My dogma ran over my karma

Via Aminda R. Courtwright
on Jul 9, 2011
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My actions are my only true belongings.  I cannot escape the consequences of my actions.  My actions are the ground upon which I stand.  ~Thich Nhat Hanh

The life I touch for good or ill will touch another life, and that in turn another, until who knows where the trembling stops or in what far place my touch will be felt.

Frederick Buechner

This week I am attempting to work with Deepak Chopra’s Third Spiritual Law from “The seven spiritual laws of yoga”. The first two laws (law 1 and law 2) had this sort of restorative, rejuvenating — uplifting effect on me. But this pesky Karma talk gets me all tied up in knots.   It always has…I feel like just as I’m about to grasp the concept some random nagging thought comes in and sweeps away understanding.  Sometimes I put the book down and say “hogwash” (I generally have that reaction more with Buddhism, sorry Way J )  Sometimes after I declare it all baloney an inner voice tells me that is just my ignorance speaking and it only seems like hogwash because I’m not ready to accept it…I’m telling you Saturday nights are a blast with me!

My first sticking point was “well we just had the law of giving and receiving isn’t that the same darn thing” (I may have used harsher language, I’m prone to that)  It’s not like this was the first time I had studied Karma, and I had heard that admonition that westerns just didn’t get it more than once. Heck I agreed, I didn’t get it and it seemed every time I read something or heard something more on the subject it just upset me more.    It always felt like the old “I before E” rule…too many exceptions to make it a law or rule…

“it’s i before e except after c and when sounding like a as in neighbor and way and on weekends and holidays and all throughout may and you’ll always be wrong no matter what you say!

But then maybe it was because people just saw it differently, or maybe I just get bothered because then I have to look at my life and KNOW that the “issues” I am having are my own damn fault.  OK I believe that anyway, but darn it sometimes I like to pretend that some things were out of my control and I wouldn’t be in this mess if it weren’t for those meddling kids. Or at least some things were “just empty boats”.

“I discovered I always have choices

and sometimes it’s only

a choice of attitude.”

Judith M. Knowlton, author

But as I look at my current struggles I know, I know that they are there to help me learn and to grow past my old ways of doing things and of thinking.

This isn’t easy folks. Don’t let any free wheeling hippy freak tell you that peace, love and tye dye is an easy path.   There are samskaras to face, habits to transmute, releasing to experience – OH MY. And then there are families and relationships and desires to overcome and attachments to errr detach from and and and  ……Bhagavad Gita take me away.

People pay for what they do, and still more, for what they have allowed themselves to become. And they pay for it simply: by the lives they lead.

Edith Wharton

Men are not punished for their sins, but by them.

Elbert Hubbard

Ok this seems a bit too much like that whole giving and receiving (hey that follows the “rule” of I before E except after C) thing, I do something it comes back to me.  (In the Wiccan world this is why they have the “an it harm none” rule, as not only does stuff come back on you it comes back 7 fold…good and bad)  Oh wait there is no good and bad…Never mind that’s a whole other Oprah.  So I read that to say what we do comes back on us. But wait there’s more…

The law of karma, blessed ones, is not intended to act as a lash, to tear apart the souls of men. The law of karma is intended to instruct and to cause mankind to approach the throne of grace without fear, with the clearness of mind and being that will render them able to receive the pure vibratory action of Almighty God.

ANNICE BOOTH, The Path to Your Ascension

Karma isn’t fate. Nor is it a punishment imposed on us by some external agent. We create our own karma. Karma is the result of the choices that we make every moment of every day.

TULKU THONDUP, Peaceful Death

Soooooo….it’s all about choices?

From Deepak’s book:  The third spiritual law of success pertains to karma; or cause and effect. Every action we take generates a force of energy that returns to us in kind – as we sow, so we reap. (still sounds like giving and receiving a bit huh?)  When we consciously choose actions that bring happiness and success to others, the fruit of our karma is happiness and success.

So as I read, re-read and re-re-read his chapter on karma, a million quotes and some other online resources this is my take on karma as of today (disclaimer: I never ever assert that any opinion or understanding I have today or any day will be the one I hold on any other given day, my experience of life and all matters therein is ever growing, expanding, changing and transforming – if you are looking for absolutes I don’t think I can help you)

First I think it needs to be made clear that I personally believe in past lives, a continuing soul or personality, ghost energies (or at least I don’t NOT believe in them)  I have a very non-dualistic bent to my philosophy and I guess another sticking point of many Karmic explanations was this idea of punishment and escape from the endless horrific cycle of birth and death.

If you have read any of my other posts you know that I believe the point of life is LIFE, it’s pleasures, it’s understandings, it’s joy, pain, beauty and that nirvana is experienced by living fully not by escaping rebirth.

That said the notion that what I might be working towards is NO karma, that all action creates karma (and this I know is a very boiled down simplistic view)  and our goal is to detach from karma and get the hell out of here. (Ok using the word hell is an interesting choice huh?)

So how does a past life non-dualist experience karma…or understand karma?

I mean if it’s not punishment then why have it?

I believe we are meant to become the best human possible. Not stop being human, but come to a place where we are living our fullest potential.   And to do this we must know all aspects of humanity; to experience being the captor and the prisoner, the victor and the loser; ruler and serf; we must know success and failure; joy and pain.  So for me I don’t see my struggle with finances as punishment for once having money or retribution for taking or anything so linear and exact.  My vision is that I will over the course of many lives have many different combinations of experiences. Born to wealth, gaining wealth, losing wealth… In this life I have been blessed with love that rivals fairy tales and more than once. My guess is that in other lives I have been alone and sometimes even lonely. I am not rewarded per se, but each life is a way to have a different combination of blessings and lessons so in time I will have a complete understanding of the human condition and in that I will be the best human possible for I will have true compassion for all states of being.

In between I get to rest in the heart of my true being and as I rest I come up with great schemes to enjoy or understand some other aspect of humanity.

So do I see that we carry karmic “debt” forward? I just don’t. Nor do I believe we carry karmic “reward”.  I see it as the tapestry of experiences, of a log book that allows us to see some new aspect of our humanness. Perhaps we choose to carry lessons forward because as we rest in pure source we see things we would like to do differently — we challenge ourselves to create something new out of a particular experience. Some people explain this as you keep doing the same thing until you learn your lesson. That sounds a bit like punishment, but perhaps the reality is “you are destined to relive a certain pattern until you are pleased with the outcome”.

Our lives are defined by the choices we make, but nothing is either punishment or reward, this is no nun with a ruler universe.  Merely that ever changing “choose your ending” book, that you get to read and re-read as often as you like to keep getting that different ending. It’s fun, it’s a game – what does your ending look like this life? And next life how will you choose to read that book?


About Aminda R. Courtwright

Aminda is a wellness facilitator and founder of ARCreated Wellness, LLC. A yoga teacher, transpersonal hypnotherapist, and Reiki Master, she shares her own healing journey with others in hopes of inspiring and uplifting those she meets. Her yoga classes are gentle and workshop style to invoke a real sense of learning and designed to be truly accessible for all levels. Her biggest hope is to help others take their yoga practice off the mat and into everyday life where it is truly meant to be experienced. (and can be most useful) Refusing to settle into the middle path just yet she prefers to dally on both edges and can be seen swinging right and leaning left. A devoted animal lover and activist and a humanist she is prone to rants and believes strongly that life is to be savored and that “we are all in this together, shouldn’t we enjoy it that way? “ When she isn’t teaching yoga, hypnotizing people, adoring her husband or doting on her grandson she is out riding her motorcycle—promoting the image that yogis are rebels and are a force to be reckoned with! You can also find her on Facebook. To join her for free classes online follow her here.


8 Responses to “My dogma ran over my karma”

  1. ARCreated says:

    I have soooo much more on this…but I had to get something posted. So looking forward to your thoughts and input!

  2. Great perspective. I love your writing style!

  3. ARCreated says:

    🙂 why thank you

  4. tanya lee markul says:

    Love this.

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Assoc. Yoga Editor
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  5. […] I was sort of taken aback. I knew it had been a long time, but from what I remembered Abraham wasn’t usually prone to making statements about what one should believe…They were usually a bit more “well meaning this”, or “look at this way”. How this statement was explained to me was that we come straight from source and therefore would never carry anything back from being “in source”. OK I get that I really do…if you are at all curious about my take on Karma you can visit my post here […]

  6. Padma Kadag says:

    I suggest that you stop thinking about karma if it serves only to confuse you or anyone else. There is nothing that says that one has to believe in karma unless of course you have a commitment to a particular path which recognizes karma as a sort of law. The Four Thoughts which Turn the Mind: Precious Human Birth, Impermanence, Karma, and Suffering turn one's mind to dharma if you are sincere in your meditation and application. Unfortunately, the two, Karma amd Suffering, are misunderstood and can only make sense with objective empirical contemplation…with no veil that says this is true because the Buddha says it is.

  7. Padma Kadag says:

    There is a very excellent Tibetan text which can be found at any good bookstore, "Kunzang Lamai Shalung" or The Words of My Perfect Teacher. This is a commentary on the preliminary practices written by Patrul Rinpoche in the mid 1800's. There is no better explanation which has been written about Karma than here. One thing you may consider about karma is that it does not start and stop based on your considering or thinking about it. Your very body speech and mind which includes your thoughts and emotions and how you look are a result of previous actions. We are experiencing everything we have ever done and are currently doing this very moment. Take a look at the reccommended book.

  8. ARCreated says:

    I suggested you stop thinking too? sorry but the point of thinking to me is to "unconfuse" and it is in the contemplation that understanding is born… I also believe that just because one person experiences it one way does not make that the ultimate understanding.

    This is a contemplation a discussion and that to me is the point of it all… and buddhism and I aren't necessarily in agreement all the time…