Wild Karma

In the West it has become cliché to blame karma for just about everything – from loosing one’s car keys to getting cancer.

Because our very existence is an expression of our desire to delve deeper, let me explain karma from Yoga Philosophy (or where it originated).

Karma is a Sanskrit word meaning, ‘action, deed’.  Karma has three layers of understanding:

1-Any act or deed.

2-The principle of cause and effect.

3-A consequence or ‘fruit of an action’ / karmaphala; or an ‘after effect’ / uttaraphala.  Both of these explanations relate the Western idea of ‘you sow what you reap’; meaning, that which we do will sooner or later return to us.  Simply put: selfish or hateful acts (papa- and ku-karma) bring about suffering; and benevolent or joyful acts (punya- or su-karma), bring about loving reactions.

Now, here is the difference between Western karma and Indian karma: Karma is neutral.

Karma can be equivocated electricity or gravity, or that which is a self-perpetuating law of the multiverse; because karma is neither positive / punya nor negative / papa – ideas the Western interpretation applies.  Likewise, the Western interpretation (and use) applies a moral behavior to karma; meaning, the moral quality of one’s actions influences one’s rebirth.  This idea is often seen as an insult, such as: one suffers in this life based on the suffering they caused in a past life. This idea is also seen in religion, where one will ‘suffer’ or ‘be damned’ in a horrible inferno, for example.  Finally, karma is not fate, for we each have free will, so are free to create our own life – firmly based on one’s actions.  Remember, karma is neutral, it is neither good nor bad – it simply IS.

The idea that karma is neutral and that humans have free will is central to Yogic thought.

Yet another way of viewing karma is as having different colors:

-White / sukla,

-Black / Krishna,

-Mixed / kuklakrishna, or

-Neither black nor white / asukla-akrishna.

This latter karma is the color of realized beings / jnani.  Being established in kaivalya / freedom through the realization of Self, they are neither ‘this’ nor ‘that’.  This latter idea also keys into the preparation of the soul’s departure from the body (at death); something Westerners may refer to it as ‘making amends’ and ‘settling differences’ (forms of apology), while the Yogic implication is far more involved.

As dharma is fourfold, karma is threefold:

1-Sanchita karma / accumulated actions.  This is the sum of all karmas, from this life and the last.  In the West, this is referred to as “past”.

2-Prarabdha karma / actions begun, set in motion.  These are actions that bear fruit, or that which shape the events and conditions of the current life, to include the nature of one’s body, personal tendencies and associations.  In the West, this is referred to as “present”.

3-Kriyamana karma / being made.  This karma is created by one’s thoughts, words and actions / kriya; or in the inner worlds between lives.  In the West, this is referred to as “future”.

Beyond the idea of ‘stupid is as stupid does’, the threefold definition of karma is the most accurate.  A simple way to understand this is through the famous ‘rice analogy’:

Sanchita karma is the residue of one’s total accumulated actions, so akin to rice that has been harvested and stored in a granary.

From this stored rice, a small portion has been removed, husked and readied for cooking and eating.  This is Prarabdha karma, or the past actions that are shaping the events of the present.

Meanwhile, new rice (mainly from the most recent harvest of Prarabdha karma) is being planted in the field that will yield a future crop and be added to the store of rice (Sanchita karma).  This is Kriyamana karma, or the consequences of current actions.

A Western explanation would be:

In the past, all one’s words and deeds reflect where we are in the ‘now’ or the present moment.  This is why it’s said, ‘there is no escaping the past’, or ‘the prophet can never return home’, or ‘the sins of the father fall on the son’.  In short, what you have done before is now resulting in your present situation.

In the present, all one’s past is ever with one.  It is one’s every thought – the echoed voices of past conversations, the words said in anger that one feels bad or guilty about, the mind play that goes over a situation time and again seeking a better resolution.  Such thoughts, and many more, comprise our every present thought, and they are all the result of past thought, word and deed.

In the future, one’s life is reflection of what one has thought, said and done in the past.  So if one did not pay the electric bill yesterday, and the power is cut off today, this will result in a cold home tomorrow.

In any event, and in all examples, karma is one of the three principle bonds of the soul (along with anava and maya).  It is the driving force that prompts one’s soul to return to human existence and experience, to participate upon the evolutionary cycle of transmigration / samsara.  According to Yogic thought, when all earthly karmas are resolved and the Self has been realized, the soul is liberated, which means it has earned the right of choosing its next course of action, if any.

So how does one resolve the three karmas, to attain enlightenment or free will that transcends the physical form?  There are three suggested means:

-Sanchita karma (past) is burned away through living a life of grac, and from a gurus / teachers diksha / wisdom-touch (a personal prescription of spiritual study and effort/discipline).

-Prarabdha karma (present) is resolved through being learned and so a non-repeated experience; or the difference between knowledge and wisdom.

-Kriyamana karma (future) is snipped in the bud, or never allowed to rise.  This is achieved through the practice of Kundalini kriya, which is the immediate identification and eradication of chaotic and conflicting karmas.

In all three, nonattachment to the fruits of action, coupled with daily rites of inner observation, and adherence to dharma, stops the accumulation of kriyamana (future).

Taking all this into account, now magnify these definitions outward beyond individual karma to include family karma, friend karma, community karma, country/national karma, global karma and multiversal karma.

Namaste, Mutual Respect, Peace Out!



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