[ˈkərmə] - कर्म

Karma is the law of cause and effect. (1) Karma is action, whether physical or mental, individual or performed by a group, and each action has a consequence. (2)

Can We Change Our Karma?

Human beings, according to laws of nature, must pay for all their wrong actions, but when they tune themselves to God through techniques of meditation and remember the perfect image within them, then, realizing their divinity, they need not suffer for their past human errors. But if they again become identified with their humanity by not forgiving others, then they again subject themselves to be governed by the exacting law of karma. Karma can also be changed by the intervention of a Self-realized master who is free from karma.

Mass Karma

Karma can also affect a group of people, such as a religion (3), country, or even a planet depending on the karma of the majority of the group. A country can be conquered, or have droughts or famine, because that was the overall karma of the group, even if a few did not have that karma. If those who do not have that karma have strong magnetism for the opposite occurrence, they might be spared.

Paramhansa Yogananda gives the example of a plane crash. If enough people on that plane have the karma to crash, the plane will crash even if some do not have the karma to crash. But if a person has strong enough magnetism to live, they might survive the crash or end up not taking that flight. (2)

How Do We Become Free of Karma?

Very few people realize how many of their actions and desires are generated by past karma. They believe they are acting on free will, but instead they are acting out habits buried deep in their subconscious mind from many past lifetimes.

The way out of this cycle is to renounce the false notion that one demonstrates freedom by giving free reign to one’s desires. By attuning oneself with the infinite wisdom behind karmic law, one accepts God and His guidance from within, rather than being guided by desire. The more one lives guided from within, the greater one’s control over outer events in life. As long as one is acting on divine guidance rather than ego, one accrues no more karma, and it is eventually dissipated. (4)

Karma in the Bible

The Bible refers to karma in the book of Galatians when it says, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” If you sow evil, you will reap evil in the form of suffering. And if you sow goodness, you will reap goodness in the form of inner joy. Every action, every thought, brings about its own corresponding rewards. Human suffering is not a sign of God’s anger with mankind. It is a sign, rather, of man’s ignorance of the divine law. (5) Karma is the way God teaches us.

Further Studies on Karma

Karma and Reincarnation by Paramhansa Yogananda
Karma and Reincarnation Online Course
The Path of Karma Yoga Program

  1. Karma: A Study of the Law of Cause and Effect, Jerome A. Anderson. Chapter 1, “Karma: The Revealer of God.”
  2. a b The Essence of Self Realization, Paramhansa Yogananda. “The Law of Karma”
  3. Revelations of Christ, Paramhansa Yogananda. Chapter 20, “New Wine”
  4. Karma and Reincarnation, Paramhansa Yogananda. Chapter 2, “How to Face Your Karma.”
  5. Karma and Reincarnation, Paramhansa Yogananda. Chapter 1, “The Law of Karma.”