Karma Made Simple
Our Fate is the Sum Total of our Stupidity
The subject of karma generates lots of questions and intellectual discussion. Perhaps this is because we have trouble accepting the simple cold hard reality of the law of karma and reincarnation. In fact, however, the law of karma is quite simple and easy to understand. The way to deal with the impact of karma on our life is also simple and easy to understand.
The things that cause us to cry in this life are the fruition of our past actions or karma. In a nutshell, we commit actions, actions have consequences, and the consequences become our karma. The Bible tells us that “as ye sow, so shall ye reap.”1 We come into this life to pay off the karmas from previous lives, yet while doing so we go on committing deeds that result in increasing our karmic debt. We wonder, why me, what did I do to deserve this? Our life brings tears, but they are tears of our own making.
In the movie called A Man Called Ove, Ove says, “Your fate is the sum total of your stupidity.” This is perhaps the simplest and most straightforward definition of karma. Humans in general are unaware of the laws of karma and commit foolish acts, not understanding the cost of doing these things. While we have this vague idea of “what goes around, comes around,” most are unaware of the law of karma and its consequences.
If you go to a department store to pay off your debts, you often find that the payment department is on the top floor, all the way in the back somewhere. As we pass through the department store to pay down our debt, we have to walk through all the departments and we see all kinds of things to buy, and we end up leaving the store with more debt than when we arrived. What makes things worse is that we buy things in the karma shop without even knowing the price of the item. In life, generally, we do not buy anything without knowing the price. Yet we commit actions without knowing the dire cost. Hazur once said, to paraphrase, if you knew the price, you would not do these things. This is the plight that keeps us in the wheel of birth and death.
We each have a great store of karma. When we come into this life, we are assigned an allotment, so to speak, of karmas to go through in this lifetime. This allotment is only part of our great storehouse of karma; thus many more lifetimes will be required to go through it all. To make matters worse, we foolishly commit new actions which add to the load.
Hazur Maharaj Charan Singh explains the law of karma in these simple terms:
Whatever we have sown in the past, we have come now to reap that portion allotted to this life. Whatever we cannot go through from what we have sown in the past is thrown into our reserve store of karmas. So that portion allotted to this life has become our fate karma. That is our destiny. We have to go through it. Whatever we are sowing now, whatever karmas we are performing now, that will become our destiny in the next birth. And whatever we cannot go through in that next birth will be added to our store of karma.2
The saints come to wake us up! They tell us that the purpose of human life is to achieve God-realization. They explain the law of karma and tell us how to break free of its chains. They change our fate from the sum total of our stupidity to the sum total of our spiritual practice. As we listen to the saints we have an “uh oh” moment. We realize the predicament we are in. Our impulse is to race to the microphone and ask the Master for forgiveness for our actions. His response, sadly, is that we have to pay for our actions. The Masters are not here to take our confession and forgive our sins; rather, they are here to show us the way out of our karmic predicament. Recently the Master, to paraphrase, explained that your karma will not get erased just by your asking. It will only get erased by Shabd practice – listening to the Shabd.
The saints give us a simple two-part formula to break the chains of karma and reincarnation. If we understand and do these two things listed below, we will not only resolve all our questions about karma, but we will solve the problem of karma itself. These two things are:
- Stop doing Stupid so as to reduce our sum-total. Do only those things that will take us closer to the Lord. Follow the first three vows taken at the time of initiation. We agree to be vegetarian, to abstain from alcohol and drugs, and to live a moral life – being honest in all our dealings and abstaining from sex out of wedlock. One might think that taking these vows is sacrificing something. But no, it is just giving up the things that cause our suffering. If the vows mandated that you stop hitting your toes with a hammer, stop eating poison, and stop poking out your eyes, you would easily see the benefit. Following the vows we take at initiation reduces our suffering by an exponentially greater amount.
- Start Doing Smart – Contact the Shabd – Practice simran and bhajan as prescribed by the Master. Follow the fourth vow taken at the time of initiation, which is to meditate for 2.5 hours each day. This is doing smart. In Spiritual Perspectives, Hazur tells us: “Without initiation, without spiritual practice, nobody can get release from birth and death.”3
In simple terms, Shabd is the antidote for karma, it is the cleanser of karma, its power is the only thing that can destroy our store of karma. We can obtain the Shabd, Nam, only through the practice of meditation, done with devotion, attention, and love. We do not overcome our faults so that we can do meditation. We do meditation to overcome our faults. In Spiritual Perspectives, Hazur explains:
You have to fight for your own karmas. You have to do your meditation to get rid of those karmas. You can’t just have the idea that Master has taken those karmas and I can be absolutely free now. That’s a wrong concept. You see, if a soldier is equipped to fight the enemy, he has to fight the enemy.4
So all we need to know about karma is this: Follow the vows taken at initiation. This is the formula for success. This is how the Master has equipped the soldier to win the battle.
- Bible, Galations 6:7
- Spiritual Perspectives, vol. I, #65
- Spiritual Perspectives, vol. I, #68
- Spiritual Perspectives, vol. I, #541