How to Become Free from Karma


Do the karma of past life affect this life also? What is the remedy of getting out of past life karma?

—Piu banerjee, India


Hello Piu,

Yes, karmas from past lives affects this life if we have not yet worked out those karmas. (Doesn’t it seem as though we have created enough trouble for ourselves in this life, without the addition of trouble from past lives?)

Keep in mind, however, that not only our “bad” karma, but also our “good” karma carries over from past lives. That is why Sri Krishna, in the Bhagavad Gita, says that no good effort is ever lost, that it will carry us forward, helping us to make ever-greater spiritual efforts, until at last we are free. All karma, good and bad, combines to put us in a perfect (though not always easy) position to overcome the things that hold us back from union with God.

There is essentially one way to work out past karma: get out of the ego. It is egoic identification that causes the consequences of our actions to come back to us, and if that identification is removed, the consequences of our actions can no longer “find” us. (That is why the actions of a saint are blessings for the entire world: Those actions create “good” karma, but because there is no ego for them to come back to, the good karma will go out into the world generally.)

So meditate deeply, because that is the ultimate way out of ego, out of thinking that you are the body or personality or past deeds. You are the ever-perfect soul, and all of life is about realizing that.

You will also be helped immensely by practicing ego-negating attitudes, such as nonattachment, selfless service, contentment, generosity, etc. There’s a reason why “good boys and girls” have those attitudes: they lead to freedom and happiness. If you would like to read about everyday practices that help you get out of ego, I highly recommend Swami Kriyananda’s book, Sadhu, Beware! It is strong medicine, but good medicine that brings freedom.

I wish you all the best in your quest.