What’s Karma and Why’s It Important?
We often think of karma as a punishment for something we’ve done wrong, possibly in past lives (if you believe in reincarnation). It can appear to be the justice system of an angry, demanding God – a way to make us pay for past misdemeanours by perpetuating suffering.
This is a terrible misunderstanding of the concept of karma, and causes many people a great deal of unhappiness, so let’s have another look at it.
Warning: if you don’t believe in reincarnation you may find this difficult. There are other ways to explain these patterns, but karma is a lot easier.
There is a universal law that says our experience is a reflection of our consciousness or of our energy/vibration. Another way of expressing this is to say that we get what we put out. So if we’re always angry, we experience a life that makes us feel angry. If we share a lot of love, we get to feel very loved by others as well.
But there’s a problem for many people. They appear to be kind, loving people who do their best for others and put a lot of energy into being good people, and yet life seems to treat them unkindly and they experience little love from others. It seems unfair and causes bitterness and resentment about life.
If you look deeper into these people you’ll see that they’ve usually tried hard all their life to be good people and it’s hard to understand why life treats them the way it does. It doesn’t seem to tie in with the universal law I mentioned above.
But if that law holds good you must be able to find the negativity somewhere in their consciousness. This is one of the first clues to karma. Those beautiful, kind, loving people are often very different when they look at or talk to themselves. They’re all light and love to others but treat themselves with great disrespect, harshness and even hatred. They’re highly critical of themselves, judgemental and unforgiving in the extreme.
How does this come about?
I want to be clear that I’m sharing my understanding of this, from many years of observation and work with people, but I’m not claiming any superior knowledge of systems that are way more sophisticated than our rather limited human understanding. So please take this as a story that helps to explain one of life’s mysteries, rather than the truth or a final version.
In our past lives we were living in times that were much more primitive than now. Most of us hurt other people in a variety of ways. If you’re a rather powerful person now, or have the potential or desire to be powerful, it’s likely that you were powerful in past lives as well. This means you had all the more chance to treat people badly – that was simply the way life was in those days.
Many of these hurts we caused to others were left unresolved. There was no forgiveness or amends made and the hurt was left festering, or suppressed. However, every time we hurt another person it leaves an impression on our energy or vibration, as well as on the other person.
We all know what it feels like to be hurt – we close down a part of ourselves to protect ourselves from further damage. And we usually hurt others because we’re already closed down. We’re already in pain and so we cause pain to another. These patterns are carried through time until they’re healed and made whole again.
If they aren’t resolved by the end of one lifetime, which they often aren’t, we carry them over into the next lifetime and so they become a part of our unconscious. They are patterns that are held deep within our energy, of which we have no awareness at all – until someone shows us.
As we review our lives, between lifetimes, it seems that from time to time we make a decision to change at a deeper level. Perhaps we observe that humiliating and shaming people isn’t working very well for us any more. Perhaps we decide that we want to experience more love in the next life and that won’t be possible if we continue to be so controlling of everyone around us.
And so we’re born with a desire to be a better person. This desire feeds our overwhelming sense of direction in life. We try hard to be kind and good – the new person we’ve chosen to become this time around.
However, lurking deep within our unconscious those deeply hurtful behaviour patterns are still hidden. They don’t get released between lives, only during the arena of life itself. So one day, we’re going about our life doing as much good as we can and minding our own business when suddenly someone shows up and treats us appallingly. They shame us in public for no reason whatsoever, or they try to control us in ways that are totally unreasonable. It makes no sense and makes us want to close down completely.
This is karma at play. The pattern that is held within you is showing up in your experience. It seems terrible at the time but there’s a beauty in it once you understand what’s happening. The person is treating you the way you used to treat others, in a lifetime you no longer remember. They are giving you a taste of your own medicine.
But the purpose is not punishment or revenge. It’s an opportunity to heal the pattern once and for all so you no longer need to experience it. If you recognise what’s happening, and that this awful behaviour is truly an aspect of your own being, you can forgive the person quite easily. You can ask all the people you hurt in the past lifetime to forgive you for what you did to them. And you can forgive yourself for all the hurts you caused to those people, and also to yourself.
What you’ll always find is that the person who shamed people in a past life is unfairly shamed in this life. But they also shame themselves constantly, inside their own minds. And the person who was cruel to others in a past life will find others being cruel to them this time around – but the greatest cruelty is that which they hand out to themselves, every single day. it’s often relentless, merciless and remorseless.
Forgiveness is a simple way to break the cycle of karma. If we don’t deal with it we live in an unending cycle of pain and hurt, being passed from one person to the next. When we’re hurt we hurt others. They then hurt and so they hurt others and so on.
Without clearing the karma we remain locked in the cycle, wondering why life is treating us so badly. Forgiveness of others and self heals the pain and allows us to experience more of the light we truly are. Life becomes easier, we feel happier and more at one with life and people treat us with more love, respect and kindness. And the greatest change of all is that we feel connected with the true purpose of our life. We get to experience becoming the kind of person we’ve chosen to be. This creates a deep sense of inner peace and we know we’re “on track.”