What is the principle of Karma and why does it matter to you?

The Karmic principle is a concept that refers to the consequences of one’s actions.

Every action has a corresponding effect, whether positive or negative, and these effects will manifest in this life or if you consider life beyond death, in a future one.

It is impossible to see the laws of Karma at work or understand the complicated and nuanced nature of them. So, try to refrain from assuming what is karma or “instant karma.”

The principles of Karma can be seen through your personal connections or obligations to others:

  1. Consider the debt to the people who raised or took care of you.
  2. Consider the land you live on and particularly the land you were raised on and the privileges you have because if it. Do you owe the land anything?
  3. Consider the food you eat and how it has come to you. It is said: “Every grain of food you eat, has your name on it.”
  4. Consider the relationship to people who have taught you something that benefited you.

These are all examples of karmic relationships. Keep in mind, the fair exchange in these relationships is not in your control. That why you may notice, that in some relationships, one is always giving more to you and you are giving more to another.

Karma is considered a moral law that governs the universe. Ultimately, being ethical and honouring others IS the teaching of Karma.

Essentially if you steal, lie or cheat, you will pay for it later in some way. Equally if you give or create prosperity or offer knowledge, you will receive it back in some way also.

The concept of Karma emphasizes personal responsibility and the need for individuals to make conscious choices that will lead to “positive” outcomes.

Let’s be mindful of the nuances of spiritual bypassing in this philosophy. I used “positive” in quote above to indicate both the uplifting and integral action. It’s not about being overly positive, it is about acting with Truth, honesty, integrity, and love.

So, if someone perpetrates an injustice toward you, it is still important to act with integrity and fairness. Your voice and your indication that an injustice has taken place can be a part of your karma with someone. They get the benefit of your clarity and integrity when they have acted in a harmful way.

How do you stop the cycle of Karmic debt?

  1. Awareness of your actions and appropriate appreciation for what you’ve received from others will stop creating new karmic debts or bonds.
  2. Offering selfless service and ceasing to engage in negative patterns will also reduce or destroy karmic debts.
  3. There are many suggestions in yogic philosophy, as you deepen your practice and yogic lifestyle, the recommendations change.

Ultimately, karmic principles are there to guide us. They help us to live humbly with the things we have benefited from and realize the cost or effect upon others. We can act with accountability and responsibility. When we face challenges, it’s an opportunity to move past a karmic debt or bond and evolve our capacity for integrity. Being integral can look like shouting at someone for a mistake as well as having great compassion and forgiveness.

There’s a wonderful story of Ramakrishna shouting at someone in the temple for destroying the altar. When a students asked him about his outburst he said, “I saved him from a much worse karma if continued to destroy the altar further.”

Want to know more? The upcoming Pranayama & Philosophy training in The Bhagavad-Gita speaks on these topics such as the nature of karma & self-knowledge and more…

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