The discourse of karma
It seems logical that in the ritual process of mortifying the body of a dying person, the proto-Sramanas realised that the mental processes also needed to be mortified. Both the body and the mind needed to be prepared for the moment of death in order to secure a correct and beneficial slide into death. How could one prepare the mind for death?
The mind was perceived as one of the human senses. Mind and senses belonged to prakriti, which by definition meant they were in perpetual movement. A new aim of austerity became not only to stop the movements and processes of the body but also the thoughts and feelings constantly emerging in consciousness. Meditation became a tool in relation to develop a still mind’ – a specific altered state of consciousness (ASC) very similar to death. We could say that meditation for the Sramanas became a new kind of ascese’ (an austere exertion) directed towards the mind’s death. Bronkhorst introduces the term mortification of the mind’ to describe this specific kind of asceticism of the mind called meditation.
But why did the individual need to stop the ever-fluctuating mind before dying? This is where the sign karma enters. The karma sign gives meaning to why a calm mind is required before dying. So first – what does the sign mean?
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