Karma is one of the fundamental laws of the universe. Basically, it states that every thought, feeling, and action has a consequence. In the Bible, it says, “As you sow, so shall you reap.”
Once set in motion, there is normally no way to avoid the karma of past actions. But we can do much to change how severe the consequences will be. Sri Yukteswar said that the past lives of all men are dark with many shames. But that everything in the future will improve if we are making the right spiritual efforts now.
Here are four ways to outwit our karmic consequences.
Move Away from Bad Behavior: Every action or thought is like a bolt of energy. The energy once sent out will inevitably return. If we shout at someone in anger, we will often, if not always immediately, get an angry retort in return. Karmic paybacks are life’s way of teaching us the consequences of our actions and nudging us toward alignment with God’s laws. In this case, the returning karma is meant to teach us not to act out in anger.
The bolt of angry retribution headed our way is like a car approaching us on a one-lane road. If we are still acting in the same deluded way, there will be a head-on crash. But now imagine that you have changed, and not only are no longer acting with anger, but instead are now patient and helpful when confronted. You are now moving in the same direction as your “car-mic” retribution, and the result may be just a little tap on the rear to remind you to keep making the right spiritual effort.
How do we learn to head the right way? First, become aware of how you are behaving. Awareness always precedes action. Next, take responsibility for your behavior. Finally, put out energy in the opposite direction, the direction your karma wants to push you anyway.
Serve Others: Service is one of the best ways to overcome karma, which is always initiated by self-interest. Simply put, when we think about ourselves, we end up creating bad karma. When we forget ourselves and think about helping others, we become freer and happier.
When we are self-involved, even a whisper of criticism can be devastating. When our hearts are strong and expanded through thinking of others, even an angry tirade can be shrugged off or provide an opportunity to help the irate person.
Meditate and Do Pranayama: Meditation is the fastest way to become free of ego, the root cause of all karma. All the whirlpools of karma reside in the astral spine. Meditation can neutralize those vortices. Paramhansa Yogananda said that each Kriya is the equivalent of a whole year of right living. Day by day, meditation by meditation, our astral spine is cleared of all destructive karmic tendencies.
We may have innumerable seeds of karmic tendencies waiting for the right circumstances to sprout. But pranayama, especially Kriya Yoga, fills the spine with positive magnetism and burns up the seeds before they can be planted.
Attunement with a Guru: A guru will take away much of our karma if we stay attuned. A good friend had a fascinating dream. He was walking along a beach and came upon a huge pile of sticky tar, which he knew was his past bad karma. His task was to eliminate it, but all he had for the job was a little toy plastic pail and shovel. After a great deal of effort he finally succeeded in filling his bucket one time.
As he began to despair of ever finishing the job, he heard a loud noise coming from the back of the pile. Curious, he went around and found Yogananda driving a tractor with a large scoop on the front. Master had a huge grin on his face as he dug into the mound of tar again and again and dumped the loads into the ocean to be dissolved.
A rich man can easily pay the debts of a wayward child. Such is the power of attunement with a God-realized guru.
I’ll close with a fascinating answer that Swami Kriyananda gave when asked how we can tell the difference between good and bad karma. He said good karma takes us closer to God, while bad karma takes us away. Sometimes unpleasant karma, like bitter medicine, is the best thing for us. We don’t have to enjoy it, but we would be wise to swallow it.
Listen to Jyotish as he reads the blog, then expands on it, often adding special behind-the-inspiration stories and answers to common spiritual questions. Subscribe to the podcast or download the audio recording by right-clicking here. Or listen to it here (9:57):