The word karma is part of modern English vocabulary, but often is understood in a way that disempowers: It is common to hear people bemoan their bad karma. What they mean is that fate is against them and they can’t do anything about it. When used this way, “karma” is being used as an excuse for one’s life not going as wished, and having an excuse, it’s easy to do nothing to correct the situation but complain. But this is not the true meaning of karma.
Karma is a Sanskrit word which means “action.” When we do something, take out the trash, shout at someone, give a hug, all of these are actions, karmas. On a more subtle level, our emotions and thoughts are also karma. So, loving or violent thoughts are karma.
According to Yoga Philosophy, our karma causes our future experiences. What this means is that “as we sow, so we reap.” If I plant lemons, I harvest lemons and can’t expect to reap peaches.
Because our current experiences are the result of our past karma, if we don’t like the current conditions of our life, we can change what experiences come to us by changing our actions.
Let me give a personal example. As a younger man, I was always frustrated with my father, feeling that he didn't connect with me; didn't see me. Finally, about four years ago, I moved back to L.A. from Santa Cruz, CA, with the intention of caring for my parents in their senior years. Part of what I did during this time was to sit with Dad and help him with his business, with his accounting. To my surprise, when I was giving to him, serving him, helping him with his work, the connection I'd always wanted with him just happened. I found him treating me like a friend; which was better than I'd hoped for.
It was by giving, by changing my karma, that this happened. Not by trying to get him to change -- that never worked.
It's the same in any field of life.
Yet, don’t expect instant results. To reap a different harvest, we have to plant new seeds, new actions. It takes time for the seeds to germinate, reach up through the earth, mature, and eventually provide fruit, and this requires a lot of work, and patience, on our part.
Over time, amazing things can happen.
Would you like to have better experiences in your life? If so, here’s a challenge: Do a small generous act each day for a month, without seeking nor expecting any return. You can do this in your business, or personal life. There’s no guarantee that you’ll end up reaping obvious fruits from this practice in the short run, although you’ll likely feel great doing it.
If you are taking the challenge, please let me know. I’d love to hear from you.