Karma is misunderstood more often than appreciated because the ancient law of cause and effect is taken too literally at times. While eastern holy scriptures emphasize the importance of being a Karma Yogi (one who follows the path of Karma) to improve one’s relationship with the world, there’s a need for an even simpler introduction to karma to help overcome our misunderstandings in the modern world.
So, through this article, I would like to share some easy-to-understand workings of karma that aim to make this exciting concept more vivid and to give credit to its theoretical roots.
What does Karma mean?
Karma comes from the Sanskrit word, Karam, or action. This divine law talks about the consequences of our actions and invites us to become more accountable (conscious) of what we do and don’t do.
The origin of the law of Karma is associated with India’s ancient, spiritual texts like the Bhagavad Gita, wherein the Hindu God, Krishna gives a profound discourse to the noble warrior, Prince Arjuna about the importance of “doing the deed and not worrying about the reward”, as Prince Arjuna dwindles about the upcoming war against his ill-intended cousins.
Verse by verse, over eighteen chapters, Krishna helps Arjuna (and anyone who sincerely reads this scripture) become more empowered through his teachings.
The discourse took place in Sanskrit, and many spiritual teachers have since translated and commented on the teachings offered by Krishna. Of course, dissecting each verse or referencing the vast pool of knowledge out there is beyond the scope of this article, but let’s start with some basics.
Even if you’re new to the world of cause and effect, you may have heard other quotes about Karma like:
- You reap what you sow;
- What goes around comes around;
- You get what you give;
- Life always come “full circle”;
I had a discussion with a dear friend and realized that there are so many commonalities with Christianity and Hindu/Buddhist teachings on Karma. I’ll share that conversation as a resource with you at the end of this article.
But for now, just realizing that this philosophy is shared across multiple religions makes it all the more palpable. Then what’s missing, and how can we understand Karma in a bigger way?
#1 – Karma isn’t always the bad guy. It is, in fact, absolutely unbiased and balanced.
One of the contemporary ideas of karma is that it’s a form of “punishment” or “to come back at”.
I’ve said this before while talking about the Divine Laws of the Universe; karma is a neutral law. We, as humans, are the ones that make it seem good or bad. But the truth is, there’s nothing personal about what’s happening.
For instance, a few years ago, I had signed up for a gym membership where the owner promised they’d refund my money incase I moved from the city (which I was sure would happen soon).
When the day come though, the owner started going back on his words. Months went by, calling him and asking him to honor his commitment. It was a large sum of money that could have been put to better use. But eventually, I had a sense that I have a “karmic debt” with this person and will not be getting my money back.
Now, it’s completely up to the reader to see this as a good thing or a bad thing. However, thanks to these spiritual insights about karma, I didn’t take it personally and was able to withdraw myself from the situation without resentment or bitterness.
We can like it or throw a hissy fit about it. But whatever needs to happen will happen after the wheel of karma comes full circle.
And another way to look at this is that we take up soul contracts to help the Universe expand its consciousness while we face our karmic debts. It’s a part of the bigger picture.
The Universe isn’t biased, doing more good for one soul and worse for another. It just gives everyone what they’re due for.
So, we won’t get any more troubles than we deserve, and we won’t get more happiness than we deserve either. This leads me to the next point.
#2 – Karma is also the good guy.
When I say a full circle, I also mean the good stuff. I’ve personally experienced that when I do something good for another person, even if they’re not the one to reciprocate, life comes around in bigger ways than I could have imagined.
There are so many beautiful stories in the book, Invisible Acts of Power by Caroline Myss, which exemplify what happens when good people do things for strangers. In those cases, whether we call it God’s grace, a miracle, or karma, the truth is that actions lead to positive reactions too. Not just the bad stuff!
#3 – Karmic Debts don’t have to be a sob story.
When we face hardships, it can feel defeating and trigger our victim archetype. We begin to ask self-pitying questions like “why is this happening to me, what did I do to deserve this?”.
And in this victim mode, we might think we are entitled to all the answers. I definitely have been the one to curse at the Universe and negotiate for answers, only to hear crickets in return! However, just like we cannot teach calculus to a student that’s still learning basic counting, we cannot comprehend the complexity of how the Universe works right away.
Of course, we can try. That’s why we have so many metaphysical books out there. But spending too much time worrying about or resenting what’s already happened keeps us stuck in the past, and thus prevents us from creating our present the way we want it.
In my experience, it becomes difficult to work out my karmic debts if I am resisting reality.
The idea of grace isn’t to “accept my defeat” but is about removing our judgments of right or wrong, and focusing on contributing to the bigger picture I mentioned before.
So my invitation for us is to start seeing our daily problems as an opportunity to clear our Karmic Debt rapidly. The bigger the problem, the bigger our clearance!
EVERYTHING you do in the present is always building for your future. And if you can do good enough in the present, you don’t need to worry about the future, because you’ll start to override the consequences of your past too! In this way, we can become masters of our destiny.
#4 –We can’t be ‘jinxed’ out of something we deserve.
Do you believe in the idea that somebody can jinx you out of what you deserve?
For instance, in Indian families, we have this notion about keeping our plans a “secret” until they’re executed because we don’t want someone’s negativity to dampen our experience. In America, someone might cross their fingers or touch wood to prevent the jinx.
However, this can become a limiting way of living, giving a lot of power to the other person or situation, and taking away our own.
Worst comes, something we deserve might be delayed, but it will be rerouted to us and never robbed.
Know now that the Universe is always self-correcting. Which means that whatever is meant for you, will get to you. And the Universe will find the most aligned, quickest way to get it to you.
This also means that if it isn’t already here, it may not be the right time for it in our journey. Do you see how this upgraded way of thinking can empower us more than believing we were inadequately robbed of what was for us?
#5 – Karma is NOT about trying to even the score.
As I briefly mentioned before, we sign spiritual contracts with the people around us to learn lessons from each other and clear our karmic debts.
And when we undergo uncomfortable situations in a relationship, there are only one of two possibilities.
- One, they are clearing their debt to us,
- Two, they’re creating their own hard fate for the future.
SO, DON’T GET INVOLVED. As tempting as Hollywood and Bollywood movies might make it seem, plotting revenge does not serve us.
Do I mean don’t fight for your rights? No. Of course not. Save yourself as best possible, but don’t adopt vengeance along the way.
Get out of toxic relations if you need to.
Limit yourself from people that bring out the worst in you.
Stay in the truth and the awareness that nothing can be “taken away from me”.
Because as a soul, you are imperishable, cannot be destroyed, and cannot be deprived of anything.
So, do NOT take Karma into your own hands. Your objective is to clear out what you already have, not add more to your plate.
#6 – We don’t need to wait around for Karma to hit somebody.
While we’re talking about getting even, let’s also talk about wishing for Karma to hit someone. In this era, we might find ourselves silently stalking, and then fuming, at their happy social media posts. Thinking we had the unfair end of the deal.
It all comes crashing down someday. But sometimes it can take lifetimes for someone’s karmic debt to catch up with them. That might not sound “fun” to read, but it’s a reminder of that bigger picture we’ve been referencing all this time.
My understanding is that while you’re policing someone’s destiny, the law will not be set into motion. However, if you can EXIT that loop, that confining energy, the law finally generates the ‘bill of debts due’ in this ‘transaction’. Or in other words, the cycle finally comes full circle.
In the meantime, we can focus on what this relationship was meant to teach us, spiritually speaking. Here are 7 possible karmic lessons involved in such relationships.
#7 – Ultimately, your karmic debts can become the path to freedom.
Instead of fearing or succumbing to the law, we can work with it.
We can go all-out on taking control of our present-moment actions.
And when things bother us, we can remove our ego-mind’s limiting labels about the situation to move with the flow of life, versus against it.
Can Karma Justify Everything?
Sensitive topics like rape, untimely death, murder, etc can provoke a lot of bitterness in our hearts. Using any philosophy at such a time is detrimental to our grieving period. Whether it’s you or a loved one, give yourself time to accept the loss, without rushing yourself into the confusion of getting answers.
Because I was curious about the actuality of karma, I spent a lot of time looking into past life regression and realized in numerous ways that the mystical law does layer into our lives in the most subtlest and profound ways. It might be so subtle most of the time, that we overlook its presence. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
Nevertheless, that is one of our lessons as humans – to be able to NOT have all the answers and still grow in our appreciation for the Universe’s orchestrations. This path of trusting the process is called Bhakti Yoga, in ancient scriptures, and can complement your journey as a Karma Yogi. Here are some resources to expand on Bhakti Yoga:
Learning Even More About Karma
To begin with, I’d highly recommend reading from credible sources like translations of the Bhagavad Gita by Swami Chinmayananda and Swami A.C Prabhupada.
In parallel to studying Hindu teachings, you can take the Buddhist route and partake in Nichiren Buddhism practices like chanting Namyo Ho Renge Kyo (I’m a student of the divine law of cause and effect), discussions, and studies that detail the workings of Karma.
If you’d like to expand your understanding of the subject through a more scientifically-approached book, called Journey of Souls, which I’d recommend to anyone trying to investigate deeper from a more modern lens.
Also, here’s me taking it deeper. A dear friend, Tesa, and I got onto a call to talk about Karma’s relevance in the modern day, as well as highlighting some of the commonalities karma has with the teachings in the Bible. You can hear us out in this interview below.
Karma can teach you in-numerous lessons, from detachment, and acceptance, to present-moment awareness. As you go deeper and deeper into its workings, it helps you connect the dots over and over again. It may not make sense at that moment, but in retrospect, everything will always be more appreciable.
Happy healing, my friend and Karma Yogi in the making!
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