Hitherto the sign karma in the Vedic context signified ritual action’ – for instance the fire sacrifice. But here at the dawn of the Axial Age, karma was given new signification. As we saw in the early Upanishads, karma now became associated with notions like consequences, results, causes, ethics’ and intentions. Any action – any karma – was seen to have consequences for a future situation. Hence karma was the notion that any movement caused further movement: an endless chain of causations and consequences. This karma sign was as we have seen closely linked to death and re-birth: a person’s actions in this life would have consequences for after-life and re-birth. Thus the new karma sign received signification from a group of interlinked signs: especially release (moksha) and re-birth (samsara). Other important interlinked signs were the soul’ (having various names like atman, purusha, jiva) and suffering (dukkha). This sign system is often called the Doctrine of Karma.m
It is this radical new discourse of karma that gave meaning to the new practice of meditation as being the mortification of the mind, according to Bronkhorst. Let us now return to the signification of the still-mind.
The Jains bringing together karma, still-mind and release
The Jains strongly propagated the idea that there is an immovable self’ (soul), detached from the owner’s body and mind. The law of karma according to the Jains however also affected the soul.154 A life conducted in action in the Jain view charged the soul – the jiva -with karma: pushed the immovable’ in movement. Hence, the normally immovable jiva was after death so loaded with unruly inertiaâ, that it returned to earth (samsara), implying another round of suffering (dukkha). The jiva needed to be returned to its original immovable state.
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