A few ways of looking at karma…
Karma can be taken as referring to habits. We engage in certain ways and this form habits, the grooves deepen. This is as area we are very familiar with from our daily life.
When we fuel a particular pattern, we are (typically) more likely to fall into in the future.
From the view of the whole, we see that the world of phenomena is one seamless process.
There are movements within the whole expressed throughout the whole. Filtered through a layer of abstractions – which allows for discernment – these movements show up as causes and effects.
And we see that for each change in any part of the whole, there are literally infinite causes and infinite effects.
Karma is then the movements of and in the whole, showing up for us as causes and effects.
This view of karma is completely impersonal. It is just the movements of the whole of the ocean showing up as movements in currents, waves and so on.
Cause and effect
Karma can also be seen as causes and effects on a personal level. We train in certain skills, and gain more familiarity and (apparent) mastery of it. We work and make money. We send out lots of post cards, and receive lots of post cards. We smile, and others smile back. And so on.
This form of karma is really the process of familiarizing ourselves with how the world of phenomena operates. We learn more of its ins and outs, and learn how to function more effectively in the world.
Another way to look at karma is as guides.
We act from a certain blindness, and receive consequences which invites us to see more of what we were blind to.
:: Blind to context ::
One blindness is to context. To the inherent nature of what is as having no “I” anywhere. To selflessness.
We believe in the idea of “I”, place it on a segment of the world of phenomena, and experience suffering. We are identified with something that is temporary and isolated from the rest of existence, and this naturally brings about various forms of suffering.
This suffering does not go away until there is the realization of selflessness, of no “I” anywhere as any segment of what is.
:: Blind to content ::
The same process takes place in terms of blindness to content, to how the world of phenomena operates.
The world is beyond and including any and all polarities. So whenever we we leave one end of any polarity out – from our view or identity – we receive situations which invites us to become familiar with this end of the polarity, and include it in our view or identity.
For instance, I see something in terrorists and not in myself, and this brings up fear and obsession with terrorists. This allows me to be more familiar with what I see in them, and invites me to gradually recognize it in myself as well.
Or I am strongly identified with being self-reliant. Life brings up a situation I cannot deal with on my own, and I have no choice but to rely on the assistance and support of others.
We see social systems as divorced from natural systems. From this comes a model of economics which assumes unlimited access to resources and unlimited disposal possibilities of waste, and we receive the consequences in form of destruction of our global and regional life-support systems. We are invited to change our view of human systems in relation to natural systems, and see the larger – global – system they both are embedded in. And to reflect this in all areas of our social systems, including our economical system.
This is the view of karma as gentle and persistent guides, helping us to awaken to context (selflessness) and content (the transdual processes of the world).
Another way to look at it is in terms of beliefs in ideas.
I believe in an idea, and this idea is – as all ideas inevitably are – limited. The world is always more than and different from any idea I have, so when the world shows up in a way that does not conform with the idea, there is suffering.
One way to deal with it is to modify the idea(s) I believe in, but this is only a temporary fix. The world will always show up differently, and bring about suffering again.
The only resolution is to see through the whole process of believing in ideas, which allows the process itself to fall away. And this allows the nature of mind to be revelaed, in its inherent clarity – and expressions of insights and compassion.
How situations are met
Any situation can bring suffering. And any situation can lead to insights and deepening compassion. It just depends on how they are perceived, and on how we habitually meet situations.
This goes back to the initial form of karma. We can train in particular ways of relating to daily life situations, and through this create habits which serve us when the situations become more difficult.
Although this too is movements within the larger ocean, dependent on infinite causes to unfold – or not. It may not be as much up to us as individuals as it often appear.
And life will gently nudge us towards bringing both the context (selflessness) and content (transdual processes) more into awareness.