The Law of Karma
“How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours”
– Wayne Dyer
To most of us the concept of Karma is not a new one. We find it present in religious texts, stories, and film, and also in everyday language - ‘what goes around comes around’ and ‘you reap what you sow.’
There is a common belief amongst humans that what we give out to the world will in some way be returned to us. If we are kind, we will be rewarded and if we are cruel, we will receive ill-treatment in return.
The idea of Karma is often used loosely as a warning for those who are learning the ways of the world. ‘Be good or no good will come to you.’ Even Father Christmas is on board with his naughty list.
To understand the law of Karma goes much further than to appreciate that there are direct consequences to our actions. Incurring Karma involves the weaving of a far more complex web by which the intentions underlying what we do will be returned to us in exact measure by whatever means - and those means may not be obvious.
There is no shortage of literature on the subject of Karma either. There is plenty of evidence of it in the field of entertainment, but you can also find a great deal written in the Self-help section of bookshops where publications may seek to encourage you to harness the laws of the Universe, of which Karma is one, for your own good and for that of the wider community.
There are many modern philosophers who write about the Law of Karma including Deepak Chopra and Diana Cooper. There is also much advice about how knowledge of how to master it can enhance our lives.
Let us explore how the Law of Karma might work.
In our book ‘How to Rise’ we discuss the merits of positivity and how a positive mindset might lead to manifestation of our desired life. Unfortunately, there are several survival mechanisms and evolutionary predispositions which can mean that the automatic ‘go to’ response in any situation is a negative one, but if we adopt the method of becoming fully conscious of our responses and understanding that each one of them is a choice, we can challenge those unconscious beliefs which drive negative thoughts, feelings and behaviours and choose positive ones. Positive beliefs about Self, and others generate positive thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. When we choose our mindset, we choose how we appear to the rest of the world – and the rest of the world responds in kind.
When the rest of the world perceives our presence as a positive experience – the individual, possibly unconscious, thoughts, feelings and behaviours of the rest of the world are more likely to be positive in response – particularly their behaviour towards us.
The above is a very simplified way of looking at the effects that we might have on others. Of course, the law of Karma is much more complex than this. Remember that, however good your intentions, another person will always be viewing your actions through the unique filter of their experiences and belief system. Added to that, we all have ‘stuff’ going on in our psyche which prevents us from seeing truth and which is rooted in fear - fear of not being good enough or being defective or broken in some way. Fear leads to our perceiving a distorted version of events which fits our own narrative.
For example: I might be perfectly happy in my job at an office until what I perceive to be a cleverer and more capable person starts her employment sitting in the chair opposite me. She might be incredibly funny and kind and therefore prove to be very popular with my workmates and I might take an instant dislike to her – putting it down to gut feeling. I might spread gossip about her or refuse to socialise when she makes efforts to talk to me. I feel this way because I unconsciously perceive that she has threatened my place within the team. She may have very good intentions, but I am measuring her worth through my ‘stuff.’ The thing is that, whilst she may feel temporarily a little uncomfortable by my coldness, my colleagues are instantly judging me for my behaviour and choosing to spend their time supporting her rather than helping me to feel better as they can see that my treatment of her is unfair – so in the end, although my behaviour is unconscious, it is still a choice – and it is I who bear the Karma for it.
How might we avoid incurring negative Karma?
One widely documented rule in spiritual circles is that we should not step in to offer someone help – unless it is asked for.
It is accepted within these teachings that when we offer unsolicited help or advice, that intervention is solely about us and not at all about the person that we perceive to be in difficulty – and if we do intervene – we will bear the Karma ourselves.
Whatever people have going on internally, we are wise to avoid intentions to ‘fix it’ for them.
Each of us is on our own journey. Every one of us is a genetic blueprint subject to a unique set of human experiences which shape our world view to be nothing like that of any other. We all perceive every life experience in our own unique way. We can choose an internal locus of control by opting for to learning from and choosing our responses to those experiences or we can decide on powerless blaming of others or the environment we find ourselves in. We are born with free will, and our choices dictate our journey. We have no business in attempting to influence the choice or journey of another without their permission. When we do this, we rob them of a valuable lesson, which they will have to learn anyway on a later leg of their journey – we have slowed their progress.
Along with staying in our own lane, how else might we avoid negative Karma?
Do the work.
Throughout life it is tempting to allow our unconscious systems to run on unchecked. To avoid looking inwards and taking responsibility for all our responses in all situations means that we can happily blame our obstacles for any lack of progress or discomfort. Behaving in this way might result in our remaining stuck in negative situations as we have given our power to something external but -stuck is a safe place. When we have trapped ourselves in this way and we resign ourselves to helplessness, there is much less work to do. When we understand that the prison is self-imposed, it is us who must do the work to remove the obstacles, and this is not a choice for the fainthearted.
If we make the choice to take responsibility for our responses to everything that happens within our lives – we resolve to do the work. This is the lifelong inner work of deep Self-awareness that although sometimes uncomfortable and challenging, will inevitably set us free. In her book ‘Witch’ Lisa Lister encourages us to become so utterly at one with all aspects of Self – even the unloved, uncomfortable, and forgotten ones that are hard to uncover, that no-one can ever show us anything that we have not seen and welcomed into the light.
On this website and in our book, you will find countless publications on all aspects of Self-awareness with practical and effective accessible tools.
Do the work - and then whatever anyone makes of you is their ‘stuff,’ their journey and not for you to be concerned with.
Set the intention to become familiar with the law of Karma.
1. Work towards the greater good of all.
Set your intentions for the higher good. Before you act, ask yourself what you really want from the situation for all concerned. This will allow you to notice when your intentions are only designed to serve the Self regardless of what is going on in the wider picture. When you act to serve only your own interests you will create a situation where others do the same. When your greatest intention is an outcome for the good of all, you can detach from any assumptions or projections you might have had about how you are being perceived by others, safe in the knowledge that that is their stuff. This way, your conscience is clear and if it is right for all, your own needs will be met without incurring karmic debt.
2. Do the inner work.
Begin by practising the art of observation.
This means stepping into the shoes of your Observer Self. This is the part of you that can bear witness to what you are thinking, feeling and doing in all situations without taking part. There is no judgement or analysis here either. You are simply noticing what you are doing with your power with light curiosity. Often the practice of regularly bearing witness to these processes and the beliefs that lie at the heart of them, which, if negative, are usually rooted in fear, is enough in itself to affect change. Learn to recognise when your own ‘stuff’ contaminates your thoughts and beliefs about yourself and challenge yourself to deal only in truth.
Then you can begin to take the process further by appreciating that everything is a choice – and that your choices create the world around you.
3. Don’t meddle.
Avoid the temptation of trying to fix something for someone else or put something in place that ensures that they learn from their behaviour. Each of us are on our own journey and the responsibility as to whether we learn the lessons, spiritual or otherwise that are offered to us lies entirely with us. Most of us require a lesson to be presented several times in varied ways, with the involvement of a number of different characters before we finally, if ever, receive its gift. It is not our place to assist others in their process unless they ask it of us. Even then, if we are asked, we are wise if we tread carefully and remember that whatever is confided in us comes through the filters of the person expressing it and then subsequently through the filters of our own experience. We judge others only in comparison to our Self. We can never know what is going on for someone else. To in the confidence of another, demands absolute respect.
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