Seeker 1 : I’ve been hearing and reading about the Law of Karma in various forums and literature. What exactly is the Law of Karma?
Sirshree : Let us look at some situations to understand the Law of Karma. Let us suppose a young boy by the name of Sam stole 100 rupees from his father’s wallet. What, according to you, will happen by the Law of Karma? What does each one of you think? Let us start with you, since you asked the question…
Seeker 1 : I think if Sam stole from his father, when Sam grows up, his son will steal the same amount of money from him.
Sirshree : What about the interest? What if he does not get married at all? What do the rest of you think?
Seeker 2 : Well, I believe that someone will steal from Sam. It could be money; it could be ideas. Nature will repay him someday. And it need not be from a similar relationship. Nature can repay through any other source.
Seeker 3 : I feel something wrong will happen to him and God will square off. It is not necessary that someone will steal. But for every ‘debit’, there will be a ‘credit’ in some form or the other to balance it out. Hence, something bad will definitely happen to him.
Sirshree : So, do you think there is ‘someone’ to square off? Is there a divine accountant who keeps track of every karma?
Seeker 3 : Yes, I believe so.
Seeker 2 : Maybe nature keeps a track. That is the law. Like the Law of Attraction, the Law of Karma has its effect and someone, somewhere keeps track.
Seeker 4 : I believe this is all mere hearsay. Nobody keeps track. There is no impact of any karma. If one steals, one may enjoy the money. That’s it. If he is caught stealing, he suffers. This is practical. This whole thing about Karmic retribution is unscientific.
Sirshree : Every answer here clarifies the beliefs you harbour. Let us change the question. In the story, what if young Sam apologizes to his father the next day? He confesses and returns the money. What do you think will then happen as per the Law of Karma?
Seeker 1 : Someone will steal something from Sam when he grows up and will also confess to Sam.
Seeker 2 : I agree with this answer. But it need not necessarily be when he grows up. It can be anytime.
Sirshree : So now, for something that Sam has done, someone will be made to not only steal, but also confess! Someone will go through all this, just to square off one person’s karma? So then, this will set off a chain of square-offs, with no end!
Seeker 4 : This is why I don’t believe all this. Sam steals… he feels unhappy… he has got the result. Sam confesses… he feels happy… that’s the next result. I don’t see the need for anything beyond that.
Seeker 3 : Well, if he confesses, then it is an altogether different thing. Then there is no impact of his Karma. Also, I have another idea. How ‘young’ Sam is also makes a difference. If Sam is a child, then it doesn’t matter at all. There is no impact of his karma. But, if Sam does it knowingly, it will have a bearing on him.
I have a Jewish friend. He was telling me that the Jews believe that children are absolved off their karma. But they become responsible for their karma after they become teenagers. Till then, all actions are their parents’ responsibility.
Sirshree : Yes. It is a Jewish custom to celebrate the Bar Mitzvah for children to signify their coming of age. Let us go back to the question and change the question further. What if Sam did not steal in the first place? What if he only thought about stealing? Would that be karma?
Seeker 1 : No, merely thinking about stealing does not amount to karma, unless it manifests as external action.
Seeker 2 : True. Karma means action. Thinking, by itself, is not “action” in the truest sense.
Seeker 3 : I believe even a thought is karma. But, the impact of the karma will be lower. Perhaps someone will think of stealing from Sam. That’s the only possible impact.
Seeker 4 : Given that there is no major consequence of doing, I can’t see why thinking can have any consequence. At the most, he may feel guilty about having entertained the thought of stealing. Or he may feel the sadistic joy in thinking about stealing. But ultimately it won’t matter.
Scientifically speaking, a thought is just an electromagnetic impulse. It is too much to think that every electromagnetic impulse will have any consequence besides the impulse itself.
Sirshree : All were good answers. Now, consider with an open mind what the Law of Karma is, from a different perspective. Consider that the only consequence of an action is that a ‘tendency’ is formed. If Sam steals from his father, Sam forms a tendency of taking shortcuts. The consequence or fruit of this karma is that a pattern of taking shortcuts is ingrained in his subconscious mind. Or if this pattern is already there, this thought reinforces that pattern. Automatically, due to this pattern, Sam will attract situations in his life, where he will constantly seek easy shortcuts that may prove to be costly one day or the other. People will call this karma.
Seeker 4 : So the result of his karma is the formation of tendency in his subconscious mind. How does repeated thinking lead to the formation of tendencies?
Sirshree : Understand this with an example. You would have seen streams flowing down the hills during the rainy season. These streams follow the same pathways in every monsoon. Why? Because the ridges that are carved by the constant flow of water become more deeply ingrained. When the water was flowing initially, it would have taken effort to clear the obstacles along the way. But later, these pathways provide the easiest ways to flow, as they offer no resistance.
Similarly, repeated behaviour becomes deeply ingrained as tendencies in the subconscious mind. Behaviour then tends to flow effortlessly along the routes of tendencies, as they have become habits. For example, when one tends to become angry, a habit of being short tempered is developed. As a result, man helplessly expresses anger even when he does not really want to.
Seeker 1 : So, if I shout at someone today, the consequence of that karma is that my anger pattern becomes stronger.
Sirshree : Yes. And the pattern of anger becomes more deeply ingrained through the repeated expression of anger. Patterns are formed based on the intention that backs your action.
Let us understand the Law of Karma with one more analogy. There is a boy who thinks of cheating in his exams. He intends to copy from his notes. What, according to you, will be the impact of this Karma?
Seeker 1 : Has he already decided to cheat in the exams or is he still hesitating?
Sirshree : Let us assume he is still contemplating. He thinks about it and then puts off the idea due to the fear of being caught or due to guilt that he is thinking something wrong.
Seeker 2 : Based on what I’ve understood from you so far, the consequence of this karma is that his pattern of cheating and deceit will be reinforced by this thought.
Sirshree : Yes. Even ‘thought’ is karma. And then one day, he ‘actually’ cheats. He actually ends up copying from his notes in the examination hall because he has been thinking of doing it in the past. So one consequence of his karma of thinking is that his tendency is reinforced and another consequence is that he may end up actually doing what he has been thinking about. So, now tell me what is the consequence of his ‘action’ of cheating in the examinations?
Seeker 4 : His subconscious mind begins to believe, “I am a cheat. I cannot do things in a straightforward way. I have to use deceitful means to succeed in life.”
Sirshree : Right. So, the tendency is further reinforced. During the first instance, he brushes off the thought of cheating by considering that it is not the right thing to do. This is like drawing a line in water. It just causes some ripples. No significant consequence. It’s just a fleeting thought. If he repeatedly thinks about it, it is akin to drawing a line on sand. The impressions remain for quite some time. If he actually cheats in the exams, it is like drawing a line on a rock with a hammer and chisel. The tendencies become extremely strong.
Seeker 3 : So, depending on how deep this tendency has become, he may attract more incidents of cheating in his life.
Sirshree : Right. The possibility that someone will cheat him also increases. This is so because someone who cheats ends up attracting the company of others who cheat. So, the chances are that he will also be cheated in turn. He increases the experience of deceit in his life. He attracts things at the lower level of consciousness. If someone is corrupt, he begins to see more corruption than others. He may not only perpetrate more corruption, but also be at the receiving end of corruption in his own life.
Seeker 1 : Thank you so much for this guidance on Karma. What you have said touches me deeply.
Seeker 2 : This is wonderful. I found what you said scientific too.
Seeker 3 : Sirshree, this is great. This intuitively makes sense. But, it brings me to another question. I believe in the law of Karma because it helps me make sense of all the injustice in the world. I think that somebody is born poor or somebody is born with a deformity because of his karma in his past lives. What do you make of that? Isn’t the law of karma closely related to reincarnation?
Sirshree : Maybe reincarnation does not exist in the way you exactly believe. Maybe, just memories are used. But that is a deeper discussion to be had another day. Consider a new way of looking at Karma based on our discussions today.
Thank you for the opportunity for serving you. Let all your actions become spontaneous, fresh and free from the past. Happy Thoughts.
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