What is a Samskara?
In ancient Hindu texts Samskara is defined as patterned behaviors, subconsciously conditioned tendencies. In soul theory I liken them to the talents or impressions the soul has been conditioned to in a past life and brought along with it to this life time. These are in simple terms habits. The prefix “Sam” means “well planned” and “kara” means “action undertaken”. Each time the person does this action it leaves a subtle impression in his subconscious thus hardening the action’s justification further. This is how the habit is formed. Over a period of time the impressions are so strong they convert the habit into an addiction. At this stage, the being no longer remembers how the action / habit first started. It becomes a way of life, the soul doesn’t question it anymore. The turning point comes when awakening happens and the samskara one day results in an outcome which touches the soul at its core and shakes its beliefs. When this time comes, the soul decides to re-asses why this happened and the journey towards healing begins.
Before I go further I would like to ascertain that samskaras can be positive as well. There could be a samskara that brings innate joy and bliss to the soul. However in this post I will be talking about a negative (challenging) samskara.
Being a human being we all have to deal with multiple samskaras, some of which we will resolve, heal and evolve from in this lifetime. That is the goal of the soul. The path to moksha or enlightenment is traversed this way. In Jyotisha (Vedic Astrology) the soul level samskaras (the ones we carry over from past lifetimes) can be discovered and a good astrologer can work with the client in identifying the root to bring about healing. I will get into those details later.
Now let me tell you about a client of mine. Let’s call her Mrs X. During her natal chart reading we talked about her marriage , job, kids . When we completed predictions, I like to do a karmic reading using Rahu/Ketu and the luminaries Sun and Moon. Right about that time she started talking about a very prominent samskara she had to deal with.
Yes, in plain terms it just means doing what she is doing in the best possible way. Sounds innocent enough. Well, it’s not. The problem arises when in attaining this goal, many negative traits arise. One of them being, judging others for not doing a certain action in the “right way”. Again the “right way” is what she perceived to be right. One man’s right is another man’s wrong. It’s all a matter of perception. And this is where the samskara becomes a hindrance to the soul’s growth. Furthermore, trying to be the “best” at something naturally takes the joy out of doing that action since the person is always focused on attaining a certain goal. It brings along with it competitiveness, self-judgement and self-deprecation.
For a long time Mrs X lived this way, believing firmly that she was right. Of course she should be the best at everything she did. Of course she will do every task herself because nobody else can do it right. Of course, she will work day and night at her job to attain this level of perfectionism. How did this impact her life? This trait places undue burden on the soul as the “bar of perfectionism” is raised higher every time. At work she pushed herself to live up to her self-proclaimed standards and ended up burning out. One should not perform any work/activity to reach a certain level or standard. A balanced and enlightened soul performs actions because of the sheer joy it derives from it. However her reasoning being misplaced, she was under tremendous pressure and subsequently went into self-criticism. She failed in health and became sick. At home, her sense of “being perfect” naturally extended to her child. Imposing “perfect values” and being a “perfect girl” on her, gradually resulted in her pulling away from her mother. Since this was Mrs X’s soul’s normal state, it was perplexing to her at the time. “Why is my daughter distancing herself from me ?” “Doesn’t she love me anymore?” She quickly spiraled down into self-pity and depression, which are by the way other samskaras or habits of the soul. That’s an important point to note. Samskaras, good or bad, can give rise to child samskaras, again good or bad in nature. When her relationship with her daughter suffered, that was her wake up call. She needed answers and hence came to me for a reading
The Turning Point
Every soul has a turning point, a time in their lives when they question something. This is where the healing begins. On the proverbial “road of life”, which the soul is traversing, when this turning point comes, the soul moves to the side of this road and sits down to understand what’s going on here. Alternatively some souls can go from on unfulfilling samskara to a worse one like drug or alcoholic addiction. But instead, when the person questions why something is happening and digs deep within himself for an answer, the process of enlightenment begins. For Mrs X this turning point was the breakdown of her relationship with her daughter. This gave her the motivation to “fix” the problem so she can have a better relationship with her. So the process of self-analysis began.
A quick note here before I move on. Always, always remember, the soul is never at fault. Each of us are at various rungs of the enlightenment ladder but all progressing albeit at different speeds towards the same source, Universal God. So in order to understand the problem and fix it, you have to first let go of any “blaming” tendency or finger-pointing. Enlightenment begins when you realize that nobody is at fault. We are all just learning.
Ok now moving on.
Being an astrologer I see 95% of my clients come to me when they are at such a turning point in their lives. They are looking for answers. And the natal chart provides a glimpse into samskaras, mental tendencies. In Mrs X’s case for example, The Sun which signifies ego is hedged between two malefics (Mars and Ketu), immediately highlighting to me that her soul has a problem with ego. Sun signifies ego. Didn’t take me long to realize the “perfectionism” comes from a place of ego and “fear of failure”. Her soul thought it was too good to fail, “I am always right”, “am the best”. Past life impressions created a samskara for good reasons. If the samskara were not there, enlightenment wouldn’t happen. So how do we fix this? This is where I bring in the “5 Whys”
The 5 Whys
“5 Whys is an iterative interrogative technique used to explore the cause-and-effect relationships underlying a particular problem. The primary goal of the technique is to determine the root cause of a defect or problem by repeating the question “Why?”
Research proves that asking 5 “whys” always gets us to the root cause of any problem. Try it out in your life as well. You will see it’s true.
I apply this principle to helping my clients. When we know the “flaw”, the path to resolving it starts with asking the question why. With Mrs X the results were amazing.
Why do you want to work myself to a point where your health suffers?
Because I want to do it the best possible way.
Why do you want to do it?
Because nobody else can do it well, and it won’t get done the right way
Why is that a problem?
Because the task will fail and I don’t like that
Why don’t you like it?
Because then I will get blamed for its failure
Why is that a problem?
Because I don’t like to fail.
5 Whys. And where did we reach? Fear of Failure.
This is why I said, the soul is not at fault. At the root there is always an innocence. In this case – Fear of failure. It’s a very real fear at the heart of the soul. Which then gives rise to a bunch of negative samskaras which become ingrained in the subconscious and before you know it you are looking in the mirror and staring at a beaten down, workaholic, unhappy mother who everybody is quick to blame. But at the root, the problem is innocent.
Now that I reached at the root cause with the help of self-analysis and tools of Vedic astrology, it was time to resolve it and free the soul from the burden. How do we do this? Easy. You create the seed of a positive samskara. Create your own samskara. It will be a small, weak baby, but will grow stronger over time and repetition. As we talked about earlier, every samskara hardens over time. So all you have to do is go to the root and create a baby samskara. A positive one. Why? Because the rule of this universe is – Positive always trumps the negative. Just a matter of when. But it always does.
So Mrs X created a positive short circuit at the core of her soul.
Every time the voice came from inside saying “be perfect”, the opposing short-circuit piped “Doesn’t matter if it’s perfect or not. Derive joy and bliss from doing it and leave the results to God.”
Every time the negative samskara whispered “but you will fail”, the positive one said “It’s okay, failure is just another step towards learning a new lesson and evolving. It’s not the destination it’s the journey that matters.”
Today she lives a happy and fulfilling life with her family. Yes she still works but she does it because she derives joy from it. In fact her performance at work has improved since she is mentally balanced and her health has improved.
So always remember, if you have a samskara that is hindering your progress as a soul, the answer to fix that is within you. The 5 Whys will get you to the root cause and subsequently all you have to do is place a positive short circuit at the root. Human Mind is an amazing entity with a great power for learning. The positive thought will take root and over a period of time it will become a positive samskara.