Ain’t no running from karma
Karma is such a vast and fascinating subject. Far too vast and way too fascinating to distil into a single blog post. So, today I’m sharing the tidbits about karma that have stuck with me over the years and have resonated the most with me. I find myself repeating these sayings or lessons often in my daily life.
“Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu”
May all beings everywhere be happy and free.
May the thoughts words and actions of my own life contribute to that happiness and freedom for all.
Karma comes from the root word Kr - which means “to act”.
“The law of karma is a universal doctrine, operating as surely as the law of gravity. If you plant a seed in the ground, the karma of the seed is to grow. If you throw something up in the air, the karmic result is for it to come down. The word karma encompasses all movement, of the mind as well as the body. These movements can be conscious or unconscious; regardless, the karmic result is still ours.” - Jivamukti Yoga textbook
The four laws of karma are:
1. It is certain and unfailing: Positive brings positive. Negative brings negative. Whether you believe in it or not, karma happens constantly. If you put kindness out into the world, kindness will come back to you.
2. It is unavoidable: Once the action has been taken, the result is never lost. Everything comes from a previous action. Every action has a reaction. Energy can be neither created nor destroyed, it can only be transformed.
3. Karma Expands: Like dropping a pebble in a still pond. One action will result in many more actions taking place. As it expands, it inevitably comes back to us. When we understand Karma, we become very sensitive to what ripples we send out.
4. If you do something it will come back, if you don’t do it, it will not come back. If you are kind to a being, that kindness will come back to you. If you are not kind to a being, kindness will not come back to you.
Nothing happens “to” us - our reality is a result of our past actions. Which for me brings a lot of relief and understanding. Relief, as it places my life firmly in my hands and in my control and takes me completely out of any thoughts of going into “victim mode”.
And understanding, because I have consciously worked with karma for over a decade now and the more I give, the more kind and loving I am, the more intentions I set for other peoples happiness and freedom, the more all of these things return to me. It is an astounding and deeply humbling practice and experience.
We can’t change our current situation but you can change our attitudes to whatever situation we are in. We can change our perception and shift perspectives. We can change our relationship to the experience.
Also, we can’t change our current situations but we can change our future reality by the actions we choose to take right now, consciously and intentionally. All our actions start off as thoughts, so if you want to change your reality you have to start by changing your thoughts. If you want to live a life that is full of happiness, kindness, generosity, gratitude, abundance and love, these are the very things you need to place your attention on, think about and how you need to act. Intention is very important here. You can do good, selfless deeds with an open and free heart and you will bring beautiful karma back to you. You can do those same good, selfless deeds with resentment and irritation and only resent and irritation will return to you. The intention with which you infuse each action is where the karma develops, not necessarily the action itself. The intention contains the seed of the action’s results. If you are looking to be happy, which I’m quite certain most of us are, the law of karma here is pretty simple. The degree of happiness you will enjoy in your life is the result of how much you have contributed to the happiness of other beings, presently as well as in the past. You may ask me then if we are all kind and contribute to the happiness of others, why is there still so much suffering? Firstly, suffering is a necessity as humans as by suffering we learn compassion, which brings us closer to each other. Secondly, all those actions we’ve taken in the past with negative or selfish intentions need to be worked through and those karmic seeds need to be burnt up. But if you are aware of karma and your ability to control your thoughts, words and actions to positively affect karma, then you can start right now to make a happy and free life for yourself and for all others that cross your path.
In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra he speaks of the Yamas in this way:
Ahimsa - Non-violence and compassion. “When you stop harming others, others will cease to harm you.”
Satya - Truthfulness. “When you stop telling lies, the words you say are listened to and acted upon in a positive and immediate manner. What you say comes true.”
Asteya - Non-stealing. “When one stops stealing from others, prosperity appears.”
Brahmacarya - Sexual respect. “When one does not misuse sexual energy, one obtains enduring vitality and good health.”
Aparigraha - Greedlessness. “When one becomes selfless and cease to take more than one needs, one obtains the knowledge of why one was born.”
You have such a clear view of yourself and who you are that you realise what you need to do and the lessons you need to learn. The intention underlying a yoga practice should always be to serve the higher self, not the small self.
Activities that generate “good” karma:
Rejoicing in others good deeds
Being happy when others are happy
That saying that "karma is a bitch" can be really true, but only because of your own past actions. Karma can also be so kind and compassionate, so understanding and helpful, so wise and intelligent...as long as you are first.
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