All of us have heard about this great Law of Cause and Effect, which states — “As you sow, so shall you reap!”. It is said that without knowing this law deeply, one cannot understand ‘Dharma’or move forward on the spiritual path.
The working of law of karma is very complex and difficult to understand. I don’t know if I have succeeded in comprehending it fully, but I will try sharing my little understanding with you with the help of the work of some renowned Spiritual Masters…
What is the Origin of the law of ‘Karma’
‘Karman’ is the Sanskrit word for action. ‘Karma’ as a philosophical concept is an original Vedic thought (1500 BCE) which was later propagated and popularized by the teachings of Buddha and Mahavira(500 BCE).
What is Karma?
Buddha states that ‘Karma’ consists of our thoughts, words, actions and actions that others perform under our instructions.
The Shatapatha Brahmana (700 BCE) explains the meaning of the ‘Karma’ doctrine —
‘While our bodies may die, the soul is eternal and it continues its journey through many lifetimes. The soul creates a system of actions and reactions (Karma), throughout these lives, forming a cycle of rebirth. And the totality of our actions and their reactions in this and previous lives, determine our future.
Thus — a man is born to the world he has made’.
What is the law of ‘Karma’ ?
Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (700 BCE) — ancient Sanskrit texts that contain some of the central philosophical concepts and ideas of Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism)sums up the law of ‘Karma’ beautifully…
“You are what your deep, driving desire is. As your desire is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed (Karma). As your deed (Karma) is, so is your destiny”.
This almost sums up the concept of ‘Karma’.
However, an interpretation given by ‘Osho’ differs from his predecessors. It does seem more practical when he states that the law of ‘Karma’ actually explains something that happens inside our being. According to ‘Osho’, through every living moment we are creating actions (Karma) and these actions can cause a grace to rise in us or a disgrace. This feeling of grace or disgrace is the spontaneous reaction of our actions. So, negative actions lead to suffering and positive actions beget happiness and joy.
He further elaborates that nobody can avoid or cheat on Karma because that is simply not possible. And once you realize the inevitability of it you become a totally different person.
FAQs about the law of Karma…
What is the practical effect of believing in karma?
Simply believing in karma has no real effect. It is about as useful as believing in healthy living without changing your bad dietary habits. You should have a clear understanding of karma and apply that understanding to your life to find inner peace and happiness.
What about people who don’t believe in Karma?
Karma is a fundamental mechanism of our existence. It applies to everyone, regardless of belief.
With determination and hard work anyone can make a good life for him or herself. ‘Karma’ has nothing to do with it. Isn’t it true?
This is an illusion. Everything in life is multifactorial. Karmic cycle plays a great part in shaping up your life.
What is good Karma and how can we earn it?
- Self respect, responsibility for one’s own actions and respect for others
-All of us make mistakes, however, it is important to correct those mistakes
-Search for wisdom
-Spread love and harmony
Follow your inherent nature and perform your duty without worrying for the results.
How do we avoid bad karma?
There can not be a universal or rigid definition of bad Karma on religious or moral grounds. Don’t let anybody decide what is good or bad for you. We must understand that any action taken against one’s inherent nature is bad Karma. Any action which registers in your consciousness as wrong, any action which brings a feeling of hurt, pain, guilt or unworthiness in you is bad Karma. Act without seeking the fruits of that action and do not surrender to the desires of the enjoyment of our senses.
Can we escape this karmic cycle?
Yes! To be free from the karmic cycle we all have to do what Buddha did, learn to become a detached witness to the events of our life. Even after enlightenment, Buddha had to live out his karma, which was already present in him, but by being in the observer mode, he stopped creating more of the karmic seeds. Karma does not affect a Yogi any more.
“A person who is not disturbed by the incessant flow of desires — desires that enter like rivers into the ocean, which is ever being filled but is always still — can alone achieve peace, and not the man who strives to satisfy such desires.”
- Karma is a law not a choice. Every living being abides by this law.
- Our intention is important…when it comes to the result of an action then the intention behind it is more important than the act itself. Two people may perform a same task with two different intentions. While helping someone, one person may do it out of selfishness and the second one with a pure heart. Only the second one will have the positive result.
- Suffering and happiness is related to Karma… negative actions lead to suffering and positive actions beget happiness and joy. If this sounds true than you already believe in Karma.
- An action is never wasted…even though a long time may pass from its creation to its resultant effect, no single action is ever wasted. Sometimes it may take a few lifetimes for the realization of the Karmic results of a substantial action. So we should keep on generating positive actions without worrying for the results.
- Good Karma is the gateway to enlightenment…every soul has a purpose. Only through constantly performing good Karma through positive intentions and deeds, we can ultimately achieve self realization and inner peace.