This is an incredible time to be alive, unprecedented. The sum of human knowledge is at our fingertips, literally. All of the world’s great teachings and histories are available for study. Here in the West that has lead to an explosion of Eastern mysticism and concepts. Yoga, Buddhism, meditation and all sorts of ancient, metaphysical practices are now part of our common culture. And of course, in typical Western fashion, En masse, we see many of these teachings modified according to “our” understanding, rather than adapting ourselves to “their” deeper purpose.
No concept is more misunderstood, in my opinion, than the concept of “karma”. We hear this word thrown around constantly. Fashioned according to our Western understanding and Judeo-Christian background. In this way, the law of karma is sort of like a system of “Cosmic Carrots and Sticks” wielded by the Creator. Many in the West do not think they are influenced by Judeo-Christian teachings, but most are. For example, the concept of God as all benevolent (as in the East) is completely lost on most Western minds.
That’s why there is another school of karma that completely rebels against this (good and bad) concept of karma. It sees the concept of karma as some oppressive, fatalistic and narrow way of looking at the world. Karma is a relic of our unenlightened, simpleminded understanding. After all, we are not just “a victim of our karma”, right? We also have “free will to change our fate”, right?
Wrong on both counts, because the fundamental premise is wrong. As an astrologer I hear this constantly. “But were not just our charts, we can rise above our charts, right?”. “Is our karma predetermined, or is there free will? These things are very subtle.
As the title of this article states, karma is a law, just like gravity. It is the all pervasive, self-governing law of the universe which insures that we will come to “experience” the truth of who we are in the form of the actions and circumstances that frame of our life at any given time. Karma comes to us in the form of our present circumstances.
The aggregate result of all of your past karma is exactly where you find yourself right now. There’s no punishment implied. There is nothing to “rise above” or defeat, except the mistakes you have made that leave you feeling unfulfilled right now. That on fulfillment, is the indicator to you that something more needs to be learned.
Just like the nature of fire to burn or the nature of gravity to pull things toward the Earth, karma is a law. We don’t say fire is good when it cooks our food and bad when it burns us. Only a fool would say that. We don’t say gravity is good because it keeps us on the Earth and bad when a baby plunges to its death falling off of a balcony. Only a fool would say that.
But unfortunately, many say that very thing. Many complain about the circumstances in their life, as if something is unfair. It is not. Your life and everyone’s life is a result of who they are. Again, this can be difficult for Westerners to grasp, especially because most Westerners do not consider past-lives and other such things.
This lack of consideration for the continuum of the souls evolution through different lifetimes leads to the typical distaste with karma, “what about all the starving or abused children, they didn’t choose that” – or “are we supposed to just sit by and not do anything about all the problems of the world because it’s their karma to suffer?”
The tragedies and victims of this world breaks everyone’s heart. From starving children, poverty and abuse, anyone with the feeling heart is affected. But no one knows or understands how and why any of us were born into the circumstances of this lifetime. And if you do, please explain it to the rest of us. The law of karma encompasses these childhood circumstances, as the continuation/resolution of our past life. Also, understanding the law of karma sensitizes us to the plight of others. We are not meant to sit idly by watching others suffer. Of course not.
That’s why every great spiritual teacher and tradition encourages service to the poor and needy, because it is a challenge to us and our karma to help others in need. Failure to do so shows the truth of who we are in this matter, and may lead to similar suffering in a future life, who knows? No one understands the cosmic mind.
Once we understand the law of karma, it is most liberating. It’s the law that ensures everything in your life is within your control, and created by you. It is the result of your level of understanding of who you truly are (a divine being). God/karma doesn’t punish you more than someone else, because they don’t like you, any more than fire burns you more than someone else, or gravity affects you more.
Your life is completely in your hands. The law of karma ensures that. There simply the law and a universe of divine order that insurers there will be no lawbreakers.