Man suffers. He seeks to escape suffering, but he does this by following the worldly way of pursuing the path of ego, wealth, power and worldly knowledge. Engrossed in worldly pleasures he feels no interest in the divine light that lies within him. He is bewitched by the beauty of earthly things and gets entangled in them. He does not search for the Truth, the realisation of which could make him eternal, holy and blissful, ending all his sufferings. So absorbing and deluding are the worldly pleasures that they leave man with no time to think of higher aspirations. They detract him from his age long quest to unveil the hidden Reality within. Guru Ji says " Madmen, you remain sleep ! Intoxicated with the pleasure of worldlyness and love for your family, you waste your life in fleeting delights."
The law of Karma is based on cause and effect. We have transmigrated through so many joons that it is unimaginable, as crazy as it may seem maybe we were once a cat or a frog, a bull, a goat but one thing you can be sure of is that we were unable to do Naam Simran. We now find ourselves in the body of a human our one chance to possibly break out of the circle of life and death, and what do we do , we deny it, we fritter it away. A life as precious as a jewel we throw away like a pebble. Without Naam there is nothing. One may live a very pious life full of good deeds and charity, but as harsh as it may sound without Naam you have nothing.
There are three kinds of karma (karams)
1) The actions that we are currently in.
2) The actions we did previously but we have not worked through the consequences of those karma yet.
3) The actions that we did previously and we have been ordained by Waheguru to workthrough/suffer those in this life.
Let us take an example of a bank account. Say prior to your birth in this life, you had a total of 100 karma outstanding i.e. you haven't suffered the consequence of 100 karma yet. At that point assume that Waheguru ordained that since 100 karma are impossible to payoff in one lifetime, he decrees that you have to reap the fruits of 25 of those karma.
The 25 karma that have been written on your forehead for this life cannot be changed, and Gurbani speaks of them :
"Lekh naa matayee hay Sakhi, jo likhiya Kartaar" Whatsoever has been written by the Almighty cannot be erased.
This is referring to these kind of karma, they are called Pralabhadh Karma.
The 75 karma outstanding and that have not been decreed by Vaheguru, are called Sanchit Karma and these karma are the first ones to burn when we do Naam abhyaas. Gurbani says :
"Gur kaa shabad kaatay kot karam", (The shabad of Guru destroys tens of millions karma) pertain to these kind of karma.
The Pralabadh Karma (25 karma) cannot be erased but the effect of these karma can be minimized through Naam/simran. There are many saakhis that refer to this. One of the saakhis is where Sooli (death by hanging) was reduced to just a sool (small cut on the foot) by the simple act of being in the sangat of Guru Nanak Dev Ji. As already stated a Parlabadh karm cannot be erased, but with the correct sangat and Naam Simran is can be radically reduced. Just by being in the presence of a true Mahapursh can reduce these karams. A sign of a true Mahapursh is that they are Dhayawaan (compassionate) , that they take pity on us unfortunate people and will use their own Naam kumai to take on our karam and burn them, but even then the Karam are not totally erased. However small the karam has been reduced to the Mahapursh will have to suffer, for you. How compassionate is that! For example if they take on the karam of some ones painful knees then they will have to suffer some consequence to their knees also. Alternatively, with the grace of Waheguru, if one does regular Naam Simran, a kasht or punishment will pass you by in a dream. One wakes up terribly shaken by a dreadful dream, be thankful that maybe a bad karam has passed you by in your sleep due to the grace of Waheguru.
Based on our Pralabhad Karma (25 karma) we are put in situations and our reaction in those situations make up for our Vartamaan karma i.e. the karma or actions that will determine our future. For example, based on our Pralabadh karma (25 karma) say you become poor and sink into lot of debt. One is poor because of his or her karma but if because of the situation arising from Pralabadh karma we start stealing and cheating or do other kinds of sinful karma, then we will be building up more bad karma. We don't have any control over Pralabadh karma but we have will power on how we are going to react in this situation. In a similar way, those people who have painful joints and cannot sit in the Gurdwara Darbar are suffering consequences of past deeds, but rather then endure and get the karm over with, they insist that they must sit in Darbar Sahib on chairs. They are now adding to their Vartamaan karma. We look at this situation from the wrong angle, it is not a matter of “Would Guru Ji exclude these unfortunate people from the Darbar” or “Would Guru Nanak Dev Ji not allow these unfortunates to be included in the darbar ? ,but rather one should understand that they have been given this punishment for a reason and the best way to burn off the karm is to endure it and still remember Gods name. Most importantly we should understand that AkalPurkh is "hazzer nazzer" in Darbar Sahib He is the ruler of everything is it fitting that we should sit in His presence on chairs? Are we worthy of this ?
People talk about kismat, taqdeer or bhaag. These are nothing but our past karmas. Our present condition is the direct reflection of our past karma. If one is rich, one is rich because of good karma in the past. But most of the times rich people do not take advantage of their good situation end up in worst off places, Narak for instance. These bad karma they commit in the intoxication of authority or Maya leads them to sorrowful places. Our Tadbeer (present karma) shape our future just as our past karma shape our present.
In reality all that we have is the present. The past is a dream and future is also a dream. So all that exists is this moment of time. Guru Nanak Dev Ji says “We are masters of one breath”, the one that has gone, has gone, the one that is to come, we do not even know if we will breath it , the only one we have any control of is the one we have inhaled, so use it wisely by repeating AkalPurkhs name with it, else it will also go the same way as all the previous ones.
Now we have dealt with physical actions, what about our thoughts ?
In fact you create karms out of your thoughts also. If you think bad things or if your thoughts constantly go towards 'gandh' then this effects your karam. If also effects your Naam simran. Naam is such a suksham vasdhu (very very delicate thing) that the slightest disturbance can effect it. It is a mistake to think that once you have done your Simran that it is locked away for good. It is one thing getting up in the morning with great effort and doing your Naam Simran, it is quite another keeping hold of it. In fact this is even more difficult.
Say you have 100 Naam credits , it is your job to keep them safely. If you are walking down the street and you see someone you dislike and in your mind you curse them, then your Naam credits diminish and some go off to that person. If you pass a person and you have some naughty thoughts, again some of your Naam diminishes and goes off to that person, so you see even when you think you have done so much simran, it is very hard to keep hold of it.
You then have the five chore inside you they also take their share of your Naam. Some of your Naam will have been done with a little Karodh, some with a little Lobh, some with a little Kaam, so they demand their share, and what is left for you?
When you do Naam/paath, if it is done with anger in your mind , then take it that Kroodh has taken all your kumai, if you are doing paath and your are having naughty thoughts, then take it that Kaam has taken whatever simran you have done. On a side issue, when you are making roti or sabzi or any food, the state of your mind has an effect on the way the food is made. You may have noticed sometimes you make tea and for no reason it tastes delicious, you make it the same way later on and it tastes not so good, again this has a lot to do with the state of your mind. Lets take it a step further, when you do sewa, the state of your mind has a direct result in what type of phall (good karma) you get. If you perform sewa with a desire in mind then you will achieve that goal, it may take a while but sewa is always fruitful, but you have not taken any steps closer to Guru Ji, your sewa bore fruit but you have remained stationary. So when doing sewa it needs to be done without a particular goal in mind, infact the only goal in your mind should be Guru Ji’s piyaar.
If you are not “Guru-wallay”, that is, if you have no Guru then when you die and you have to transverse the divide to Dharam Rajas court, if you have no protection (of your Guru) then along the way there are many many lost souls who have no where to go and the only way they survive is by ‘robbing’ Naam off newly deceased people, and if after they have robbed you and you have nothing then you may also end up joining their band. However, if you have the protection of Guru Gobind Singh Ji then you have no fear, then these praites/dhoots cannot touch you.
This is the crux of the matter, we have a constant battle with the Five. Just as there are the five chore we also have the five Sant within us as well – Sat (Truth) , Santokh (contentment) , Dhaya (compassion) , Nimrta (humility) and piyar (love) but because we do so many bad things these five are very weak and the other lot are very strong, which is the reason why our mind is always steered towards bad things in life. Within us we have a platform, on one side there are the good, on the other there are the Bad. As long as the bad five have control of the platform (mind) them it will always veer off to the negative aspects of life. By doing Naam Simran the Good five get stronger and start to take control of the mind. This is when the mind starts to move towards the state of Sehaj.
The Catholic Church is very big on Confession. It is little known that confession is very good for the atma and we as Sikhs do not use this enough. We are all “Bhoolan-haar”, that is we all make mistakes, all of the time, there is no shame in this because as humans that is what we do and Guru Ji knows this. But the knack is how to “bakshah” our mistakes. Every morning when we have completed our Naam and within the ardaas we should quite openly speak out all our mistakes we made the day before.
Again, Akaal Purkh knows everything so even if you do not speak out, He knows. BUT to get the mistakes “bakshahed” or forgiven we must lay them out open and ask for forgiveness. So say “AkaalPurkh Ji yesterday I did many things, I became angry at person X, I did nindhia of person Y, I had bad thoughts about person Z please forgive all my mistakes, even the ones I am not aware of.” The amazing thing is, AkaalPurkh is all loving, all forgiving, no matter how many mistakes we make, as long as we are genuine about asking forgiveness then, those mistakes are cleared of our Karm slate. This way we accumulate less karam, because we are getting them forgiven as we go along. Very much like a confessional, but without a go-between, you speak directly to your father.