by Azriel ReShel, Uplift Waking Times
Some years ago while staying at the ashram of the Indian saint, Ramana Maharshi, nestled at the foot of the forest covered mountain of Arunachala, I read the great sage’s sacred words, etched above a doorway: “Whatever is destined not to happen will not happen, try as you may. Whatever is destined to happen will happen, do what you may to prevent it. This is certain. The best course, therefore, is to remain silent.”
His words are a key to karma and destiny. As someone who would try and make things happen, forcing outcomes and who struggled with surrender, these words were like magic. I have never forgotten them and I think reading this wisdom, while steeped in the stillness that the great saint’s presence has imprinted on the area he lived, helped the words to land deeply in my soul.
On a personal level, the words mean a lot to me as I can directly see how karma impacted the course of my life very early on. As a baby I was given up for adoption, and it’s always seemed to me that my life at that point was like a river with multiple tributaries branching out in different directions, depending on the lottery of which parents took me home with them. And really, it’s a bit like that for all of us. We are born into certain circumstances, cultures, places on earth, wealth or poverty, with specific genetics, talents and drawbacks. We don’t have any control over these circumstances… or do we?
Nothing raises more questions, or is more misunderstood than the notion of karma. Karma is a Vedic Science, with roots in India, and is a central teaching of many spiritual traditions including Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikkhism, Taoism and Jainism.
The wheel of karma is the idea that everything in our life takes place due to past actions and that present actions affect future lifetimes. Karma is linked to rebirth. Each and every action we take in life ripples out from us like a stone hitting the water. The ripples have untold effects on others, and will flow back to us at some point in the future. The fruit of our previous actions are like echoes, and they cannot be escaped. Karma is intricately linked to causality. Once you become conscious and access the higher stages of awakening and enlightenment,becoming no longer identified with the “self”, then you can step off the karmic wheel of life, that endless cycle of rebirth, and your personal karma goes. This is the aim of spiritual practice.
What is karma?
The principle of karma or “law of karma” is the notion that all of life is governed by a system of cause and effect, action and reaction, in which your deeds have corresponding effects on the future. Karma is a precise science.
It is a universal law, in the same way that gravity is a law of nature. If you jump off a skyscraper, you will very likely die, and if you harm someone, you will be hurt at some point. Science has discovered that everything in nature obeys laws. These natural laws are impartial and indiscriminate.
The law of karma states that as you sow shall you reap, but a hundred times over. The tennis ball hitting the wall, has to rebound. Every single action we take, is like a little seed we plant. The seed will eventually grow and, just as in nature, some seeds flourish more quickly than others. Some seeds will ripen fast, and others could take decades or lifetimes. But, one thing is certain, the seed will ripen and we will have to face the result of our actions. Your world is 100% the result of your previous actions, words and thoughts.
The consequence or effects of one’s karma can be described in two forms: phalas and samskaras. A phala (fruit or result) is the visible or invisible effect that is typically immediate or within the current life. In contrast, samskaras are invisible effects, produced inside the person, because of the karma, transforming and affecting his or her ability to be happy or unhappy in this life and future ones. In this way, karma is a principle of psychology and habit. Karmic habits or seeds, create the nature of humans, influencing your self perception and thus your life experience.
The science of karma is further complicated by different levels of karma. We have personal karma, family and ancestral karma, societal karma, national karma and so on. All of these levels of karma interact with each other…
About the Author
Azriel ReShel is a writer, editor, yoga Teacher & healing facilitator.
This article (The Universal Law of Karma) was originally posted at Uplift Connect, and is reposted here with permission.