Karma is one of the West's best known Eastern Mystical concepts, even featuring in popular songs by John Lennon (Instant Karma), David Bowie (Karma Man), and Culture Club (Karma Chameleon) among others. Some years ago the then England football (soccer) manager Glenn Hoddle, a genuinely Spiritual man, was sacked for an ill-considered remark that disabled people were paying for the sins of past lives.
Definition of Karma
Karma is simply the process of cause and effect. If you do A, B will happen. If you plant tomato seeds, and water and look after them, tomatoes will grow.
"Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." --St Paul, Galatians 6-7
Before we are born in this world we decide, while still in the realms of Spirit and along with our higher guides, the lessons we shall pursue here. Spirit helps us pursue these lessons by creating the conditions necessary for us to receive our chosen experience.
Karma is not about punishment. In Spirit there is no absolute right or wrong. It is about experience and fulfillment of purpose. The idea that we are punished for sins is a man-made form of social control. A highly advanced soul may choose to incarnate into a crippled body, or even as an insect, if that is beneficial to their Spiritual progress.
Working with Karma
Karma influences our current life in two ways. First, we carry karma as part of our life conditions, though not all of our conditions are karmic in origin. Karma is the part of our conditions that represents unfinished business and other residues from the past. Second, we create future karma continually with every thought and action.
As an individuated part of Spirit there will be particular areas of growth necessary for our personal evolution. There are also areas in which we may best contribute to the growth of our Spiritual source in its totality. Sometimes karma thrusts us into diametrically opposite conditions than we previously experienced.
The first step in dealing with existing karma is awareness and acknowledgement of it. Are there any themes that seem to recur throughout your life? Nothing happens purely by chance. Recurrent themes suggest the hand of karma. These recurrent themes are telling you they are providing conditions for some necessary life experience.
This experience may be obvious to you, but where it is not you may need to ask Spirit for guidance through prayer, meditation, or through analysis of your dreams.
Once you understand the karmic themes of your incarnation you can start working with them, ie swimming with the tide rather than against it. If you find it hard to acquire or hold money, you need to practice good money management. If you find it hard to make friends you need to be that bit nicer to others... If you're not sure how to work with your karma, ask for guidance and be open to the answers.
The second aspect of karma is that it is being created all the time. Every act of will, every thought, is a karmic act. By acting in accordance with our Spiritual purpose in particular and Spiritual principles in general ("thy will be done") we create good karma for tomorrow. But good karma doesn't mean material success, it is concerned with Spiritual progress and making one's soul available to more advanced lessons rather than continually repeating grade 1.
"Do unto others as you would have others do unto you." --Matthew 7-120
Karma works at a more immediate level by returning to you what you give to others. There's nothing particularly mystical about this. If you're friendly to others, you receive friendship. If you're generous, people are more inclined to be generous to you. Likewise, if you mistreat others they won't be very kind to you.
Karma and Luck
Luck is the quality that seems to attract good things to some people and repel them from others. But is luck real, or all in the mind?
To some degree luck is an illusion, or simply a matter of how you look at life. Say someone won $10,000 on the lottery, but just missed the jackpot by one number. Some would consider themselves lucky to get $10,000, while others would be cursing their misfortune not to win a million. If you find yourself cursing your luck, take time to count your blessings. You will find they are many.
The "other man's grass is greener" syndrome also distorts our perception of luck. Human nature tends to notice others' good fortune and our own bad. In fact everyone has their share of problems, burdens, challenges, and blessings too, to lighten the load. The key here is to focus upon your own pathway.
"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players." --Shakespeare
Having said all that, luck as a manifestation of karma, is real. Some people do attract money jobs, the right partner... That is part of their conditions for this particular lifetime. All we can do is try to recognize our own particular conditions and to operate to the maximum within these. If you're unlucky at gambling, don't gamble, or if you do make sure the amounts involved are insignificant.
Stop thinking of karma in terms of reward and punishment and instead consider it as the inevitable consequences of past choices in this life and before. Recognize it, accept it, and work with it to live the most purposeful life you can.