The Doctrine of Karma, as it is widely called, forms the foundation of living for followers of Sanatan Dharma, popularly called Hinduism. It is universally known in a nutshell as what you do comes back to you. In the light of its intrinsic meaning, however, the doctrine is generally misinterpreted by a gorge-wide deviation from reality.
The basis of this misinterpretation is the same emotion that has been misguiding humanity through epochs at a stretch, making it think, say, feel and act against its basic nature, and worst of all, against one another, cutting it off largely or even fully from its divine heritage to realize its Self-Truth and the true Nature of God - and that emotion is FEAR.
Fear was adopted across most religions as means to ensure the founding laws were adhered to even in the face of penance, hardships, dearth and torture, because it was all supposedly aimed at human betterment, a noble intention indeed. However, in course of this, one little aspect was intentionally or unintentionally overlooked... freewill.
Even worship and major practices were mandated in religions by highlighting fearful consequences of not adhering to them in the very prescribed manner no matter what the cost.
...Lust for power, and therefore money as the currency of power, isn’t new in human history and our dharma wasn’t an exception to it. In this context, the Doctrine of Karma was propagated as, if one did or did not something, the punishment chases him or her like a boomerang because God up there, or somewhere far, is constantly watching every move we make with the punishing scepter, waiting to use it on us upon the slightest deviation from the accepted clichéd life. The life path, the doctrine and the interpretation of the dharma having been formulated and established by a ‘wise’ few as irrefutable, had to be blindly followed or ‘disaster lay close ahead’. So life became a walk through a mine laden with live dynamite.
The excerpt quoted above from the Bhagwad Gita, believed to be the word of our ‘Purna avatar’ or perfect incarnation of the Absolute, Bhagawan Sri Krishna, by followers of Sanatan Dharma worldwide, however, means quite the contrary: “do your job, do not put your mind on the consequence, do not stop acting in fear of the possible consequence, nor resort to inactivity for that reason”... so basically, act when you need to, act as per the call of the moment, do what you have to do without stopping yourself from acting as per your dharma because of a feared consequence. It explains, what the moment demands from you is always to take the path of Truth! Truth is your dharma.
When we come to the point where we have to decide what exactly is one’s truth, and thus one’s dharma, followers at large interpret truth as the generally accepted ‘right’ as opposed to ‘wrong’. But general or social right and wrong are purely contextual to social norms and moral standards that might or might not match with individual situations, duties and priorities. In reality, Truth is what resonates at the heart and knocks from within to express as life and thus is unique to every human being. However, social pressure often stifles the voice of the heart to conform to acceptable responses to a trial or predicament.
Truth is that which is alive and breathing! The soul lives to celebrate its innate quality of love... to give and to receive love, to preserve the self, its connection with the divine Source, and to help life forms around itself by employing its personal expertise the best way it can. To hear and to pay heed to one’s inner calling is one’s truth and thus, dharma, at any given moment in time, which might change over time or in another situation. What your dharma is today, might not be your dharma tomorrow; what your dharma is in a given situation might not be mine in the same or in a different situation. We are all unique expressions of the divine universal consciousness!
The words of the Gita lay down a wide framework of principles to walk the path of life such that it leads to evolution of the soul. But it is the ever awake Krishna Consciousness speaking at the heart that does and always will steer each of us in the direction of our life purpose and defines the ideal action at any given moment in time. The ideal karma is the one based on what resounds within. What exactly is your dharma can only be heard by you. Be it the question of self preservation, philanthropy, or sacrifice, there’s a time, place and occasion for each, and the wide awake conscience at the heart guides the mind in that direction so as to ensure a fulfilling life and a fruitful destiny.
The moment we call something a doctrine, it becomes unalterable and rigid. Well, Eternal Truth is One and there are no two versions of Truth. However, what this universal Truth lays down is a broad framework of living, it does not dictate terms of life. Each piece of life is extraordinarily unique. Life is and ought to be lived as dynamic... changing every moment, with us making a choice at every step based on the inner urge of the ever conscious soul, acting beyond the fearful bindings of a conditioned mind, and living up to it with the ups and downs that come with the choice... until the voice within illuminates a new horizon.
So far as the consequence of actions is concerned, it is like, if we were to jump into water our clothes would get wet. That does not mean we have been punished by the Creator or by the water. It simply means that the choice we made causes this result. If the choice comes from an inner calling, its consequence should not be a consideration and should not divert us from taking the required action.
Rather than a doctrine, the Law of Karma had more aptly be called the Science of Karma, a science of subtle energies... energies reverberating eternally through and around each of us, nourishing, protecting and elevating our consciousness right from our conception to beyond the span of this life. In our religion, cause and effect have been laid out in rigid tabular lists keeping ‘how’ and ‘why’ beyond the reach of the follower. For example, if one kept the house messy and were told that Lakshmi leaves such an untidy place, and that he would have to face the consequence, or worse, were labeled as ‘alakshmi’, it wouldn’t really make sense to an educated and reasoning mind that is looking for an answer to ‘how’ and ‘why’.
But if we were to explain to him that when things are out of place and scattered all over that disrupts the smooth flow of ‘Chi’, the universal vital life force energy, a subtle high frequency vibration that nourishes the body, mind, living spaces, and maintains harmony in life. This Chi or auspicious subtle energy wave pervading all spaces is the nurturing, preserving aspect of the Absolute Creative Power. It is both potent and delicate. As a wave of higher consciousness It responds to and energizes our thoughts and living spaces. Because of Its soft delicate nurturing quality It is considered feminine. She is the one we refer to as Lakshmi, She who bestows abundance and wellbeing!
Most of us have heard the common saying, “Lakshmi is chanchala”- that does not exactly mean She is the Goddess who flees with the drop of a hat. It means, to invoke and preserve Her takes some amount of care and the observance of certain scientific conditions in and around us, the most vital of which is simplicity/purity of mind along with a clean and tidy environment.
There are lifestyles and thought processes that invoke and enhance or hinder the flow of this vital life energy. When there’s repeated obstruction in the path of flow of Chi through our living spaces, Its flow is disturbed and Its life preserving quality diminishes. Similarly, when one constantly invests in negative thoughts, the smooth flow of chi through the chakras is hindered. Moreover, it is a known fact that beautiful surroundings arouse beautiful thoughts and a messy unclean sight tends to deplete mental energies. When the circulation of Chi is insufficient in and around us, we receive less nourishment, our chakras, organs and mind are not at ease, gradually manifesting dearth and disease in some form or another. We perform below level and face the consequences at home, work or in school.
And then an elderly person comes about saying, “See, I told you not to live like that, now Maa Lakshmi has turned away.” The reasoning modern mind dismisses such a statement as superstitious and unacceptable having no idea as to how he has actually brought it upon himself, and the spiritual science of subtle higher energies remains neatly covered under what appears to be mythology.
There is a higher science behind every episode in a religious mythology. When the mind is seeking and ready to realize, the soul opens the gates to Higher Truth. It takes courage to live one’s own truth. The words of Krishna are to be heard within one’s heart and acted upon if one is to live the true essence of Karma, and not turn away from the soul’s calling in fear of consequence.