Life, it would seem, is consequential
In the East they call it Karma. Where I live they say ‘what goes around comes around’. Where I was born they would say ‘everybody gets their’s in the end’. In some societies they would say ‘there are no free lunches’ or ‘in the end all debts must be paid in full’. One of my favourites is ‘God pays debts without money’.
Each of the phrases, each of these concepts, suggests that we end up owing something. That in some way we create debt, spiritual, psychological, or emotional. I have known people who are anxiously repentant of any wrong they might have done in their desire not to carry any negative energy forward with them. I have also known those who have knowingly done bad things in the awareness that they would pay the debt later when they got around to it.
Whatever philosophy you use it comes down to the same thing. There is a consequence to every action that we take. It might be good or it might be bad. The point is that it has an effect. It seems that this law of consequence, like most other laws, is neutral. It makes no difference if the action is good or bad both will lead to a consequence.
If we take the karmic approach, as is taught in Ayurveda, we would say that karmas follow us beyond the grave into future incarnations or life times. In the Christian tradition there is the concept of heaven and hell as a consequence for our actions while we were alive. There are also some religions that believe that our life on Earth in consequential and that we are here because we deserve it. Some even believe that life on Earth is the living embodiment of hell.
In Karmic systems the consequences of an action will remain outstanding from one life time to the next until the debt is paid in full. When such a karma hangs over from a previous lifetime it is termed a ‘Samskar’ or is Samskaric. Samkars from the past may have a karmic consequence or influence in this current lifetime. So, a Samskar is a karma form a previous life time and a Karma would be considered the consequence of action in this life time.
The pain of Karma
In most forms of self development or spiritual work there is the idea of forgiveness and of letting go of any negative energy or attachment. We often mistake this concept to be for the benefit of the other person. Really it is for our benefit. As I often say, while you are lying in bed ruminating negatively on another person with as much negativity as you can muster it actually has no effect on them at all. The only person that we damage with our hatred or negativity is our self. This is the personal pain of holding negative karma.
Beginnings and endings
We should also consider the status of a karma. When something happens in life, positive or negative, perhaps we win the lotto or break a leg, we have no way of knowing if this is the beginning or ending of a karma. Is this event, in the present, the result of past actions or is it the beginning of new Karmas in the present.
When I was younger and I was holding lots of negative anger about my family, particularly my father, my teacher suggested to me that I might like to dissolve my karmic attachments to these particular people and events. What he taught, was true for me then and is true for you now.
The only thing that holds a karma in place, be it positive or negative, is emotional energy. This energy is like glue. There are two ways to dissolve the glue. The first is working back through the problem, through many lifetimes, meeting the same people over and over again until we learn the lesson the hard way. The second way is through forgiveness that is quicker but is often tougher. The solvent that dissolves this glue of attachment is love and compassion as in…
Love your enemies
People will often get angry at this concept feeling that they want retribution. They want the other person to suffer so that they can see the pain and problems that they have caused. In many ways punishment is the negative way to maintain karmas and Samskars. The alternative to this would be love that can dissolve the attachment of karma.
In mindfulness we have a choice
Karma and Samskar are a function of mind that are played out when we are on autopilot. We are just doing what we do because that is what we do. It is only when we develop mindful awareness that we have choice, the choice to act Dharmically.
Dharma is right action. To act Dharmically is to do the right thing. Dharma is the way that we act and Karma is the result of the way we act. When we act Daharmically and do the right thing we minimise negative Karma. Happiness and good Karma go together. Good Karma and Dharma go together.
Be happy, act Dharmically and enjoy your good Karma