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.