Sadly, it is often used only as anticipated vengeance to one who has, in our opinion, wronged us. I have seen inscriptions on bumper stickers stating “keep calm, let karma finish it.” Or a statement saying “I saw that” signed, Karma. While these little tidbits are humorous, the implication seems to be that Karma will get even with your enemies. Rarely if ever does one hear statements such as ” I must have karmically earned this” or, “I have created bad karma in my dealings with so and so and I will reap what I have sown”
It seems as though many people believe that “your” bad deeds must be repaid, but “mine” will simply be forgiven. Needless to say, that thought is not logical or fair and if there is one thing karma is, it is fair! It is also vast, and for that reason this article barely scratches the surface of this spiritual reality and presents the subject in the most basic form. So if you are already a karma scholar or a Vedic master then this will certainly not challenge you. However if you are not at that level of enlightenment then hopefully this might contribute to your insight. The main objective here is to start us thinking of karma as a spiritual term with devastating consequences and not a cliché. to be brandished lightly about.
In the words of Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, founder of Kauai HI, USA Hindu Monastery, “Karma itself is neither good nor bad, but a neutral principle that governs energy and motion of thought, word, and deed.” “Good loving actions bring to us lovingness from others or sweet fruits called punya while unkindness yields spoiled fruits called papa.”
So, our karma can be impacted not only through actions we commit but by our thoughts, attitudes and
words. Also by acts we instruct others to commit, such as in a supervisory capacity, or a position to strongly influence or control the behavior of others. “Karma” literally means “deed” or “act”, and more broadly names the universal principle of cause and effect, action and reaction, which Hindus believe governs all consciousness. The scriptures divide it into three main kinds, some of which are again sub divided into even smaller categories;
1. Sanchita Karmas . These are accumulated works both good and bad from all of our previous lifetimes. Then, for each new birth, or reincarnation we choose a portion of the Sanchita most suited for the spiritual evolution where we are for that birth. Prarabdha then is a given collection of past actions, which are ready to be experienced through the present. Think money. We have money stored up for retirement or some future purchase. If we are going on vacation we take some money out of savings but not all of it. Just the amount we think we’ll need for a good time where we are going. This money then is our Prarabdha. Karma will create the circumstances which we are destined to experience in our next birth. They also place certain limitations via our physical family, body or life circumstances into which we will be born. Just like our vacation budget will determine whether we will have a 5 star or 3 star respite.
2. Prarabdha then are ripe actions. As in our money example, we took some out for our travels while the rest, we left in the bank for the future (another birth). Sage Ramana Maharshi presents another viewpoint
when he says “if the agent upon whom the karma depends, namely, the ego which has come into existence between the body and the self, merges in it’s source and loses its form, how can the karma which depends upon it survive? In other words, for a person who is self realized there is no Ichha-Prarabdh because s/he has developed past having ego.
3. Kriyamana or Agami Karmas are current works. Things we are doing right now in our present life that will impact us in future lives. Of course some seeds we sow will be reaped during that same lifetime.
Karma is also categorized as family Karma, group Karma, national, and so on.
That was a very basic look at a very broad and intricate subject. Let’s not let it become void of spiritual meaning and morph into just another catchphrase. After all, it is our spirituality, if we do not revere it, who will? Conversely, if we belittle it who would feel obliged to do otherwise.
It behooves us as spiritual people to safeguard our respective beliefs. Yes this may at times get us labeled as “uptight”, “religious fanatic”, or extremist, but in this current (worldwide) political environment, minority religious beliefs and ways of life are equally vulnerable to being seriously diluted at best and eradicated at worse. Yes, something as seemingly insignificant as allowing the tenet of karma to be become an essential joke can lower that bar.
In a future edition, I will continue the concept of Karma as well as defending our way of life during this turbulent era.