Author: Swami Sitaramananda DATE: Apr 15, 2017 Comments: 0
The Philosophy of Karma
What is Karma?
Karma literally means “action”. Action always comes with the consequence of the action. The law of karma is the law of action and reaction, illustrated by the well-known saying “what we reap is what we sow,” and also the law of retribution, which explains that “what we receive is the result of what we did in the past.” Nothing is by accident, merit, demerit, honor, or dishonor; any happening in our lives is the result of karma.
The philosophy of karma is the foundation of all oriental philosophical thought, Hindu and Buddhist. Understanding how this law applies in life helps us to spiritualize our lives and progress.
It is said that there are three kinds of karma: past karma, present karma and future karma. The three are interrelated; present karma is the result of past karmas, and is our reaction to the past, and will determine our future karmas. This body and mind are nothing but the result of past karma. These past karmic impressions have the tendency to reproduce themselves and determine our circumstances and choices. Our reactions to what has happened determine if we will learn the spiritual lessons or not. The residue of what needs to be learned will unfold in another context later on.
Karma is neither good nor bad. From the point of view of the Atman, or soul, karma is that which binds us to the wheel of birth and death. The goal of the Yogi is to break through the chain of karma and release himself from all bondage caused by spiritual ignorance. This release from karma is gradual, as many lessons need to be learned and many experiences gathered for the individual to truly understand the Truth, which is the only thing that can set him free.
As our life is the result of karma, our life itself holds the key to our liberation. The idea is to spiritualize our life and our actions in order to be free. The problem is that we are very attached to our actions and our works; we constantly identify with our actions and take pride in what we are doing. Our ego is very much invested in our talents, skills, knowledge and activities. It takes detachment towards our actions in order to see ourselves and our actions in a different light. In the cultivation of the spirit of Karma Yoga lies our freedom and spiritual release.