For many of us, life is a never ending loop, like the 1993 film Groundhog Day.
Bill Murray plays a reporter named Phil Connors who’s stuck in a continuous time loop, living the same day over and over again. No matter what Phil does, he ends up waking up to the same day. Phil chases women, steals, drives like an idiot and even gets himself thrown in the slammer. And every morning he wakes up to the same old same old—until he starts to soulfully re-examine his life, and changes his priorities.
According to the teachings of Dr. Deepak Chopra, many of us live a life that constantly repeats itself due to what he describes as “the software of the soul”. Unlike the software on the device I am using to write this article—it rarely crashes.
The software of the soul has three components that form a loop in the operating system of our lives. In Sanskrit these components are:
We have probably all heard the term karma somewhere in our lives, and probably have a preconceived notion as to what it means. What goes around comes around. As we reap, so shall we sow. In other words, a divinely appointed settling of accounts for our actions, whether they be good or bad.
In Sanskrit the word karma simply means action. It is in our actions that we generate an energy that goes out into the world.
Samskara is a Sanskrit word that unlike karma, is unfamiliar to many of us. Samskara means memories. In many Buddhist, and Hindu traditions samskaras are described as imprints in the mind.
Finally we have Vasanas, or in English—desires.
This is how the software works: we perform an action, remember it and then desire it.
Something as familiar as the well-worn morning ritual of drinking a cup of coffee is a karmic event.
We wake up, stumble to the coffee maker and begin to brew the bean begotten elixir that starts our day. We pour a cup while the smell of slow roasted coffee beans fills the air, bring the cup to our lips and take a sip. The mind thinks to itself “Hmmmm that’s good bean juice”, and voila! A memory is born.
The software is now humming along perfectly, with two out of three components loaded into the operating system of life.
We took the action to drink a cup of coffee, and created the memory that coffee is good. Once the memory that coffee is good is firmly entrenched in our brain, the desire to have another cup of coffee is just around the corner. It is not difficult to see how we develop patterns in our life.
Unfortunately not all patterns are as innocuous as enjoying a morning cup of joe.
Many of us, myself included, develop patterns and behaviors that are harmful to us, and keep us from living a happy, joyous and meaningful life. These patterns cover the entire spectrum of life experience, from addictions to the inability to connect with others, fearfulness, selfishness, the list goes on ad infinitum.
For me it was liquor. I remember my first beer like it was yesterday.
I was a shy, socially awkward teenager who preferred to not be around people if I could help it. One day, in a time long ago, a friend was celebrating a birthday and we were allowed to have a few beers. The action of drinking that beer put me on a karmic hamster wheel that didn’t stop for 20 years.
Five minutes after it passed my lips I thought, “Wow, where has this stuff been all my life?” I was no longer shy, I made girls laugh, and felt like maybe all I needed was a couple of beers to be normal. My 15 year old self remembered that beer is good, and I desired it.
Unfortunately, what I didn’t realize was that the action of taking that substance, and many others, allowed me to not feel. And the memory of not feeling the pain of shyness, insecurity, and whatever else teenage me didn’t want to feel, led me to desire drinking—a lot.
As we all do, the teenage me grew up, got married, got a profession, built a house and became a father to a wonderful son. But this didn’t stop the software of my soul from working perfectly. I continued to take the action of getting off-my-face drunk. I continued to remember how I felt when drunk, and continued to desire being drunk.
In the end, my desire to consume alcohol consumed me, and everything that meant anything to me.
I had to change my life.
To do it I uninstalled and reloaded the software of my soul, and I did it by changing my desires. I changed my desire to that of living clean and sober—whatever that looked like.
To change the negative patterns in our lives, or be rid of self-limiting beliefs. The first step is changing our desires.
Want to have more friends? Desire being friendly. Is life playing out in a never ending circle of selfishness? Desire being unselfish. Then, take the action of performing unselfish deeds. Buy the person standing in line behind you at the coffee shop a coffee. You will invariably feel good about it once you have done it. And you will remember feeling good, and will likely desire to do it again. Before you know it a new habit pattern has formed in your mind, and a negative pattern has transformed into a positive one.
Your Karma ends up changing, and so does your life.
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Assistant Editor: Richard May/Editor: Rachel Nussbaum
Photo: elephant archives