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Meaning of karma

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  • Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati
    Excerpted from the article on karma: http://www.swamij.com/karma.htm The word Karma literally means action. It may appear that Karma is happening to us, as if
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 29, 2005
      Excerpted from the article on karma:

      The word Karma literally means action. It may appear that Karma is
      happening to us, as if some outside force is causing good things or
      bad things to come to us. However, it is really our own inner
      conditionings and processes that are leading us to experience outer
      effects or consequences in relation to our own actions.

      The law of Karma is a universal process, whereby causes lead to
      effects. This is something that all of us are already familiar with,
      whether or not we use the word Karma to describe it. Newton's third
      law of motion, that every action leads to a reaction, is an
      application of the law of Karma. Whether we are talking about physics
      or daily life in the world, it is extremely useful to understand the
      law and process of Karma so that we may regulate or direct the
      process. We can soften the impact of the playing out of our past
      Karmas, and can choose our own future Karma if we are willing to put
      in the effort to learn how to do it.

      When journeying through the process of Karma, it can start to feel a
      bit heavy with all the explanations and inner explorations. The best
      companion on this journey through Karma is to remember that we are
      trying to experience that Bliss, Joy, or Absolute Truth, which is
      beyond, behind, or underneath all of the Karma. By remembering that
      the goal is Joy, Bliss, or Absolute, we (and the mind) will have a
      focal point and a context for all of the efforts put into sadhana
      (spiritual practices). Above all else, seek that Joy or Bliss.

      To understand the meaning of Karma, and to reduce it's control, one
      needs to understand another term, and that is Samskara. Karma
      literally means actions, and those actions come from the deep
      impressions of habit that are called Samskaras. Our actions and
      speech bring us experiences or consequences in the world. Those, in
      turn, lead to further creation of deep impressions (Samskaras) in the
      basement of the mind. Later, those latent impressions come to life
      and create still further experiences. If we want the higher insights
      and freedoms, we need to deal with both our actions and these habits.

      The most important principle to understand about Karma is the
      principle of the Samskara, those deep impressions. It is those deep
      impressions or seed habit patterns, which are at the root of ALL of
      our Karmas, whether we think of that Karma as good or bad. There are
      two general things we need to do in relation to those Samskaras:

      1) External: Allow some Samskaras to wisely play out externally in
      our life, in ways that allow us to become free from them recycling
      into more and more loops of habitual actions. (See Archery article)

      2) Internal: Let go of other Samskaras internally by attenuating the
      colorings of attractions, aversions, and fears through the processes
      meditation, contemplation, and prayer.

      To purify or attenuate the Samskaras while one is doing actions in
      the world is the yoga known as Karma yoga. This involves being aware
      or mindful of our actions and speech, and seeing their sources in
      emotions and the subtler processes of the mind. Karma Yoga also
      involves doing our actions in ways, which are of benefit to others
      (service or seva), freeing ourselves from the cycles of feeding

      The subtler, finer colorings of Samskaras are systematically
      encountered, weakened, reduced, eliminated and transcended through
      the process of meditation. This is outlined in greater detail in the
      Yoga Sutras, including the first 25 Sutras of Chapter 2.

      To experience the Eternal Self beyond the many forms, one needs to
      experientially understand the cycling process of the inner
      instruments that drives Karma (actions). This cycling process between
      actions and the deep impressions also is affected by the inner
      thinking process, the emotions, primitive urges, and the ignorance
      called Avidya. All of these are infused with or operated by the pure
      consciousness, which is at the core of our being. (These are
      described in the article.)

      By observing this process in one's own inner laboratory of Yoga
      Meditation, the effects of deep impressions (Samskaras) can be
      reduced, and thus, Karma regulated. This process of attenuating
      Samskaras and Karma increasingly allows attention to shift to the
      viewing point of Witness of it all.

      The cycle of actions (Karma):

      ...arises from a mostly unconscious thought process,
      ...that is inspired by the inner passions of "I-am-ness"
      ...and specific desires ("I want..."),
      ...that is filtered through layers of deep impressions (Samskaras),
      ...that are inspired by primitive urges
      ...that first arise with the individuation of the wave from the ocean
      of Oneness.

      Complete article on karma:
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