September 24, 2004
What Goes Around Comes Around
Karma: The Law Of Cause And Effect
The Sanskrit word karma has entered the
lexicon of the western world, and even appears in most dictionaries. But
sometimes it is misunderstood to be synonymous with "fate," as if we have
no control over our karma - someone's car breaks down and they think, "I
have bad karma." Someone wins the lotto and we think they have "good"
The word karma itself means "action" or "deed" The real philosophy of
karma is, in essence, the law of cause and effect. It isn't about luck; it
is about our actions, our mental habits, and the motivations that drive
us. Karma is a word to describe our interaction with the properties of
this world. Everything you choose to do or not do has karmic
repercussions. This idea is reassuring because through practice you come
to realize that you are in control, that you can change your karma.
Buddhists and Hindus both believe in karma: they believe that some karma
is accumulated due to our actions in a past life. The families we are born
into, our individual physical being, the relationships we have with
people, are all a result of past-life karmic connections. With a
consciousness that is so full of potential, we have a precious opportunity
now, in this life, to refine our karma. This is what separates us from
other sentient beings that cannot make choices. Approaching the world with
this way of thinking is immensely empowering and can bring great benefit
to yourself and others.
Every day is filled with opportunities to balance your karma. If you are
trying to rectify a specific action that you committed during this
lifetime, there are four steps that can help the process:
1. Believe that you can grow and mature - believe you can purify your
2. Regret that you have done something negative
3. Resolve not to repeat this negative activity
4. Do something to actively make retribution.
Helping others and living virtuously is favorable for your karma, but you
can also aid in healing your karma simply by adjusting your intention.
Making a concerted effort to rejoice in the happiness of others, even your
worst nemesis, is a very powerful antidote for jealousy and anger. At the
same time, do not cling to your good karma. For example, if something good
happens to you, take a moment to dedicate this happiness to others.