Thursday, December 11, 2008

What is Karma?

Karma is the concept of "action" or "deed" in Indian religions understood as that which causes the entire cycle of cause and effect originating in ancient India and treated in Hindu, Jain, Sikh and Buddhist philosophies.

The philosophical explanation of karma can differ slightly between traditions, but the general concept is basically the same. Through the law of karma, the effects of all deeds actively create past, present, and future experiences, thus making one responsible for one's own life, and the pain and joy it brings to him/her and others.

My take on Karma

When most people think of karma they probably think of a universal law of cause and effect. They probably think that good actions will bring back good things to them and bad actions will bring bad things to them.

While this is partially true, it is not the whole picture. In fact I think that this level of conceptual understanding of karma is very elementary and unnecessarily metaphysical.

My explanation is much more common sense, practical, and easy to understand.
Basically karma is your own doing. You could equate your karma with the habitual thoughts that you think over and over again. You could also equate karma with your belief systems. These are both your own doing and also the creative force behind the circumstances of your life.

If you are completely unaware of your thoughts and beliefs, then you will in a sense be a slave to your own karma. This is why spiritual traditions speak of being in bondage and suffering. This is why I think awareness is the first step towards freedom.

To easily illustrate karma in action let us look at this example.

Two people, Person A and Person B, experience the same event, at the same time, at the same place, yet how they respond will be based on their karma.

Let’s say Person A is on the highway and a reckless driver speeds past and then proceeds to pull over into their lane and cut them off. Person A has to slam on the breaks to avoid a collision while the reckless driver speeds away totally oblivious as to what has just happened.

Now lets say Person A is like most people and has not done any work on their mental emotional karma. So Person A responds like most would, in total anger and negativity. For the rest of the day Person A is experiencing that anger and also telling everyone he sees about what transpired that morning. By doing this Person A is perpetuating the negativity, and thus in a sense making the karmic repercussions even worse.

Person B had the exact same experience, but instead Person B has done some work changing and dissolving old mental emotional karma. So instead of responding in anger and allowing that one moment to define the rest of his day, Person B simply recognizes that it could have been a lot worse and at least everyone is safe. Person B even wonders why that driver was so reckless and what would possibly be so important to cause them to drive in such a manner.

This is just one simple example to illustrate the power of karma in action. So then rather than karma being a lofty, airy fairy, metaphysical concept, I have shown a real, common sense illustration of how karma is one’s own doing and how it can rule over their lives.

The fact is, everyone has karma, all day every, in all areas of their life. The karma is the habitual thoughts that occur over and over, every day. If we never take the time to become aware of these things and to change them, then we will certainly be slaves to our karma.

We will in a sense be slaves to our past because we will be driven by it until we decide to change it.

Think about it like this, does the wake of a ship drive the ship?

No of course not, the wake is the side effect of that which is driving the ship.

The wake eventually fades off into the distance and completely disappears, so how could it have any power whatsoever?

It is like this the past can’t control the present. That is unless a person insists that it does, then it does.

The choice is really up to each person in every moment.

Freedom from Karma?

So then how do we become free from karma?

It is simple, change your thinking.

Get rid of the habit of thought where by you define yourself as the result of what has come before.

Instead you define yourself by what you are doing now.

That is liberation.


Anonymous said...

A sensable approach.

Thanks for the all the great articles. I was even inspired to invert myself for 2.5 minutes by one of your articles.

Brandon Gilbert said...

Thanks for reading and commenting. How did you feel after the inversion?

Anonymous said...

I felt healthier and I had some great dreams. I think it kind of strechted my internal organs.

Brandon Gilbert said...

thats awsome!

just imagine what would happen if you did that everyday??