Karma refers to cause and effect, as it shows up in our daily lives in many different ways.
Generally, it can be seen as ordinary and innocent conditioning, the habitual patterns and responses, of this human self. There are innumerable causes of this conditioning, reaching into the full past and extent of this universe, and the form of the conditioning is always new and different as well.
This conditioning is inherent in the world of form. It is the movements within this seamless whole, appearing as cause and effect. It is what keeps us, and any being, alive. Nothing in the world of form, including our human selves, can function without conditioning. A human self cannot “escape” conditioning either, no more than a wave can escape an ocean. And it is not needed.
Karma from beliefs
One way karma shows up is any time there is a belief in a thought.
A thought arises as an innocent question. It is attached to, believed in, made into something that appears real and substantial. And through being attached to, it has real consequences in our lives.
I believe I am an object in the world, and get caught up in – and act from – likes and dislikes, hopes and fears. I believe the world is a dangerous place, and experience fear. I believe I am a man, and exclude feminine qualities. I believe people should be considerate, and cut down in my mind anyone I see as not considerate.
Existential terror as karma
When the Buddhist psychotherapist told my friend that her undercurrent of terror is karma, it may have been accurate in a certain way.
There is a belief in the thought I, and in subsequent thoughts such as something terrible will happen, and this necessarily leads to an undercurrent of terror. It can appear mild and in the background and go unnoticed for a while, and it can come more to the foreground in other situations.
There is a simple cause – a belief in a thought, and the effect – in this case a current of terror.
Karma falls away
And there may not be any need to make up stories about what created this in the past. Those are only stories. Instead, we can just to notice these beliefs and examine them. We can more clearly see their nature as ephemeral, their effects on our lives, who or what we would be without them, and that the reverse statements are as true as the original one.
Seeing through the beliefs, they fall away. And with them, their effects.
Karma falls away.
Karma from beliefs falls away, the other ones stay
At least this one particular type of karma falls away, the one coming from beliefs in thoughts. The one creating the whole drama of our human existence, the suffering, the dis-ease.
The other forms of karma, the innocent conditioning, is fine. It can and will stay. It is what allows this human self to continue, survive and function in the world of phenomena.
Where there used to be an attachment to a thought, leading to getting caught in this conditioning and a sense of drama and struggle, there is now an absence of attachment to the thought, and the same conditioning now functioning within a sense of ease.