How to Improve Your Karma
By Deepak Chopra, MD
Although the word karma has firmly entered common speech, its importance and value is rarely understood. The Sanskrit word karma simply means “action,” but the word implies actions that have consequences. In itself that’s not a foreign concept — in fact, saying that actions have consequences expresses an everyday idea. But the Indian concept of karma is much more subtle and profound. The doctrine of karma includes the following implications:
· Every action leads to a result, however unpredictable.
· These results are calculated by a kind of cosmic computer than balances everything in Nature.
· The consequences of your actions are not randomly good or bad — they are organized in an evolutionary way to move your forward.
· “Good” karma actually means evolutionary karma. “Bad” karma is the opposite — it suspends or delays your forward motion or growth.
· Karma exists to preserve the memory of the past so that nothing is lost.
· No karma is random
If you put these ideas together, they form a doctrine that goes far beyond “everything happens for a reason.” The reason is evolution. This in fact is why the doctrine of karma originated, so reveal that despite the ups and downs of everyday life and the random reactions we have to everything that happens to us, there is a larger karmic pattern.
Nor is this pattern mysterious or mystical. In the workings of karma, any situation you find yourself in has only two outcomes: either you move forward or you learn the lesson that needs to be learned to move forward. Karma isn’t like our idea of fortune or fate, which can be randomly good or bad. Karma is filtered through human awareness; it exists so that awareness can look at itself and learn how to move forward.
As optimistic as this sounds, the practical application of the ancient teaching on karma are hard to interpret for modern life. The texts are often couched in religious terms or depend upon a concept like reincarnation, which enters into the picture to explain why totally inexplicable accidents, tragedies, and general misfortune occur. From that perspective are paying the karmic price for actions in your remote past.
These trappings, however, can be discarded. (It was never of any practical help to speak of karma inherited from a past life since there is no way either to prove or disprove such a claim). Incidental and trivial actions are all karmic, but what is significant are the major effects of karma. These consist of
· Repetitive patterns in our life
· Predispositions that you have had since childhood
· Habits, both good and bad
· Stubborn resistance that is hard to overcome
Western psychology recognizes all of these things, and people work hard to overcome unhealthy habits, for example. But the doctrine of karma adds a missing element: evolution. Thinking about predispositions, for example, Western psychology has no explanation for child prodigies, who are born with extraordinary gifts, and we fall back on genetics, even though the gene for incredible musical or mathematical ability isn’t credible, and in any case, no predisposition — for talent, sexual orientation, character traits like patience or a short fuse to anger — has ever been remotely explained genetically.
Let’s accept, therefore, that you and I, looking into the mirror, see a bundle of habits, ingrained responses, repetitive behavior, and predispositions that obviously exist, but whose origin mystifies us. We are each different and unique, which is our karmic package. If you can accept this notion, then the obvious question arises: How do we overcome the karmic patterns we dislike or which are harming us and making life worse?
The answer lies at the very root of karma: evolution. If you consciously choose to make choices that are creative, progressive, aware, mature, and capable of making tomorrow better, you have found the key to improving your karma, whatever the balance of good and bad it contains.
You must learn how to intervene in karmic patterns, which is entirely possible, because karmic patterns all have one thing in common: they are unconscious. We take the course of least resistance, choosing to respond in a way that is
Safe but stale
Conditioned from the past
Inculcated secondhand from other people, usually our family of birth
Reflexive without a second thought
If you look over this list, you will see your karma at work; it persists because you allow your unconscious choices to go unchallenged. Yet getting unstuck from your karma is made possible by the human ability to break out of patterns simply by first, being aware of them. Only the things you are aware of are open to change.
Once you attune yourself, which isn’t difficult, you will catch yourself in routine, repetitive responses. Once you catch yourself you can pause and stop, wait a bit, and see if a better response comes to mind. There’s no need to force this. Sometimes the course of least resistance works out, and there are countless opportunities awaiting you in the future.
The crucial thing is to shift your allegiance in favor of your personal evolution. With this as your vision, the payoff for improving your karma becomes more and more significant. The conscious life is the best life. The unconscious life leads to karmic repetition at best and unforeseen catastrophes at worst. Once you understand that karma applies to your life directly, personally, and every day, nothing is more desirable than getting unstuck. Only along this path is freedom bliss, and fulfillment possible.
DEEPAK CHOPRA™ MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation, a non-profit entity for research on well-being and humanitarianism, and Chopra Global, a whole health company at the intersection of science and spirituality, is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation. Chopra is a Clinical Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of California, San Diego and serves as a senior scientist with Gallup Organization. He is the author of over 90 books translated into over forty-three languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers. His 90th book and national bestseller, Metahuman: Unleashing Your Infinite Potential (Harmony Books), unlocks the secrets to moving beyond our present limitations to access a field of infinite possibilities. For the last thirty years, Chopra has been at the forefront of the meditation revolution and his latest book, Abundance: The Inner Path to Wealth (Harmony Books) offers the keys to a life of success, fulfilment, wholeness and plenty. TIME magazine has described Dr. Chopra as “one of the top 100 heroes and icons of the century.” www.deepakchopra.com