Karmic Reckoning: Taking Control of Your Life
Counseling revolves around examining what we are doing in life and learning to make our actions more effective. To improve our efficiency we may observe what other people are doing according to current trends in society, and see how to take advantage of these. Yet for any action to succeed at a deeper level, we must understand the forces that we are working with, including those that we have already set in motion. We cannot just look to the outside, we must look within.
The first thing Vedic counseling teaches us is that our lives are a product of our own action or karma. Who we are and what we experience, both individually and collectively, is the result of forces that we have set in motion and are ultimately responsible for. We are responsible for ourselves and to some extent for the world as a whole.
The universe is our own co-creation that we have participated in along with the great creative forces of nature. There is no God to blame for the condition of the world apart from ourselves. The state of society is similarly our own co-creation along with all other people. There is no person or group to blame for the state of society apart from ourselves. Above all, we as individuals are the result of our own thought and action, not the result of what other people have done to us. There is no one to blame or to try to get even with.
This realm of karma remains a work in progress with changes happening at every moment. We must remain vigilantly aware of its constant development and direct it towards the highest good. We cannot claim ignorance as an excuse for achieving wrong outcomes in life.
Recognizing that our lives are a creation of our own karma means that we must first take responsibility for who we are and learn to act in a way that insures we achieve what we are really seeking. We cannot place the responsibility for who we are on anyone, though we all have to assume a degree of mutual responsibility for all that occurs in our lives.
Life is action, which is karma. Life is never static or completed. Life consists of forces that are ever changing and reshaping themselves in various ways, undergoing regular renewal and transformation. While these forces in life cannot be destroyed, we can alter their level and degree of manifestation, sometimes in a radical manner. To do this we must be consciousness at every moment of the type of forces in play around us. We must remain wakefully aware at every instant, not as a state of stress but as a state of receptivity to the vast movement of life.
We must also recognize that behind visible causes and their apparent effects in the world today are placed yet subtler forces of karma shaping them in powerful currents, with links to other times, places and aspects of the greater universe. The karma in our world is linked to the karma in other worlds, including those beyond the physical we may not know.
The key Vedic law of life is the law of karma, which shows the interdependence of all creatures and actions in the universe. Though karma is a common term today, it is seldom understood in its proper light. Vedic counseling requires understanding our karma in life, which is different for each person, and which is regularly changing. This requires understanding the law of karma and how it works, which can be very subtle.
Vedic counseling is largely a karmic counseling, designed to help us become aware of our karma and manage it in a positive manner. It helps us understand the nature of the karmic forces that we must deal with and provides the tools that can help us positively modify and ultimately transcend karma altogether. Vedic counseling rests upon an understanding of the karma of a person and an ability to improve it in a way that is beneficial to the inner being.
Life is a karmic reality that we must recognize, honor and respect. There are tremendous powers that we are linked to, which can be far stronger than anything we can set in motion ourselves. If we do not act with awareness, we can get ourselves involved in forces that may take us in a very different direction than where we may wish to go, like jumping into the powerful stream that will go only the way that it is flowing. Though the effects of karma do not always manifest immediately, they can be very hard to overcome once they have been set in motion.
Karma, Destiny and Free Will
Karma means action and refers to the results of our previous actions. It does not mean destiny and does not indicate that our lives are predetermined. The past projects an influence that can be very powerful but life in the present can modify that in various directions. There is always room for the new. The law of karma means that each of our actions has consequences that we should be aware of, not only for the present but also for the future.
The law of karma means that we are free to create our own destiny in life. There are, however, three important correlates to this idea that serve to qualify it.
- Karma and Time: We create our destiny in the field of time, which means that who we are today is a result of what we did yesterday, extending into previous lives that we have forgotten. The shadow or the light of past life karmas hangs over us and must be understood.
- Karma and Dharma. We create our destiny in the field of universal law. For example, we are free to put our hand into a fire, but we are not free to put our hand into a fire and not get burned. This means that if we violate universal laws that we will suffer. Unfortunately, the results of certain actions manifest only after time and so our immediate reaction may be incorrect. When we come down with an illness, for example, it may be the result of wrong actions over a long period of time, like taking of too many sweets leading to diabetes.
- Collective nature of Karma. We are co-creators of karma. We as individuals live in a certain era and cultural field that affects our actions. For example, someone with a certain career potential in our society today may have a different career than if they were born a thousand years ago. Similarly we can be affected by collective karmas extending to major social changes, innovations or conflicts.
Assuming Responsibility for your Karma and for Your Life
The foundation for all Vedic counseling is that we must first assume karmic responsibility for our own lives. Only when we assume responsibility for ourselves in life can we effectively change who we are and alter how we live in a harmonious manner.
One of the biggest obstacles to change in life is that we do not accept responsibility, particularly for the difficulties that come to us. We want to make others responsible, whether it is our family, friends, society or the world as a whole. Yet in blaming others, we give away our own power and deprive ourselves of the motivation to improve our lives. We are not victims and cannot blame others for our condition in life, even though their actions do affect us. The attitude of being a victim weakens us, inhibits positive change and gets us caught in the past.
Once we accept our karmic responsibility in life, we are able to forgive others and let go of the past. We can make positive changes in the present moment. We recognize that we are responsible for the world in which we live. Accepting our responsibility for our karma allows us to take control of our lives and make meaningful and lasting changes. It provides a great relief and opens up a new horizon of transformation.
By Dr. David Frawley (Vamadeva Shastri)