Meno-K-you-pay-shunal; It's a Give 'n' Take Thing

Karma - action and its consequences.

Just about everybody has heard the word karma and is likely even, at some point, to have used it in some context. The basics of 'what goes around comes around' are understood, but beyond that, most people are rather ignorant of the full implication of the word. It gets bandied about as meaning 'luck' or 'retribution'. This sort of skewing of words happens in every language. Take 'gay', for example. This perfectly innocuous English word used to encapsulate the whole concept of 'happy, bright, cheerful, joyful, festive-like' and so forth, was at some point applied to a person who displayed these characteristics and it caught on as a reference to a male person displaying effeminate and extrovert tendencies. Gradually it came to be synonymous with homosexuality. Now it has been almost entirely usurped. 

Karma, (pronounced 'kurmuh' and not kaarmaa), is multileveled in its concept. Yes, at life-level, it definitely refers to 'be careful what you do less it return to haunt you'. However, that is just the very tip of it. That part is the starting point for what becomes not only a full-life effect but a whole-spirit (many lives) effect.

When we use karma in the Western context, we are often referring to someone getting their just deserts - according to us. It is not for us to judge, however! Karma is for us to pay attention to ourselves. At this first level, it is to be remembered in every thought, word and deed (kriyaman karma - 'working'). With the understanding of the broader implication of karma, we are more likely to make better choices and efforts in our interactions and work. This alone is worth incorporating as part of our daily travel. Whether or not we subscribe to the whole jiiva and punarjanman (reincarnation) concept, at the very least, there is an expectation of being the very best human being that we can be and that involves constant self-assessment in exercising judgement of the sort which is indicated by karma at the first level.

Being clear, then, karma is not about pointing fingers at others and wishing it upon them, but about our own responsibility to ourselves.

Neither is it something to be blamed when things are not going our way. Indeed, it may be that karma is at work when we are having a 'bad run' in life. However, it is at work at all times in life. Every minute of every day is about karma. It is not for the fatalistic, surrendering their power of self-determination. It is about knowing that we alone are responsible for the ripples we make.


Karma is our 'account' in the Bank of Existence. As soon as the jiiva hits its material target** it brings with it a 'balance' (sanchita karma - 'retained'). There are things which happen in life for which we raise our hands and beg the question 'what did I do to deserve this?!' The answer will lie in that balance. It could be that something done in an entirely different existence, in an entirely different place and time, has yet to reach its fructification, and this life is where it happens - good or bad (praarabdha karma - 'destiny'). 
Now for a major statement; there is no such thing as luck. There, it's out. What there is, is the movement of a currency called karma. Not talking here of the cheap 'n' nasty kind of luck some pine for in gambling - that's about numerical odds and luck doesn't come into that either, but that's a whole other discussion. No. This is the 'luck' of life events; job of one's dreams - or nightmares; a home - or not; True Love - or lust and pain… There is a Scottish saying, "what is for ye willnae go past ye." We all get what we have earned in our karma account. It is prudent, then, for an alert jiiva to attend to each thought which arises, how that thought transforms into action, and to consider the cost first to itself and then to others with whose karma it may have intersected.

Closely related to this process is the work of the vaasanas. (These will not be discussed in this series of articles so that link is highly recommended.) The context of the 'grooves' of our personality in relation to karma is that, where karma is the actual currency, vaasanas are the process of transaction. Most philosophies will advocate dropping 'bad habits' and forming better ones when embracing self-growth. In Vedanta, it is referred to as 'burning the vaasanas'. Work out your own motivations, the drivers behind your very thoughts, those are the vaasanas - the seed desires - and sift them, refine them, clarify them. Remember, every action we take has a desire behind it. Every action.


**considered to be at the time of conception. There is a tendency for medical science to claim that consciousness is not present until after birth, but what is actually being referred to is cognitive activity. Additionally, there are various arguments as to how early this hits. Recent research claimed 'surprisingly early logical ability' for babies… most mothers would not be surprised by this 'news'!  


18 comments:

  1. Thank you YAM for this post. I had no idea next time I hear it used I will remember this.
    Hugs HiC

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  2. Hi Yamini - Karma is certainly something that needs to be thought about and perhaps studied ... or cogitated on ... there is so much to the eastern understanding of life - something unfortunately that I know little about - take care ... cheers Hilary

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  3. Very interesting. I learned a lot about karma from your post. Thank you.

    How sad it is that every time I find myself using the word "gay" in its original meaning it actually sounds like something I shouldn't be saying:(

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    1. Hari OM
      Yes, I hadn't really thought about it, to be honest, until quite recently when in conversation with a group over in Edinburgh, most of whom were strangers to me. I'd been asked about an aspect of life and I was using quite a few descriptive words about the Joie de vivre I feel... it was the silence and the sideways looks which had me wondering... Could not believe I had to justify my use of the word in its original context! Yxx

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  4. I always pictured my unborn children thinking away before they were born.

    http://findingeliza.com/

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  5. In India, even for the vedanta-illiterate, the concept of karma and punarjanma is deeply ingrained culturally.

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    1. Hari OM
      Very true Nilanjana! Though our aachaarya-ji did have to do a bit of 'unlearning' of some of the village boys in our batch, for it seems that even there, some level of superstition and misinterpration occurs. It really is an enormous concept and has to sit within the wider knowledge of "soul purpose". Far beyond the scope of the A-Z articles! Yxx

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  6. At last a word I knew - then it was pronounced differently (at least I got it partly right). I always wonder why karma is seen so negatively - if you are doing your best and doing good to others and the world around you - then getting your just desserts should be a great outcome.

    Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au
    K for Keep Trying

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    1. Hari OM
      ... it also interesting that coloquially, 'just desserts' is the English equivalent of pointing the finger and saying that someone got their return for poor behaviour. If one's behaviour and actions have indeed been of the best, then it is said the a person receives their 'reward'. The word 'just' is the clue - being used in its direct reference to justice being served... in the view of the speaker and finger-pointer! Which is the key to both that and karma - it is not up to us (beyond immediate action in relation to social law and order) what comes to another; we must only concern ourselves with our own thoughts, words and deeds. Yxx

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  7. Why don't we write with such beautiful characters anymore? I mean, doesn't the Karma as written above look so much better than 'Karma'?
    Loves and licky kisses
    Princess Leah xxx

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    1. hari OM
      It does! I learned calligraphy many a long decade ago and have always loved the formation of letters - tomorrow's post is actually about concentrating on the flow of ink... Yxx

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  8. i did use it in a sentence while talking the the lifeguard, i did not pronounce it correctly and i used it to mean, i was afraid not to do something for a person i don't like, because of karma coming back as payback for not doing what i should have done. love the way it looks in the calligraphy

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    1. Hari OM
      Yes, this is often how the word is used - it is only part of the truth though! The intention behind the action - or deciding not to take it - is as important to our karma account as the deed itself, because the deed - or non-deed - will vibrate with that intention and it is that vibration which gets 'deposited'! Also, the return on our action may never be known in this lifetime... but we do have to live with our conscience on things! Yxx

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  9. Wow! This is such an enlightening post. A very enriching read :)

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  10. I learned so much! Thank you! I am a Christian and we were discussing Karma in a small group setting on Tuesday night. I can't wait to share this with the group. I love learning about different faith traditions.

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  11. So much to our existence we only rely on belief. When does life begin, when does it all come together. Time will tell. Until then we will hopefully strive to live the very best we can. namaste, janice xx

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  12. It's a mazing how people misuse spiritual concepts. Glad you clarified.
    https://moondustwriter.com/2018/04/11/kindness-children-atozchallenge/

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  13. I knew this was deeper than many people treated the concept. You explained it really well.

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