What is Karma?

KARMA: In Hindu and Buddhist philosophy, karma is the quality of a person’s current and future lives as determined by that person’s behavior in this and in previous lives.

I remember when I first considered the ideas of reincarnation and karma. The suggestion that I had lived before felt instinctively right (and helped me to better understand my dreams) but when I heard the word, ‘karma, I thought, “Ouch!”

I wonder who first said, “What goes around, comes around,” putting the Bible’s teaching, “As ye sow, so shall ye reap,” into modern lingo? Haven’t we all thought it, ‘What goes around, comes around, asswipe,’ especially at school and work, and in the car?

But, above and beyond our thoughts of, ‘You’ll get yours,’ what is karma, really? I think of it as a reflection of our state of being, a sum total of our level of consciousness as we enter a lifetime. Though we are given the free will to choose between basic styles of living–inflicting violence or bestowing blessings–the universe does seem to have some laws of its own, such as, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” and “As ye sow, so shall ye reap.” It makes sense, really, that we end up as, and with, the results of what we have done. How’d you like to get randomly stuck with someone else’s karma? Can you imagine the chaos and the bitter reaction to the unjustness of everything?

I have read about something called the Akashic Records, a place where all of our thoughts, feelings and actions from every lifetime are said to be recorded. Yikes!  One night I had a dream that I was in a giant room filled with row upon row of stacked floor-to-ceiling drawers. I walked to a drawer, pulled it open and pulled out several different cards, each one showing me records from different lifetimes. ‘Holy sh-t!’ I thought, shoving my drawer closed, awakening instantly.

So, what are we to do about what we have done? Apparently we are to use each successive lifetime to learn and grow, to become better people. This is not forced upon us, but the reaping part of, “As we sow, so shall we reap,” becomes much darker and heavier if we don’t. There are some wonderful ideas about letting go of the past, and changing our lives by changing what we believe and how we live, at the blog, Sending Joy. And while it is true that nothing can happen to someone that is undeserved, we are all related here on Earth and thus share a group-karma, which can be elevated through love and compassion and giving of ourselves to others. Every kindness, and every act of forgiveness, heals the whole.