The word karma remains veiled under much mystery as well as misunderstanding. We have all heard the saying ‘what goes around comes around’, or ‘as you sow, so you reap’! While this explains a small part of karma, it isn’t the entirety of it. Karma is not as simple as it is made out to be and it surely isn’t a punishment for bad deeds. It is the energy that is generated by every desire, thought, or decision that an individual life form makes. It is a continuous and active process that does not end when the physical body ceases to exist.
Karma is the action or the influence of action which remains with us. From the ancient Indian yogic perspective, this imprint of karma goes far into our past, well beyond our ancestors, dated to the most primitive species on earth. Every cell that has lived has carried and imprinted a new generation with its action or karma. Our karmic accumulation over a lifetime dictates the reincarnation cycle.
Laws of Karma and The Way They Affect Your Life
Since karma has such a deep-seated impact, it is crucial to understand the law of karma, and the cause and effect it has over your life.
1. The Great Law
This law can be simply explained as follows: Our thoughts and deeds have consequences. The consequences of these can be positive or negative depending on our actions. If we desire peace and joy, we must give accordingly. It translates to what we loosely understand as ‘what goes around comes around’. It doesn’t mean that if you wrong someone, they will reciprocate similarly or that the exact wrong will be done to you. It means, however, that this bad karma will have an undesirable way of showing up in your future.
2. The Law of Creation
All life was born out of intention. One must participate in life actively instead of expecting things to work out. The intent to create good must be there to accumulate good karma. With regards to the result of an action, it is the intent that takes precedence over the act itself. Procrastination and complacency do not beget good karma, and we are urged to persevere to create good thoughts and intentions actively.
3. The Law of Humility
To make a change, one needs to arrive at acceptance first. If we see only the negative, we become incapable of moving to a higher level of existence. When we concentrate on the things that aren’t working well, we remain entangled in removing the negative alone, and never in creating or propagating the positive.
4. The Law of Growth
To achieve something, change must happen in us and not in our environment. Waiting for an opportunity, luck, or other elusive factors will make us stagnant and reduce receptivity to life around us. It is often said – “what got you here won’t take you further unless you change yourself to adapt to your needs”.
5. The Law of Responsibility
We are responsible for all that happens in our own life. No external factor can wield a hand in the choices we make. Our happiness, anger, success, or failure is a direct result of the choices that we have made. It is important to understand that to change a bad situation, the change must first be made internally.
6. The Law of Connection
The universe is connected through all the small and large things in it. People, their fate, our past, and our futures are in some way linked to each other. Unless we make a conscious decision to change something, we will continue to walk a written path.
7. The Law of Focus
Being single-minded is the thought behind this law. When you want something, all your energies, faith, and dedication need to go into it to achieve a result. Mindfulness and being present takes much effort but yields blissful results. Having divided and fragmented thoughts give way to negativity.
8. The Law of Hospitality and Giving
It is crucial to show compassion and kindness. If you claim to be righteous and kind to people, you should be able to uphold it in action. Selflessness becomes a virtue only when we accommodate someone other than ourselves in our lives despite the discomfort involved.
9. The Law of Here and Now
This law helps us live reality. It works on the basis that the present is already in motion and there is nothing that you can do to change it. Regretting the past or worrying about the future will strip you of the chance to live the present.
10. The Law of Change
It is said that history will trudge along an ineffective path unless positive energy redirects it. Change is the single constant in a dynamic world. If you don’t accept the change, it will be forced upon you in unrewarding circumstances.
11. The Law of Patience and Reward
We have all heard the quote- ‘Rome was not built in a day’. Hard work cannot be circumvented through luck or wishful thinking. Those who persevere will achieve what they desire.
12. The Law of Significance and Inspiration
The result of an action is of little value if it leaves nothing behind. The right intention and directed energy determine the end result. Positive karmic thoughts should be seen through to the end by positive action.
Some frequently discussed queries regarding karma are clarified below:
1. Are There Any Practical Effects of Believing in Karma?
The mere belief in karma does not have any impact on the way we live. It is akin to dreaming about exercise without actually ever lifting a finger to change your lifestyle. Unless there is an application of the belief to find true contentment, there won’t be any practical effects seen in your life.
2. Is There Any Impact on People Who Don’t Believe in Karma?
Karma applies regardless of our beliefs. The mechanics of karma are fundamental to existence, very much like your heartbeat or brain function. You do not have to understand or acknowledge their function for you to be alive, but they each play their part silently.
3. Is It True, with Hard Work, Anyone Can Make a Good Life for Themselves and ‘Karma’ Has Nothing to Do with It?
The results of every action are multi-layered. If hard work alone made sure of a good life, there would be fewer agonised and unhappy people. Your karma plays a role in shaping your life as well as those linked to you.
4. What Do You Mean By Good Karma and How to Earn It?
Good karma is associated with positive thoughts and actions that orient one towards spiritually realising oneself. We can earn good karma by being forgiving, compassionate, being responsible and respectful, learning from mistakes, spreading love, and sharing knowledge. When we help without expecting in return, when we care without an endgame, when we strive for the sake of completing a task to its best without worry of the result, or when we do not judge others, then we certainly pave the way for good karma to be earned.
5. How to Avoid Bad Karma?
There is no clear definition of bad karma. One cannot be judged as bad on moral or religious grounds in a universal way. We accumulate bad karma when we act against our inherent nature. What appeals to our consciousness as erroneous can be called bad karma. Being wilfully hurtful or causing pain to others piles on the bad karma too. Being shackled by a desire for a result and indulging in our senses can also add to bad karma. Single-mindedly working without desiring the fruits of your action can help avoid bad karma.
6. How Do We Escape This Karmic Cycle?
Detachment is a key ingredient to freeing yourself from the karmic cycle. The ego needs to be destroyed, and all sense of ‘I’ should be abandoned because the ego is the root of all thoughts, desires, and consequent action. Even enlightened beings have to live out their life to live out their accumulated karma. But they do not add new karma, good or bad, by being detached to external events. They merely observe the world exactly as it is without judging it, emoting towards or on behalf of it. This prevents new karmic seeds from sprouting and aids freeing oneself from the karmic cycle. The entire process depends on how conscious you truly are.
The basis of our existence as a life form is because karma exists. Karma is like a handle on a door. Without the handle, we wouldn’t know what to do with the door. Therefore, we need to know where the handle is. So, if you understand it correctly, karma doesn’t hold you back or create problems for you. The problem is that we are entangled in our karma and we keep accruing more. The key is to detach from external triggers and let karma keep you embodied and alive, but not ensnared. Understand and surrender to the karmic laws and let it become a stepping stone on your spiritual path.