What is karma?
Karma is a Divine all-pervasive law. It is a natural law – just like gravity is a natural law. It was made by God – and is an aspect of God. It is not about punishment, and certainly not about vengeance. It is perfectly exact, just and fair and applies to everything and everyone in creation. It can be speeded up, and slowed down – but never avoided; hence it is sometimes termed the law of inevitability. In essence it is Divine simplicity itself – but its manifestations can be highly complex.
It is surprising how universal the fundamental precepts of karma are – in religion, popular culture and even science. In the Bible it says “…whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7), which describes karma simply, but perfectly. “Action and reaction are opposite and equal” stated Newton in his third law of motion, a definition commonly used to describe karma in Buddhism. In everyday conversation, people sometimes say “what goes around, comes around”, which is a loose but nevertheless truthful description of karma. The word “karma” – and the basic concept behind it – appear in songs, television programs and movies – and most people in the western world seem to have some grasp of what karma is about.
Karma is the great cosmic teacher
Karma gives us all individual tuition 24 hours a day. Each lesson is perfectly tailored to our spiritual needs, and we are never presented with any test we cannot pass. Karma gives us experience, and experience gives us the opportunity to learn to live in harmony with the eternal laws which are God. As we learn, we advance – coming ever closer to ever higher spiritual states of consciousness, and enjoying ever greater spiritual freedom.
Viewed in this light – the terms “good karma” and “bad karma” become almost meaningless in a way – because in fact all karma is good for us, even if it might feel unpleasant in the short term.
Misconceptions about karma
There are unfortunately many misconceptions about karma – of which four of the most common are explained below:
- That someone’s karma is what it is and cannot change. This is totally illogical.
- That someone who is suffering should not be helped “because it is their karma to suffer and no one should interfere”. This is a totally incorrect approach.
- Coupled with this is the absurd idea that if someone is very wealthy, it is ok for them to use this wealth to indulge their own personal desires with no thought for others.
- Another misconception about karma is that people born beautiful, healthy and wealthy are necessarily more spiritually advanced than people who are born into less fortunate circumstances. This is obviously not the case.
The truth about karma
Below, each of the four misconceptions above is corrected:
- We all have the power to change our karma for better or worse. The very nature of karma is that it is dependent on our thoughts and actions. Whatever thoughts and actions we “sow” – we “reap” the karmic repercussion of. Our every thought and action have “opposite and equal” reactions. Therefore, every second of our lives we are determining what our future karma will be. If we have done wrong, as all of us have, then by doing right now, we can burn up the negative karma created by our wrong-doing, and create positive karma in its place.
- We should do everything we can to reduce suffering in the world. This will then improve our own karma (though this should not be our motive), and the karma of the whole world.
- Generosity is a virtue, and using money to help others is the best possible use for it from a karmic point of view. If someone is born very wealthy, it is not their destiny to squander this wealth – but to use it in service.
- It is not always easy to work out someone’s karma by looking at someone’s life. A spiritually advanced person may consciously or unconsciously choose to go through terrible suffering in order to burn up their negative karma as quickly as possible.
The more good you do, the more good you will be able to do
The key thing to remember about karma is the importance of service to others. According to the law of karma the more good we do, the more opportunity we will be given to do good – greater good – in the future, whether it be in this life or a future life. This is infinitely more important than a materialistic “reward” like great wealth.
If our positive karma did manifest as wealth, which is entirely possible depending on our exact karmic pattern, then we should not look at it as: “What a good person I must have been in my last life, so now I am going to just enjoy using this money to satisfy my own selfish desires without worrying about anyone else.” On the contrary, the correct way to look at it is: “How wonderful to have this money so I can use it to help others!”
Karma and reincarnation are inseparable, and reincarnation is a logical consequence of karma. When someone dies, they will not have worked out all their karma. What has been “sown”, will not all have been “reaped”, and there will not have been an “opposite and equal” reaction to their every thought and action. Therefore, logically speaking, although they have left their body, they cannot cease to exist. They have to come back.
Between incarnations we spend a period of time on another “plane”, also called another “realm”, of Earth, which exists at a different frequency of vibration. These realms are physical – but physical at a higher or lower frequency than this realm. The existence of these realms explains the orthodox notions of “heaven” and “hell” – the higher realms being the “heavens”, and the lower realms – the “hells”. There are four realms below this one, and six above. After death, we go to the realm which best suits our level of spiritual evolution, prior to being reborn here. The more basic level, or levels, of so-called “heaven” are sometimes referred to as “the spirit world”.
When all the lessons which reincarnation on Earth can offer have been learnt, we then either go through the initiation of Ascension, or begin the experience cycle of another, more advanced planet, as explained in The Nine Freedoms.
Some people do have memories, or at least certain impressions, of their previous lives – and previous lives will be revealed to every practitioner of the higher forms of yoga sooner or later. When this happens is determined by how much effort is put into finding out, and by how helpful it would be to the evolution of the individual in question to know. It is, in certain circumstances, possible for someone to correctly tell someone else their previous life, but this is only done under initiatory conditions and is much rarer than is often supposed. As a general rule it is up to the individual to discover their previous lives for themselves – but even then, only if this information will genuinely be helpful to them in their spiritual journey, not for reasons of vanity or just to satisfy curiosity. Claims made by people about who they were in their previous lives – or who you were – should be treated with the utmost caution.
It should also be noted that some people have far too strong an interest in their past lives. Our priority should always be this life. If we live this life right – by making service our priority – past negative karma will be worked out, and future lives will look after themselves, built on the firm foundation of positive karma. For while no one can take their material wealth with them when they pass on, we all take our karma with us.
Karma is pressure.
Dr. George King
All Creation is governed strictly by the all-pervasive law of karma. No aspect of creation is outside of this law. It is a perfect, irrevocable law, for it is one of the laws, which are God.
Dr. George King in The Nine Freedoms