Karma is instant, and other types of karma


Karma means action, work or deed; it also refers to the spiritual principle of cause and effect where intent and actions of an individual (cause) influence the future of that individual (effect). Good intent and good deeds contribute to good karma and happier rebirths, while bad intent and bad deeds contribute to bad karma and bad rebirths.

– Wikipedia article on Karma

The modern western understanding of karma is that we do something, and we reap the consequences in this life or the next.

This can happen in a few different ways.

There is a form of instant and inevitable karma. If I blindly fuel and act on anger, I inevitably suffer. If I am able to notice, allow, and rest with the anger, and perhaps notice the fear and the fearful thoughts it’s rooted in, there is more peace.

And the same goes for anything triggered in me. Any stressful thoughts. Any uncomfortable emotions or feelings. When I get caught in it and act on it, I suffer. When I am able to notice, allow, rest with it, and see what’s behind it (usually a wound, trauma, fear), there is more peace.

Whatever I do is strengthened as a pattern or habit. If there is reactivity in me, and I am able to notice, take a step back, allow, relate to it more consciously, and not act on it, that pattern is slightly strengthened. If I instead act on it blindly, that pattern is strengthened. This is one form of karma. And it applies to whatever I do in mind or action.

Along the same lines, there are the “inner” causes and consequences. If I am more authentic with myself and others, I am more likely to feel centered, grounded, and content. (Although it may also bring some temporary discomfort when I go against what others expect or want from me.) If I cultivate a habit of genuine gratitude, I am more likely to feel content, grateful, and at peace. If I cultivate a habit of complaining and blame, I am more likely to create an inner atmosphere of unease, restlessness, and discomfort.

There are causes and consequences for my life in the world. If I smile and am genuinely friendly to others, that’s what I am more likely to receive in return.

And then there is the idea of consequences for future lives. I don’t know if this is accurate or not. (I only know what some people say about it but don’t have personal experiences to support it.)

What I do know is that this idea has been used – by some cultures, traditions, and teachers – to guide people to more kind behavior. And it has also been used to justify unjust social structures and control people and keep them “in their place”. (The Indian caste system.)

I also know that if we have many lives, and there is this form of inter-life karma, we all have (just about) infinite amounts of all kinds of karma. We are all in, more or less, the same boat. Whatever happens to ripen right now is just the tiniest piece of it.

What’s common for all these forms of karma is feedback. Karma is another word for feedback. It’s an opportunity to notice and learn. It’s an opportunity to invite in healing. And ultimately, karma leads to awakening.

About consequences, free from stress, and following the heart

The mind may have all sorts of stories of how it will be when there is more clarity. One is that there will be no consequences of our actions, and that we can do what we want without repercussions. This is one of the “dreams of the ego”. The reality of it is much simpler and more ordinary, at least in my experience. There are, of course, still consequences – of our actions, choices, emotions, thoughts etc. Consequences happen in an ordinary way. We may not believe our thoughts about it, so the coarse or gross (dis)stress may not be there. (Or it’s at least not resisted in the same way.) This makes it much easier. And yet, when we go against our inner guidance, our heart, our authenticity, is still doesn’t feel right. In fact, the more clear we are, and the more we recognize all as love, the more painful it is to go against our guidance, our heart, and our authenticity. In that sense, there is less freedom in clarity. Or, more accurately, there is still freedom to go against guidance, heart and authenticity, yet the consequences are more clear and painful to us. And yet, that’s a small – or actually no – price to pay for living from clarity and love. I still get caught in fear and beliefs, and sometimes go against my guidance and heart. When that happens, it’s helpful to feel the pain of doing so. Read More



I told a friend about something in my life the other day, and she said “it’s karma”.

What does the word mean for me now?

Karma – whatever ideas we have about it – is an idea. It’s a projection. An overlay of images and thoughts. It’s not inherent in the world or “out there” in the world. And the idea of a world is also an idea that’s right here.

Within the realm of ideas of images, karma can be said to be cause and effect. We have an image of something go before something else in time, and have another image saying one caused the other.

One basic image of how karma operates is beliefs. Mind takes an image or thought as true, and there is a perception as if it’s true, emotions come as if it’s true, and actions come as if it’s true.

Another basic image if karma is of infinite causes. Whatever happens, even the most simple thing, and even that which seems the most “personal” such as choices and intentions, has infinite causes. I can make a long list of what brought it about, and I can always find one more thing, and one more thing. The whole universe, the whole of existence – in it’s extent and history – is behind it.

The first view of karma – focusing on beliefs – can be quite helpful. And the second helps soften the idea that it is – or something is or can really be – personal.

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Cause and effect in the dreamworld


I just listened to a teleconference with Byron Katie where she used the phrase that’s cause and effect in the dreamworld. I didn’t hear what was before or after due to transmission problems, so that was obviously all I needed to hear.

Cause and effect in the dreamworld.

We can of course explore cause and effect in a conventional sense, and use that in everyday life.

And yet, when I look at images and thoughts about any specific cause and effect, I see it’s just that – a thought and an image. It’s not true. And those thoughts and images can be very helpful in everyday life.

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