Karma = Action

Karma means work or action and its results. I’m in a deeply reflective mood these days. I’ve been thinking a lot about the results of my work and actions, and how to find peace and acceptance with how my life has unfolded. My spiritual practices bolster me in this process, To me, understanding and abiding by the concept of karma is key.

Karma is impersonal; it’s neither bad nor good. Many Sanskrit words and concepts have been incorporated into our Western vocabulary, such as guru, pundit, mantra, and karma. Among them, karma has gotten a bad rap. Often bandied about with a negative connotation, it’s actually a neutral term and simply means an action. Actions produce a result, or phala. Therefore, Karma Phala describes our present circumstances. The decisions we’ve made and the actions we’ve taken in the past have created our current reality. As Paul tells us in the Bible, “For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

“Before you act, you have freedom, but after you act, the effect of that action will follow you whether you want it to or not. That is the law of karma.”— Paramahansa Yogananda

It’s universal and timeless. Moreover, the subject of karma is deep. A full understanding of this concept is complex. However, an acceptance of this principle is key to our spiritual growth. It’s a path to living a moral and purposeful life. Above all, it’s a way we can find solace in accepting there are reasons for the way things are. From this premise, comes empowerment.

“Every action of our lives touches some chord that will vibrate in eternity.” — Edwin Hubbell Chapin

Yoga has many paths, practiced in a variety of ways. The Sanskrit word yoga comes from the root “yuj” which means to unite or connect. It’s an Indian philosophy dating back some 5,000 years. In the West, we are most familiar with Hatha yoga, which entails physical poses and breathing techniques. There are a number of methods of Hatha yoga, such as Iyengar, Ashtanga, and Viniyoga to name a few.

Bhakti yoga, is the path of devotion, exemplified by monks, nuns, and spiritual aspirants who dedicate much of their time to prayer, chanting, and meditation. Jnana yoga, the path of knowledge and the scholar, is practiced by those who are deeply dedicated to studies which heighten spiritual awareness. Karma yoga is the path of working for work’s sake, with no other motive than “it is right to do right.” Karma yogis view their work — whatever that work may be — as a service. They labor to the best of their ability with purity of heart and mind, yet remaining detached regarding the results.

Understanding karma is a way to live with conscious awareness. Coming to the realization our current circumstances are the result of our past thoughts, words, and deeds, encourages us to live mindfully and with intention. It is a way to find peace in the here and now.

Detachment is key. Furthermore, when we surrender our attachment to the results of our efforts, we free ourselves of anxiety and stress.

For those of you new to my blog, check out the book I wrote for Yoga Journal. It’s still available! Here’s the link: Yoga Journal’s Yoga Basics: The Essential Beginner’s Guide to Yoga for a Lifetime of Health and Fitness

“There are the waves, and there is the wind, seen and unseen forces. Everyone has these same elements in their lives, the seen and unseen, karma and free will.” — Kuan Yin

An adaptation of the classic yin yang symbol, a classic symbol related to karma!

Swami Vivekananda explains the karma theory:

  • It does not believe in chance.
  • We are the creators of our own destiny.
  • Our present experience is determined by our past actions.
  • Our future experience will be determined by what we do here and now.
  • We shape our own future.

“Even chance meetings…are the result of karma…things in life are fated by our previous lives. That even in the smallest events there’s no such thing as coincidence.” — Haruki Murakami

See related blog on Equanimity: The Middle Path!

Seasonal Oil: Sage

Considered a master herb by the Lakota Indians because of its many healing properties, this plant and its oil have been used for centuries. The word sage comes from the Latin salvere — which means to save. Originally from the Mediterranean area, it’s known to be a savior to the user’s health and well-being, effecting the mind, body and spirit, in equal measure. Sage has long been part of the healing practices of ancient Greece, Rome, and China, as well as being an integral ritualistic ingredient of the indigenous cultures of the West. Although Sage and Clary Sage belong to the the same family of evergreen shrubs and both smell herbaceous, they are distinct. Sage is robust and piquant while the Clary Sage has a sweeter and more floral essence.

Sage oil is used in many ways and is especially known to remedy respiratory and digestive issues, and is an anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial agent. It’s good for the skin and hair and has an anti-spasmodic property, helping to relieve pain and cramps. This oil can be applied topically, diluted as an inhalant, and used as a culinary ingredient. For more information, instruction on use, and to order, I recommend dōTERRA and Young Living products.

Suggested Reading: Karma: What It Is  What It Isn’t  Why It Matters by Traleg Kyabgon

Images: Courtesy of Adobe Stock