How’s Your Karma Treating You?
“The very existence of the seen is for the sake of the seer.”
Karma is a word bantered around by well-meaning people who may not know its original definition. Not that its meaning is so easily understood…even “breaking alliance with karma” is not so easily understood! That‘s because Patanjali was a pretty clever dude! The esoteric realms of Yoga are certainly illuminating. So, stay with me.
Some of the most profound Yoga concepts, although liberating and inspiring take a bit of study. Therefore, allow me to do my best as your “guru-for-the moment” to translate the true depth of freedom from Karma.
First, let’s define karma. Some think of it as payback, but it actually, refers to a Sanskrit word that roughly translates as “action.” The Law of Karma as Deepak states in his book, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, is:
Every action generates a force of energy that returns to us in like kind…what we sow is what we reap. And when we choose actions that bring happiness and success to others, the fruit of our karma is happiness and success.
— The Third Law of Karma, Deepak Chopra
Another clarification states:
The principle of karma, sometimes as the karma theory or the law of karma is a combination of:
(1) causality that may be ethical or non-ethical
(2) ethicization: good or bad actions having consequences
– Sophia Ojha Ensslin
Yet once we get into the Theory of Karma its subtle meanings are more nuanced. Karma means action, work or deed, but It also refers to the Spiritual Principle of Cause and Effect where intention also influences the person’s future. A common theme of the earliest references to karma goes like this:
Now as a man is like this or like that,
according as he acts and according as he behaves, so will he be;
a man of good acts will become good, a man of bad acts, bad;
he becomes pure by pure deeds, bad by bad deeds;
And here they say that a person consists of desires,
and as is his desire, so is his will;
and as is his will, so is his deed;
and whatever deed he does, that he will reap.
— Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, 7th Century BCE
The more common quote you may be familiar with says it this way:
“You are what your deepest desire is.
As is your desire, so is your intention.
As is your intention, so is your will.
As is your will, so is your deed.
As is your deed, so is your destiny.”
So, we see that desire and intention are part of the formula of Karma; not just action! That incorporates how we think and how we feel as potent elements within this equation.
This is where we can see the root of how to break our alliance or attachment within the cycle of cause and effect. This is the key to understanding true liberation from the cycles of Samsara: the eternal cycle of birth, suffering, death, and rebirth.
How we think and how we feel are less tangible concepts then acting…within what we call “reality.” In yoga terms, and in the Sutras, it is stated like this:
2.20 The Seer is but the force of seeing itself, appearing to see or experience that which is presented as a cognitive principle.
2.21 The essence or nature of the knowable objects exists only to serve as the objective field for pure consciousness.
2.22 Although knowable objects cease to exist in relation to one who has experienced their fundamental, formless true nature, the appearance of the knowable objects is not destroyed, for their existence continues to be shared by others who are still observing them in their grosser forms.
2.23 Having an alliance, or relationship between objects and the Self is the necessary means by which there can subsequently be realization of the true nature of those objects by that very Self.
2.24 Avidya or ignorance (2.3-2.5), the condition of ignoring, is the underlying cause that allows this alliance to appear to exist.
2.25 By causing a lack of avidya, or ignorance there is then an absence of the alliance, and this leads to a freedom known as a state of liberation or enlightenment for the Seer.
2.14 Because of having the nature of merits or demerits (virtue or vice), these three (birth, span of life, and experiences) may be experienced as either pleasure or pain.
2.15 A wise, discriminating person sees all worldly experiences as painful, because of reasoning that all these experiences lead to more consequences, anxiety, and deep habits (samskaras), as well as acting in opposition to the natural qualities.
2.16 Because the worldly experiences are seen as painful, it is the pain, which is yet to come that is to be avoided and discarded.
2.17 The uniting of the seer (the subject, or experiencer) with the seen (the object, or that which is experienced) is the cause or connection to be avoided.
If you hung in there with me for this long, I applaud your concentration! It actually brings us back to the original quote at the top of this article. I believe this quote sums it up!
“The very existence of the seen is for the sake of the seer.” -Patanjali
Ignorance means to ignore. What do we ignore in our trying to be? We ignore the true nature of reality. We forget that reality is mailable, that we, the Ones who can think and feel as well as act, can co-create this Divine experience on earth… or wherever we are in time. To what purpose is Consciousness if not to “see?”
The challenge is to see the world through the eyes of Observation…your observation of the One that is your Higher-Self, the Silent-Witness, the Over-Soul, whatever you want to call it. It is the “I” who is not “I,” the One who knows infinite connection, the One who transcends the mundane into the spiritual realm, the One who merges with Divine essence. The One who “is” yet ceases to be; but can be reborn; and the One who is Pure Consciousness itself…the Holy One embodied in matter. Love expressing itself over and over again.
You are the One!
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