when does karma become an excuse?

The concept of karma has long played a central role in my life.  It imprinted on my psyche at a young age and has since shaped my identity.  My theories about what ‘my karma’ is have defined who I am and what I see myself as capable or deserving of in this lifetime.

Life experiences, mundane and significant, are often filtered through the lens of how they might relate to my karma. Maybe I have ‘unfinished business’ with so-and-so.  Maybe I did this to someone in a past life, so they’re doing it to me now.  Future plans and decisions are made with a cautionary inner voice: Maybe it’s not in your karma to do/have this.

Gold Parvati. Artst: Sonja Picard (www.sonjapicard.com)

Gold Parvati. Artst: Sonja Picard (www.sonjapicard.com)

Where did this obsession with my karma originate? Ancestors, religion, society…an innocuous comment someone once made, which caused a fundamental rewire in my brain?

Does it even matter anymore?

So much of my life has been about trying to understand the why’s of things, and the lessons behind them.  But what if I’ve been so wrapped up in this process, so fixated on understanding the details, that I’ve missed the actual living part of life?  How many opportunities have I let pass me by, how many inspirations have I not pursued, because of a latent belief that it’s ‘not in my karma’?

Karma has become a filter through which I’m limiting what life truly wants to offer me.

Karma is a beautiful yogic philosophy.  Its basic tenet of cause and effect – that we are responsible for our actions and their consequences – resonates with me.  But I am seeing how easily karma’s spiritual complexities and intricacies become reduced to good/bad/right/wrong, and how our ego might use ‘karma’ to further its own purposes.

What if karma is actually a mask of fear?  Of feeling unworthy?  Of feeling undeserving?  Of remaining in one’s comfort zone?

Perhaps I’ve been holding on to karma (and all other outworn self-definitions) because life is so unfamiliar without it.  What happens when I ditch my karmic story?  Nothingness.  Emptiness.  The unknown.   New territory, with no roadmap.

And the thing about karma is…it is essentially unknowable.  We can guess about the ‘why’s’ forever.  We can endlessly analyze our past experiences in the desire to figure out the reasons behind them, hoping it will make everything fall into place and magically transform our lives.  But this is an endless search.

I personally don’t know anyone who remembers one of their past lives (in detail), let alone a hundred.  And even if we did remember, our analysis will be greatly influenced by our experiences, personality, and circumstances in this life.

It’s a radical thought for me to play with: what if my karmic slate is wiped clean?  What if all that truly matters are the decisions I make now?

From here on I’m going to be more conscious about what I’m telling myself.  I’m choosing to break through those seen and unseen barriers that long ago made their decisions of what I’m capable, worthy, and deserving of achieving in this precious lifetime.  I don’t want karma to be an excuse that prevents me from living life fully.  I want to allow all experiences of love, joy, abundance, freedom, and bliss coming my way.

Ultimately, all I really know or have control over is the level of integrity I’m living in this present moment.  That feels like a beautiful place to start.

21 thoughts on “when does karma become an excuse?

  1. Reblogged this on Waking The Infinite and commented:
    So prescient for me….as this issue rolls around in my heart and mind this morning. I have found that while we do need to know about it, the part of us that is able to heal it is not the part of us that is enmeshed in our 3-d world and mind. Our minds are filled with so many things, so much cognitive dissonance, that if we rely on that part of ourselves, we often get lost. But so true, we use karma to our own ends and seek to define it based on who we are rather than on what it actually is. Anais Nin once said “We don’t see the world as it is, we see it as we are.”

    There is a trigger for releasing negative karma, and when enough of it is released, it tends to create a kind of cascade effect (for me, anyway) where the experience of the lightening of the load creates an awareness of how much better things can be for us….and it fuels a kind of grace-filled willingness to see the rest of what remains in order to clean it up. It also has the result of bearing greater awareness. The result of this “work” (surrender) can be remarkable because when a cord is healed or released, it opens others who were part of that cord to be healed too. Sounds like magic, but if you know about Ho’oponopo and Dr. Hew Len’s interview here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OL972JihAmg you can see how a simple act if cleaning it up in yourself can benefit others.

    The interesting thing I have found in common with my own process of clearing karma and the process that Len uses is that in each single instance, it always involved an act of forgiveness. Each time that I would approach some karmic tangle, I would begin by thinking I would need to forgive the person who was involved in it. In truth, when grace came, it showed me that this was not about the other person but about how I was reacting to what was around me, and this always resulted in this simple but deep unconditional forgiveness of myself, which was the trigger that has released hundreds of these things from small to big over the years. This lack of alignment with the divine within resulted in my thinking, feeling, and reacting to things around me that was less than my highest. The release always resulted in the tangle being released forever….never to return. This has shown me that as we do this, the self begins to knit itself back into the higher levels of awareness and we are less and less trapped in this cognitive dissonance, this 3-D way of looking out into the world and more into ourselves as the “first cause” that is this thing we talk about as being karma. Sadly, we use it to point outside of ourselves (and often twist it into our own misaligned notion of what we want it to be or think it is) when we need, I think, to look more deeply and inquire about ourselves first. This kind of forgiveness is an act of love. When we can feel this kind of love within first (forgiveness being an act of love), it reflects all through our life in a radically different way. I know; quite the ramble…but the content of this post was already rolling around inside of me before I read it and instead of making such a long reply, I decided it was better to simply reblog this thoughtful post and add my 5 cents here.

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  2. Reblogged this on alohaleya and commented:

    Karma’s been on my mind a lot lately. Through my yoga training these past few months, I’m opening to the idea of my dharma transforming my (perceptions of) karma. Given that it’s a full moon weekend, and the tail end of Mercury Retrograde, I thought I’d share this post from early in my blogging days. Though I can still relate to these words, I also see where so much has shifted. Here’s to transformation that serves our highest potential!

    Sat Nam

    Liked by 1 person

    • thank you, majilly! ditto for me – your blog is awesome and i’m glad we’ve connected in the blogosphere. i’ve had ACIM on my bookshelf for ages and feel it’s time to really explore the teachings. you express them beautifully! ~aleya

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  3. The Jains have a somewhat different take on karma from most Hindu traditions, one somewhat more in accord with what you want: a clean slate. But it takes hard work to get there! Every action, for the Jains, binds karma, but especially violence – even unintended violence to creatures too small to see. It can take lifetimes upon lifetimes to unbind the karma enough for a clean slate – it’s so hard, that in their tradition, only 22 beings ever accomplished it, and that’s who they worship: the Jinas, also called Tirthankaras. I think we should all work at achieving a clean slate, even though we might not achieve it for a thousand thousand lifetimes. When we base our actions on non-harm (ahimsa – yes, Gandhi borrowed it from the Jains), we make the world a better place for everyone around us. Keep blogging, Aloheya. Refreshing! And thanks for the likes. I’ve only just started this blogging endeavor (though the writing is mostly from 20-ish years ago), and encouragement helps.

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    • thanks for your comment and the encouragement! very interesting about the Jains…lately i’ve been thinking a lot about the unseen harm we (I) cause and how it takes such vigilance to notice it in all forms, seen and unseen. but yes, the clean slate is important to me. purification, purification, purification, in the sense of burning away all that is not love! i’m enjoying reading your blog on the pune grocery shop observations – and i like the time travel aspect too! thanks again. namaste.

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  4. Pingback: am i ready for the life of my dreams? | alohaleya

  5. Beautifully written post on karma my friend. I agree that we can get so caught up in the “why’s” that we can miss the whole point of our experience. Yet each day we live is an opportunity to begin again, to start over, to live with a clean karmic slate (as you say). What really matters is how we live and love today. I truly believe in a gracious and loving God. Thank you so much for sharing this and keep writing – you have a gift!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This post really spoke to me. I understand all too well how easy it is to get caught up in the “why’s” and how difficult it is to stop that cycle of thought. Karma and personal responsibility = lots to ponder here.

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  7. I appreciate the questioning and inquisitive nature of your reflections here….in honesty, my own explorations with Karma have given me another understanding of it rather than the old idea that it is all about “cause and effect” or that one receives punishment later on (or rewards) for past actions……this is a very narrow understanding of the truth of Karma. Instead, I find that Karma is simply about Life and this vast Divine Consciousness bringing to us more experiences and opportunities for growing and changing, which means giving new experiences that challenge the old past actions we have taken, or the perceptions and understandings linked to those actions. We then choose to judge those experiences as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and try to relate them to ‘Karma’, but in truth they are part of a vaster whole of Experience that is carrying us always forward towards more Light and Truth and Love. There is no ‘retribution’ in Karma, but only New Opportunity to Become…..to Become more of who we really are…..and New Opportunity to Heal…to Heal in a POSITIVE way all our old weaknesses, mistakes, flaws, and relationships with others. This may involve, at times, difficulties, but in the end it is all about Awakening ourselves to…..well, All.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Good for you. I too think that karma has become a concept used by the ego to hold us back. We can’t possibly know the ins and outs of our lives and it’s my belief that unless we know for certain, we’re not meant to know. All we have is the present moment, that is the place of power.

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