“Karma moves in two directions. If we act virtuously, the seed we plant will result in happiness. If we act non-virtuously, suffering results” – Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche
Saving a life
Fleming was a poor Scottish farmer. One day, while out working in the fields, he heard a cry for help coming from a nearby swamp. He dropped his tools and immediately rushed to the swamp. There, stuck to his waist in black muck, was a terrified boy, screaming and struggling to free himself.
Farmer Fleming saved the lad from what could have been a slow and terrifying death. The next day, a fancy carriage pulled up to the Scotsman’s meagre surroundings. An elegantly dressed nobleman stepped out and introduced himself as the father of the boy Farmer Fleming had saved.
“I want to repay you,” said the nobleman. “You saved my son’s life.”
“No, I can’t accept payment for what I did,” the Scottish farmer replied, waving off the offer.
At that moment, the farmer’s own son came to the door of the family cottage.
“Is that your son?” the nobleman asked.
“Yes,” the farmer replied proudly.
“I’ll make you a deal. Let me take him and give him a good education. If the lad is anything like his father, he’ll grow to a man you can be proud of”.
And that he did.
In time, Farmer Fleming’s son graduated from St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School in London, and went on to become known throughout the world as the noted Sir Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of penicillin.
Years afterward, the nobleman’s son was stricken with pneumonia. What saved him? Penicillin. The name of the nobleman? Lord Randolph Churchill. His son’s name? Sir Winston Churchill.
What goes around comes around.
The law of karma
For many, the notion of karma is a common theme permeating throughout life. The adage ‘what goes around comes around’ is strongly identified by those who have been unjustly treated. The understanding that dishonest acts against others will eventually catch up to the offender is strongly acknowledged.
Karma is far more complicated and yet simpler than that. Karma functions within the backdrop of our lives. Newton’s Third Law states that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. There is a cause and effect, so that every action creates another reaction which in turn produces a new counteraction. Thus an endless chain of actions and reactions is created.
In a similar vein to Newton’s Law, the butterfly effect formulated by the American mathematician and meteorologist Edward Lorenz affirms, “When a butterfly flutters its wings in one part of the world, it can eventually cause a hurricane in another”. Lorenz was unifying the idea that events within the cosmos have a ripple effect, which extends beyond the latitude of space and time.
Closer to home, karma’s actions have a ripple and boomerang effect within your life and the lives of others. Karma is simply the exchange of energy from one form to another. It should be viewed as neither good nor bad, since it allows us to assume purposeful action if we are to balance out karma in our lives.
“Thoughts lead on to purposes; purposes go forth in action; actions form habits; habits decide character; and character fixes our destiny” – Tryon Edwards
Letting go of the past
In the same way, karmic clutter is the accumulation of past unresolved matters which have stuck with you. You have not balanced out the karma and thus invite the negative consequences of past actions into the present moment.
Accordingly, as you heal the emotional baggage associated with anger, frustration and disappointment by reconciling them with peace and love, balance is upheld. From this viewpoint, karma serves as the preservation of balance – no debt goes unpaid, no act of admirable service is turned a blind eye to. Our actions are supported within the moral landscape of, “Do unto others what you would have done unto yourself.”
However well-meaning your intentions are, upholding your moral duties does not assume others will return your goodwill. We are all endowed with free will, and how others treat you becomes their karma. For we are repeatedly writing the script of our karmic destiny through our actions.
In the scheme of things, bad things happen to good people every day. Our obligation is to live in accordance with our highest moral code, since it allows us to become a righteous population. We can become victims of our choices or write an empowering moral script for the future.
It begs the question then, “Does the universe have its origins vested in goodness?” I hold firm that the underlying structure governing the laws of the universe are centred within the foundations of love – which is the highest functioning order. Good deeds are returned in any number of ways when your intentions are honourable and entrusted with love.
The universe is endlessly eavesdropping on your actions, with the intent of balancing out the exchange of energy. It was the Greek physicist-philosopher Parmenides who stated that nature abhors a vacuum. Which means, as you let go of the old (thoughts, beliefs, energy, ideas, and toxic emotions), the universe rushes in to fill the void.
As energy is repaid through favourable action, you abide by universal forces when you act in accordance with nature. Think of universal forces as observing road and traffic laws: everything flows seamlessly when there is order instead of chaos.
Writing a new karmic script
Have you noticed how some people effortlessly attract all their desires in a stress-free manner, whilst others always seem to struggle? It might be said that those same people are working with the laws of karma in a conducive manner.
On a personal level as I honour my path in life, I harness the law of karma to function in a meaningful way. Wisdom has shown me that when I am wronged against, rather than seek revenge, I trust karma to balance any improper actions towards me or others.
It is not my place to enact retribution or revenge – my karma is simply to play my role within the container of universal order. It is Dr Wayne Dyer who reminds us to uphold this standard in the following quote, “How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours”.
Life is neither fair nor unfair – evaluating life according to this way of thinking fails to acknowledge the harmonious relationship life obliges us with when we play by her rules.
You have the wherewithal to change your future karma through awareness gained within the present moment. Do not be directed by subconscious actions alone. Be mindful, present and aware of your choices.
In closing, I leave you with the following aphorism by the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, “Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny”.
Do you believe in karma? What is an example of its power in your life or someone you know’s? Tell us your stories below!