A simple way of looking at karma is to see it in terms of immediate cause and effect. And in some ways, this seems to be a sufficient way to look at karma as well – at least in offering us guidelines for how to relate to our lives.
Karma can occur within and outside of the small self.
Within the small self
Within the small self, it can refer to deepening grooves. Whenever we engage with a pattern of the small self, there is an effect. Habits are formed.
The patterns of the small self come and go on their own. They live their own life, formed by the habits of this universe, biology, culture and personal experience.
When we fuel a pattern, the groove deepens. If we try to push it away, then that groove of pushing away deepens. When we allow them to unfold within ourselves as space & awareness, the groove of the patterns of the small self becomes more shallow – subtly or sometimes suddenly. And the groove of staying in our more inclusive holarchy of being is deepened.
So, whenever we are exclusively identified with or caught up with the small self, or an aspect of small self, the patterns of the small self are reinforced. We cannot help it.
And whenever we rest in our larger holarcy of being, the habitual patterns of the small self soften a little. They decrystallize. The habitual grooves become a little more shallow. And the pattern of staying in our larger holarchy of being is reinforced, that particular groove deepens a little.
We set up patterns and habits that will continue on their own, and which we will continue to live with and relate to.
Outside of the small self
The actions and behaviors (or lack thereof) of the small self in the wider world of phenomena also creates karma.
We relate to others in a certain way, and that makes them more likely to relate to us in a certain way (usually mirroring our own behavior) . We relate to our physical environment in a certain way, which influences our physical environment and in turn creates new conditions for the small self.
The world of phenomena is a fluid seamless whole. Whatever the small self does or does not do influences the larger whole, which in turn changes the circumstances for the small self.
This is very obvious on a large scale today. We operate with an economical and social system which assumes unlimited resources, we do this within a planet with finite resources, and the consequence is unraveling ecosystems. We destroy the life-support systems of our own small selves.
Karma as Feedback
Another aspect of karma is feedback.
Whatever our state when we relate to the inner/outer world, it creates consequences which faithfully reflect our state.
If we operate from a dualistic view (blindly identified with the small self), we receive consequences which invite us to see the other side – the one we were not identified with.
For instance, I create a separation between myself and the Earth and act from this. The consequence is (in our case) that the ecosystems unravel which invites me see the lack of separation between the two. My sense of separation was false, and the world of phenomena invites me to see this.
I awaken to the Absolute, and realize that there is no karma in the Absolute. It is distinct from the world of phenomena, so there cannot be karma there. But, I take this too far and extends it into the world of phenomena. I think there is no karma for me anymore, anywhere. I may then act in reckless ways, which will create consequences I will have to deal with – such as others withdrawing from me or becoming upset with me (people who perceive themselves as hurt by my actions), or I may set in motion some of the ways society has evolved to deal with socially “loose cannons” such as the law.
Karma is very faithful in reflecting where we are at. It is Existence giving itself feedback, giving itself – as us – the opportunity to shift into a more inclusive and differentiated view.