What is Karma and how can it become your best friend?
Karma. We've all heard about this elusive creature, but why does it matter? Who does it impact? What is it? Traditionally defined, it is fate. It is our destiny. But this incredible belief's true definition is much more empowering. It is all about choices.
It is the decisions we make on a daily basis and how they affect us and those who come in and out of our lives. The renowned physicist, Isaac Newton, explained that "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction."
This is not just the third law of motion; it is the defining principles of this belief. So often in life we feel out of control and lost. That is why it is so uplifting and powerful. You are in charge of charting your own destiny through the choices you make, so even though things might not be working out in your favor every second of every day, positive actions and thoughts will eventually lead to positive changes coming about in your life.
What is Karma? Why is it important?
Here's what you are going to need to enjoy, learn from, and enrich your life as we go through this tutorial together:
- A laptop
- Access to the Internet
- An open mind
- An open heart
- A desire to learn
- A notebook or other writing apparatus
- A writing utensil (fun colors are always preferred)
- A willingness to change
In order for this spiritual belief to work in your own life, you have to establish a strong foundation; you have to know what this Karma-thing, this fate concept is all about. Let's start by watching this short film clip by the founder of LIFEexplained, Hans Wilhelm.
The process by which this notion of "fate" works is deceptively simple. Life and its consequences, its ups and downs, are a series of actions and reactions that culminate at the end of the day and at the end of your time here on this earth. In his film, Wilhelm explains how all of our thoughts and actions are stored in the Akashic records, the ether that surrounds all living creatures.
More importantly for us, though, our thoughts and actions and those of the people we interact with, are stored within ourselves inside our souls. In turn, there is a reaping and sowing relationship. This idea that what we do is much like what a farmer plants. In the same way that a farmer plants seeds that will grow into fruits and vegetables according to the specific seed sown into the ground, the circumstances and events we face in life are an endless cycle of consequences to actions we have made and thoughts we have had.
It is the living embodiment of the adage that what goes around comes back around. Now, that's not to say that the tragic things that happen in life are the direct result of something you have done. That's not true in many circumstances, and that line of thinking negates Dharma, which is the set of principles that maintain order in the cosmos. Rather, this practice supports the idea that while you cannot always control the cosmos, you can control your reaction to it. Your controlled reactions and thoughts have the ability to translate into a better and happier existence.
Now that we have a working definition and a more thorough understanding of the basic structure that governs this choice-fate concept, it's time to talk about why it's important to you. Life and suffering are often synonymous.
Suffering is not necessarily a choice we make, but how we react to suffering is a choice. When we start to realize that where we are in the present is a result of tiny actions and consequences, the culmination of thoughts, then we can begin to take this life into our own hands and make the best of it.
How can Karma become your friend?
In order to make the most of it and to begin to understand and therefore enjoy our lives more fully, there are steps we can and should take – starting today.
Recognizing that life consists solely of choices
We love to blame other people for our suffering. Life feels easier that way, but it isn’t. And it won’t get any easier or any more enjoyable until we realize and choose to accept that we are responsible for our reactions to negative situation.
We must create our own positivity, and once we do, we will open a fountain of good will and happiness. Life is hard, and suffering can feel unbearable, but positive thoughts and uplifting actions, especially in trying times, are key to creating a better path forward. Remember, before blaming others or the world itself for your suffering, that you always have a choice to make.
Putting negativity behind us
You’ve surely stumbled across those posts and articles about self-love recently. A lot of that can sound like people compensating for something, but in truth, in order to send love and positivity out to others in the world, we have to start with ourselves. By putting away the negative impulses we have towards ourselves, such as doubt and hatred and self-harm, we have taken one step towards achieving happiness and peace. Small thoughts of anger and hostility towards others harms not only them but also us.
Overcoming hatred, greed, and ignorance in favor of learning how to accept, how to share, and how to learn gracefully will lead you to a life well lived, to a life that is far freer from suffering than any life you were leading before. And it all starts with a daily reminder to yourself to put away the darkness in favor of the light. As Doe Zantamata explains in the guide, Happiness in Your Life, the world is not out to get you; the world is here to teach you. Taking it day by day, give yourself active reminders to choose positivity.
Live in the present moment
You’ve surely heard the axiom, “Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.” Living in the present moment doesn’t mean you put the past completely behind you. Who could do that? Why would you want to? Who you are up to this moment is a result of your past! We learn from what we have done and what others have done and move forward. Living in the present means that you are actively experiencing every moment.
You are thinking before you react. You are taking a well deserved minute to process the information you receive. Instead of dwelling on harmful thoughts and past moments, you choose to celebrate the moment you are in. You live with gratitude, even when faced with adversity and difficulties because these moments are not there to stunt you but rather to spur on your growth as an enlightened person.
Reflection and action
The final step to understanding our choices and actions is to reflect before moving forward. Meditation and writing in a journal are two great ways to engage in a deep reflection. They are small steps you can take on a daily basis that can make a large impact on your growth as an enlightened individual.
From there, it’s also important to seek out wisdom from those who live positive and fulfilling lives. Start by meditating every morning and focusing on how you will make the day the best one possible. At the end of each day, reflect on how you did and how you can do better tomorrow. As this cycle repeats itself, you, too, will grow in your practice and as a human being in general.
Hopefully, by now, you are no longer asking yourself, "What is Karma?" You know that it is a series of choices, of actions that have consequences that impact the path you take in life. In his novel, Karma: What It Is, What It Isn't, Why It Matters, Traleg Kyabgon, one of the most influential leaders of his time and a person who chose to bring these positive teachings to Australia, explains that life is truly what you make of it.
You are in control, even though it doesn't always feel as if you are. You must make an active decision to live happily, to seek out peace, and to acknowledge – and then change – the behaviors you engage in that take away from you joy and tranquility. The universe is not out to get you. Rather, you are on this Earth to learn and grow and leave both it and yourself a better place than existed before you woke up. The choice is always yours.