Cause of Our Suffering
There is a very popular saying in the world – As you sow, so shall you reap. Our scriptures declare that there are 8.4 million species of life that the individual soul revolves in, life after life, governed by the law of karma. Out of these 8.4 million, it is only in the human form that we have the freedom to perform actions. In all other species, you merely reap the consequences of your past actions.
So what sort of actions should we perform? Prashna Upanishad (3.7) gives us a clue by stating that whatever actions we perform, we alone will have to bear the consequences – good or bad.
There are three kinds of actions – accumulative, destined and present. Our accumulative actions are the unlimited stock of our past actions over innumerable past lives. The consequences of a portion of all this is given in each life as our destined actions, and we must bear them in the present life. And then there are actions that we can perform anew in this life with our own free will. So there are some actions that we perform due to our inherent nature, and some that are like term deposits with long maturity dates that pass over to other lives. We call that destiny.
Our destiny therefore is nothing but the results of our past actions performed with the freedom of will in past lives. In other words, we are products of the past and producers of the future. In fact, our future is nothing but the past modified by the present. In this way, we get what we earn -no more no less.
We can now see that crying out aghast when something happens contrary to our own liking is really just an expression of our own ignorance of the law of karma. We hear people blaming God or cursing God for something happening in their life, accusing Him of being unjust. The fact is that we ourselves have brought whatever is happening in this life onto ourselves. God is in no way responsible for our sorrow or suffering.
The science behind karma is straightforward. God empowers our senses and we are the directors of them. Katha Upanishad (1.4-8) states that it is God who gives the power of speech to the tongue, the power of sight to the eyes and the power of hearing to the ears, etc., but He never interferes in how we choose to use them. We have the freedom to perform any action, and while we do, He impartially acts as a judge noting all our actions of each and every moment and dispensing the fruits accordingly (Gita 5.14, 5.15) Misery, sorrow and suffering encountered in our present life is simply the outcome of our own doings.