Many people ask: what is karma, and how does it work? Unfortunately, there are so many misunderstandings going around that I had to shoot a whole video explaining what karma is not. Maybe it’s better if you watch that first, its title is “The biggest myths about karma”. But in this episode, I’d like to tell you what karma really is.
Karma is often seen as this abstract almost esoteric theory, but my goal in this video is to make it much more tangible and practical. The sanskrit word karma literally means action, but this translation is quite misleading. In reality, karma is action you identify with, but it’s also much more than just action.
I’m proposing a new meaning: karma is equal to identification. Whenever you identify yourself with anything, you are creating karma. And whenever you get rid of identifications, you release karma. In this sense, your ego is equal to your accumulated karma, because your ego is the sum of your identifications.
Even religions agree that the only way to attain enlightenment is to release all your karma. This is the same thing that I’m saying but with different words: the only chance of becoming enlightened is to release all your identifications, to drop your ego, to dis-identify yourself from everything.
The other quality of karma is that it works without your knowledge, the identification always happens unconsciously. So it doesn’t really matter what you do or don’t do consciously, be it good or bad. The only thing that counts is whether you identify with your actions or not.
This is what the ancient sages referred to when they spoke about being freed from karma. Until you believe you are the doer doing certain things, until doership arises in you mind, until your actions are those of a person, you are creating karma, and you’re doing it unconsiously.
Jung famously said: “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” For the Eastern mind, I would suggest to replace the word fate with karma in this sentence, and it will be equally true. Whatever unconsciously directs your life is your karma, so the only way to break out of its cycle is to become fully conscious.
Just like the ego, karma has its own self-perpetuating cycle. For example, the more crimes you commit, the more you’ll consider yourself to be a criminal, and you’ll commit even more crimes. In this sense, the conventional wisdom about karma is right: action creates identification, then this identity perpetuates a pattern of actions, that elicit further reactions and further identifications.
The more you live, the more memories you collect, and the more settled your ego becomes, the more karma you accumulate. From this chain reaction, a false sense of personality is born, following certain mental and emotional patterns. These unconscious patterns then define the life, the circumstances and the identity of the person. What you experience in your life is mostly what you created for yourself.
The reason I say mostly, is because there are certain aspects you inherited or were born with. But unlike many people think, it’s not because you did something in your past life, as I explained in another episode titled “The truth about past life karma”. It’s simply because you identified yourself with your circumstances, you defined yourself based on your environment.
Why does your body look like the way it does? Why are certain babies born deaf or blind? It’s not because they did something bad in their past lives, it’s simply because they inherited certain genes from their parents. Why were you born into a poor country instead of a rich one? Because your parents decided to stay where they are. Why were you raised in a poor family and not a rich one? Again, simply because they were not able to or didn’t want to become rich.
It’s as simple as that, and it’s quite logical. There’s no need to bring in esoteric ideas to explain away the injustices of the world. If we look at it this way, then even the whole past before your birth is part of your karma, coming from the actions and identifications of the generations before you. Besides personal karma, there is also family karma, national karma and human karma. The question is: do you identify yourself with them?
If you want to know more about death from a spiritual but down to earth perspective, you should read my book: The Power of Death. Click on the link below, and get it now! I’m deadly serious.