desire is, so is his will, and as his will is, so is his deed, and as his deed is, so is his reward, whether good or bad.”
Karma, the law of cause and effect, is one of the oldest explanations of justice. What a man is in his present life has been determined by his past conduct, whilst his present conduct shapes the kind of life he will have in the future. This theory explains why some men appear to suffer misfortune undeservedly and why apparently bad people do not suffer any obvious retribution.
Although the theory of karma provided a moral code by which men could lead their lives, the Himalayan ascetics were not satisfied with this explanation alone. They questioned predestination and the passive attitude of acceptance most Hindus had towards their fate. They felt that life, for better or worse, was essentially full of suffering, and that the only way out was to break the cycle of death and rebirth.
They renounced materialism, believing that the source of all suffering was Maya, the illusion that the transitory world was reality and .that desires could be satisfied. They sought liberation from endless lifetimes of suffering, through renunciation of desire and by practicing asceticism and meditation, in emulation of their Lord.
They believed that when action was no longer prompted by desire, karma was not created and union with the Divine, Shiva, could be attained. This was a turning point in the history of Eastern religion, as these ideas gave an esoteric meaning to existence and a higher goal beyond the mundane.
“He who lacks discrimination, whose mind is unsteady and whose heart is impure, never reaches the goal, but is bom again and again. But he who has discrimination, whose mind is steady and whose heart is pure, reaches the goal and having reached it is bom no more.’’