We have probably all heard of karma, and funny jokes like “my karma ate your dogma.” We often think of karma as something negative or to be feared. Many of us may have focused on negative karma, that is, “bad” stuff that happens when we or someone else does something unkind or unjust to others.
Karma, though, is very positive, both when it rewards us, and when it nudges us to take a different direction next time. Granted, those “nudges” might not be so gentle, but that’s conceptually what they are.
In actuality, karma is the universe’s gift to us to guide and keep us on track in life. As such, karma is a gift. If we will perceive karma as something positive even when it brings us the gift of suffering, then we can allow karma to teach us our lessons that help us to evolve spiritually. Yes, suffering is part of our spiritual evolution, and is therefore a gift.
I know, you may be thinking, “Say, what? ‘The gift of suffering’? How is suffering a gift?”
Good question. Basically, we can understand karma by the saying “as you sow, so shall you reap,” meaning, whenever we put out positivity by our words, actions, thoughts, and intentions, we will sooner or later receive a similar positivity back for our wellbeing. Likewise, when we put out negativity in any form, karma gives us back, sooner or later, similar negativity. Karma is just the principle of “like begets like,” energetically speaking.
All karma is simply a feedback system about how we are doing on our spiritual path, and about which lessons we have not yet learned, and which lessons we “signed on” to help others achieve in this lifetime. You see, our souls choose our major life lessons before we are born.* That’s our free will in action, in between lifetimes. Much of our suffering is part of our own plan for working out our karma and growing closer to God, and helping others to do so.
After 22 years of meditating, experience, and study on an Eastern spiritual path, I have finally come to realize that all of our karma, for all of us, is guiding us towards union with Higher Consciousness, Source, God, the Divine, by whatever language you might refer to it (even if what you believe in is love or peace or happiness on this earth plane).
There are several paths of yoga, all designed to help us attain Higher Consciousness or union with God. In fact, “yoga” as a word in Sanskrit, means “union,” as in “union with God.” One of the paths of yoga is called “karma yoga.”
Karma yoga is the path on which a person seeking God selflessly serves, dedicating their whole life to this selfless service. What enables the devoted soul to attain union is the consciousness that is not they but God in them who acts selflessly. Not taking credit is an essential aspect of the unconditional love inherent in this selfless service.
I have been aware of this form of yoga since I first learned Raja Yoga Meditation 22 years ago. (I now teach Raja Yoga meditation.) However, it was only recently that I realized that all karma is designed to empower us sooner or later, in this lifetime or another, to attain union with God.
That is karma’s primary purpose: to empower us to attain union with God. Having this goal, karma therefore potentially serves as our guide to life. Karma only functions this way, though, when we accept 100% responsibility for everything that comes into our lives.
If we accept responsibility for all the seemingly good and bad things that we experience in life, then we can begin to understand our karma as guiding us towards the positive, life-giving, unconditionally loving, peaceful, blissful state of being in which we become one with God.
When something positive occurs, it is important for us not to take credit for it, but to receive it as a gift from God with humility and gratitude. Even Jesus Christ said, “why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.” The most God-realized guru with whom I have ever gotten to have an in-depth conversation said of himself, “I am nothing.” (That was in response to my requesting permission to write his autobiography.)
As humans, we are composed basically of soul, body, ego-mind, and the higher consciousness of our souls/God. Our ego-minds see ourselves as separate from God, but when we understand from our higher consciousness that we are one with God, then we realize that we cannot take credit for anything, for God is the source of all that is good within us.
Karma, then, guides us towards thoughts, choices, actions, speech, and intentions that align us more and more with the truth of our soul, rather than the weakness, selfishness, and unkindness of our ego-mind. Karma, with love, treats us either as “good and faithful servants,” or as errant children in need of correction.
This is not to say that everything good or bad that happens in our lives is the result of something we did to deserve it. Not at all.
I was widowed at the age of 28 and left with an infant and a toddler to raise by myself. One of the cruelest things that anyone said to me at that time was that they wondered what I had done to deserve that. Surely, very few people deserve what I went through. It was not until I studied at the Self-Realization Meditation Healing Centre in Somerset, England, that I learned that our souls choose our major life events before we were born. I can easily believe that my soul chose to be widowed and to raise my children by myself, because this karma that I chose has helped me grow closer to God.
So, yes, karma can also be our soul’s choice before we were born. Because our souls are one with God, we can choose what we need in order to become one with, or at least closer to, God.
This is the one true role of karma. So, the next time we feel disappointed with life, or resentful of what’s happening, perhaps we can remember that even that situation is a gift, and give thanks that it is gradually guiding us into all truth, leading us to unconditional love, raising us up into bliss, and healing our souls, once and for all.
If we feel anything less than that, we have not yet learned our karmic lessons! Fortunately, we can trust our karma to keep guiding us until we all fall in love with peace and bliss – and stay there!
If we remember that the Fundamental Nature of Reality is “All Is Well,” (please see the relevant blog post here: Buddha’s two teachings ), then we know that our ultimate reality is the state of being in which “All Is Well.” In other words, the reality from which we come and to which we will return someday, is the reality that “All Is Well.” Some of us would call that state of being in which “All Is Well” “God.” One day we will return to union with this state of being in which All Is Well.
So, the ultimate goal of karma is not suffering, but being in the state of being in which “All Is Well,” which occurs when we are one with God.
In the meantime, we live in this world of appearance, or as it is taught in the philosophy of yoga, the world of illusion. Yes, this world looks and feels real, but it is nonetheless a low-vibration world made up of the creative divine mind, and nothingness. Yes, the universe is made up of a lot of nothingness: empty space, and God-stuff, which actually is composed of consciousness and energy, which are constantly intertwined. So, the world appears to be something, but behind that mask of appearance is the true reality of God, the actor, and nothingness, the stage on which “reality” appears.
We’re temporarily living in a world of divinely conscious energy dancing through nothingness so that we can experience both the presence and the absence of the divine. By experiencing both, we are able to evolve back into divine consciousness, divine being, or “God.” Karma is the guidance system which helps us do that.
How do we return to a state of pure wellbeing in which we experience “All Is Well”? We evolve our consciousness from lower vibrations to higher vibrations of love and peace.
What helps us evolve? All our karma helps us evolve. When we receive what we experience as negative karma, then we know that we have done something that is out of alignment with divine grace, and we are putting out negative energy from our thoughts, beliefs, or intentions (often judgments!), or, we have chosen a really hard path so that we can learn to manifest the love, peace and bliss of the state of being in which “All Is Well” even in the most difficult of circumstances. When in difficult circumstances, the main point is to trust that the divine is working to reinstate us into the energy-consciousness that “All Is Well.” We have to help ourselves get into that energy by trusting God.
When we are receiving positive karma, we need to do so with an “openness to all and attachment to none,” as I heard someone I know say the other day. Positive karma can help point us to our path of service, and our path of service leads to the truest of blessings, first for others, then for ourselves. In serving from that state of being in which we trust that All Is Well, we bring love, joy, and peace through ourselves from God more fully for others.
When received and perceived as the very lessons we need most in life in every given “now,” karma enables us to see the lessons we need to learn to become the presence of love, the presence of peace, as well as the energy of joy and bliss.
When we learn to dance with our karma, we begin ever more surely to dance with God. When we trust our karma, God not only becomes our dancing partner, but God becomes our own inner presence in the world as well. May your karma become your happy dance!
Love and Light,
* I first learned this lesson while studying at the Self-Realization Meditation Healing Centre in Queen Camel, Somerset, England, UK.
**The featured image comes from the front of my book, Truth and Illusion: The Politics of Spirituality and How One Person’s Lie Is Another One’s Truth, cover illustration by Davonne Flanagan and yin-yang earth image Copyright:
<a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_mnsanthoshkumar’>mnsanthoshkumar / 123RF Stock Photo</a> .