The effect of knowing very clearly “who I am” is that the effects of actions will not come to that person. When we stand on the shore of the ocean, the waves come and touch our feet. However, if there is nobody on the shore, then there is no pleasure or pain because of the waves. In the case of the realised master standing on the shores of life, it is the same. An ordinary human being is present with the strong ‘I’ consciousness. The realised master knows there is no individual ‘I’ and hence is untouched by the waves.
The Tattwa Bodha of Sri Adi Sankaracharya describes the effects of the ‘Sanchita Karma’ or the results of the actions from a past karmic file. Sanchita Karma is a collection of karmic seeds of consciousness which have been generated over endless crores of lifetimes. They are actions which have been earned in the past that we bring a portion of to this lifetime. ‘Chi’ means ‘Chaya’, which means to collect. ‘Sanchi’ means well-collected. Whether they are seeds that yield glorious results or pain and suffering, the action seeds are something that each individual has accumulated over lifetimes of following a cycle of desire-prompted actions.
Without the right knowledge about action, the normal reaction of ignorance is to go behind actions that give us joy and continue doing them to get a well-entrenched impression that provokes us into more such actions and more such results. In the case of sorrowful results too, the effect is the same. Instead of indulging, however, we are repelled and withdraw into a negative cycle of running away from the results.
Even that action leaves an impression in the psyche and we are constantly facing similar situations.
So long as the mind entertains strong likes and dislikes, future births are ensured. So long as we strongly believe that we are the doers of actions and enjoyers of results, more and more opportunities to be in the world of action keep coming our way.
However, this Sanchita Karma is destroyed with the firm knowledge that “I am Brahman”. How does the destruction happen? The seeds of karma are now roasted in the hot fire of meditation and realisation. A roasted seed does not germinate. Just as a prisoner who is served capital punishment dies in jail, an enlightened being has dissolved his sense of individuality and hence is not available as an individual for suffering the results of past actions. The Sanchita Karma for such an individual is hence null and void.