Karma is a word we hear in our daily lives. But what does it actually mean and how does it impact our lives? Is it a myth or is it reality? Is there a Law of Karma that we can understand and decode so that we can apply it effectively in our lives? Karma has its origins in ancient India, the greatest analysis and examination about Karma has been done in India too. We could follow any religion in the world or no religion at all and Karma is still relevant just as physical laws of light, sound, action/reaction are relevant to all irrespective of where we are from.
According to Newton’s Third Law of Motion, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Newton’s law is pretty clear in terms of the physical Universe, that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. But life is not so crystal clear. We act expecting equal and opposite results, but we end up with completely unpredictable results. So why aren’t there specific measurable results then? For example, why, don’t we get promoted even if we work hard for years?
Some laws in the Universe can be seen with our own eyes and some can be measured. But many are unseen, immeasurable – for example, the concept of Infinity. If we don’t understand or see a specific law, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Karma is something we can’t see, but examine your life, and you can see the fingerprints of Karma everywhere. Just as a constitution exists to regulate human society, we have Karma which regulates the actions we do in our lives and their reactions.
What is karma all about?
Karma is simply not just “what you sow, you reap” or what you do in life, you get it back in one way or another. Karma is not just Destiny or Fate. This is part of the picture but not the whole movie. The definition of Karma is split into two parts:
- Actions and Reactions: Karma is every action we do in life. The act of breathing, the act of eating breakfast, the act of feeding the needy, the act of going to work – every action we do constitutes Karma. Karma also constitutes the reactions of every action.
- Karma is also the entire transaction from start to finish. This is where the sowing and reaping part comes. On a high level, Karma is what goes around, comes around. That’s why there is a common assumption that Karma is somehow equal to Destiny or Fate. But it’s not so simple as that. We get completely unpredictable results for the actions we perform in this world.
Why should we understand what Karma means then? Because it enables us to make better decisions and live a more fulfilling life. When life shows us several paths, this ancient wisdom enables us to choose the ones best for us, not the easiest, not the ones everyone else tells us to take, but the paths which help us lead the most fulfilling lives.
Just as we categorize actions into good or bad, Karma is also divided into many different types:
- SatKarma is good actions, such as giving to Charity, feeding the needy, bringing happiness and harmony into people’s lives. (Good Karma). Not to be confused with ShatKarmai, which are a set of Yogic cleansing techniques.
- DushKarma is bad actions – we can start with the big bad actions like theft, but it also includes the smaller bad ones where we create discord, where we deliberately do wrong things, like misleading people for instance.
- VivekavantaKarma is intelligent or knowledgeable action. When we plan and execute actions with intelligence and knowledge.
These Karmas are defined in terms of the results:
- Sakam Karma is actions done with results in mind. That means when we do a certain thing, we are only doing that action with the results in mind.
- Nishkama Karma is actions done without the expectation of results.
We can prepare for a test and write the test. – This is action, Karma.
We can prepare for a test to get 100% and write the test with the expectation of getting a 100%. – This is Sakam Karma
We can prepare for a test and write the test with no expectation of a result. – This is Nishkama Karma
- DaivaKarma is divine actions such as the creation, preservation and dissolution we see within Nature. This type of Karma is done without desires, unlike us humans
In order to dive deeper and understand Karmas such as Agami, Sanchita and Prarabdha, we have to firstly understand a few key concepts from the Hindu Scriptures. These are the concepts of Elements, Rebirth, Consciousness, Mind, Intelligence & Memory in Hinduism. Only then do the Agami, Sanchita and Prarabdha Karmas. For more, please see the book, Decoding Karma.
The above is an edited excerpt from the book, Decoding Karma – Transform everyday life with ancient wisdom.
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