Learning is essential when we try to define the definition of Karma. Looking back on my posts about our chakras, auras, prayer and meditation. We as humans start to question ourselves about our existence. It is also important to know how we may control our own lives in the betterment of our intentions.
What is Karma? We have a general idea but really, what is Karma?
Karma is the Sanskrit word for action. It is equivalent to Newton’s law of ‘every action must have a reaction’. When we think, speak or act we initiate a force that will react accordingly. This returning force maybe modified, changed or suspended, but most people will not be able eradicate it. This law of cause and effect is not punishment, but is wholly for the sake of education or learning. A person may not escape the consequences of his actions, but he will suffer only if he himself has made the conditions ripe for his suffering. If he were to continue acting in such a way that the retribution cannot come about, because the conditions are not appropriate, then he may postpone the fruition of his karma. If he can suspend it until he is in the spirit world, then he may work at this particular karma in this intermission between death and next life. Or he may wait until another life in which he is more developed so that he can gleaned the educational value of this retribution. Conversely, his life could be so derelict that the blessings due to him cannot fructify until a later date or a subsequent life. All these fall into the category of suspension of karma to a more propitious period or life.
So, we need to know and think deeper
How is Karma caused?
Of all the sentient beings we humans are the only ones that possess self-consciousness. That means we begin to ask questions: Who am I? Why am I here? Where do I go from here? Then we begin to realise right from wrong because of the establishment of the self and selfishness. We can only become selfish because we have free will. If everything were fated, then we would have been robots without responsibility. This is the rub. With karma as the guiding law, we must be totally responsible for our actions. That means we have to suffer the consequences of our thoughts, speech and actions, whether they are wholesome or unwholesome. Self-conscious humans are now able to have concepts with which we can plan our future on the material side of things. Planning means intention. And it is intention that counts for most in karma production. If one’s intention were salutary then the karma produced would be good even though the result is negative. If the intention were evil or selfish, then the karma produced would be bad even if the result is beneficial.
The next point to consider is that not every action is karma productive. For instance, one knows that the glass contains poison, and if one believes that one’s luck is so good that the poison would not effect one, then one drinks the poison. The result is fatal. This is not karma; it is stupidity. Similarly, thinking that one’s fate is so fine and powerful, he jumps from the 3rd floor of the building thinking that nothing will touch him. This again is due to stupidity and gravity kills him. These chemical reactions (poison) and gravity, which give immediate results, are not karmic in nature. Karma usually takes place for no apparent reason, for the cause might have originated from previous lives. We cannot remember the connection. Of course in this fast moving world, karma is coming back to us very quickly. For instance, a young man who, started to accumulate his millions through wheeling and dealing with unsavoury methods, became a multimillionaire by the time he reached fifty years old. But the present currency turmoil taking place in his region devastated him completely in six months. This is his karma returning like a boomerang. He ends up a bankrupt and may even go to jail for his illegal pursuits. Of course, if his karma is carried over to the next life, he will deem it as bad luck during that life because he cannot see the connection.
Now summarising, we have free will, we have intention and we must be responsible for our thoughts, speech and actions. The fundamental and basic principle is simple— whatever we do to benefit ourselves and to hurt others produces bad karma. Whatever we do to benefit others will generate good karma. Therefore any thought that is inimical to others should be avoided. Any speech that is detrimental to others should not be uttered. Any action that will benefit the self and hurt others should never be contemplated let alone be enacted.
The above are general principles with regards to actions (thoughts and speech are taken as action here). The next thing to consider is desire and attachment. Ill will, selfishness and pride are also karma productive. Buddha said that craving is the cause of suffering. He elaborated that craving leads to desire, clinging and attachment. All these karma-productive traits not only end up in suffering but to rebirth, which is much worse. When we merely enjoy one of the sensual objects, and there is no attachment involved, karma is not produced. However, after enjoying the object, an attachment or clinging ensues this is fraught with karma. That means we can enjoy but not yearn for it afterwards. Yearning, clinging and attachments are all seeds of karma-production. One can desire or crave for physical things as well as mental-emotional objects. Concepts are equally dangerous.
Desire and craving for sensual objects: Out of the 6 sense objects, sex is the most alluring. Being the force behind the reproductive system, it must be made strong and powerful for the humans to perpetuate the human race. If there is no pleasure in sex, the human race will die out in no time. The next object is food and wine. These cravings are accepted by our social customs, and therefore if anyone were to indulge in either, it is quite in order. However, together with drugs and cigarettes, these are consumed to addictive proportions. These objects per se do not produce karma. One may become obese, alcoholic, or a drug addict, but on its own it does not produce karma. It is the craving and the attachment that is karma-productive.
Emotional reaction and thoughts: the emotional reactions to the 6 sense objects as above at the first contact are: pleasure, displeasure or neutral. With pleasure, clinging and attachment will arise as emotional memories. These in turn will lead to constant yearning and longing, and these would lead to karma production. Similarly with displeasure, the aversion and resentment will also be karma productive. In other words, these emotional reactions would consolidate as emotional memories. When the latter are fixated as negative and positive thoughts with emotional desire and aversion they would generate karma even though nothing is done about it. Similarly, with only thoughts and concepts, these will also produce karma when these intentions are prelude to speech or action. So thoughts, speech and action will generate negative karma if the intention is to consolidate the self. Conversely, it will generate good karma, if thoughts, speech and action are for the sake of others. If these ‘actions’ are merely passing phases, then hardly any karma will be produced. However, if these ‘actions’ are fixated and the attachments are strong, then karma will surely ensue.
Not all ‘actions’ will produce karma. Millions of things that you think, say or act are neutral. These are daily chores like eating one’s meals, opening bowels and having a bath. Watching T.V., reading and exercising etc are karma neutral. All these activities are not to aggrandise oneself or to hurt others. They are just done to keep one alive. Which leads is into varieties of karma.
Varieties of Karma
Under this heading, we can consider karmic ties with our stars, planet earth, our country, locality, race, religion, nuclear and outer families, distant relatives, friends, work mates and underlings. The universe is about 11-13 billion years old, and planet earth is about 5 billion years old. From mineral through vegetable and animals the predecessor of man arrived on earth about more than three million years ago. The first “human” was Homo Habilis who lived in Africa about 2.5 million years ago. After more than a million years of evolution, modern man, Homo Sapiens, came into being about 200,000 years ago. The Neanderthal, who is the first Homo Sapiens, also existed roughly 200,000 years ago. Suddenly they became extinct 35,000 years ago. Therefore, most of us should have souls of at least 2 million years old. This would have ensured us of several hundreds or thousands of incarnations. Just imagine how much karma each of us has accumulated! Therefore at birth, the underlying karmic forces are exerting such an influence, that nobody is born equal.
Firstly, we are born under a set of stars and our astrological horoscopes should be the blueprints for our G-plan (life plan). This renders the birthday and time most important for that individual, even though it is a Caesarean birth. However, each of us would have made plans in the astral world before coming down—our G-plan. Our group souls must have come down to earth time and again together. Very rarely an old soul might choose another planet. As humans we mostly choose the familiar, and like begets like. In discussing racial karma, the Jews, Germans and the Japanese mostly choose to come back as Jews, Germans and Japanese. The other races tend to mix up more. Looking at the heterogeneity of the populations of U.S.A. and parts of Asia these souls may choose to go anywhere, although the majority will return to their old familiar countries. At the moment of birth, armed with our G-plan, the stars aligned themselves for the life we are about to go through. The G-plan was entirely worked out on the basis of our karmic balances while we are in the spirit world. The soul mates that came down together had common karma to work through (group karma). The country that we were born in was also part of our karmic heritage. So the stars, earth, country, nationality and soul mates are all interconnected through the karmic cords that hold us all together. Then as we come closer to nuclear and immediate and distant families and friends, the karmic pot thickens.
The planet earth is also called Gaia, named after a Greek Goddess. Gaia has its own spirit and karma. The way we are plundering and abusing Gaia it is no wonder that the boomerang effect of karma caused by humans is beginning to resound itself. Few examples of these are: deforestation by fires, underground nuclear explosions, the building of hydro-electric dams and planting with explosions of land mines, to name a few. This global karma is just beginning to make itself felt. The recent spate of earthquakes, volcanic explosions, hurricanes and tornadoes is just the tip of an iceberg because it’s man made. More and worse is yet to come. On the other hand, it is not going to be the end of the world, for wayward humans still require Gaia to practice on.
In a mix population, there may be one nation, but there are many races. So in a mix population, if one becomes good friends or enemies with the other races this signify that one’s karmic net is truly wide. Therefore, racial karma in this instance is not identical with national karma. The United States, Singapore and Malaysia are in the same position. In the case of the Jews, they may not have a country to call their own for thousands of years, yet they remain a cohesive race spread all over the world. It is only in recent years that the State of Israel is born, and now the Jews can state that they are one race, one nation. National karma always supersedes racial and individual karma. Take for instance the present financial turmoil that is pervading the South East Asian countries. It has taken its toll on all and sundry, whether rich or poor, seemingly good or bad and whichever race. Most are affected, but a few have been left unscathed. These very few must have earned enough beneficial karma to protect them from this onslaught. These people are mostly unattached and non-materialistic. In fact these Asian countries have been working towards this turmoil for the last 20 years! There has been a persistent pursuit of wealth and materialism in these countries to a feverish pitch. There is no soul and no spirituality. Love, compassion and service have all gone to the wind. The spiritual individuals can see it coming a mile away, but not the economists.
The geography or locality of a place also posses karma from the history and the spirit of the area. The bad overtones produced by the underlying spirits of deceased people as well as the earth and vegetation of the place very often affect adversely the people moving there to stay. The geographical karma is much more powerful than the individual karma. A former graveyard is a very good case in point.