There is a perspective that karma is an illusion and, of course, in one sense that is true, but in a practical everyday reality it is not true. It would be a little like saying that gravity or inertia are illusions. From the perspective of a transcendent state of consciousness I suppose you could say gravity and inertia are illusions because from a transcendent state everything is an illusion, but that doesn’t negate the effects of gravity and inertia on the person who is experiencing the transcendent state of consciousness. Inertia states that energy in motion tends to stay in motion and something at rest tends to stay at rest. The same is true of karma. Karma is simply energy which we have set in motion in the past and it will continue to have its effect until we do something to halt it.
Saying that either inertia or karma do not exist or saying that they are illusions doesn’t make them automatically go away, but some would like to believe that in denying their existence they can pretend to be immune to their effects. Disbelieving in something doesn’t mean it will not affect you.
Patanjali’s dualist description of reality is that what creates and sustains the duality and separation is the movement or force of creation and the will behind the force. This explanation of Patanjali was based on the direct experience of literally thousands of advanced yoga adepts. Everything which exists came into existence through some intention.
Unless we are proactive in releasing ourselves from karma it will continue its cause and effect impact on our life until it either naturally wears itself out or is balanced through whatever is accepted as compensation. Often the balancing requirement is due to thoughts, words or deeds violating a person’s integrity or alignment with their soul. Whenever something is done that is counter to the nature of the soul there is a pattern of conflict which will play itself out through some need to balance or compensate for it. This is the law of consequences or cause and effect which is a reality in our lives.
The problem with the later approach lies in the fact that the inner guide within us which determines the workings of karma is not quite sure when sufficient suffering has balanced a past “mis-deed.” The pervasive view held in the collective consciousness of humanity of a punitive universe is that it affects everyone until they transcend it through enlightenment.
For example, if you stole some money from your mother’s purse when you were a child, you would harbor guilt which would lead to certain consequences. Perhaps someone would steal something from you, but…and this is a big but, suffering by having something stolen from you would not necessarily relieve you of a deep-seated guilt over your actions of having stolen something, perhaps from your mother, and as a consequence you could continue to suffer in a vain attempt to diminish or pay for your guilt.
In most cases a person never consciously makes the connection with their suffering as a consequence for a particular action they did earlier in their past. When you introduce the numerous past lives everyone has had the process becomes even more tangled and difficult to unravel. Fortunately, there is a back door way out which I’ll discuss in a future blog on karma and relieving your karmic debts.
Everyone lives under the umbrella of karma and it is not all bad news. Karma also refers to the continuance of what you like and love.