How to deal with our karma
“How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.” ~ Wayne Dyer
The title of this last post is fitting because we need only concern ourselves with “our own karma.” It is a natural tendency for people to fixate on the flaws of other people, (which ironically creates more bad karma,) we rarely turn inward to reflect on our own flaws. This is what our karma is meant to teach us.
In his book “Letting Go” Dr. David R. Hawking answers the following regarding karma:
Question: What if a negative feeling toward someone or a situation persists, despite my intention and effort to let it go? Answer: Sometimes one is more or less forced to surrender to a situation and presume that it’s karmic. With spiritual research, one finds out that it is indeed karmic. Let’s say you are paying off the karma of being mean to a lot of people! Now you get a chance to see what it’s like to have people be mean to you. Sometimes the only reasonable thing left to do is to surrender to karmic patterns. You don’t have to believe in karma as a religious doctrine in order to make this step. It’s simply accepting the basic law of human interactions that “what goes around comes around,” and most of us have not always been saints!
Trials, tribulations and suffering are what make us move towards growth and spirituality. As we ask the question, “why me?” true to nature, a question will always seek an answer. It begs us to look deep into our life for the reasons of our suffering. This becomes a catalyst for “soul searching” and introspection into our own life. We start to analyze our life objectively thus exposing us to our ways of behaving. The one thing common to all our bad experiences and the problems we complain about is that “we” are at the center of it.
One way of becoming aware of our karma is to look at repeating problems in our life. Maybe we are unable to hold down a job. Maybe we have one failed relationship after another and they end in bitter resentment and hatred. Maybe we can’t seem to keep friendships throughout our life. Maybe we struggle with constant debt. All of these recurring situations are presented as lessons that will repeat themselves over and over again until such time we learn the lesson, are grateful for the lesson and learn love and compassion taught by the lesson.
All experience is meant to teach us something.
Hopefully we are able to identify the cause and effects in our lifetime which have created pain. The problem with karma is we can suffer the effects of lives lived long ago. Since we have no current memory of our past misdeeds, we become defensive in this lifetime. If we believe in the spiritual aspects of life, namely our soul, then we must believe in karma. It is no doubt difficult to experience bad things in our life and be thankful for them, but each bit of karma is for our own advancement as a soul. If we become angry, condemning, defensive, mean or selfish as a result of our tribulations in life, then we are just adding more negative karma to our future.
We must let go of the negative reactions to our life. We must learn forgiveness first then compassion. We must have faith that everything is happening for everyone’s higher good. We must accept our trials and tribulations in life as learning experiences. How we deal with our problems is the lesson itself. At first we may start to pray asking for divine help with our problems. This starts to develop our faith. The more we take responsibility for our life, the more we guide our actions towards the good. The more good we become, the more gratitude we have. That gratitude eventually gets directed towards the creator of our life. This starts to grow our spirituality. The more spiritual we become, the more faith we possess. The more faith we possess, the stronger we become and the less likely we are to become upset. As our faith increases we see physical life as only an experience in learning. We see physical life as something temporary while our soul life lives on eternally.
There are four ways to deal with any bad situation in our life:
- Become upset, angry, and blame someone else for our problems. This creates more bad karma and can result in problems becoming worse and more severe until we learn our lesson.
- Feel sorry for ourselves. There is no overt karma produced but existing karma is not diminished. Not dealing with our problems means we will have return in subsequent lives in order to learn how to deal with problems. This can result in the same problems happening to us over and over again until we learn the lesson.
- Accept that we are somehow responsible for what is happening and try to learn from it, or at least accept it is meant to be a learning experience for all those involved. As long as we do not get angry and try to blame someone, we will not suffer any additional karma and we just might learn something.
- Take full personal responsibility for everything that happens to us.
- Approach each situation with love and understanding.
- Have compassion for everyone involved in the lesson.
- Be at peace with the situation knowing we approached it with love and compassion.
- Make no judgment regardless of the outcome.
- Know “everything is as it should be.”
- Search our soul for the lessons it teaches us.
- Don’t concern ourselves with “anyone else’s” lesson.”
- Have gratitude for the lesson and the experience.
This last method will actually reduce existing karma and eliminate bad karma going forward because we are learning love, compassion, gratitude and peace.
How is our karma balanced?
Our karma is balanced by meeting our self again in the future and making a better choice. When we have made bad decisions in a life, we choose to experience similar circumstances in a new life in hopes we will learn through a different perspective. Suppose in a previous life we stole money from someone and no one found out. In this life we have money stolen from us but the person is caught. Instead of seeking to punish this person we decide not to press charges, we decide to forgive this person. As a result we have learned compassion and forgiveness in the process. Furthermore we do not set ourselves up for any additional karma by seeking retribution and condemning another soul with our judgment. In other words we have opportunities to grow from each experience of karma, therein lies the gift and wisdom of karma and the learning objective in cause and effect.
Karma in our relationships
It should come as no surprise we have karma with other souls that must be worked out. Many people feel we can just avoid or eject people from our life based on not getting along with them. Unfortunately on a soul level this is not the case, we eventually need to heal any contentious relationships we may have. Those relationships have probably been carried over from previous lives. Karma can be so ingenious in serving ourselves back to us.
Suppose in another life you worked for a demanding, domineering and assertive person, while in that life you were more passive and easy going. You both had different opinions about things and there was constant tension in the relationship. You both developed animosity towards each other and ended up hating each other. In this life you now come back as a dominant, overbearing parent and this other person is your passive easy going child. The tables are turned and once again you try to work out your differences until you reach a loving respect for each other. This interplay between souls goes on life after life in various scenarios until a relationship is healed.
A spouse is probably the closest intimate relationship we will have in a life. Yet in the United States 50% of all first time marriages end in divorce or permanent separation and 67% of second marriages end in divorce. Some of these marriages however end with a sense of resolution where there is no animosity and they remain supportive, respectful and friendly towards each other. When these relationships get resolved every one benefits including the children who see their parents as positive role models of behavior. The negative karmic ties that have bound them for lifetimes is finally healed.
Many marriages end in anger and bitterness creating more bad karma between them. In addition to the continuing bad karma between themselves one or both can create additional karma by teaching hatred, vindictiveness and condemnation to their children. There is an intentional harm done to children when they are encouraged to hate or disrespect one of their parents. The parents will meet again in a future lifetime; it need not be as husband and wife, just a close relationship of some type to resolve their karma. Additionally they may find themselves as a child in a similar circumstance to see how it feels.
Family represents some of our most significant relationships in life. We are free to pick our friends but a family forces us to confront those relationships on an intimate level. These can be loving and nurturing relationships which have grown through lifetimes or they can be contentious relationships carried over seeking resolution. The point to understand is we eventually need to heal all antagonistic relationships. Guess how this is done?….yes, love, compassion and understanding. Isn’t this part of the goal of life?
When is our karma balanced?
In the law of karma, we agree to a predetermined set of circumstances in each life in order to learn and fulfill our karma. We must undue previous bad choices by making better choices in the present based on similar circumstances. This is why we choose to experience a set of events in our life. We are trying to reach a higher consciousness within a lifetime that suddenly makes clear the error of our ways.
It takes many, many lifetimes to reach higher levels of consciousness (see consciousness,) this is the purpose of karma. Karma incurred from the actions in previous lifetimes can remain dormant for many, many lifetimes. When the conditions are right we will bring up that karma for a particular lifetime. When we no longer crave anything physical and approach all of life with love, compassion, gratitude and peace, our karma will cease. Reaching the highest levels of enlightenment in one lifetime can also undo any remaining karma.
How do we avoid bad karma?
By aligning ourselves with higher spiritual principles we can avoid accruing any additional karma. We must learn not to mirror bad surroundings by being bad ourselves, instead we must maintain our love and compassion in the face of ignorance and bad behavior by others. Love and compassion is the antidote for Karma. We must always take responsibility for our life and blame no one else for our life’s predicaments.
We know instinctively when we have gone against spiritual principles, unfortunately it is always after the fact. Why is this? To a great extent we go through a whole day in an unconscious state. We are on autopilot and the ego is at the controls. (See post “Seeking The Source Of Truth Inside Yourself“) The ego is in a very reactive mode of protection and it results in quick unconscious responses. These responses are driven by our ego’s fears:
- Fear of being challenged
- Fear of not being accepted
- Fear of being judged
- Fear of being deserted
- Fear of failure
- Fear of losing love
- Fear of change
- Fear of not having enough
- Fear of embarrassment
- Fear of loneliness
- Fear of inadequacy
- Fear of intimacy
- Fear of losing our possessions
- Fear of someone attacking us
- Fear of someone overpowering us
- Fear of death
Love and fear cannot co-exist. If we are fearful we are not loving. If we are loving, we cannot be fearful. We must reach higher levels of consciousness to experience our spiritual nature rather than our animal ego nature.
We are not usually aware we incur bad karma until after the fact. As noted above we are reactionary and unconscious of our bad behaviors because they seem like natural responses. Indeed they are natural animal responses. As we start to become more self-aware, we start connecting in a meaningful way to others. When we start to understand our connection to the whole we begin to understand our spiritual nature. Mindfulness is a practice that can help us slow down and become more conscious and aware.
Mindfulness is simply bringing a full level of awareness and consciousness to the present moment, preventing us from going into autopilot mode. The brain is very good at relinquishing present awareness to an automated subconscious mode. See post (“Neural Pathways – Beating Down A Path In The Brain“) When this happens we lose a level of conscious awareness of our surroundings and our actions. Mindfulness practice helps us be aware of everything we are doing, thinking, feeling and sensing in the moment. Being mindful can help us think before we react to any situation. Most people if given enough time to think about something will respond in a more loving, compassionate and rational way. This prevents us from reacting in anger or fear which can create more bad karma.
If we look at our life objectively we are continually given circumstances and challenges to learn from. The question we need to ask ourselves is whether our decisions in life reflect a higher level of awareness. Do we constantly regret our actions or are we always blaming other people? We know when we have made the correct decisions in life when we are free from guilt and are at peace with an outcome. This will only happen when we approach all situations from a state of love, compassion and gratitude.
Any weaknesses we overcome or resolve in this life helps to strengthen us in subsequent lives. If we think of our lessons learned in this life, we realize these lessons are now part of our soul. Habits and behaviors we have in this life are influenced by how we have lived in previous lives. We think in terms of this life as some starting point, but who we are is due to choices made in previous lives. If we examine our life we will see we are made up of our past karma.
The things we want to change about our ourselves will not change on their own. We are responsible for changing anything we don’t like about ourselves. Those things we do not change will end up as the starting point in a future life. We are given an eternity to perfect ourselves. If we are conscientious in this life we can begin to change the course of our soul through awareness and mindfulness of our current thoughts intentions and habits. As one grows, he or she remembers their true relationship with the source and one’s heritage as a spiritual being.
By understanding our soul, karma and our spiritual nature, we start to gain an awareness of our life. We begin to realize that each moment we are shaping our future lives and our soul. When we can rise above this one life and view it as one of many lives, we will gain a clarity we have never had. This clarity comes from a thorough understanding of our present life and our soul.
Aside from outright harm we physically or verbally inflict on others, judgment is probably the second most common form of bad karma. It has both short term and long term consequences. The short term cause and effect is the destruction of relationships and our subsequent isolation. There is a level of ignorance in thinking we know how everything should be. When we judge, we are trying to play our own independent version of a god, or more appropriately a dictator or tyrant, because God does not judge. The laws of karma and cause and effect have been set up and life is subject to the laws. When we judge we are condemning others based on our personal opinion of how people should behave or how the world should be. What we should realize through this series on karma is judgment of any type should be avoided. The long term effect is our karma of having judgment turned towards ourselves. The lesson of many spiritual teachings is to subdue thought for this reason.
Karma is a trap of sorts. The trap is seeking to fulfill ones own desires at the expense of others. When one is fixated on only themselves then karma comes into play. Suffering is not necessary for our development, it only occurs when we violate spiritual principles. As people seek to make themselves happy, they usually become selfish and this triggers the law of Karma. We also learn loss that occurs do to a lack of appreciation. That which we do not fully appreciate will eventually go away.
If we can start to realize this law in our life, we can begin to work off the karma from previous lifetimes and work prevent additional karma. We accomplish this by not judging or hating anything. We try not to cause hurt or pain to anyone. When we rise to a level of love, compassion and forgiveness, we lessen our karma through the forgiveness of others. Remember as we become more forgiving then the karma against ourselves can be softened and forgiven based on how strongly we resonate with this principle. All that we think and do is a cause seeking an effect. It’s difficult for us to believe only our actions and words are measured, we fail to realize our thoughts and intentions precede our words and actions.
So what is the overriding lesson in life?
We must understand we-are-all-one. We are all part of each other and all part of our creator or the source. We create our own hell like isolation through selfish materialistic desires. The good we do for others benefits all of creation and we are part of that creation. The harm we inflict on others affects all of creation and we are part of that creation.
Life is a lesson in controlling our mental thoughts. There are consequences of our thoughts and our actions, this is why karma is necessary. We are powerful beings with unlimited abilities and we must learn to control ourselves. This physical experience provides the perfect training ground for learning to control our thoughts. Here we cannot do much harm to one another and we have to concentrate and focus intensely to manifest a result. (See post “Conscious Creation“) Everything is slowed down so our immediate thoughts do not create immediate results. At the end of our sojourn in the material realm we will have learned how to control our mind and the importance of love.
Applying the idea:
- Searching your karmic relationships, do you recognize the different types:
- Who in your life is consistently loving and supportive, no matter what?
- Who are you consistently loving and supportive towards, no matter what?
- Who do you seem to have friction with but because of the circumstances you cannot just eliminate them from your life?
- What relationships started as OK but then devolved into animosity towards each other?
- What relationships have been healed in this lifetime? Hint: These are likely within your own family, or relationships where you have been forced into close interaction on a continuing basis.
- Do you think your trials and tribulations in life have strengthened your faith?
- Do you recognize recurring problems or issues in your life?
- When bad things happen to you, which of the four ways do you use to deal with it?
- Are you able to control the ego’s reaction to fear?
- If you want to change something about your habits or tendencies, how many lifetimes will you wait to change?
- Can you see how judgment is the root of most bad karma?
- As you review your life to date, what have you learned about yourself?