Recently we were discussing the law of karma with a few friends. One of them made an interesting comment that karma doesn’t always come back immediately, but hangs around for a while. It isn’t, he said, as if there were a credit card company keeping track of charges and payments each month. That’s why we need a “Master Card” to help us work through our karma over many lives.

The “Master Card” is, of course, the guru: God’s agent acting in this world to guide each soul to freedom. A disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda told us of an interesting dream he once had. In it, he was walking along a beach with a child’s plastic pail and shovel in his hand. He suddenly came upon a huge mound of tarlike black material, and he knew that this was his past karma that he must remove to be free. He began laboriously to chip away at the sticky mound, filling his little pail only halfway after much effort.

He persisted at the task, when, almost at the point of giving up in despair, he heard a loud racket coming from the other side of the tremendous pile before him. Quickly running to see what was making the noise, he saw Paramhansa Yogananda riding on a backhoe with a huge bucket, joyfully scooping up vast quantities of the “tar-ma” and throwing it into the sea.

shores of cosmic peace image jyotish is freedom from karma possible

“Shores of Cosmic Peace,” by Nayaswami Jyotish

By our own efforts, the task of removing our past karma seems nearly impossible. Still, we must earnestly do our part. A discouraged disciple once said to Master that working out all our karma seemed hopeless, that “one might as well try calming the waves on the ocean.”

Yoganandaji answered: “It is a big job, I grant you. Still, it isn’t nearly so difficult as it looks. For, ask yourself this: What is it that causes the waves to rise and fall in the first place? It’s the wind. Without wind, the surface grows calm automatically. Similarly, when the storm of delusion abates in the mind, the waves of action and reaction subside automatically. So what you must do is still the waves of your mind by deep meditation, and then, in meditation, rid yourself of the consciousness of ego-involvement.”

When Yogananda said that the wind is what keeps the waves crashing, he was referring to the breath. In the Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna says to Krishna that the mind is restless and more difficult to control than the wind. Krishna replies that it can be controlled by yoga practice and mental dispassion. The deeper meaning of this passage, as Yogananda explains, is that by calming the breath through pranayama and meditation, we gain control over our mind, and can transcend ego-identification. Then the seeds of our karma cannot find soil in which to take root in our consciousness.

Here is a technique for using the breath to overcome past karma:

technique to overcome past karma yogananda teachings daily life touch of light jyotish and devi

Click on the image to open this as a printable PDF.

1) Inhale deeply and concentrate all your energy at the point between the eyebrows.

2) Feel that you are burning away faults, bad habits, negative thoughts or tendencies— fruits, all, of your past karma.

3) Exhale completely and keep your breath out as long as you can comfortably. Feel completely free within yourself.

4) When you breathe in again, think of a positive image or memory, and let it fill your mind.

5) Repeat this several times in a row. Practice this daily until you feel a release from some karmic burden.

Yogananda also counseled that by acting without desire for the fruits of our action, we will gradually be freed from the bondage of karma. To act is necessary. But, “During activity, never feel that it is you who are acting. Act, instead, with the thought that God is the Doer. . . . Desireless action is the pathway to freedom.”

This is one of the main themes of the Bhagavad Gita, in which Krishna tells a reluctant Arjuna that he must fight the impending battle of good against evil. He goes on to explain that by selfless action we are playing our part in this world and fulfilling our destiny. “Therefore, strive conscientiously during the performance of all actions, whether physical or spiritual, to act without attachment. By activity without self-interest, one attains the Supreme.” (3:19)

The grace of the Guru; meditation and breath control; action without attachment to the results: These are the keys to overcoming karma. Yoganandaji showed us these ways in which we can remove the mound of our past karma and open the doors to soul freedom.

Your friend in God,

Nayaswami Devi

Listen to the weekly commentary for this blog, with 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 (5:22):

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  1. I always enjoy reading Jyothishji’s and your blogs. They give us something to ponder over and learn.
    Today I am smiling to myself at the timing of this blog. Yesterday, the Reserve bank of India banned MasterCard from taking on any new customers here! Much to my credit (pun intended) and joy, I applied for my MasterCard 40 years ago!
    I am sure the ‘MasterGuru Card’ has His own way of issuing a new Visa to all new travellers.
    With love and gratitude,

  2. Atma namaste Nayaswami Deviji
    Whenever I read your articles I get energy. My mind calms down. I feel soothing. I get guidance needed at that particular moment.
    Thank you very much.
    Warm regards
    Snehal Shinde.

  3. So Nice and elevating. Thank you for this nice blog

  4. Dear Deviji,
    Your blogs are very motivating. I am going through a situation of getting over my research term and I could not publish any article on my research. May be, I was unable to remove my past karma. Writing and getting published a research paper is not impossible task. Still it is not happening.
    Now things will start moving. Just now I got the message that due to pandemic, extension of six months is given for present Ph.D. researchers.
    This is purely because of your blessings and energy through this blog.
    Thank you so much.
    Worm regards
    Shraddha Deshpande

  5. This brings to clarity to my own meditation dilemma- wishing for “experiential evidence” during meditation vs. simply and without attachment, doing the actions of meditation non-passionately.

  6. Thank you, Devi, for this wonderful blog! I loved the “Master-card” metaphor and also the dream metaphor of Guruji hauling out karma with a backhoe. I also smiled to myself as I read this. Thank you also for the extra technique you provided — very powerful. Many blessings to you!

  7. Jyotish,

    What a creative metaphor to explain law of karma!! You distilled a complex concept into simple to understand parts.
    Such a wonderful day to start the day with this reading.
    Joy to you, Paul

  8. I always look forward for your blog. It not only inspires me but also helps me in remembering what Master taught us and how we should implement in our life. We need to be reminded every now and then our Master’s insightful wisdom and you are doing wonderful job in spreading his knowledge. Thank you again

  9. Dear Deviji, thank you for your wonderful blog.You have explained nicely about the MasterCard and removal of our”tar-ma.You have encompassed all the yogas-Bhakt,karma,Rajayoga and Gyanyoga in one stroke. I have a doubt-does God help a devotee to lessen his suffering or is it part of the schooling?because we see many saintly souls suffering in the material world in spite of their devotion.Or do they not suffering?

    1. Dear Karpagavani,

      You ask a very important question that has multiple layers of answers. First, God and Guru always have the best interests of their devotees in mind and give them the experiences they need to find spiritual liberation. In some cases, this presents itself as very difficult life tests; in other cases, the Guru will deflect some of the karma or take it onto Himself. What is important is that we face our karmic tests with faith in God and inner strength.

  10. Thank you for your effort on this topic. It fills many hours of meaningless toil – is any of this effort the wiping out of karma? Or simply the surfing of another karmic wave? With practice, at least we don’t drown in these concerns.

  11. Dear Friend in GOD. My gratitude to you for “bringing me what I need, at the time I deeply need it”. Namaste

  12. Devi,
    God Bless you!
    I love the image of the backhoe, I can see Master – joyfully playful and with intensity and purpose, removing the karma with his deep compassion for his devotee.
    And thank you for his technique.
    I will be using it.
    ~~~Peace, Josette

  13. This is one of the best pieces I’ve ever read in my life! I will share some lyrics that Master gifted me during my extended life-crisis.
    No more pain & sorrow
    That won’t be our lot tomorrow
    Live your life in a special way
    So that every morning
    Is a brand new day.

    God will help us find the way
    Deep inside our heart he’s playin’
    Telling us we’re all caught up
    On that Karmic debt we’re playin’.

    The melody actually came as a reggae tune…I wish I could share it, because the words& the music are exactly right.

    In expanding joy!

    1. Oops! I forgot to proofread…The last word is payin’….not playin’.

  14. I am fortunate to be in the land of Lord Jagannath, Odisha. I have been blessed to have some Gurus here. Guru’s blessing not works always. I found out that problem is with me, not with Gurus.
    Your blog helps me to stick with the basics.
    Hari Om.
    Jay Jagannath.

  15. Thank you so much Devi for this beautiful blog and for the encouragement and technique to help us overcome our karma. Very grateful always for your and Jyotish’s blogs!

  16. It was like a cool breeze while reading todays email on karma. The content was read and understood heartfully. It gave a comfort in the mind. Thank you Guruji

  17. Thank for providing the technique
    for getting freedom from karma .

    Whether there is any requirement of being empty stomach in practising the method provided .

    1. It’s always advisable to practice yogic techniques on an empty stomach so that the energy can be directed to inwardly, not just to digestion.

  18. Beautiful dream shared and tips to overcome our karma. Thank you dearest Devi Ji (and Jyotish Ji) each time for the practical inspirations in your blogs. With Master-card and Swamiji-card, we are blessed to make our way slowly towards soul freedom.

  19. Thank you very much…again a timely and much needed reminder about a very
    important subject and the true,effective methods needed to be finally free
    from that binding subject of karma…to eventually be free from all karma.

  20. In my view ,the law of Karma seems to be eternal and no escape seems to be possible for our bad actionsin the past lives as well as this life.Bhagwan Krishna was a unique personality in all fields and the he thereforePropagated that if God is considered as doer of any action he shall be responsible for the fruits of any action and not we.

  21. In the method told in this blog , one has to inhale in point no. 4 and think of happy situations . Then in point no 5 , one has to repeat. ( To go to point no 1 to think of burning negative karmic seeds ).
    Is it that after thinking of happy situations for some time ( please tell for what time ) one has to exhale ?
    And then inhale again to go to point no 1 and then to think of burning negative karmic seeds.

    Or is it that after inhaling in point no 4 , one has to think of happy situations and then ( with out exhaling ) think of burning negative karmic seeds at the spiritual eye ?

    Kindly clarify .

    Thanking you very much.

    Y P Shrivastav

  22. Dear Nayaswami Devi Ji,

    Thank you for this wonderful blog
    Very inspiring to read the story of how Master helps us to unload the Karma. Beautiful 🙏
    Enjoyed the ‘Master Card’ :-)
    Thank you for sharing the techniques. Very helpful.


  23. I am learning to act without attachment to the results. Thank you so much for such guidance …….🙏

  24. I read something new concentrating on your breath i.e to concentrate and do not let my mind wonder. By the way do i need to play any kind of music. Thank you so much.

  25. Jai Guru. Thanks Nayaswami Devi ji for extremely useful blog on freedom from past karma.
    Keys are grace of Guru, meditation and breath control and action
    without attachment to results. We need to completely surrender to God
    and practice all techniques.

  26. It’s amazing… Feeling blessed… I follow your commentary ,listen your podcast and videos… Every time it’s influence me and turn me more towards to God. Thank you so much 🙏🙏🙏🙏

  27. Dearest Devi,

    Thank you for letting God flow through you and share wisdom to live by. The pdf is going up on my wall!

    Joy and peace,

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