The law of “karma” or cause and effect
Every action generates a force of energy that
returns to us in like kind . . . what we sow is what we
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And when we choose actions that bring happi-
ness and success to others, the fruit of our karma is
happiness and success.
Karma is the eternal assertion of human free-
dom. . . . Our thoughts, our words, and deeds are the threads of the net which we throw around our-
— Swami Vivekananda
he third spiritual law of success is the Law of Karma. “Karma” is both action and the
consequence of that action; it is cause and effect simultaneously, because every
action generates a force of energy that returns to us in like kind. There is nothing
unfamiliar about the Law of Karma. Everyone has heard the expression, “What you sow is what T
you reap.” Obviously, if we want to create happiness in our lives, we must learn to sow the
seeds of happiness. Therefore, karma implies the action of conscious choice-making.
You and I are essentially infinite choice-makers. In every moment of our existence, we are
in that field of all possibilities where we have access to an infinity of choices. Some of these
choices are made consciously, while others are made unconsciously. But the best way to under- stand and maximize the use of karmic law is to become consciously aware of the choices we make in every moment.
Whether you like it or not, everything that is happening at this moment is a result of the choices you’ve made in the past. Unfortunately, a lot of us make choices unconsciously, and
therefore we don’t think they are choices — and yet, they are.
If I were to insult you, you would most likely make the choice of being offended. If I were to pay you a compliment, you would most likely make the choice of being pleased or flattered. But think about it: it’s still a choice.
I could offend you and I could insult you, and you could make the choice of not being
offended. I could pay you a compliment and you could make the choice of not letting that flatter
In other words, most of us — even though we are infinite choice-makers — have become bundles of conditioned reflexes that are constantly being triggered by people and circumstances into predictable outcomes of behaviour. These conditioned reflexes are like Pavlovian condi-
tioning. Pavlov is famous for demonstrating that if you give a dog something to eat every time
you ring a bell, soon the dog starts to salivate when you just ring the bell, because it has associated one stimulus with the other.
Most of us, as a result of conditioning, have repetitions and predictable responses to the stimuli in our environment. Our reactions seem to be automatically triggered by people and
circumstances, and we forget that these are still choices that we are making in every moment of
our existence. We are simply making these choices unconsciously.
If you step back for a moment and witness the choices you are making as you make those choices, then in just this act of witnessing, you take the whole process from the unconscious
realm into the conscious realm. This procedure of conscious choice-making and witnessing is
When you make any choice — any choice at all — you can ask yourself two things: First of
all, “What are the consequences of this choice that I’m making?” In your heart you will immedi- ately know what these are. Secondly, “Will this choice that I’m making now bring happiness to me and to those around me?” If the answer is yes, then go ahead with that choice. If the answer is no, if that choice brings distress either to you or to those around you, then don’t make that
choice. It’s as simple as that.
There is only one choice, out of the infinity of choices available in every second, that will create happiness for you as well as for those around you. And when you make that one choice, it will result in a form of behaviour that is called spontaneous right action. Spontaneous right action is the right action at the right moment. It’s the right response to every situation as it
happens. It’s the action that nourishes you and everyone else who is influenced by that action.
There is a very interesting mechanism that the universe has to help you make spontane- ously correct choices. The mechanism has to do with sensations in your body. Your body experiences two kinds of sensations: one is a sensation of comfort, the other is a sensation of discomfort. At the moment you consciously make a choice, pay attention to your body and ask
your body, “If I make this choice, what happens?” If your body sends a message of comfort,
that’s the right choice. If your body sends a message of discomfort, then it’s not the appropriate choice.
For some people the message of comfort and discomfort is in the area of the solar plexus, but for most people it’s in the area of the heart. Consciously put your attention in the heart and ask your heart what to do. Then wait for the response — a physical response in the form of a
sensation. It may be the .faintest level of feeling — but it’s there, in your body.
Only the heart knows the correct answer. Most people think the heart is mushy and senti- mental. But it’s not. The heart is intuitive; it’s holistic, it’s contextual, it’s relational. It doesn’t have a win-lose orientation. It taps into the cosmic computer — the field of pure potentiality, pure knowledge, and infinite organizing power — and takes everything into account. At times it
may not even seem rational, but the heart has a computing ability that is far more accurate and
far more precise than anything within the limits of rational thought.
You can use the Law of Karma to create money and affluence, and the flow of all good things to you, any time you want. But first, you must become consciously aware that your future is generated by the choices you are making in every moment of your life. If you do this on a
regular basis, then you are making full use of the Law of Karma. The more you bring your
choices into the level of your conscious awareness, the more you will make those choices which are spontaneously correct — both for you and those around you.
What about past karma and how it is influencing you now? There are three things you can do about past karma. One is to pay your karmic debts. Most people choose to do that —
unconsciously, of course. This may be a choice you make, also. Sometimes there’s a lot of
suffering involved in the payment of those debts, but the Law of Karma says no debt in the universe ever goes unpaid. There is a perfect accounting system in this universe, and everything is a constant “to and fro” exchange of energy.
The second thing you can do is to transmute or transform your karma to a more desirable
experience. This is a very interesting process in which you ask yourself, as you’re paying your
karmic debt, “What can I learn from this experience? Why is this happening and what is the message that the universe is giving to me? How can I make this experience useful to my fellow
By doing this, you look for the seed of opportunity and then tie that seed of opportunity
with your dharma, with your purpose in life, which we’ll talk about in the Seventh Spiritual Law
of Success. This allows you to transmute the karma to a new expression.
For example, if you break your leg while playing sports, you might ask, “What can I learn from this experience? What is the message that the universe is giving me?” Perhaps the mes- sage is that you need to slow down and be more careful or attentive to your body the next time. And if your dharma is to teach others what you know, then by asking, “How can I make this
experience useful to my fellow human beings?” you may decide to share what you learned by
writing a book about playing sports safely. Or you may design a special shoe or leg support that prevents the kind of injury you experienced.
This way, while paying your karmic debt, you will have also converted the adversity into a benefit that may bring you wealth and fulfillment. This is the transmutation of your karma into
a positive experience. You haven’t really gotten rid of your karma, but you are able to take a
karmic episode and create a new and positive karma out of it.
The third way to deal with karma is to transcend it. To transcend karma is to become independent of it. The way to transcend karma is to keep experiencing the gap, the Self, the Spirit. It’s like washing a dirty piece of cloth in a stream of water. Every time you wash it, you
take away a few stains. You keep washing it again and again, and each time it gets a little
cleaner. You wash or transcend the seeds of your karma by going into the gap and coming out again. This, of course, is done through the practice of meditation.
All actions are karmic episodes. Drinking a cup of coffee is a karmic episode. That action generates memory, and memory has the ability or the potentiality to generate desire. And desire generates action again. The operational software of your soul is karma, memory, and
desire. Your soul is a bundle of consciousness that has the seeds of karma, memory, and desire.
By becoming conscious of these seeds of manifestation, you become a conscious generator of reality. By becoming a conscious choice-maker, you begin to generate actions that are evolu- tionary for you and for those that are around you. And that’s all you need to do.
As long as karma is evolutionary — for both the Self and everyone affected by the Self —
then the fruit of karma will be happiness and success.
APPLYING THE LAW OF KARMA OR CAUSE AND EFFECT
I will put the Law of Karma into effect by making a commitment to take the following
(1) Today I will witness the choices I make in each moment. And in the mere witnessing of
these choices, I will bring them to my conscious awareness. I will know that the best
way to prepare for any moment in the future is to be fully conscious in the present.
(2) Whenever I make a choice, I will ask myself two questions: “What are the conse-
quences of this choice that I’m making?” and “Will this choice bring fulfillment and
happiness to me and also to those who are affected by this choice?”
(3) I will then ask my heart for guidance and be guided by its message of comfort or
discomfort. If the choice feels comfortable, I will plunge ahead with abandon. If the choice feels uncomfortable, I will pause and see the consequences of my action with
my inner vision. This guidance will enable me to make spontaneously correct choices
for myself and for all those around me.