Did your karma bring you here? Or was it mine? Shoot! I don’t know the answer either!! But I do have some other answers about karma. Before you go any further, let me state the obvious:
Most of what you’re about to read only comes from my understanding of what Swami shared, and a little of my experiences through the grill of life. This post could be funnier, but it’s mostly to be of use to anyone who may have the same questions about karma as many of us.
I did some compiling work for you!:)
What is karma?
Karma means actions or our own doing. So, there will be some result to whatever actions we take today.
As Om Swami says:
“Whatever you do with speech, actions, or words leave an imprint on your mind. All karma has a residual trail. Such residue covers and conditions your mind.”
But very often, when we say or hear the term “It’s karma!”, we are referring to the fruits of our past actions which we are now reaping. However, karma includes everything, not just the bad. We mostly try to find an explanation to why bad things happen to us or to others, but let’s not forget that good things happening to us, is also due to karma.
You can read about the four types of Karma from Swami’s post here.
Can karma be changed?
The choices we made in the past landed us where we are today, whether that’s through Karma or efforts, but creating our tomorrow is in our hands. We can always build up good karma for the future.
When trying to write this post, I went through some despair a couple of days ago in trying to grasp how we can change our unripened Karma. Someone came to my rescue with the exact video I needed. Swami-sent, you could say! Thankfully I finally understood from Om Swami’s post and one Swaminar discourse, that yes, it is possible to change our karma by changing our mindset and approach to life. We could change our karma and alter our karmic cycle by implementing the following virtues in our lives. All these virtues have been stated by Om Swami, and I have merely described them as per my understanding, for ease of access.
If we choose to be compassionate towards others instead of judging them, we would not only be increasing our store of good karma but also creating more happiness for ourselves. Compassion is simply the understanding from within us that the other person is doing the best they can, and they need to be loved anyway. Not all of us have had the same opportunities in life, with regards to upbringing, environment, current situation and our education too. Therefore, everyone is doing the best they can at any point in time, with what they have. Even an angry person would perhaps not have an outburst if they had the self-restraint to control it. This understanding can help free us from our karma, as we then perceive the entire world with more love.
This is the most obvious and practical way of changing our karma. The ability to be mindful before speaking, eating or acting, can help us avoid doing things we may regret later. Mindfulness is the act whereby we become aware about what we are doing or setting out to do. For example, if we are mindful and pause before uttering words which may hurt someone, we would prevent an anger outburst and thereby not create new fruits of karma arising from hurting someone.
Leading a life of detachment is the best way to get out of the cycle of karma and although it may not be easy, it is doable. We are detached from something or someone, when we are at ease with its presence or absence in our life. It becomes easier to remain detached if we also have faith in a higher power, whereby we simply let the universe unfold our life, with the knowledge that if we do the right thing, whatever happens, will only be in our best interest. With a sense of detachment from the outcome of our karma (actions), we remain contented, whether things go well or go against us, because we simply act and leave the rest to God. After trying it, I can confirm that it is liberating to develop detachment. The sense of freedom is almost unreal!
When we forgive ourselves and others, we become lighter. Forgiving also requires compassion and above all, we must give ourselves enough time to forgive. Realizing that life is too short to hold on to grudges, and also understanding that everyone is conditioned by their own mindset, upbringing and tendencies of the mind, can help us forgive faster. Self-compassion is also essential to help us forgive ourselves, because it will become easier to create good karma if we don’t feel burdened, guilty or irritated due to excess baggage we may carry due to lack of forgiveness. And forgiveness is as liberating as detachment, in fact they come hand in hand.
These four virtues, as disclosed in a Swaminar, can help us burn our past karma, and guide ourselves towards a life of our own choice, irrespective of our past karma and current circumstances.
How do I know if I am doing the right karma?
Over the past year or so, I realised that if we are going with the flow of life and flowing with nature by doing what it expects of us, then we are doing the right karma. For instance, a student who would study with discipline while also being kind to his friends and family, would rightfully be doing good karma. Similarly, a householder’s main karma is to look after his/her family as well as helping society if they can, by being compassionate, kind and not wishing ill of anyone. Karma is not complex; it is simply a matter of doing the right thing at the right time, to the best of your knowledge and without harming anyone intentionally.
Sometimes, we tend to believe that we need to take on more, but as long as we address whatever life presents us, we are doing just fine.
Am I creating new karma or going through the results of old karma?
I found this piece of information absolutely mind blowing when I first came across it. Since, then I almost always ponder on whether I met someone from my past or just got myself into some new trouble …
But I digress, the answer, as stated by Swami is that:
“When you do something out of choice; you are creating new karma.
When you are forced to do something, you are simply repaying your karmic debt.
Creating new karma will have consequences, good or bad, drawn up for you; whereas you can manage your karmic debt (past karma) by changing your actions as stated above.”
What is spirituality and spiritual life?
In fact, I realized that it’s not a question of whether we become spiritual at some point in life, but instead, we are all spiritual beings. Because spirituality is a matter of being kind, loving, compassionate, altruistic and just doing good, while helping others. Haven’t we all practiced some of these? Well, then, we verily are all spiritual, but gradually as we implement more of these values into our lives, we progress more and more towards spirituality.
A spiritual life is one whereby we mostly live by the values of kindness, compassion, detachment, forgiveness and gratitude. Spirituality has little, or even nothing, to do with religion. Atheists can be spiritual too, if they are leading a life whereby they inculcate the above-mentioned virtues.
What happens to our karma when we become more spiritual?
So my little quest led me to the understanding that our ripened karma (prarabdh) might remain the same, whether we become spiritual or not, because we are currently reaping the rewards of what we created in the past.
But there’s good news. When we become more spiritual, the nature of our karma changes, because our desire to be helpful, compassionate and doing everything for the highest good, increases.
Doing good karma in the present means going to our source of goodness whereby we are sowing seeds of goodness for the future. But it also gives us a chance to alter our stored karma which hasn’t ripened yet (Sanchita karma (as explained here)). Helping humanity and spreading love all around us, with a sense of detachment, counts as good karma and while doing so selflessly, we will inevitably reap rewards. But the most beautiful thing is that when we get invested in good acts without worrying about the outcome, we live in detachment effortlessly, which in itself is immensely liberating.
Now, if you allow me; let me liberate myself from boring you and create more karma, I have some to burn instead. Just kidding:) Hope you enjoyed the read!