Archive for Jun 18th, 2011
The law of Karma is a fundamental spiritual law in eastern spiritual teachings. Most people would have heard of the term Karma. Karma basically stands for action, and also the fruits of action. In other words, it stands for both cause and effect. The basic idea of karma is that of personal responsibility for one’s actions – that we are creators of our life. Whatever is currently manifesting in our life has been created by us, with or without awareness, by our past actions. Thus the law of karma basically says that man is the product of his past. Righteous actions bring favorable results, and unrighteous actions bring unfavorable results. Karma can be done with our mind – manifesting as emotions, with our intellect manifesting as thoughts and through our body manifesting as actions/words.
Karma is often misunderstood to only mean the law of destiny. When something unfavorable happens, people say with “It’s only karma”, meaning we are powerless to do anything about it. Some others condemn the law as being overly pessimistic, as it seems to say that many things are predestined thanks to our past, of which we have no control over. It is true that man’s present is the consequence of the past, and in this sense, the present has been destined by past actions. However karma goes beyond destiny. Although there is a price to pay for past actions, man also has been blessed with the capacity to choose his actions. The past actions creates in him a tendency by which he will act. However by being aware of those tendencies, he can consciously choose how to act in the present, and thereby begin to change his karma. Thus the future is a continuation of the past, unless modified by the present, with self-effort.
Although we enjoy freedom to choose our actions, our present actions are mixed with the tendencies that are created by our past. Greater the tendencies, harder it is to change our actions. This is why people find self-improvement difficult. Knowing what to do and being able to do it are two different things, as change involves fighting our tendencies that we ourselves created by our past actions. Thus looking back at the past, man is the product of it. Looking into the future, man is the creator of it. Looking into the present moment, he is both a product as well as a creator. In unawareness, he becomes more of a victim, and in awareness, he becomes more of a creator.
One may wonder how all our actions are kept track of and bear the fruits of pleasure and pain. Is there some God that keeps track of all this? It can seem very mystical at first. In reality, it is very much scientifically explained. Each time a person does an action with a sense of doer-ship (ego), impressions are created in his mind. Every impression is a karma. Stronger the impression, more likely it is to manifest. All habits are nothing but karmas. Whether it is a good or habit, the person keeps doing it without having to put too much effort. All addictions are nothing but very strong mental impressions, and thus part of the person’s karma. A person who has an addiction has a pattern of behavior that he is very likely to repeat, that is not easy to change.
Karma is classified into the following three types:
1) Sanchita karma:
This is the total of our karmas. The set of arrows that an archer carries on his quiver is an example of sanchita karma. This is the sum total of karmic possibilities that are currently unmanifest. Since this is unmanifest, we have the option to burn these karmas by right action. All spiritual practices such as meditation, being in devotion/prayer, doing self-less service burns sanchita karma. In the above example of the archer, it is making sure the archer drops the arrows on the ground so he no longer has the possibility of firing them.
2) Prarabdha Karma:
Karma that is currently bearing fruit is called prarabdha karma. In the example of the archer, the arrow that the archer has already shot is his prarabdha karma. The archer has already done the action, and he has to face the consequences of them, good or bad. Practically speaking, the life that we are experiencing in the present moment is our prarabdha. This includes the type of body we have, the environment around us, the type of people we are with etc. Prarabdha karma is thus that portion of our karma that may be called destiny.
A common question people ask is “Why do bad things happen to good people”? Prarabdha karma is the answer. A person may be good today, but he is paying a karmic debt for his past actions. Another question that lead to doubt/reject the law is “How come some people who perform bad deeds seem to have a good time:?” Again the answer is prarabdha karma. The person who is doing the bad deeds is currently experiencing the fruits of past deeds, which was good. Eventually he will have to pay the price for the actions done today as well. The effect of karma spans multiple life-times, and thus the law seems to be not working only because we are limiting our observation to a very short time period.
3) Agami Karma:
This is future karma – actions that we are likely to do in future. In the example of the archer, this is the arrow which the archer is about to shoot. Mental impressions that are very strong form agami karma. If a person drinks alcohol regularly, this is his agami karma. It is very likely that he would drink today, given that he has acquired that strong tendency by regularly drinking.
The three practical takeaways are:
- Prarabdha karma, in other words destiny, makes man a victim of his past. There is nothing a person can do about consequences from his past – he has to endure them. If he endures them without reacting to them, then he does not accumuate further karma.
- At the same time, the law of karma encourages that man can change his future by present actions. With self-effort, man can burn off his sanchita and agami karma, while still enduring his pradabdha karma. With consistent effort, man become more of a master of his own destiny, and less a victim of the past.
- Finally, lest man not be discouraged by the lack of results from his effort in the short term, the law of karma explains that the lack of results could be due to an opposing force – his own prarabdha karma, which determines the level of effort required to bring about positive change in his life.
No one on Earth
Exists quite like you
And no one is able
To do what you do
The person you are
The talents you bear
Gifts that only
You can share
Only you have learned
From the things you’ve done
From the battles you’ve won
Times when you’ve lost
Have been priceless too
The lessons contribute
To what makes you you
The rest of the world
Can’t see through your eyes
Which is why your insight
Is such a prize
Because you are you
There are lives you affect
Much more than you
Would ever expect
The things you do
The things you say
Send ripples throughout
The Milky Way
You’re unique, amazing
Like no one else
You have the exclusive
On being yourself.
Excerpted from The Elusive Here & Now
“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending”. ~ Linda Robinson ~
One day I notice he went overboard with the ketchup on his dinner. When I asked him why all the ketchup he said he didn’t like the taste of the food and all this ketchup takes the horrible taste away. Ketchup behaviours make life taste a little better whilst masking an underlying uncomfortable feeling or a feeling of emptiness.
Somebody asked me the other day, “Why do many people arrive in midlife depressed or out of sorts?”
My response was, because many of us arrive at midlife with a lot of unhappiness inside us without even realising it, or we know it but we don’t want to face it up to it. In an effort to cover up the pain we’re likely to develop some serious addictions in order to feel better.
We get into immediate remedies – for example medications, coffee, cigarettes, gossiping, alcohol, drugs, gambling and sex. You might become a workaholic. Or you may stuff yourself with food.
Many things we do bring us instant pleasure but not always happiness. Activities like these change how you feel fast, that’s their appeal, but they’re a bad idea. At best they will change how you feel for a few hours but when the hit wears off you feel more emptiness than you did before.
Of course there are countless positive ways of getting instant gratification as well. Something as simple as taking a shower after a long run, getting a massage, watching a funny movie and of course, shopping. We all should indulge in various forms of pleasure as they’re essential to our overall well being.
But remember pleasure is different from happiness.
Happiness is a feeling of fulfilment and deep joy, whereas pleasure is usually a form of instant gratification. This can be the challenge with excessive materialism. The more we feed it the hungrier it becomes. Similar to eating your favourite chocolate, once eaten you’re soon looking for one more bite or the next cake. The craving doesn’t subside. Contentment becomes elusive. So the craving for the next hit begins again along with the deep feelings of insecurity and anxiety.
Ketchup behaviours work in the short term but in the long term it does nothing more than reinforce an impoverish sense of self. Nothing external, no amount of cars, nice outfits, expensive holidays, glittery jewellery or big houses can fill the hole of a poor self-image and low self-worth.
Commonly this is known as having an ‘inferiority complex’
It’s a learnt belief that says you’re incomplete without the attainment of something outside of yourself. Self-worth comes from knowing who you are and what you stand for. When you have self-worth you feel good about yourself, you respect yourself. Self-worth means knowing you are perfect just the way you are and accepting yourself completely.
One of the reasons we fail to attract what we want is low self-worth. Self-worth is completely subjective and may or may not depend on your talents, skills and achievements. If you have a feeling that you are not worthy of having the life you want, then you will not manifest the life you want. Full stop!
It is not the skills, talents, and experience but a high sense of self-worth which manifests the life you want. So it is very important to improve your sense of self worth to attract the life you desire.
One of the main reasons for low self-worth is excessive self-criticism and the instant accepting of criticism from others. If self-criticism is your problem, stop looking at you through your own eyes and start looking through the eyes of the people who love you. Many a times it is true that because of your obsessive self-criticism you are blind to your positive qualities.
Sometimes it so happens that you start attracting the wealth, health, love and success that you strongly desire, but your poor self-worth will quickly sabotage any success you are having. You’ve probably seen this happen to people who are suspicious of their lovers because of their jealousy. At first, their intrinsic worthiness attracts the love of their life, but their low self-worth is not ready to accept this, and the worst part is they start suspecting it’s their loves fault. Then, the thing they desire (their lover) is pushed away. And so the pattern repeats itself.
At midlife we have to work hard at undoing the learnt erroneous scripts formed in the first part of our lifetime so that we can find our individual expression of wisdom and truth.
Here are four things you can do to increase your self worth:
1. Practice Forgiveness – Forgive yourself for past failures, mistakes and disappointments. Forgiveness releases the strong feelings of hate and bitterness that are like poisons inside you. Correct what you can and move on!
2. Get your needs met – Learn what you need from others and how you react to situations. Strive to consistently find ways to meet your needs and your self worth will go up!
3. Respect yourself – Stop behaviors that make you feel ashamed, guilty or unworthy. Eliminate all negative relationships with those who mistreat, disrespect and leave you feeling crap!
4. Build on your strengths – Seek out and build on your strengths that you have not used. Find ways of using more of your innate strengths. Knowing that you have these strengths and can do well with them is a great confidence and self worth builder.
Low self-worth is something we’ve learnt, so it’s also something we can unlearn. Make it a clear intention to love and accept yourself at all times. Working on your self worth is one of the best things you can ever do for yourself and before long you’ll notice you’ll rely less on ‘ketchup behaviours’ and every aspect of your life will start looking better and better.
Colin Hiles writes about how to find your smile, discover your right livelihood and create your ideal life at Midlife Maverick.
If you enjoyed this article you may wish to download his acclaimed free e-course, “Live Your Own Life, Only Better!” http://midlifemaverick.com/live-your-own-life-only-better