What is Karma?
We all think we know what it is, but then I have heard people speak of it my whole life as some kind of righteous punishment that God doles out to all evil doers of the earth!
We have heard it used in this way many times, right?… After someone acts in a way that is unbecoming to them and receives a lashing of similar action right back at them? “Karma’s a B…h!” This particular comment makes me cringe every time I hear its improper and unkind usage (which in itself creates negative karma!) so I thought that I would shed a little light on a very important subject! Which in the end may just change your life!
The word Karma is described as “The sum of a person's actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate in future existences.”
Also, “Karma is an action, not a result. The future is not set in stone. You can change the course of your life right now by changing your volitional (intentional) acts and self-destructive patterns.”
The idea that somehow you are deserving of a good or bad life is a little misconstrued as far as the Karma is concerned. I will explain.
The correct term for that energy that is accumulated is Samskara. Samskara’s are impressions, or if you will good and bad habits. For all beings are perfect in nature but they/we are full of good and bad habits that we think are ours, but they are just learned behavior.
Karma in itself is action. That's all it is, but with all actions there is a reaction. That’s it! That's Karma. There is no God that is dictating punishments for your wrong deeds, there is only the action and energy attached to it, so basically You.
The part we often get wrong is that this is doled out quickly within this life, nope. All we can do with this life is burn off the Karma we accumulated in our previous life. So that means, whatever life and or circumstances you were born into in this life is a direct result of the Karma you created in a past life (actually of the samskara’s), which can be either good or bad.
The correct term for that energy that is accumulated is Samskara. Samskara’s are impressions, or if you will good and bad habits. All beings are perfect in nature but they/we are full of good and bad habits that we think are ours, but they are just learned behavior.
I like to think of Samskara’s as credits or demerits, or like a little star that some celestial being will place on my forehead for all good deeds at the end of this life ! But that's just me. More seriously, we are born into our lives with purpose, not punishment, to burn off the karma from our past lives. So the sooner we get to it, the easier life will become.
Samskara’s are the tricky part, these turn into the next life you will be born into (that is your karma). So let's pay attention to this… all of our thoughts, actions and deeds, are not forgotten, they are in a sense recorded for when we leave this physical body that we have right now. The tricky part is that your right actions can't wipe them out unless they are done with good heartfelt intentions and with no regard as to the accolades that you may or may not receive, either now or later.
From the moment you were born till this moment, the kind of family, home, friends, the things that you did and did not do – all these things are influencing you. Every thought, emotion and action comes only from past impressions that you have had within you. They decide who you are right now. The very way you think, feel and understand life is just the way you have assimilated inputs.
The past impressions of life go far beyond the moment you were born, but in your perception right now, at least from the moment you were born till today, what kind of parents, family, and education you had, what kind of religious and social background, what kind of cultural realities – all these impressions have gone in.
Someone has become a different character simply because of the type of information that has gotten into him. This is what is karma. This information is traditionally called karma or karmic body or causal body – that which causes life.
In a sense, every seeker must always decide – does he want to just enjoy the road or does he want to get to the destination quickly?
Well, this is true and it is up to you to determine how quickly you would like to burn off this karma and how not to create negative samskara’s.
The problem with the fast track is that you will create many opportunities for growth which may look like a difficult life.
Sometimes the most difficult lives are created by someone on a pretty fast pace to burn off their karma and release themselves from the world of Samsara, the never-ending cycle of life, death and rebirth.
Break Free from Karma!
Whatever kind of karma you have, it is a limited possibility and that is what makes you into a limited person. Depending on what kind of impressions you took in, whether it was hatred and anger, or love and joy, you accordingly have a certain kind of personality – usually every human being is a complex mixture of these things. Once you allow this karmic structure to build beyond a certain point, there is really no such thing as freedom. Everything that you do is conditioned by the past. If you want to move in the direction of liberation, one of the first things that you need to do is to loosen the grip and shackle of karma. Otherwise, no movement will happen.
Spirituality and Karma
Once you enter the spiritual path, you are making a statement, “I am in a hurry to get to my ultimate destination.” You do not want to take one hundred lifetimes and in the process of this one hundred lifetimes you may gather enough karma to last out for another thousand lifetimes. You want to hurry it up. Once a spiritual process begins, if initiations are done in a certain way, it opens up dimensions which would not have opened up otherwise.
You would have lived a more peaceful life if you were not spiritual, but a more lifeless life too, closer to death than life. Without anything fundamentally being shaken within you, maybe you just passed comfortably.
Does this mean that all negative things happen to you once you are on the spiritual path? That is not how it is. It is just that when life moves at a tremendous pace – a pace much faster than that of people around you – you think some tragedy is happening to you. No tragedy is happening to you. It is just that they are going at normal speed but your life is rolling on fast-forward.
Many people have this wrong notion that once you enter a spiritual path, you will become peaceful and everything will be clear. If you take on a convenient belief system and become a single-track mind, then everything seems to be clear. But if you are genuinely on the spiritual path, nothing will be clear. Everything will be a blur. The faster you travel the more of a blur it becomes.
You may now have more questions than answers? That's good…. Join the club of those seeking to end the cycle of Samsara, accept the life that you have chosen by past actions, burn off your karma with right action and release all attachment to being rewarded for your good deeds (this doesn't mean that you can not receive fruits from your actions, just don't expect them) and enjoy the ride!