Words have great power and they can bring about a transformation in our lives if we take their meanings to heart. Just look at the two words karma and karam; they sound very similar and, quite possibly, they both have the same origin. In common usage, however, they have very different meanings.
Karma generally refers to action and invokes the image of a relentless Law of Action and Consequences. According to this theory, or law as some prefer to call it, everything in our lives is the result of our action. Since one lifetime is not enough to provide real proof that this theory works, the word karma also implies the existence of past and future lives. If something bad happens to me today, for no reason that I can see, it must be because of something I did in a previous lifetime. If somebody we know is suffering, it must be because of previous karma.In general, karma is a depressing concept, because, mostly, we think of the bad things that happen to us. It is also a vicious circle because one action leads to a consequence which in turn, leads to more actions of the same type, in a procession that never stops. This is the endless wheel of karma.
Karam, on the other hand, means a blessing, or grace. The common name Karamvir generally means a lucky person, some one who has been blessed by a higher power. The word karam is used very often in Sufi poetry, in phrases like “Nigah e karam”, or the merciful gaze of God.
A well known Sufi poem goes like this:
“Sab kuch tumhara karam hain Akka
Ki baat abhi tak bani hui hain”.
An exact translation into English is very difficult, , but Here is my free translation of the intent behind verse:
‘It is all your grace, God, that I am still alive and flourishing in this life”
This is very, very true. We are alive only as long as we enjoy the grace of the supreme power. Once that grace is gone, we no longer exist in this body. We flourish in our everyday life because of this blessing; without God’s grace, we are nothing.
If we combine the meaning of the two words karma and karam, then it becomes even more powerful; we begin to enter the space of magic. Just imagine for a moment that everything that we do, or is done to us is grace, that all karma is karam. Just look at the power of this thought and how it can change everything in our lives/
It is fairly easy to think that whatever good happens to us is grace. If we win the lotttery, it is quite obviously, grace. If we get a promotion at work, or get that lucky break, we might, for a moment, think it is because of our own ability and hard work. But think a little deeper, where did that ability come from? What gave us the strength to work so hard?Is it not grace?
So much of success also depends on chance, on being in the right place at the right time. Every successful person gets a lucky break, or perhaps, several lucky breaks. Is it not grace that gives us that break? Hard work and talent helps, but there are many hard working, talented people in this world struggling to make a living. It is grace alone that gives some the chance to show their true worth.
If I look at my own life, it is full of lucky breaks. I met the girl of my dreams when I was least expecting it and went on to get married, have children and grandchildren. Not only that, I married into a great family, with two brothers -in-law and three salis. What more could I ask?I found employment whenever I needed one, and I have been working without a break right up to an age when most of my colleagues are fully retired.
When something bad happens to us, it is a little harder to accept that it is still grace in action. Sometimes the powers above show us some tough love, for our own good. When bad things happen to us, we grow spiritually under God’s merciful gaze, or nigah e karam.
I have had my share of bad things happening to me. I lost my father and my elder brother while still a teen-ager. It was a very tough blow, but it helped me grow by searching deeper within myself. I read spiritual books, I met enlightened beings and kept digging deeper and deeper. I was very lucky to be born in India, where spirituality is available for the asking, we do not have to look very far for it.
When we do something, good or bad, it is always grace in action. We should take it as a blessing if we get a chance to help out others, these opportunities do not come to us all the time. By helping others, we get a rare opportunity to improve our own karma, as well as helping somebody else in need.
When we do something bad, it is still grace. At some level of our being, we know what we have done and sooner or later, we learn from it. Sometimes, circumstances force us to do things we don’t really like, sometimes greed gets in the way. Sooner or later we learn from our actions and it is all grace.
It was grace that led my wife and I to Om Swami’s discourses on you tube and, later, to his web-site. It is indeed grace that we are both taking this spiritual journey together. It is grace that led me to this blogging site, where I can commune with other seekers.
It seems to me that karma is more about logic, as one action logically results in a consequence, that causes more actions. We use logic to make our way in the world, we analyse the world, we try to make some sense out of it and act accordingly. Sometimes, these actions work out well , and sometimes they don’t, but they are mostly based on logic.
Karam, on the other hand , is pure magic, coming straight from the master magician who runs the universe. If we combine karma with karam, we are combining logic with magic, and we have a head start on the magical journey we call life.