Jump to these paragraphs:
- What is karma?
- The subject of karma has been explored from many perspectives.
- What is the purpose of karma?
- Karma causes many problems.
- We can act without creating extraneous karma.
- We can develop our ability to recognize karma.
- We can resolve our existing karma.
What is karma? It is the law of cause-and-effect. The "cause" can be any type of action (including a person's thoughts and behaviors); the "effect" is the action's consequence (including the material and psychological conditions of our life). Every action creates an effect; thus, we are constantly creating karma. However, many spiritual teachers have suggested means by which we can act without creating karma. This discrepancy is due to a variance of definition:
- In the first definition, karma is viewed simply as an effect. Every action causes something else to happen.
- In the second definition, karma is viewed as an unwanted, extraneous effect. This extraneous effect occurs when we do not comply exactly with the situation's dynamics (as perceived by intuition). Instead, our action is inexact due to factors such as the irrelevant imposition of greed or vanity or another dysfunctional force; for example, a member of a "team" (in sports or at work or in a family) might care more about "showing off" than about participating in the group effort. In those situations, the karmic payback might occur in the form of a decreased quality of work, and an alienation from the other people.
- Eastern religions. Karma is a common topic in Buddhism, Hinduism (particularly in "karma yoga"), and other eastern religions. Those religions explore various aspects of personal action:
- The cause of action. We examine the reasons why we act: our motivations, our inner guidance -- and our sense of duty and service and morality and dharma.
- Ourselves as the actor. We explore our role as an impersonal agent of action, such that we are merely doing what is to be done, without adding extraneous elements (e.g., vanity or greed).
- The effect of action.
- The psychological effect. We learn to be detached from the effect; we simply did what was meant to be done, and so we do not seek acclaim. We are not anxious about the results; we are satisfied merely to have fulfilled our responsibility.
- The karmic effect. The religions say that we are not karmically tied to the results, because we were merely allowing the actions to occur through us.
- The concept as it might be stated by a wise grandma (thus, "The Grandma Principle"): "You made your bed; now you have to sleep in it."
- Psychology: "Taking responsibility for our life is a sign of psychological maturity."
- Business: "You didn't pay your electric bill, so we're turning off your power."
- Relationships: "She dumped you because you cheated on her."
- Parenting: "You are grounded because you lied to me."
- The judicial system: "You violated a law, so you are going to prison."
- Slang: "What goes around, comes around."
- If we comply with intuition, we precisely perceive the dynamics of the situation. With this perception, we are able to generate the thoughts, images, energies, and actions which perfectly match those dynamics; i.e., we respond appropriately and effectively to the situation as it is. Because of this match, the elements discharge their charge; all that remains is a bare record, which serves as a memory and a reference (to which we will refer when we encounter this archetype again).
- If we do not comply with intuition, we are "defaulting" to another source of guidance, e.g., logic, emotion, past experience, etc. These other sources of guidance are not based upon the wholistic perception which is provided by intuition; instead, they try to formulate our response in other ways, e.g., logic's processing of known data (in contrast to intuition's perception of all dynamic factors, even those which are not known consciously), emotion's instinctive reactions (which tend to be unfocused and primitive), past experience (which differs significantly from the unique matrix of this experience), etc. Thus, our resulting thoughts, images, energies and actions do not perfectly match the dynamics of this situation. Because of this mis-match, the elements do not discharge all of their charge; for example, our logic suggested that we say a particular statement -- but the statement was not thoroughly appropriate, because it did not account for factors which were not known and thus were not considered in the preparation of our statement, and so the charge of our statement does not "connect" perfectly with the situation. The charge which did not connect (and thus did not discharge) stays in the archetypal field, and it clings to the residue of the inappropriate thoughts which we expressed. This charge is the force which powers karma. It is such a powerful force that it will compel us (through the processes which we call "desire" and "attachment") to re-create that archetypal situation, specifically for the purpose of discharging the residual charge of those thoughts; when we have re-entered that archetypal situation, we will be compulsively motivated to say or do whatever is necessary to discharge that lingering energy. We will continue to re-create the same circumstances until (1) we have discharged all of the lingering energy, and (2) we have learned to confront that particular archetype with the appropriateness which is possible only through the perceptiveness and guidance which is available from intuition. People (consciously or unconsciously) can sense the energetic charge of our a-field constellations (i.e., groups of associated thoughts, images, energy tones, and habits), so they are attracted to us (consciously or unconsciously) if they have reciprocal constellations; for example, a person who has a constellation which honors aggression will be drawn to a person who has a constellation filled with images and thoughts of victimization -- and vice versa, the victim is attracted to the aggressor. All the while, the souls observe these two constellations interacting as the people's conflict and pain reveal the impropriety of the elements, and reveal also the individuals' need to regain the objectivity and freedom and wholeness which would exist in the presence of intuition and of properly composed constellations.
- Karma is a means of education. Karma is simply feedback which shows us the effect of particular actions; i.e., we discover that when we do a particular act, we experience a particular result. Life is thus viewed as a classroom; karma is a means by our tests are graded. Through our encounter with karma, we study these subjects:
- We study responsibility. We realize that we are responsible for the conditions which are in our life. We have no one to blame; we have no justification for complaint; we are not "victims." There are no mistakes; there are no accidents.
- We study creativity. Karma is usually viewed as a destructive force which interferes with our creativity. But the underlying principle is merely cause-and-effect -- the same principle which is involved in all forms of creativity. When we accept the idea that our actions create our personal world (and thus we willfully direct our thoughts and images and energy and actions toward a constructive goal), we can use this principle to create the type of personal world which is best for us; our karmic education can be one of happiness and fun. When we do not accept the idea that our actions create our personal world, our actions are still creative -- but, because of our lack of focus and discipline, our thoughts, etc., tend to be a mishmash of conflicting directions which contradict and weaken one another.
- We study love. Love is not something which we do, or something which we have to learn; instead it is one of the innate qualities of the life-energy (i.e., spirit). It occurs naturally when the contents of our a-fields allow this flow, i.e., when our thoughts and images and energy and actions are not blocking the flow. For example, if we indulge thoughts that we not approve of a person, and that he or she therefore does not deserve love, we intentionally generate thoughts and images and energies and actions (i.e., karma) which prevent us from behaving in a loving manner. The love is still there, because spirit always connects us to everyone and everything, but we have created unnatural blockages to the flow in this material situation. This "love" is not a sentimental type of human love; instead it is simply the natural dynamic of the impersonal life-energy which flows between souls. (A further explanation of this dynamic is given in the chapter regarding the tao.)
- We study "spiritual" principles. We learn that karma is not
based on "law" in the human sense of the word; if we use the
word "law," we might tend incorrectly to correlate spiritual
law with human law, and thus imagine that we can avoid
consequences with the cosmic equivalent of a shrewd attorney,
or plea bargaining, or a bribe, or an emotional appeal to a
judge and jury. None of those things exist in the concept of
karma. Instead of using the word "law," we might have a
more-productive perspective if we use the word "principle":
"this is how things work" (as in a principle of physics). With
this viewpoint, we can explore cause-and-effect with the
dispassionate attitude of a scientist rather than as a
conniving rogue who is trying to "beat the system" or as a
frightened child of a punishing deity. And underlying those
material things is spirit itself, such that we are not, in
essence, studying material (e.g., people, our psyche, etc.);
instead, we are studying the ways in which spirit moves
through things, inevitably expressing its own nature
even as it passes through the seemingly contradictory nature of
matter. Beyond the superficial appearances of our material
world, karma teaches us about the traits of spirit:
- It is impersonal. It does not value our fortune above the fortune of others.
- It is wholistic. Its wholeness contains and balances and unites the dualities of action and reaction, attacker and prey, yang and yin.
- It is authoritative. It does not yield to our whims, our desires, our terrors, our human powers, or our social institutions. When our life is tragic, it is tragic only to the extent that we have presumed to act in a manner which is contrary to the irrepressible dynamics of spirit.
- The concepts of "punishment" and "reward" are merely value-judgments which are based on our emotional, egoic, and feeling reaction to a phenomenon; i.e., they are based on whether we like the phenomenon. However, from an impersonal viewpoint, there is neither punishment nor reward; there is simply a result.
- Some people intentionally create good karma (through generous acts) so that they will gain the corresponding rewards. However, other people (such as the practitioners of karma yoga) strive to create no karma, because they believe that all karma is restrictive, i.e., that "bad karma is an iron shackle, and good karma is a golden shackle." (Still other people try to create a balance of good karma and bad karma.)
- Punishment implies a personal aspect which does not exist
- Punishment is an action which one individual does to another. In contrast, karma is something which we do to ourselves; i.e., "we are not punished for our sins but rather we are punished by our sins." I am receiving my own payback; you are merely an impersonal agent by which my own indiscretions are returning to me.
- Punishment includes extraneous elements, such as the punisher's anger, impatience, and vindictiveness. Thus, punishment is more concerned with the punisher's satisfaction than with our benefit; i.e., our ability to learn the lesson which is to be learned. In fact, when we are subjected to punishment, we might miss the lesson entirely, because we are distracted; our attention is focused instead on the character of the punisher -- his or her cruelty and unfairness and other apparent flaws. If we demonize the punisher, we might easily overlook our part in creating the condition -- and we might go one step farther and actually project our own shortcomings onto the punisher. From this position in which we are denying the facts, we cannot learn the lesson which is implied by the facts.
- Punishment derives from the infliction of one person's values against our own; for example, we value loud music, but the punisher values serenity. The conflict is between the values of one human being and the values of another human being. In contrast, karma derives from the impersonal dynamics of spirit. Spirit is a tangible (though non-material) substance which behaves according to particular principles (like the principles which we would find in a material substance, like water which is studied in hydrodynamics); if our values are contrary to those spiritual principles, our conflict is a foolish one against life itself -- and against our own life.
- Punishment is based on a battle of wills and power; we become injured because the punisher is stronger than ourselves. However, in karma, it is spirit which is stronger than ourselves with our contrary will. Thus, we do not experience our defeat as a personal humiliation, which might lead to desire for revenge or the thought that "if I were clever and powerful, I could have my way." Instead, we recognize that spirit cannot be defeated, and that it is not to be defeated; we have no course but to surrender -- not as to an external enemy but as to our own life.
- Punishment denies the integrity of the person who is punished. The punisher does not offer mere feedback by which we can learn but instead it imposes its own personal viewpoint which we must internalize in order to stop the punishment. Because punishment stifles our right to explore our own perspectives (and our right to make mistakes), we are "shamed"; that is, we are perceived to be fundamentally incapable of learning and so we need someone else to tell us what is real. In contrast, karma itself is a system of self-education; we can have self-esteem and dignity in the knowledge that spirit trusts us to learn and master even the most difficult of spiritual challenges in the long run.
Karma causes many problems. Despite the assertion that karma is part of an ultimately benevolent system by which we gain our spiritual education, we tend to view karma as an unwanted guest in our lives. However, karma is simply the result of our actions; some of our actions create pleasant conditions, and some create unpleasant conditions. For example, when we perform well at our job, our "karma" is expressed in our big paycheck. Our actions (i.e., our creation of karma) have made our life the way it is (for better or for worse), in terms of our relationships, our financial state, our physical health, our skills, our personality, our psychological and emotional traits, and our other conditions. In addition to these individual situations (some of which we might label as "problems" or even "evil"), karma can be perceived as a disruption with regard to the following points:
- Karma forces us to respond inappropriately and thus ineffectively. Instead of responding to a current situation in its unique character and dynamics, we are responding with the charged thoughts and images and energy and actions which have been implanted in an archetypal field. Thus, our painful karmic payback lies in our inefficiency in producing the desired result, and in the person's (or object's) reaction to our clumsy outburst of inappropriate emotions and words and actions. "Good karma," too, is an unwanted commodity; indeed, if our a-field is a collection of "positive" elements, we respond in a manner which is overly trusting and giving, rather than a manner which is balanced and appropriate. The correct response is to intuitively deal with each situation in its uniqueness, considering the blend of the situation's requirements and our psychological and material needs (including, but not dominated by, the need of our a-field elements to discharge their residual charge from previous encounters with this archetype). We are still creating a-field elements (because the mind continues to record our behaviors for future reference in case this type of situation happens again), but the elements have such a slight charge that they will be mere non-compelling reference points when the circumstance recurs.
- Karma restricts our freedom. In any given situation, spirit is present, and so all archetypes are present, but our attention is drawn to the particular archetypes with which we need to interact (because we want to learn about them, or because we have a residual charge from previous encounters with those archetypes). Much of our daily life is a confrontation with karmic paybacks; thus, instead of being free to move on to new adventures, we must deal with circumstances from our past. However, in payback situations (and even in new situations), we are free to respond creatively to the given problem; if we do so (as guided by intuition's perception of the archetype, the elements of the archetypal field, and the ideal action at this moment), we can resolve the past karma such that the condition will not recur. Perhaps spiritual freedom occurs when:
- All of our unwanted debts have been paid.
- The only conditions in our life are the ones which we want at this moment. We have not eliminated all of our karma; if karma is simply an effect from action, we still need to create effects in order to create our human life -- our home, our relationships, etc.
- We understand the dynamics of spirit such that our actions do not create unwanted karma which would bind us to any corresponding unwanted circumstances in the future.
- We are familiar with the nature of every archetype as it exists within us and outside of us (in any possible person, object, and situation).
- Our archetypal fields contain the particular elements which allow a free flow of spiritual substance to every archetype. The charge has been dismissed from any elements which would block that flow; those elements remain as mere memories.
- We recognize the archetypes as aspects not only of human life but of spirit. This recognition gives us an overview such that we can switch from the human viewpoint (in which we are encountering archetypes) into soul's viewpoint (in which we are encountering parts of ourselves).
- Now that we are familiar with spirit's archetypes, and the dynamics of each -- and we understand that the archetypes and dynamics are those of spirit itself -- we no longer need the material worlds which were merely fields which we created in order to study those archetypes in their physical, emotional, and mental "dimensions." We re-integrate those fields back into spirit. Also, we no longer need the mind, which was a part of the soul which the soul used as an instrument to discern the individual archetypes of spirit; we can "turn off" the soul's mind function.
- I speculate that the next step -- and I am sorry that I cannot write about that state on the basis of personal experience -- is that we dwell in pure spirit (which is the tangible substance of which each soul is composed). We are each still an individual -- different in our unique history and in our singular viewpoint, but identical in our common substance of spirit. Our only course is to recognize the spirit within other souls, and to offer unconditional love which is merely the nature of spirit which flows like a river around the stones in its path without prejudice against the stones' shape or color or other marks of individuality.
- We are here to learn about life (and its archetypes) through action and interaction. To be inactive is to betray our very reason for being in this world.
- Life itself is constantly changing, constantly active, constantly giving intuitive messages which guide us in each moment; if we ignore this guidance -- and we choose instead to be inactive -- we create karma through the inaction itself, because karma is created whenever we fail to obey intuition.
- Karma can be painful -- but our love of life can be so great that we are willing to tolerate the bruises. As we learn more about life, through our experiences, we are likely to experience less of the pain.
We can act without creating extraneous karma. Every action creates karma; i.e., it creates an effect. Our goal is to act in such a way that we create the appropriate karma (e.g., a productive conversation) without extraneous karma (e.g., the energy tone of resentment which could be generated in a conversation which is characterized by lack of intuitive communication). We can use the following approaches to avoid the creation of extraneous karma:
- We proclaim ourselves to be a mere agent of a spiritual force. Traditionally, this has been the standard prescription for karma-less action; if we are acting "in the name of spirit," we are not karmically responsible for what we do. However, this procedure has an obvious flaw: we might do any action (including theft or murder), and then simply recite this magical statement, "I do it in the name of spirit," and thereby be absolved of responsibility and karma. (Similarly, some authors have said that we do not create karma when we are fulfilling our duties to a secular authority; however, we have seen what happens when soldiers are "only following orders" -- as in the case of the Nazis.) In one sense, the process is the opposite of that of intuition; in intuition, we first seek direction from spirit and then we act -- but in this technique, we first decide our direction and then we turn to spirit to say our magical statement (even though our direction might be derived from the foulest element in an archetypal field.) And yet, despite the potential for abuse and misguidance, the thought that we are acting in the name of spirit does change the dynamic of the circumstance:
- When we act in the name of spirit, we tend to think about the spiritual part of ourselves. Because of this directing of our attention, we might become more aware of our intuition (which is a recognition of the dynamics of spirit as represented in this material circumstance), and so we would gain some spiritual guidance which might indeed be contrary to our original plan. However, "turning inward" does not necessarily make us more aware of spirit; instead, when we turn inward, we might simply become more aware of the demands of dysfunctional a-field elements which we would then enact.
- When we act in the name of spirit, we consider the religious concepts which are associated with our spirit. Those concepts might guide us to perform the action in a manner which does not create a large amount of extraneous karma. However, even if those ideals lead to an improvement in our plan of action, they are only generalized templates for behavior, and so they do not consider the unique dynamic matrix of this situation; the difference between our stereotyped religious action and the action which was truly required in this singular circumstance will be registered in our a-fields as karma.
- We are not acting from ego. Many have said that the ego is innately troublesome and contrary to spirit. However, as explained in the chapter regarding the ego, there is nothing innately "wrong" with the ego; it is associated with problems only to the extent that we have implanted inappropriate elements, such as those which cause behaviors that we label "vain" or "jealous" or "greedy." When we act from intuition, we include all dynamic factors, including the rightful claims of our ego and also of the other person's ego; the ego is part of a mix, and so it does not dominate (nor do any of the potentially disruptive a-field elements which might be associated with the ego).
- We surrender the fruits of our work to spirit. When we declare ourselves to be mere agents of a greater force, we do not claim the rewards (i.e., the "fruits") for ourselves; by analogy, a soldier does not claim the territory which an army conquers, because he or she was merely obeying commands. However, "surrendering the fruits" does not mean that we cannot gain something from our actions; for example, the soldier still accepts a paycheck.
- We do not care for personal gain or loss. This concept --
if it is interpreted on a superficial level -- denies the
nature of the psyche which is continually measuring gain or
loss; this is a necessary activity for survival and growth.
Thus, if we try to live by this ideal, we must repress our
survival instinct. However, the ideal can be re-interpreted
from the perspective of intuition; our intuition does not
measure "gain or loss" in strictly material terms but rather in
terms of the flow of life-energy through us. Sometimes, we need
to experience a "loss" in order to discard something which this
stifling this flow; for example, we might need to lose a
mediocre relationship so that we can proceed to a better one --
"better" in the sense that it allows more opportunity for us to
express love and to resolve charged a-field elements. When we
are obeying intuition, and we have learned that it is the
trustworthy voice of life itself, we know that any loss is
occurring simply to make room for something else, the quality
of which will depend upon our alignment with that intuition.
Even though we are not acting for the purpose of personal
reward, we do gain rewards:
- We might learn a lesson about intuition and spirit. Of course, this education can occur even when we are not dedicating an action to spirit -- but it is more likely to occur if we are intentionally looking for the spiritual dynamics in a situation. When we look at situations from this perspective, we tend to discern both ourselves and the other person as "soul" which is exploring itself through the form of archetypes which we are each presenting to one another.
- We might resolve some previous karma. In other words, we might release the residual energy from previously implanted elements in our a-fields, while we implant new elements which are more conducive to the flow of spiritual energy in our life. Again, this can happen in any situation, but our attentiveness to spirit makes it more plausible.
- We might gain in other material ways. For example, our work might result in a better neighborhood, or new friendships. Contrarily, our action might cause disruption and alienation, because spirit's movement does not always suit our human preferences and ideals (e.g., a peaceful neighborhood). In surrendering the fruits, we surrender our ideas and preferences about what the fruits should be (whether peace or war, a paycheck or a dismissal); we stop trying to over-control a situation, and instead we simply play our role while allowing the natural evolution of events, and allowing also the responses of other people and materials. Regardless of our immediate material gain or loss, we experience a type of gain; our willingness to act according to spirit's guidance assures that we will achieve a greater flow of this life energy -- and because spirit is life itself, it will enhance our experience of life, spiritually and materially (perhaps not with great wealth but with the essential needs and comforts as our past karma is resolved).
- Psychologically, the surrender is beneficial:
- We might learn about human nature, and about our own psyche. When we follow intuition's guidance, we will inevitably be instructed to perform actions which are contrary to our habits, our attachments, our desires, and our preferences -- all of which might be recognized only now, specifically because of this contrast. As we struggle against those familiar patterns of behavior, we learn about ourselves and about the dynamics that are at the core of our motivations -- whether those motivations derive from our soul, our ego, or our a-field elements.
- We are relieved of stress and worry regarding the results, because our responsibility is simply to act as directed. The results are the responsibility of spirit which initiated the action. We act, and then we release the action, without neurotically pondering it -- before, during, or after the action.
- We might be less self-conscious, because our attention is not on ourselves and our performance but instead it is on the task and the impersonal force which is guiding us. We are not perfectionistic according to human standards, but instead we know that the perfection lies in intuition's exquisite understanding and administration of the forces in the situation.
- We do not seek personal recognition. We are merely acting out the movement of spirit -- with its direction, wisdom, and power -- so we cannot rightly claim the quality of the results as our own quality; we know that the results are better than the results we could have created with our own talents and skills. Even if our fruits put us into a spotlight, we know that we are only one part of a team which includes not only other people and spirit itself (as perceived intuitively), but also all parts of the psyche (such that the ego or a-field constellations be wrongly perceived as the sole creator). Thus, we develop humility -- not as a self-denial but instead as an accurate assessment of ourselves as only one valuable part of a larger process.
- We see the "inaction in action." This is a paradoxical
statement which has been offered by some spiritual teachers. We
can interpret the statement in various ways:
- When we act according to spirit's guidance (as discerned by intuition), we might feel as though we are not doing anything (even though we are physically moving); instead, spirit is doing something through us. Thus, we experience a type of "effortless effort," because spirit is providing not only the direction but also the energy by which we act. (Another perspective regarding this differentiation is to say that we -- soul -- are not doing anything; instead, the action is being performed by the body, senses, and other material things which are not our true self.)
- "Action" and movement exist only in terms of reference points. If our reference point is the physical world, we see action; i.e., we are moving in relation to physical objects. But if our reference point is spirit, and we are moving in accordance with the movement of spirit, we experience no sensation of that movement; in terms of relativity, this situation would be analogous to a situation in which two trains are both traveling at 100 kilometers per hour and are thus motionless in relation to one another.
- We experience other conditions that are associated with both intuition and the qualities which are attributed to soul. In the intuition chapter, those qualities are described: awareness, balance, benevolence (and even love), exhilaration, the accuracy of the information which we receive, and the wholism of the experience.
- We would disrupt our individuation process and our personal "dharma." In any moment, intuition prescribes only one unique action -- and it will provide the items for us to perform that action (if we cooperate with our own efforts and our field-work). When we wrongly take goods (material or non-material), we are distracted from whatever we need to be doing. If we want to have what is ours, we must discard what is not ours; if we want to be who we really are; we must discard what is not really us. (When we want to receive something new in our life, one way to "make room" for its energy is to throw out unneeded possessions; by doing so, we create a type of "vacuum" which must be filled.)
- We would disturb the integrity of the archetypal field. This is analogous to a random extra note which fouls a musical chord. We might feel this disturbance as an alien presence -- something which is disrupting and blocking our energy; this blockage is one cause for the unpleasant sensation of "guilt" (when we have taken something which is not meant to be ours).
- We would weaken the energy field. Energy is consumed by everything which is within our personal life's field -- even by the junk in our attic. When we acquire items which are not supported by the flow of spirit (as expressed by intuition), we try instead to support them with our personal energy, and thus those new items drain our energy, no matter how much we want them or like them. We can be much stronger and more energetic if we streamline our life to contain only the items (material and non-material) which are a vibrant expression of our spirit-filled life, and we remove the dead objects which we possess only because of habit, or attachment, or an incorrect assessment of who we are, and why we are here, and what we need and want.
- We would "hemorrhage." As we give and receive items (even such things as thoughts), we can imagine this exchange occurring through a doorway which opens to give and receive, and then closes again for protection (in the same way in which we would open a physical door for guests, but then we would close it to keep out prowlers). This exchange occurs in alignment with the "movement" of the spirit-substance, which attracts the items which we need, and then creates openings for those items at the proper moment. When we ignore intuition, and instead we randomly grab items from outside of us, we violate this process; by analogy, these items are crashing through our wall instead of using the door. This hole is created even if the item is meant to be ours but our timing is wrong. Through the hole, we hemorrhage an outflow of our personal energy, and we become vulnerable to the uncontrolled inflow of other people's energy and influence (i.e., their thoughts and images). The hole will never be completely sealed until we give back the improperly acquired item. During the time-period in which we have this hole, we continue to suffer from the uncontrolled outflow and inflow. In this dynamic, our loss can be much greater than our illicit gain; a small theft can result in a continuing -- and very expensive -- hemorrhage which lingers long into the future. (For example, a criminal record of our $5 shoplifting can cause us to lose a $100,000-per-year job.) This long-term effect occurs because karma is not a strictly one-for-one process, but instead it occurs because we have chosen to enter a particular "field of possibilities"; this field includes other similar possible actions, and the possible natural reciprocations for those actions. The field is like a room which we enter; the other occupants are people who have gone there to do the same things which we want to do, and so this could be a "love" room or a "violence" room or another type of room. As long as we remain in that field, we continue to pay for the consequences simply for being there; of course, our "being there" is perpetuated by our continuation in generating the corresponding elements. The condition ends when we leave that field, i.e., when we change the elements of that archetypal field.
- We create faulty ideas regarding the nature of life (i.e., spirit). We are not here to acquire goods merely for the sake of ownership; we are here to learn about archetypes' nature and dynamics (as expressed in the actions of giving and receiving from the reciprocal position of those archetypes). As we study these dynamics, we learn that there is a balance in the giving and receiving within the material worlds and among human beings (which are really just "graphical user interfaces" of the underlying reciprocal archetypes).
- We can look for the results of any action. As we study the cycle of cause-and-effect in regular life, we are more likely to see it in more subtle manifestations. For example, regular-life karma is exhibited if we fail to pay our telephone bill and then the telephone company cancels our service. We can notice the effects of everything that we do -- physically, emotionally, mentally, socially, financially, etc.
- We can look for extraneous features in any interaction. There is the pure contact with an archetype, but there are also some odd details -- for example, our inexplicably angry response, or the other person's apparently unwarranted reaction to us, or the strangeness that this event would occur at all. These extraneous features occur because we are discharging the residual charge of elements in our a-fields.
- We can investigate the reason for an event. We might simply ask our intuition, "Why is this occurring?" We can meditate upon the question, or "sleep on it" (i.e., put the question to ourselves before going to sleep). The answer might come to us as an intuitive insight, or in a symbolic sleep-time dream, or in a message from a spiritual teacher, or in some other way (such as a synchronous event).
- We can consider the possibility that reincarnation occurs. People who do not believe in reincarnation will not recognize a cause which was created during a previous lifetime. Some people believe that our past-life karma determines the conditions into which we are born -- the particular family, any birth defects, some of our childhood illnesses, and some of the conditions with arise later in our life. (One common belief is that we continue to reincarnate with the same people in order to resolve the karma from our previous, and on-going, conflicts; for example, our spouse in this lifetime might have been one of our parents in a previous lifetime.)
- We can consider the idea that we do not need to know the specific cause of all phenomena in our life. Although a problem might be resolved more easily if we know the cause, we can manage it without having that information. Sometimes the cause is obvious, but sometimes it is not, for these reasons:
- Our karma is intertwined with the karma of everyone and everything. We are part of a complex fabric of cause-and-effect which ripples throughout the universe, such that -- to some extent, individually -- we are the cause of everything, and we are the effect of everything.
- Cause and effect tend to perpetuate themselves. If we look at a cause, we see that it is the effect of a previous cause, and so on, extending backward in time. We cannot isolate any event as pure cause or pure effect.
- The cause might have occurred during a past life. If we look for the cause within our current lifetime, we will not find it.
- We experience "group karma." Not only do we have our individual karma, but we also partake in the collective karma of every group to which we belong -- our family, our community, our nation, our corporation, the human race, etc. Thus, an effect in our individual life might be due primarily to the actions of our group (although our individual karma determines the impact of this group karma upon ourselves). Group karma can be manifested in economic depression (or prosperity), war, and other group-wide events.
- Humility. Our delusions of holiness are shattered if we acknowledge that our suffering might be due to the suffering which we have inflicted. An awareness of our wholeness allows us to view the idea that we have the potential for any possible action, including, for example, a brutal action which might be responsible for our current problems.
- Self-acceptance. If we recognize our capacity for maliciousness, the only way in which we can go on with our lives is to accept our past and our present. This acceptance does not mean that we like what we did, but merely that we still love ourselves as we learn about the nature of life. If we deny ourselves that love -- i.e., if we shame ourselves and we hate ourselves -- our own protective mechanisms will prevent us from seeing the parts of us which trigger that shame and hatred.
We can resolve our existing karma. There are many ways in which we diminish or eliminate the effect of unwanted karma (i.e., the extraneous effects which we created in addition to our intended effects). In each of these methods, intuition -- the communication mechanism which translates spirit's perspective into human understanding -- can assist us. To resolve our karma, we can approach it from various perspectives:
- Straight payback. This is the standard means by which we repay karma -- usually unwillingly, and usually without knowing the reason why we are experiencing the particular hardship or bounty. For example, if we have been dishonest in our finances, we will encounter financial hardship (probably because we have implanted that idea that "it is okay to steal" and then people have adopted our thought in their dealings with us). In payback situations, we can use our intuition:
- It can tell us the cause of our present circumstance; for example, "My relationships have been unsatisfying because I have been cruel to people." With this knowledge, we might be able to change our behavior so that we are no longer perpetuating the situation; our intuition can direct this change by suggesting thoughts, images, energy tones, and actions which will be implanted in our a-fields. As those elements change, we change, and our karma changes.
- It can tell us whether a present circumstance is a resolution of old karma or the creation of new karma. For example, if someone is hurting us, intuition indicates whether this is our old karma which we are resolving (and thus we should simply accept the injury, without retaliating against the person) or new karma which the person is creating with us (and thus we should act to create a resolution, perhaps through a lawsuit).
- It can tell us whether we need to enforce a payback. We might usually think of karma as something which happens to us -- but sometimes we need to be an agent in someone else's karma (either "good" or "bad"). For example, perhaps we are usually a gentle person, but intuition might tell us to speak harshly to someone, because that person needs to resolve some unpleasant karma.
- Our ailment recurs, because the underlying karma is still there.
- The "healer" experiences the ailment, perhaps years later. Despite the good intentions, the healer has interfered with the karmic process, and so he or she pays this penalty.