The idea of karma is that you continually get the teachings that you need to open your heart.– Pema Chödrön
I like this way of looking at it. It is direct, immediate, and gives us a very useful pointer.
Another way to put it is that there is an invitation in all of our experiences to open our heart, question our thoughts, and notice what we really are. The idea of “teaching” can make it a bit heavy and feed into guilt and shoulds while invitation seems a bit gentler and more open.
We can also say that it’s all happening within and as the divine. It’s all the play of the divine, whether it’s the divine temporarily and locally taking itself as a separate being in a much larger world, using situations to reinforce a sense of separation, or finding ways to use situations to open up to the larger whole and eventually noticing itself as the divine.
Of course, all of these ideas – including teaching, invitation, karma, and lila – are ideas imposed on reality. We project them onto reality.
And some ideas, like the idea of karma as an invitation for opening the heart, can be very useful and helpful.