I have to say that I had a sort of “dejà vu” when Juan proposed to talk with me about the energy of achievement and meritorious actions. This feeling was not caused by the fact that we were meeting in the same place, eating in the same restaurant or sitting in the same square to record what follows, but by the recurrence of certain explanations and examples that had already appeared months ago when we talked about suffering. I initially feared that this new interview was going to be a kind of repetition. However, far from that, I began to get deeper insights into the mechanisms underlying processes of inner development that ancient traditions discovered, studied and successfully applied centuries ago.
What happened during the interview is transcribed below.
Every important culture has known the energy of achievement since antiquity, but here in the occidental and modern world this type of energy is not clearly defined, or even it is not known at all. The energy of achievement is based on the principle that every action produces a reaction. In the energetic practices of the Tao system, this is further refined by saying a positive action produces a reaction of positive quality. If for instance, I leave the house in a state of optimism or happiness, I am radiating that kind of frequency. And such an action would tend to attract that same quality. On the contrary, if I go out in a bad mood, I will most likely have a conflict with someone.
That principle of action-reaction is not only present in our modern science but everywhere. In the energetic practices, this principle of action-reaction is considered to be a basic ingredient for the practitioner’s development. An important point here is to learn how to transform negative actions, which are based on negative emotions -like anger or rage- into positive ones, and also how to neutralize the effect of past negative actions.
That concept has been thoroughly studied in the culture of India, and especially in Tibet (that inherited it from India), and is known as “achievement”, a word that is also recognized here in the West; awards and trophies are given to someone who has done something very well… it is a way to honor and reward someone who has achieved something important. Therefore, the Buddhist concept of rewarding positive actions and punishing negative actions is known everywhere in the world, it is a universal principle.
When someone does something virtuous using the whole of all positive emotions (love, care, gratitude, generosity, sympathy…etc), that action creates an energetic field of positivity that will generate an effect of a similar quality. This is actually what many practitioners search when they come to the Tao or any other system of inner development; they want to improve their quality of life, to find a remedy for their existential dissatisfaction or to heal a disease.
Juan, talking about positive emotions, can the energy of compassion be considered as the sum of all virtues?
Yes, that’s right, compassion is the synthesis of all virtues.How do you explain that the same virtuous action does not generate the same result for everyone?It has been mentioned before that a virtuous action tends to lead to positive results. Both the person who does the action and the one who receives the action feel well. That energy of achievement has a vibratory level. Those who investigated this phenomenon discovered that meritorious actions are accumulative. This means that the energy obtained is not dissolved when the action is over and next day is a new start from zero. Therefore, if one keeps on acting in a virtuous way, an “achievement fund” is being created. And that energy of achievement is associated with a sort of power. The Tibetans discovered that if a Yogi develops in his practice, it is because of the accumulation of meritorious energy. If someone does not have an “achievement fund”, no matter how powerful and advanced a technique is, results will be obtained slowly and the practitioner will have to face many obstacles. One can say that the necessary fuel, that is, the “achievement fund”, is missing.
But then, perseverance is not enough…
That’s right, one can persevere to rob a bank. Actually, creating an “achievement fund” requires perseverance in performing virtuous actions. Tibetans say that a practitioner is able to develop in the practice because he has an “achievement fund”. On the contrary, if things are not going well and nothing works, this is caused by a lack of that “achievement fund”.
This is important to know because people coming to practice the Tao or other systems here in the West sometimes believe that effort will automatically lead to a result. These people think that the more effort the more results they are going to obtain, and that perseverance is the basic ingredient to achieve things.
For instance, it happens sometimes that people coming to the classes of the Tao obtain results the first day, which can be then multiplied by ten by the second day. But it might also happen that someone from the same city practicing the same technique does not obtain any result even after one month of practice.
But if two people practice the same technique with the same perseverance, then, why does such a difference exist? Has that something to do with their karma?
Yes, it has to do with karma. But the word «karma», which has already entered the western language, is frequently misunderstood, and sometimes even interpreted as punishment. Karma simply refers to the law of cause and effect, and that the quality of an action determines the quality of a reaction. If one understands karma in this way, yes, the energy of achievement can be explained by the law of karma, and represents the result of virtuous actions.
When talking about karma, it is also important to know that the result of a past action, especially a negative action, is not definitive. Things can be changed by doing meritorious deeds.
Then, can the scale be balanced?
Yes. Or as the I Ching says «the way to counteract the negative is by fostering the positive». Following this advice, one learns that there is a mechanism by which one can correct past actions that we don’t like or make us feel ashamed. In this way, one can start correcting the past instead of punishing oneself or losing self-esteem, or giving oneself psychological lashes. One can gradually design a program of meritorious actions, like planting trees, gathering garbage in the streets, giving a hand to old people, etc, which will allow one to achieve the goal of correcting past actions.
I assume that this is a large process. Is there any way of accelerating it?
Yes, and that is achieved by “burning” negative karma. How is this done? Well, fire is needed to burn something isn’t it? It seems that karmas are inflammable, and can be burnt with actions requiring effort, because such effort generates heat. As it was explained in the interview about suffering, the “psychic heat” generated by effort, pain and suffering can be used to burn negative karma. One can even decide to induce self- suffering with the aim of accelerating the process of erasing traces of negative karma.
Is that a voluntary and conscious decision?
Yes, for instance that happened in Europe in other times. If a person had committed a crime, like a theft, a swindle or an adultery, that person could choose to go to jail, to do hard labor in the village or to go on pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. That pilgrimage was done with a number of credentials that had to be stamped to assure that the convicted person had been there and returned. At that time, it was well understood that negative actions could be purified by doing actions that require effort or cause suffering. Punishment was used to redeem a negative act through suffering, like for instance, the number of lashes given by the hangman to the convicted person according on the nature of the crime.
You just mentioned some examples within the frame of the legal system, but, you have already said that there are people who voluntary suffer to burn karma. Can you say something else about that?
Yes, but as human beings always exaggerate both good and bad things, there were extreme cases. For instance, there were people who went to Santiago de Compostela with a cross on their shoulders or carrying very heavy chains… that means a lot of suffering, doesn’t it? If someone who does not understand the mechanism behind such extreme suffering saw that person, he would think that the person is neurotic or has gone mad…
The interesting thing about doing a pilgrimage is that making an effort like walking for a long time, sleeping in uncomfortable places, etc.., as well as the vows taken to do virtuous actions, allows the Pilgrim to burn negative karma and to rapidly accumulate an “achievement fund”.
Can you say something else about virtuous actions?
Well, it is useful to know that the “achievement fund” can be multiplied if the effect of meritorious actions creates benefit for other beings. And it is also important to know that people with a great “achievement fund” are appreciated by everyone…
In India and Tibet, and also in all great cultures, there could be a person in the village who had an impeccable character, and embodied many positive human qualities, like honesty, loving-kindness, etc. In India, that sort of person is considered to be what in our culture would be called “good”, although that word does not actually say everything. In Sanskrit, the word used to define achievement is “punja.” A person who always performs meritorious actions is known as “punjaban”; someone who has a broad “achievement fund”. This kind of person was considered to be a great benefit for the whole region where they lived, and this is so because of an energetic principle saying that one attracts the same quality of energy that one emanates. And, thus, it is obvious that there was need for such a person: for example, if someone was opening a new business, it was advisable that a super-virtuous person comes to bless the place. Why? Because that person has an “achievement fund” that allows things to be achieved, and if that person blesses you or tells you “I wish that your business is successful”, that wish has an energetic background to achieve things. The society appreciated people who had a broad fund of punja.
How can we then apply that knowledge to, for instance, improve the result of our practices, or to overcome personal conflicts, or to achieve something?
In the Western world, when a practitioner feels that the techniques do not work, he frequently just thinks that he has bad luck, and leaves things as they are. The same happens with someone who wants to lose weight and cannot do it, or someone who wants to get something and there is no way to achieve it.
However, we often say that there are ways of changing those conditions because they are not permanent, they can be changed, and what it is more important, one has the power changing them. How? By activating the mechanism of achievement. That means: one can create a gradual personal program to gather energy of achievement. And that can be done not only physically, but also in the way we think, the way we have people in our mind, and the way we control our critical mind.
And as it was mentioned previously, a person who wants to intensify that process can do something that requires a great effort, like a pilgrimage done on foot with certain vows. As the practitioner knows that suffering generated by effort is useful to create an “achievement fund” and a change in the personal situation, such suffering is no longer seen as punishment or bad luck.
That means that one stops interpreting things in a deterministic and irreversible manner…
Exactly. And above all, stops playing the role of a victim. When one considers oneself as a victim –and that happens to practitioners as well-, a great part of the available energy is used to feed that role of victim, by telling one’s own story to everyone, by searching for sympathy, etc. The role of a victim is used as an excuse, and that structure is very restrictive. In reality, at an energetic level, that person behaves like a Beggar, like a hungry ghost, searching energy from others, searching sympathies, and mentally feeling unable to change things because these things are part of the past. That kind of person states that “the past is gone and cannot be changed”. But as it was mentioned before, that is not true.
This energy of achievement, of psychic effort, of burning karmas, is a mechanism that the modern practitioner has to include into his mental structure, and stop thinking that things occur by chance. That mechanism, which in Sanskrit is known as “tapas”, gives the practitioner a way of changing anything. When this mechanism is well understood, one knows that when things are not having the desired effect, one has to generate more energy of achievement.
Another question: when you talk about psychic effort or psychic heat, has that something to do with the “secret fire” of the Alchemists?
Of course it has to do with that, because the “secret fire” of the Alchemists is the power of intention and perseverance that require effort and generate heat.
Many times, when someone hears the word “effort” (like “this technique is great, works wonderfully, but it will take you a lot of effort”) they step on the brake and goes backwards..
For example, the first time I thought about doing the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela I wanted to do it by bicycle in a few weeks between two classes. Then, I had the fortune of getting to know a French woman who was a specialist on that pilgrimage. She said that the first time one goes on pilgrimage to Santiago, it has to be done on foot. She said that a couple of weeks before my departure and when I heard the words “on foot”, and after a moment of silence, I lost all my enthusiasm… Why did I feel like that when I was so excited with the idea of going to Santiago by bike? I then started to investigate it, and it turned out that I thought that going on foot was a great effort. And when the word “effort” appears on stage, it frequently happens that doubts and distrust make us feel that our physical, emotional or mental body is not able to do something like that. That means that one does not trust one’s own resources to achieve things.
But it might be that laziness is also playing a role there, isn’t it?
Well, it is important to investigate what lies behind laziness, because sometimes there can be something more… like mental rigidity or something like that…
That is true, for instance, regarding the fear of failure.
When the topic of suffering appears, what happens is that we become aware of our ignorance regarding our own personal resources. What a pilgrimage on foot or any other action requiring sustained effort achieves is that one gradually discovers one’s own resources of perseverance and mental, emotional and physical strength. Many times, we avoid any task requiring effort – which generates psychic heat- because we do not trust, or even don’t know, our own resources.
Additionally, burking karmas through sustained effort can have another advantage, which is to eliminate our lack of trust in ourselves. Starting a project that requires sustained physical, mental and emotional effort during several weeks or even months –like in a pilgrimage on foot- allows one not only to rapidly burn negative karma, but also to put to the test one’s own resources and to know one’s own limits.
It is like a test…
Exactly. When only few days are left to finish the pilgrimage to Santiago, Pilgrims know that the end is approaching and when they look back, many of them are surprised to realize that they have walked so much, that they were able to do it. What I discovered with all those amazed people is that they didn’t know before that they owned unexpected resources. For many of them that was a revelation. Like finding an unknown person that lives inside us and has extraordinary skills.
Advice for any person going through a disease, a crisis, an addition or something like that, and does not know how to get rid of it, is to start accumulating an “achievement fund” and to search for a way to put to the test one’s own physical, mental and emotional personal resources. The easiest way to do that in Europe, especially here in Spain, is to do the pilgrimage to Santiago on foot. This is independent from one’s own religious belief or spiritual path. There are always many Pilgrims testing themselves on the way to Santiago, which means that one is accompanied by other people. This is a great support.
It is a bit like a walking group therapy…
That is right. Instead of walking alone in the Pyrenees, one finds a large group of people that are gradually, and day by day, discovering their own personal powers.
In summary, to do a pilgrimage on foot and with vows opens up the possibility of changing structures, because it allows one to gather an “achievement fund”, to burn negative karma and also to know one’s own personal resources.
After that conversation I had with Juan and after finishing this transcription, the echo created by words like “achievement”, “psychic heat” or “to burn karma” resounded in my mind and I now understand that they are an essential part of the dynamics of human existence. When one understands and puts into practice these concepts, one not only realizes that it is possible to influence the effect of past actions, but also recognizes that we have extraordinary skills and that a real treasure is hidden within oneself.