The notion of karma is probably one of the more misunderstood concepts in our modern society. Karma means action. But even there, misconceptions occur because people assume intentional action. That is just one aspect – karma is a consequence of prior action and it feeds on itself. So most karma occurring in creation is cyclical, or can be said to be compulsive. Action creates impressions, and those impressions build to cause the same action to re-occur. In our bodies, karma plays out in four dimensions: physical, mental, emotional, and energy. But how much of this do we handle consciously? Nearly all of it is just karmic compulsions on a do-loop.
In eastern cultures, people have always been told that their life is their karma. That means they are responsible personally. An animal may not have a choice to re-direct karmic conditioning but if you are born as a human, there is an element of free choice – to do your karma’s bidding or to take personal responsibility. Everything that we do, or not do, is our fundamental responsibility. The Indian sage Sadhguru has stated that if we take charge of our physical process, 15% to 20% of our destiny will be in our hands. If we take charge of our mental process, 50% to 60% will be there. If we take charge of our life energy process, 100% of our destiny will be in our hands.
Karma is not a reward and punishment system, there is no heavenly book of accounts keeping track. What is there, is cause and consequence. Physical existence means being a product of the causal memory. A concrete example is DNA – there’s no argument that causal information is stored as DNA, which then produces a particular life form. In our own lives, every thought, emotion, action, movement, energy change is captured as information by our living system, which then creates tendencies, which in turn manifest in our lives.
So depending on what inputs we take in, what our environment is, what we engage in, what we focus on… all of these things write an internal software which over time creates tendencies in what we like, what we don’t like, what comes into our lives, and what remains elusive. So it’s really not a question of good karma vs. bad karma, once we understand what karma actually is, and how to influence our future state based on today’s action, then the question itself is transcended.
Now we can begin to understand the confusion with good and bad karma. What is meant by the teachings is that if we are seeing negative manifestations in our lives, then those are caused by past actions and resulting impressions. To turn that around, we must practice life nurturing actions continuously so that karmic impressions can be over-written and eventually the resulting cyclical occurrences will shift. That is what is meant by “what you put out in the world will come back to you.” It’s just the law of karma in action, and that is why it is so important that we consciously take responsibility for our own lives, because in doing so we are taking charge of our own fate.
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