Cycle of Karma

by Joann B.


Hi Yogi Mir!

You spoke to our Yoga Teacher Training class about many topics last year (2015), and I found your words on Karma interesting.

I thought I remember you saying something about not wanting to create any kind of Karma (positive or negative) as it would all need to be burned off.

Can you explain why it's not just the negative things that karma refers to, and how to live in a way that doesn't create more to burn off?

Hello Joann! 

Karma is a law of cause and effect. It states that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. 

Karma is energy. In our self-contained energetic Universe, no action is wasted. Not even the smallest atom of energy vanishes into nothing. It makes a dent somewhere. 

Karma energy is created by all of our actions, words, and thoughts. Like a pebble dropped in a pond, its ripples go out and eventually return to the center. 

All of your actions shall come back to you, if they are self-directed (selfish) actions, even if they are good: taking a yoga class for your own sake, working overtime for your own sake, drinking a healthy beverage for your own health, etc.

This is how we accumulate 'Karma baggage' (Karamasaya), and we drag it around with us all of our lives. 

This Karmasaya energy is responsible for your predicaments in life, as well as it shall determine the conditions of your next lifetime. 

When we die and shed this particular body, our Karma is not yet 'accounted for.' The baggage is still there. 

It is this remaining Karma that forces your Jiva/Purusha (your individual soul) to return, or reincarnate, into a different body - to live out the remaining Karma. 

The problem is we tend to accumulate more and more Karma baggage each lifetime. 

Hence, they call this cycle 'the endless cycle of birth and rebirth,' and we shall continue cycling through multiple lives, life after life, forever. 

There is only one way to stop the Karma from accumulating: 

Karma Yoga = Selfless Service

Why? Because a selfless action is directed to someone else. If you throw a boomerang and someone else catches it, it does not return to you. Karma is not created. 

That is why Karma Yoga is the path of many renunciate ascetics (Swamis). However, all of us can practice a little Karma Yoga and be more selfless in this life without being a monk. 

As Sri Yukteswar puts it (in his dialogue with Paramahansa Yogananda): 

"So long as you breathe the free air of earth, you are under obligation to render selfless service."

Finally, there are 3 types of Karma: 

- past (from your previous actions which you cannot change and you now must account for in this life); 

- present (you now have control of what action to take: to make it selfish or selfless); 

-future actions/Karma. 

I hope this answers your question. Please do not hesitate to contact me with more. 

Peace out!

~ Yogi Mir