Karma has been brought to the forefront by “My Name Is Earl” but has been around for thousands of years yet has a lot of confusion around it.. While we Westerners love to throw the word karma around we really don’t understand it. In true philosophy its not good or bad it just is. But there is no mistaking it comes back to you. Regardless of your spiritual beliefs I think we can all agree that our actions, words, and thoughts have an impact. Where we might disagree are the repercussions to them, and all philosophies lay out the punishment for bad karma whether that means an eternal in Hell or coming back to life as a Dung Beatle I think we all understand that what we do in this life affects ourselves and the other sentient beings around us. (or at least a utopian like me hopes we do). Since I am on the pursuit of providing education on how we can all band together to make the Universe a better place (that’s the Utopian cropping up again) I thought I would publish something I provided to yoga students engaged in an 8 week course…with the hopes that I would build upon this as time goes on. I was also prompted to dust this off and present it because of a recent local radio show I heard this morning. One of the DJ’s was very jealous of a friend's success, and it prompted many calls from people who also wish harm on their friends who have been successful. Only one DJ understood that these people put that negative energy out there and that is what they got in return. Only she saw the pattern that the people who feel this way were NOT successful and it was because of that jealousy;and the people who were happy for others were also successful. I wanted to call in so badly but I don’t talk on my phone when my son is in the car. So here is my little educational bit on karma and energy and I do hope if you are one of those people that wonder why everyone else has it good that you will take this to heart": The doctrine of karma is central to yoga. It is the law of causation; it the cause and effect of our physical, mental, and emotional actions. The purpose of karma is to awaken all sentient beings to a greater self-awareness and a realization of their creative potential. Remembering that we are the creative principle reminds us that only we create our circumstances and only we can dissolve or change them. Karma is the accumulated results of our past, present, and future actions. There are three types of karma:
Sanchitta-This is the accumulated past actions waiting to come to fruition.
Parabda-This is the present action, what you are doing right now and their results. The actions you are performing right now are a result of past actions that you are resolving.
Agami-These are the future actions that result from your present actions. You are constantly creating new karma.
Each action creates a seed called a samskara that are awaiting the right stimulus to manifest itself through karma. These samskaras are stored in the chakras. Karma is not good or bad it just is. Our interpretation of it creates a samskara that has the potential to create more karma. We are often bound in the cycle of action and the resulting attachment. The amount of a piece of karma's force is often determined by how long we have been holding an attachment. Through enlightenment, no karma can bind you. Often this freedom comes from discovery of the self and selfless action. In yoga, it is said that no habit is a good habit because the term habit by its very nature means a lack of control and self-awareness. This may create a paradox in your mind if you consider practicing yoga, meditating, eating wisely and being compassionate a habit. In this case, we can continually create a positive karmic momentum by cultivating these habits. Karma is activated by our response to life, by our actions and by our attitudes. Our bodies, minds, families, races, religions, culture, and solar systems all carry karmic patterns. If your primary sense of self is one of a timeless being who is functioning through a human body these things will not affect you as much. Karma is softened by our attitudes, being aware of what is happening around us as well as within us, and by cultivating healthy physical and emotional patterns. “Pain and suffering that have not yet occurred can and are to be avoided.” (Yoga Sutra Book II, Sutra XVI) The simplest choices we make each day can have profound effects on us in the future. Pranayama, yoga practice, and meditation are all ways to soften karma. The best time to work on softening karma is before it manifests itself. This is done through conscious action, thoughts and words. There are three qualities of actions or gunas described below: Tamas-Translated this means darkness and also relates to the quality of inertia. It is associated with the mental states of apathy, laziness and unawareness. Tamas is the state in which things exist prior to action and return to after action. There is a natural place in the world order for tamas, but if something becomes too tamastic it is fixes and rigid. The greater the duration of inertia the more difficult it is to move out of that space.
Rajas-The quality of action required to overcome inertia is rajas. Translated this means to be excited or affected. This is activity performed with passion. Most of the time desire is what motivates us, which is not a bad thing, but we need to control them and not become attached to the desires.
Sattva-There is no good English translation for this, it means beingness. It is compassionate activity derived from balance and mindfulness. These are actions done with purity in intent. Recommended Reading Spiritual Science of Kriya Yoga-Goswami Kriyananda Laws of Karma-Goswami Kriyananda Jivamukti Yoga-Sharon Gannon & David Life Yoga Sutras of Patanjali-Swami Satchidananda Bhagavad Gita-Translated by Goswami Kriyananda