My friend William once asked me: ‘What is karma?’
‘You’re sitting on a beetle now and killing it, so you would come back in your next life as a beetle and then somebody would sit on you and kill you.’ I waited for him to respond. He looked at me without blinking!
People tend to take the word ‘karma’ too seriously. The first thought that comes to mind is: ‘If I do something bad now, I cannot escape the punishment that would surely come.’ There is another extreme version I heard from a lady friend: ‘If you’re so picky in your food now, you’ll be born in a land where there is a scarcity of food! You cannot escape, you know! It’s karma!’
‘Karma’ is a Sanskrit word, which simply means ‘action.’ In simple terms, it means that when you do something, there is always a reaction. In some way, the word seems to instill a kind of fear in many people, even some of those occult students who are considered to be in the ‘inner circle’ the seniors who are supposed to know more than anyone else.
Let’s try to understand it better. Many people consider Karma to be a universal law. It operates according to nature, just like gravity. Whether you believe in it or not, it is there. You cannot feel it, catch it or dissect it. Remember that people used to believe that the earth was flat but later discovered it to be round? That was irony, wasn’t it? So, we asked the questions: What if Karma is real? Would I be able to escape from it?
A Buddhist practitioner once told me: ‘If you practice meditation diligently, perform good deeds and hold virtue thoughts in your mind, that’s a good start to get rid of your karma. And if you really do it with absolute faith, then by the grace of the Buddha, your karma may just vanish one day!’
I was finally able to sleep without any worries on that particular night some years back! And that was some constructive advice!
I came from a family whose beliefs were strongly entrenched in Ancestor Worship, a belief that the deceased have a continued existence and that they still have an influence on the living. I do not shun their beliefs but let them be.
In any religion or spiritual search, there is a question that keeps popping up: ‘Are we here because of the karma in our past life?’
Do you know why you are here for?
I had once asked my younger daughter, Aeres, this question: ‘Do you know why you are here for?’ She shot back with the answer without thinking: ‘I don’t know why I am here for! But I want to build a potato farm with my friend when I grow up!’ I burst out laughing. She was ten years old at that time.
It was an honest answer from the heart. I did not think too much of it then. Gradually, as I pored over other books on the mysteries of life, I began to realize that what my daughter had said seemed to have a deeper meaning although she was too young to have known it at that time!
I remember a little message from a spiritual book (I couldn’t remember its title or the author’s name): ‘Since we are already here in our incarnation, the reason of why we are here is not important!’
The reason why we’re here
The reason is that we started with being here. To put it more bluntly we are stuck here for a couple of years, so why don’t we do something about it? Just like my daughter said: ‘I do not know why I’m here for but I want to build a potato farm!’ Even if ‘karma’ is a natural law, we should not get overly affected by it. Do what we feel is right!
Think of it this way if you smash your fist against a wall, you must feel pain. Here the cause is ‘you do something’ you smash your fist against the wall. The end result there is a pain in your fist as a result of your action. Cause and effect that’s one simple way to look at karma.
We are not taking any esoteric teachings from some religious book to offer a treatise on the subject. We are trying to look at life in a simple way.
Millions of thoughts pass through our minds during our short stay here. It is impossible to stop them. Many of these thoughts would materialize into actions. We have good thoughts and good actions. Likewise, we have bad thoughts and bad actions. You make a choice of the two and try to live the best you can. If all else fails, then remember the golden rule: ‘Do Unto Others as You Would Have Them Do Unto You’