14 Mar Karma
Karma has become such a common word in our everyday language that it has lost much of its original meaning. Of course we know that the term derives from the teachings of the ancient wisdom traditions, but many of us are only vaguely familiar with the concept of karma as it was originally described. The Eastern definition of karma is simply, “action.”
In everyday usage, the term karma is usually thought of as punishment for some misdeed. Another closely associated idiom is “what goes around, comes around.” You may find it interesting to note that some of the Eastern philosophies consider the intent behind the action to be as important as the action itself. For example, one donates to a charity for the purpose of boosting their public image with no genuine concern for the mission of the charitable organization itself.
While being educated as teachers of meditation through the Chopra Center, we learned of the Eastern concept of the karmic wheel. This describes the circular process of a desire leading to action (karma), which then leads to memory that produces more desires. What tends to happen to most of us humans, is that this entire process of desire, action, memory… becomes a circular wheel (we sometimes refer to it as the “karmic hamster wheel”). We are all familiar with the experience of going “round and round” with the same thoughts and desires, and sadly, the same actions (karma).
Depending on your philosophical or spiritual beliefs, karma can occur as a result of choices we’ve made in this lifetime. But if you subscribe to the Eastern concept of reincarnation, that is the birth, death, and rebirth of the soul, the so-called karma is actually, at least in part, a result or a manifestation of choices in previous lifetimes.
Now, my own sense of all of this is that the whole concept of karma can be enjoyed like a game or a play, a Shakespearean comedy or tragedy. I believe, and love the notion, that our experience in this lifetime is in part (perhaps in large part?) to learn a number of lessons. The experience of tragedy has the potential to help us grow and evolve, sometimes slowly, and sometimes very rapidly. Pleasurable experiences are the fruits of more evolved choices that we made in this and/or past lifetimes and reinforce similar choices. As Caroline Myss has described, we’ve chosen to incarnate in this lifetime as a means of learning from an array of experiences. Karma, in my view, certainly plays a part in that. We get to experience the fruits or challenges of our past choices. Again, that’s part of the enjoyment of the play!
So, what’s a poor mortal to do? We have a number of options.
First, we can just sit back and enjoy the ride; let it all play out as it will. Or, we can actively participate by making conscious choices. You can take a seemingly negative occurrence, learn from it, and then use the experience to help others with a similar challenge. This is an example of transmuting karma.
Another way of affecting karma is by transcending it. According to Deepak Chopra, this is done through the practice of meditation. Meditation leads to a shift in desire, which leads to a more favorable action, and then, a more pleasant memory. We’ve shifted out of the karmic hamster wheel! This is one of the many wonderful benefits of meditation and also one of the most effective ways we expand consciousness in ourselves as individuals, as well as in our community and the world as a whole.
Have fun with “The Play!”