Karma is an ancient concept, a Sanskrit word meaning 'act', 'action', or 'word'. The law of karma teaches us that all of our thoughts, words and actions begin a chain of cause and effect.
We are all One, and we are all totally unique expressions of that One. We are all waves in the same ocean – consciousness itself – but each of us is a totally unique. Our purpose in earthly life is to awaken to our natural spiritual identity, or True Self, which is the ocean of oneness, that indestructible and immortal part of ourselves which is the Source. Early in each incarnation we lose touch with that knowledge. The mind struggles with environmental influences such as parental and educational conditioning. Furthermore it has accumulated wounds, opinions, judgements, morals, standards and illusions imposed on us by individuals, and society as a whole over many lifetimes. We are confronted with situations that activate these inner issues. We also absorb the pain of the world.
Out of touch with our spiritual Self, we feel unsafe and so build a false self - the ego - in order to cope with present life conditions. We look for security in certain areas of our earthly incarnation. These areas might be our career, family, personal relationships, friendships, accomplishments, wealth, possessions, intellectual knowledge, spiritual beliefs, religion, personal power, and so on. Life after life we feel safer repeating old behaviour patterns rather than approaching life in new ways.
We become so attached to these old ways of being and doing that they become part of our identity. This removes us even further from our True Nature, so we feel inwardly divided and divided from others. The sense of separation is an illusion and the source of all suffering.
The more our ego is in charge the more unbalanced we are, and our life conditions become static or sometimes very painful. Our misperceptions adversely affect ourselves and others. It is negative karma that keeps us bound to the wheel of reincarnation. Until we have insight into the false self and realise it is not our True Self, we will invariably suffer from over-attaching to certain aspects of our earthly life.
Spiritual awakening is often triggered by repeated disillusionment and a longing to be released from our karmic burdens. This yearning is the beginning of our spiritual homecoming. However, because the ego puts up great resistance we may sometimes have to experience drastic conditions in our lives before we resolve to change.
With increasing self-awareness, old automatic behaviour patterns and areas of attachment are released and the ego gives way to our spiritual self. In turn we become less susceptible to the forces of karma and more in tune with our special destiny for the present incarnation.
Karma is a great balancer, returning to us the energy from all of the positive and negative thoughts and deeds we send out into the world. It is also our greatest teacher, making us accountable for what we do and giving us opportunities to awaken, to learn from our mistakes and change from within. Although karma is evidence that we have forgotten our True Identity and therefore ties us to the wheel of re-birth, it also contains the seeds of our salvation, in that it offers us the opportunity to realise the ultimate purpose of every human incarnation, which is to recognise that we have never been separated from Source of Origin.
The Law of Grace - Forgiveness
The purpose of karma is to increase self-awareness through suffering. As we suffer we become more alert to the way in which we are controlled by the ego. This is the fate of every un-awakened being and is a humbling realisation. Yet it gives us the opportunity to forgive ourselves and other people for past actions that were rooted in a state of ignorance – ignorance of our shared spiritual origins, our interconnectedness with all of life. Such forgiveness is the Law of Grace, which can break the chain of karma. This is one creative use of free will.
Although we have no control over our past, we can bring to an end its control over us. We have no choice but to meet the results of karmic actions from the past, but we do have a choice over how we deal with the karma. We misuse our free will as long as we think and act automatically and are not in touch with our True Self. For this reason we must have alert awareness of all our underlying intentions. Our intentions are often driven by old, habitual patterns of need and attachment. In this way we can perpetuate negative karma and even sow the seeds of new karma.
On the other hand self-awareness will eventually lead to liberation from karma. As we become less at the mercy of our inner pain and recurring, automatic patterns of thought and behaviour, we begin to consciously choose how to respond in any given situation. This is correct use of free will.