The Meaning of Karma

By Gurudevi Nirmalananda 

Karma is a cosmic IOU.  You owe the universe something — or the universe owes you.  If you did things to benefit others in the past, motivated by altruism or compassion, the universe will reward you.  If you did things to harm others in the past, the universe will pay you back. 

Nobody ever asks about karma unless they’re going through a hard time.  Can I be frank?  Unfortunately, you earned it.  It’s easy to see when you cut somebody off in another lane while driving, and a few miles later the same thing happens to you.   

But when the events are separated in time, it’s harder to sort out.  Karma is cosmic justice, even though sometimes it takes a while to catch up with you, even lifetimes.  In meditation, I’ve had past life memories that explained why I’ve dealt with certain difficulties in my life.  Other such memories have explained many of the blessings in my life. 

In the Yoga Sutras, the sage Patanjali explains: 

Karma-a“sukla-ak.r.sna.m yoginis-trividham-itare.sam — sutra 4.7 

Karmas of yogis are neither white nor black, but are of three kinds in others. 

White means light, pure and pleasurable; black means heavy, dark and painful.  Yoga’s great masters experience neither as they live in an expansive inner state of pure beingness.  For such a being, events are like weather, which comes and goes.

For those who are not yet living in such a deep and easy constancy, karmas are of three types:  pleasurable, painful and mixed.  You are already familiar with each. 

No one ever asks about karma when they’re enjoying health, wealth and meaningful relationships.  However, they earned these fortunate life circumstances.  When life is not going so well, it’s good to understand two things: 

* You set yourself up

* It’s temporary. 

This too will pass.  The good news is that you have some say in when and how it will pass.  Do good unto others and your karma will improve.  It might be immediate, or it might take a month or more, but it always works. 

Except there’s a hitch.  If you’re doing good unto others so that you get some good in return, it won’t work.  What is required is altruism or compassion.  Or sheer generosity.  It’s a glorious way to live!

This entry was posted in About Gurudevi, Ashram News on by .

About Swami Nirmalananda

Serving as the Master Teacher, Swamiji is a teacher of the highest integrity for over 35 years. Formerly known as Rama Berch, she is the originator of Svaroopa® yoga as well as the Founder of Master Yoga and of Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram. In 2009 she was honored with initiation into the ancient order of Saraswati monks. Now wearing the traditional orange, she has openly dedicated her life to serving others. Usually called Swamiji, she makes the highest teachings easily accessible, guiding seekers to the knowledge and experience of their own Divine Essence.

2 thoughts on “The Meaning of Karma

  1. Gurupremananda Lynn Cattafi

    What a beautiful and simple way to describe Karma. And I love the cartoon illustration. That drives it right home! Lol!


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