Everything is in motion. The things that effect you are the things that move you physically. The things that affect you are the things that move you emotionally. It is for this reason why I will depict the external and internal manifestation of an “affect/effect” because karma operates through both of these motions.
In the west we look at karma as a cosmic law of justice, cause and affect/effect, what goes around comes around, etc. You may be part of the majority of people in the west who acutely look at karma as the balancing scale of justice that distinguishes right from wrong, moral and immoral behaviour. Spiritual traditions teach karma as something that will affect/effect you lifetime after lifetime, as in, the actions that you make in this life will affect/effect the way you live in the next life.
I don’t have any knowledge of what is beyond the here and now, with regard to this present moment of understanding life, this is the space of time where you and I exist, and that is as much certainty as we can get. It is for this reason why I will not talk about karma’s affects/effects on the next life. What I will talk about is the way in which karma affects/effects you in this lifetime. It is in this lifetime where we forget about the multiple levels of knowledge and understanding that we can ascend to the deeper we dive within, symbolically rebirthing ourselves into wiser and happier people.
There are a lot more subtleties and layers of the human psyche involved in the way karma plays out. Your reality is your perspective, over time, your perspective of yourself is going to be based off of the memories of your past actions and intentions. This will project an identity of who you think you are, which will glorify or diminish your self-worth as you identify with those roles, depending on the supporting experiences within those memories. One thing that is for sure is that who we are at the present moment is not who we will be in the future. As we live life and collect wisdom in our library of experiences, we will become more conscious of ourselves. Whether we chose to use this ever growing consciousness to guide our actions is up to us (bearing in mind the consequences if we don’t). The simple awareness of your ego, past actions, behaviors, and intentions, gives you the free choice to walk a new destiny that will release you from your karma.
Awareness is the first step when it comes to removing karma. If you’re not aware of your actions, thoughts, feelings, (which ultimately manifest your intentions) you’ll continue to make free choices that are heavily influenced by these same feelings–>intentions–>actions. People who are unconscious remain in a fixed position, they do not evolve. They are forced to learn things the hard way in life, and the more stubborn they are the more difficult it becomes for them to break free of their cycle, thus they remain karmically challenged. Living an unconscious life, even if you get away with your choices, will bring you closer to more situations that stop you from being free, because you’ll have more things to worry about, weighing you down because you’re not aligned with truth. The truth of why you’re doing what you’re doing, and the compassionate understanding of how it’s impacting you and your surroundings. Even innocent and well-meaning actions based in fear can create karmic challenges for you if you deny the bitter (first time you taste it) truth about yourself.
Again, this isn’t just about the popular depiction of karma as a universal punishment, or a cosmic law of justice. The universe is indifferent to what is not aligned with it’s natural laws. Good and bad are relative constructs of the mind, yet there is an objective truth that binds us into a contract of experience driven understanding. Breaching this contract will yield experiences that gradually become harsher the more we fear and resist their lessons. Intentions, behaviors, and actions with no karmic consequence are ones that don’t harm sentient life, including yourself. It is not just about what you do to other people; it is also about the thoughts, emotions, actions, cycles and patterns of behaviour that eventually affect/effect you. An intention, behavior, or action that harms you or another sentient being is bad karma. This is the objective form of karma that we have the choice to disobey, but cannot escape the ramifications. Although it doesn’t always manifest as an immediately realized consequence, time reveals the karmic cycle of finding yourself in similar circumstances that reflect back to you what you put out into the world. Karma is a direct experience of something happening to you and/or something happening within you that was caused by your past choices of thinking, feeling, and behaving.
Since karma is anything you do that causes harm to sentient consciousness, which includes yourself, it is easier to awaken to the truth of understanding that we are our own worst enemies. We are the architects with the power to build or destroy the quality of our experience in this existence. This is why everyone has karma, including “good” people. Even if you aren’t harming others, you’re probably harming yourself in some way with a habit, pattern of thinking, or pattern of feeling. The ignorance of what is causing this self harm, which is rooted in fear, is preventing you from being whole and secure. Until you acknowledge the truth of what is dividing you within, you’ll continue to find yourself in the same self defeating patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving.
Karma is a way of handling challenges. You may be the victim of someone harming you, which may cause you to become harmful to other people, creating a domino effect of negative behaviour passed down from one person to the next. Choosing to engage in less than evolutionary choices that harm or take from someone else (physically or emotionally) invites more circumstances into your life that will reflect this behaviour happening to you, and you will once again become a victim of it while the cycle will continue until you break out of it. If you chose to react to the challenge of karma by separating yourself from the trauma while retaining the lesson, you can freely move forward unaffected and/or benefited by it. One less thing slowing you down on your evolutionary path.
Those who are unconscious will experience karma through the cycle of circumstances that they repeatedly put themselves in as a result of their choices. As long as they lack awareness, they will continue to swim against a current of possibilities that reflect the same level of thinking as their initial intentions. Circumstances blind and turn people against themselves, continually chipping away at the freedom of their own consciousness, thus creating more circumstances that reinforce negative beliefs, feelings, and actions.
People who have awareness of themselves are in a much better position than the unconscious person. This person may still continue to make selfish and/or self-defeating choices, yet far more likely to be slapped in the face by the guilt, regret, and shame, unworthiness all of which affect/effects the quality of your experiences. As a result of battling and reconciling those feelings, one changes their actions. The guilt, shame, or regret that one experiences should not become an identity, but rather a wake-up call to step into a better role. This is the type of karma where you’re feeling judged and divided from within as your emotional guidance system tells you that you’re out of sync with truth.
“Karma is real, part of it starts with how you’re starting to feel” – H.B.M.S
Adding to your current understanding of karma, the most important addition to your awareness of karma is to understand that karma is not just about bad deeds, it is also about how you perceive and feel about yourself. Your feelings and emotions have a lot to do with your karma. The pain body, as Eckhart Tole describes is a form of ego identification that weakens or strengthens depending on how we handle our karmic hurdles.
“The pain-body is a term for the accumulation of old emotional pain that almost all people carry in the body of their experiences. I see it as a semi-autonomous psychic entity. [an inner demon in the shadows of your subconscious mind] It consists of negative emotions that were not faced, accepted, and let go in the moment of their origin”
We often feel like victims whenever we don’t get what we want, feel misunderstood, or victimized. There are legitimate times when we feel wronged but the degree to which we wallow in our own sorrow and/or anger creates karma for ourselves even if we truly were initially victimized and wronged by a circumstance. Continuing to identify with these emotions will effect your perspective, adding a negative filter to your world. You will then make actions based on this perspective which could lead to more circumstances that caused the initial sadness/anger. This will lead you to create problems in your reality that don’t even exist, arising only because you’re identifying with a state of mind that is not conducive to getting what you need. These problems that don’t exist, fester into problems that become reality, because it navigates your actions, and your trajectory into the future.
Karma is nothing more than the ingrained attributes within you that hold you back. When working on your karma, everything on the radar is just a tip of the iceberg. Karma is often a lack of awareness of how your patterns of behaviour beneath the surface are holding you back. When your thoughts, emotions, and actions aren’t aligned, you’re divided within and separated from wholeness, which creates karma. Subconsciously, unresolved emotions, negative thoughts, and trauma programming navigate our ego through potentially destructive terrain. This can leave karmic imprints that create a repeat cycle of more unhappy thoughts, feelings, actions and circumstances. In addition, unresolved emotions and trauma that we hold onto can manifest into stress which can cause all sorts of physical symptoms. It can even change the way the brain is hardwired. The Vedic and Buddhist philosophy describes this inability to get your mind right as, “Sanskara”.
The Vedic teachings of ancient India would wrote about Sanskara when defining karma. Sanskara is defined as “mental impression, recollection, psychological imprint”, meaning that these things place the individual in an ongoing cycle of repeating those patterns which originate in the mind and are carried out through taking action on those thoughts, embeded mental impressions, and distressing memories, repeating the cycle until one breaks out of Sanskara. It is a disposition, character or behavioral trait, that runs like a default program, which is perfected by it’s slave over a lifetime until the controlled individual breaks free from it. This karmic program is imprinted deep in the subconscious mind of that which it controls.
“According to various schools of Indian philosophy, every action, intent or preparation by an individual leaves a sanskara (impression, impact, imprint) in the deeper structure of his or her mind. These impressions then await volitional fruition in that individual’s future, in the form of hidden expectations, circumstances or unconscious sense of self-worth. These Sanskaras manifest as tendency, karmic impulses, subliminal impressions, habitual potency, or innate dispositions.” – Wikipedia
Whatever we manifest must first manifest in the mind before it can manifest physically. Causality begins in the mind with a desire, intention, emotion and thought, which then expresses itself through the will and force of taking action in the physical domain. The mind is a plane of causality where causes (temptations, desires, habits, traumatic experiences, etc) are checked or unchecked by the will power of choice before manifesting as a formed reality in the plane of effects. The causal factors of WHY, which underly and proceeds all manifested things and events that are unnatural (Unnatural meaning, created by man/woman, not nature) begins in the mind.
You’re not the center of reality (subjective moral relativism), but significant power to affect/effect change in your reality exist within your mind. Many people are stuck in the affects/effects of causality but fail to take responsibility and look at the causal factors they contribute out of ignorance and/or fear. Responsibility is the awareness of and power and ability to respond to the circumstances that exist within and outside of you; response + ability. The causal factors lie in how we think, feel, and act, so until those three are unified, there will likely be disharmony within, which affects how we create and respond to our external manifestations, receiving back our newly created manifestations as external conditions. Unity is the simplicity of this lesson. Clearing the contradiction between thought, emotion, and action is unity consciousness, otherwise we are divided within. Acting from a place of chaos within, contributes to chaos in your external environment, a chaotic environment (such as hostile or damaged relationships for example) that will be reflected back into the disorder that already exist within, further perpetuating the karmic cycle.
Who or what controls our options?
Choice has no boundary but it’s rewards are aligned with one truth. Karma doesn’t care if you’re a victim of circumstance. What is done to you by others is their karma, how you react is your karma. Causation can originate in many ways but nothing escapes the natural law of karma. We have free will but we don’t have free will to ignore causation without consequence, it operates within boundary conditions that cannot be exceeded without consequence. It’s a natural law that can be broken with free will, but it can’t be broken without consequence. Within your own inner universe, free will and determinism are like a feedback loop with one co-creating the other. Our choices reinforce patterns that serve us, or hold us back, yet our predetermined patterns of behaviour influence our choices. Awareness is needed to break this cycle.
Embrace your karma, use it as a teacher, make friends with karma. It’s not judging or punishing you, but it’s telling you the truth about yourself, the truth about how you think, feel, and act, without holding anything back. It is the most honest lesson of how to conduct your human experience in this game called life. As long as you chose to evolve, you can suffer successfully through the events in life that slow you down and make you feel insecure. In those moments of insecurity, take some time to process the thoughts and feelings that are separating you from wholeness. You are the only one that is giving it power by identifying with it, as well as taking actions that identify with those thoughts and feelings, giving you a role, a character in the game.
The Hermetic law of Mentalism, a theory that physical and psychological phenomena ultimately account for or is understood only in terms of a creative and interpretive mind. It is not just our actions that create karma, but also the way we think, especially the way we think about ourselves. The grumpier you are, the more assholes you meet, the happier you are, the more good people you’ll attract. Our Ego and the actions that come from it bring us into resonance with situations and people of similar vibration. These conditions that we unknowingly throw ourselves in facilitate more actions and ways of thinking that lead to more karmic consequences/rewards. Does the ego create the conditions or do the conditions create the ego? It’s a chicken and the egg paradox, but a cycle that traps us all. A simple awareness of your conditions and how you react to those conditions can go a long way in your evolution. Nobody’s perfect, don’t strive for perfection, just strive for progress.
“Don’t try to be superior to your fellow man, aim to be superior to your former self.”
Who you are at the present moment is a different incarnation of who you were in the past, whether it’s 24 hours ago or 10 years ago. If you allow yourself to devolve, existing in time with an ever diminishing understanding of yourself (core needs, fears, and desires) and others, you’ll increasingly become confined to the conditions of your karma. If you evolve through reason and intuition, you’ll gradually escape the physical manifestations of your karma through proper action, even if the odds are stacked against you (your conditions).
The obstacle is the path, karma is the path. As you become more aware of your thoughts, emotions, and actions, you’ll learn to make choices that are mindful. Awareness leads to knowledge of self, which leads understanding, which leads to a better application of free will. Freewill to create what you desire without consequence, with more ease, with less resistance, living life more effortlessly, Growing with the Flow.
Bodhidharma said that your choices are like seeds, each of which will harvest at the right time in your life. Karma hits you at an unexpected time in ways you cannot prepare for, therefore making the consequences of your actions more devastating due to the inability to prepare for them.
If you feel guilty about something, that’s your karma
If you feel insecure about something, that’s your karma
If you feel frustrated about something, that’s your karma
If you feel anxious about something, that’s your karma
If you feel angry about something, that’s your karma
If you feel depressed about something, that’s your karma
It always starts with YOU, that’s the truth. We live in a society that demands truth from one and other, but we don’t like the truth about ourselves. The inner work is a laborious alchemical process for the soul. Changing a thought on the surface level appears to be incredibly easy compared to building a physical structure with large heavy pieces of bricks. Inside, changing our thoughts, emotions, and beliefs is like lifting tons of stone for the soul. As we build ourselves from within, we must not divert from the path because we were afraid to go through the process, the struggle, the journey. As sovereign sentients, we must learn to govern ourselves from within. Take control of the inner child and inner demons silently pulling the strings. “As Solomon builds his temple, so shall one build himself“. You are who you associate with as well, you don’t have to be a snob and cut people off who you don’t think are “on your level”; allow those who make an effort to grow to be in your life, and cut people off who are toxic to your growth. “As iron sharpens Iron, so too shall one sharpen another”
Understand that the predicaments that originated outside of your responsibility, meaning that they were genuinely caused by other people and circumstances that you shouldn’t be held accountable for; the way in which you handle them ultimately affects/effects your karma. In life, there is only one direction….FORWARD! Allowing your thinking, emotions, and circumstances (no matter how hard) to hold you back from Initiating progressive change in your life is a widely overlooked form of karma. It’s not just about what you do to others, it’s also about what you do to yourself!