How to Work with Karma
Contrary to popular understanding, karma is not a cosmic retribution scale. Karma is not you messed up and now (whatever bad there is) is comin’ for you. Karma is a field of energy. An energetic field of balance. Most people move about in life taking actions unconsciously and justifying the need for them. Yet every yogic text speaks about karma and the need to be aware of how our actions ripple into the field. So how do you work with karma so that you can engage it as a yogic practice?
The yogini doesn’t fall asleep to the concept of karma
You definitely don’t want to fall asleep to the notion of karma. That’s not a good plan. Hittin’ the snooze on karma is not advised as a practice. But being fearful of karma is also not a good plan. So how does a yogini-in-training work with karma? The first step in working with karma is to grow your sense of energetic awareness through yogic practice. What I mean is the more you work with your yoga practice, whether it be asana, meditation, Sanskrit chanting, pranayama etc., the more you will get a sense of yourself, as not only a body and mind, but as energy itself. This real feeling of yourself as energy is something you want. Since karma is a field of energy when you feel yourself as energy, you have a broader scope from which to view the field of karma and can more readily understand its concepts.
Karma in the Bhagavad Gita
The Bhagavad Gita references the yogi’s need for karmic awareness and the wisdom in doing so in Chapter 4.19
yasya sarve samārambhāh kāma-sankalpa-varjitāh
jñānāgni-dagdha-karmānam tam āhuh panditam budhāh
She who has let go of desire and aim from all her actions, and who has consumed all her karma in the fire of knowledge, the intelligent call her wise.
(*Note: The Sanskrit verse references ‘he’ I have shifted that to ‘she.’ In reality, it can be either and or both).
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This month consider what it means to let go of desire. Perhaps in your analysis you don’t need to move defensive to the teaching. The verse is not saying to drop all care for others and cut off from relationships. Instead, think of ‘letting go of desire’ as a practice that you can work to apply to your actions. Full-time job can sometimes lead to burnout and work-life imbalance. This month, practice taking action, but not focusing on the desired result and see what happens. Write notes and be playful with this exercise. See what wisdom you discover.
Karma is a big topic. Enjoy the journey and the exploration everyone.
More will be revealed pade pade, step by step.
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