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“The ways of Karma are mysterious,” it says in the Bhagavad Gita. How do our deeds and thoughts affect what will happen? Why do good people have bad things happen to them? Why do some people try so hard but never get what they want? A lot of these questions can be answered with the idea of karma. Karma is talked about in many ideas and philosophies, but at its core, it is the seed of action. It’s a feeling that makes you think of other similar scenarios and events. 

When you hurt other people, you end up in trouble. So, you shouldn’t hurt other people. Not to help them, but to help yourself. 

Did you get bad luck from coffee?

Here’s an example that might help you get a better idea of what karma is. Let’s say you’ve been drinking coffee every morning for a few years now. Your inner mind didn’t have any drink karma. Then you chose to drink coffee one day. The good energy of drinking coffee has now been planted.

At first, you could do fine if you didn’t get coffee on some days because karma hadn’t shown up yet. But if you don’t have coffee first thing in the morning for a few years, your head may start to hurt or you may feel irritable and anxious. That is where your coffee karma has led you.

Karma is said to be connected to human life, and it is only in human life that karmic bonds can be broken. The first step to getting rid of karma is to look inside yourself and figure out what karma really is and what your awareness is.

Sometimes, just knowing what karma is and how it works can bring comfort and save the mind. When you know that something bad didn’t happen because of something you did, but because of your past actions, you don’t worry, get angry, or complain.

What Kinds of Karma There Are

In yoga, there are three different kinds of karma. The word “karma” means the effects of what we did in the past, what we do now, and what we will do in the future.

How Karma Leaves a Mark

Here, karma is already there, in the form of a thought. For instance, you see a banana and want to eat it because you’ve had it before and liked it or it made you feel full. In this case, karma is in the shape of a banana. If you liked it once, you want it again. This is also a form of karma because it is the result of something you did.

Karma is what you do

An action is something you decide to do, while a reaction is something you do without thinking. The laws of karma say that rash acts start a chain of karma. Karma is made by both what you do and what you don’t do. Karma is only not made by actions that are done on purpose. 

For example, a soldier who shoots as part of his job in a war does not get bad karma. Likewise, a doctor who does his best to help a patient but the patient still dies does not get bad karma. But a doctor gets bad karma if they don’t give a patient medicine when they need it or don’t take good care of them.

As a result of the action, you get karma.

Karma is also a result of what people do or decide. Like our first example, there was no karma or bondage when you didn’t drink coffee, but doing the action (drinking coffee) over and over again produced karma, a bondage that you may now find hard to break.

Karma is Time Bound

Another thing about karma is that it and its results, called karma phala, have a time limit. This means that the result of a cause only lasts for a certain amount of time. For this reason, wise people say that good or lucky things should be done right away, before time eats away the results.

Karma includes not only what we do with our bodies, but also what we do with our minds and words. So you shouldn’t act on the thought that you want to kill someone, but if you have that thought, it’s because of karma.

Karma Based on Time

There are three kinds of karma—Prarabdha, Sanchita, and Agami—depending on whether the action has already started to bear fruit, hasn’t yet, or is about to. 

Prarabdha refers to ‘begun.’ This action is already showing up and having its effect. There is nothing that can be done to stop this kind of karma from happening.

Sanchita Karma is a tendency or thought in the mind that hasn’t yet turned into action or fruit. Spiritual practises can eliminate Sanchita karma before it appears. Satsang, singing, and meditation all burn the seeds of this kind of bad karma.

Agami karma is the future’s karma. This is the fate that hasn’t come into being yet. For instance, if you break the law or cheat someone, you might not be caught tomorrow. But you start to live with the idea or fear that you might get caught one day.

 “The more you understand it, the more it blows your mind. It (karma) brings people together and puts them apart. Some people get weak and some get strong because of it. Some people get rich and others don’t. Karma is the tie that holds all of the world’s struggles together, no matter what they are. It goes against every rule of logic and reason… Karma is huge.”

How strange Karma is

Sometimes we grow apart from the people who are closest to us, while people we didn’t think were our friends help us in ways we couldn’t have imagined. People we’ve never done anything wrong to hurt us, and those we’re mean to or don’t care about stick around. So, karma is more than just a simple relationship of cause and effect. 

People say it is strange and hard to understand. But if we can accept that it is mysterious and that how and when it plays out (or doesn’t play out) is unexpected, it can help us live more fully. We have a tendency to care too much about the people we love or to dislike the people we don’t like. Both of these things keep the cycle of karma going.

How spirituality plays a part in Karma

In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna tells Arjuna, “Don’t let your mind get upset. You never know when or where a friend will turn into an enemy or when an enemy will turn into a friend. In this world, no one knows anything. So, keep your mind on the truth, do your work honestly, and meditate honestly.”

Spiritual masters tell people not to compare karma to fatalism. There are many ways to get rid of karma before it becomes a part of our minds and keeps the circle of karma going. Prarabdha karma is something you have to live out, but Agami karma and Sanchita karma can be burned away if you follow a spiritual path. Spiritual practises, information, and devotion are all powerful ways to break out of karmic cycles.

Karma, Being Born, and Dying

Why are some people born into dangerous places and others into safe places? Part of this can be explained by the law of karma. According to eastern beliefs, reincarnation is driven by karma. Also, the law of karma says that the more of an impact something has, the more likely it is to carry over into the next life. So, if you hate or love someone too much, you’ll come back to life near them.

Some religions believe that when the body dies, the mind, which is full of memories, goes on to the next life. The last thing a person thinks about before his or her body dies has a big impact on the next life. 

Gurudev says, “No matter what you do with your life, your mind should be free and happy when you die.”

Karma keeps us tied to the world of opposites, and we can only really break free in human life. We can only get out of the cycles of attachment and detachment, desire and aversion, birth and death, good and bad, karma and karma phala (fruit of action) by looking inside ourselves. So how do we do it?

With understanding and devotion, you can go beyond all your past actions and be free!”

Gurudev gives a beautiful answer: “How we see pain, and what we think is good and bad, is always relative. God is reality itself; he sees everything. Instead of seeing God as a judge, think of Him as a movie director. He doesn’t dislike the bad guy and doesn’t like the hero more than anyone else. Everyone has a role to play based on their fate. Live with your fate, but don’t cling to it. With awareness, alertness, information, and meditation, you can get rid of these memories. It has the power to break up and destroy any karma and set you free.”

Spiritual understanding frees you from karma and lets you live your own life. “To get knowledge, you need to wake up your desire for knowledge. Now, if you ask me, does one’s karma have anything to do with how much they want to learn? Yes! But understanding eliminates karma. With understanding and devotion, you can go beyond all your past actions and be free!”


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